Band on Band: PJ and Brian Bond

PJ Bond and Brian Bond aren't your average set of siblings. After years of playing in bands they have both embarked on solo musical endeavors, taking them around the world (often with little more than a bag and a guitar). In 2011 the brothers teamed up for the split Brother Bones/Baby Bones, which was released earlier this year on Black Number Records. In a special "Band on Band" the brothers sit down with Punknews to discuss vinyl, The Beatles and how they approach their craft.

PJ Bond: Hey, brother.

Brian Bond: hello hello,

PJ: Well, let's start from the top. Do you remember how we decided to make this split? I feel like it maybe started with a conversation when you were living in India, but I'm not totally sure.

Brian: I do think it started in India. You said you were going to do splits with different people and I said something like, "I would love to be on vinyl"' but maybe I made that up.

PJ: No, that sounds about right. I'm fairly certain we were at your apartment in Lucknow, around the time that I got sick. It's funny, I never really ended up doing any other splits, but I'm really glad things worked out the way they did.

Brian: For sure. It's kind of crazy we were able to get it all done considering neither of us have lived in the same place for more than a couple months in years.

PJ: Yea, I'm actually pretty amazed that either of us have been able to put much of anything out into the world, but all the more so that we could do it together. To be honest, if there's one regret I have about it is that I wasn't able to be around to put some vocals on your side. I think that would have been really fun, and a good way to totally tie the project together. Oh well, perhaps another time. Let's talk about your side a little. Do you have a favorite song on it? Or does it just feel like one big package for you?

Brian: I think my favorite song on my side is "Anymore". It is a new texture for me and I remember how I recorded it. I hadn't recorded anything in a little while and was feeling a little strange about it, nothing was working well. But I did my main take of acoustic and vocals together, and got it in a take or two. I was living in a little back room, really a converted porch or something, at Chris' (our older brother) house, when you were living in the next room, and I did a lot of the electrics at night. There was really no room for an amp or anything so I just plugged everything straight into the computer and kind of fucked up the sound to make up for the lack of amp. I also didn't have a bass so I tuned down my guitar a lot to play the bass part. It really just sounds the way it does because I didn't want to wake anyone up.

PJ: That's awesome, I remember you telling me something about this after we'd moved out of Chris' house. Do you remember when we were staying at Rob and Cary's, and working on that tune, "Where were you?" that I couldn't make sense of? We ended up trying some sort of Kurt Vile rip using that idea. It also reminds me of the fact that in the early Elliott Smith days when he'd singing in a near whisper because he didn't want anyone in the house to hear when he was recording his demo.

Brian: Yeah, and we never finished that song though. I still have it of course.

PJ: My tune? Yea, I figured.

Brian: What about you? What's your favorite track on your side?

PJ: I'd probably have to say my favorite is "I'm in a Bad Way." When I wrote this song it felt like I'd figured something out, like maybe I'd cracked the code a little bit, or understood something a bit more.I realize that's kind of abstract, but I've found that songwriting can be elusive, sometimes songs come out of nowhere, other times you have to wrestle them. That song was a bit of coaxing at first, like a priming of the old brain slot, and then once all was in place, it just came together, and it felt like a "real" song.

Brian: Ah. Well I like that one a lot. I still maintain it kind of sounds like a song by The Cure. That's a good thing.

PJ: Haha. Fair enough. Is that my fault or yours?

Brian: Mine, probably. You don't sound as strange or as British as Robert Smith.

PJ: Man, I should hope not. But if I could write songs like him, well I wouldn't be bummed about that.

Brian: Have you actually listened to the record on vinyl yet?

PJ: I haven't, no. I really want to!

Something that perhaps most people are not aware of is the fact that this record took way longer than it should have. My recording was done over the course of almost two years, in multiple states and houses. Some of that is the case with you too, right? And then it took a ton of time and multiple mistakes for us to actually get the vinyl. So frustrating.

Brian: Mine was recorded over not that long a time actually. I think I did all tunes except "Anymore" in the Spring of 2011, and "Anymore" I did in the summer of the same year. But the vinyl pains, yeah…The first time I heard the test press I was staying at someone else's house and for some reason his record player was running fast and there was no way to adjust the speed. I was totally freaked out and thought they had cut the record like that, semi-chipmunk-y, but it was just the player. And then yesterday I put on the actual pressed version for the first time and it skipped the beginning of my first song. But it was just the record player again…

PJ: Oh man. Not the best luck, I suppose, but in the end it turned out okay. I cannot wait to finally plop one of those slabs on the table. At this point I have so many records hidden around the country, plus this split and a few of my other albums, it'll be really nice when I finally get a home and can unpack all my records. The other day I visited Mom and Dad's house, Dad thought I had some extra copies of my full length upstairs in the closet, so I went to look, and turned out to be a stack of awesome old country records.

Brian: Awesome, they were yours, I guess?

PJ: Yeah. A couple of years ago I went to Vortex Records in Grand Rapids on Record Store Day and bought all these great LPs, then stuck them in a bag in my trunk, and later moved them to their house when Chris moved out of his old house. I'd totally forgotten about them.

Brian: Great. Just don't put them in their attic, they'll all melt in the southern heat. I miss all my records, moving around all the time like this, but I've been listening to a lot more music lately, which is great. I finally found a digital version of this great Indian record from the 60s, by a sarangi player (that's a bowed instrument with 40-50 strings including the sympathetic strings). It's beautiful.

PJ: Yea, I know the feeling well. What do you think is your favorite piece of vinyl, or one you miss the most?

Brian: Hmm…I love listening to the Beatles White Album on vinyl, but also keep thinking about Wilco's A Ghost is Born, which is another great double LP. Beatles' Revolver too. Oh, I also have Dad's Sgt. Pepper in mono from the 60s. Which is completely different from the stereo version most people know. It's more psychedelic, more effects and things.

PJ: Dad's Sgt. Pepper was one of the mono ones? That's awesome, I didn't realize that. Why'd they take all of that stuff out?

Brian: Stereo mixes were a novelty at the time so they didn't spend as much time with them as they did with the mono mixes. The Beatles were always present for the mono mixing sessions, but almost never for the stereo mixing sessions, not until Abbey Road, I think.

PJ: I see. Is there a modern mix? One that more closely approximates the original?

Brian: I think they re-released some of them a couple years ago but I don't have them.

PJ: I see. So, what about old recordings versus new ones that are put on vinyl? Because I've had quite a few people tell me our split sounds more like it was meant to be on vinyl which I guess makes sense for us two.

Brian: Good question…well I think it makes a lot of sense for what we did.

PJ: The sounds and way of recording lean a bit towards the old days.

Brian: I didn't mix them to be super "hi-fi" so there isn't tons of bass or tons of high treble that you would miss on the record anyway. I'm not sure what's better, making a great record on tape and releasing it on cd, or making a record on digital and putting it on vinyl. Anyway, in the end I prefer to listen on vinyl if possible. And aside from all of that, if the songs are no good then none of it matters. And if they're great, then it also doesn't really matter

PJ: Yea, I guess that's all true. It's funny, for a while vinyl was the only way, and a bit after that it was so present in the punk scene because they could afford it. Now it's more of a luxury, and we're lucky to be able to press these songs to wax and have enough people care to make it worth it. I definitely couldn't say that a few years ago, and it's a pretty great feeling now.

Brian: Yeah, I’m pretty happy about it. Happy to see our young faces spin.

PJ: I am too.

Brian: Do you think people will be interested in all of the interesting things we've said to each other tonight?

PJ: Ha, I have no clue. We shall see. I'm not sure we've said much of anything, to be honest

Brian: Ha. Well, I had a good time

PJ: Same here. Any more questions or thoughts?

Brian: No questions, no thoughts, my mind is sufficiently emptied.

PJ: Beautiful. I love you, baby brother. It's been a pleasure sharing a record and some time talking tonight.

Brian: Same here brother, love you too. Speak soon.