There are so many bands out there doing so many interesting things, it's hard to know where to turn. That's why we've created Crash Course, a recurring feature offering a concise introduction to a band or artist that we think slays, covering their origins, process and vision. Our inaugural subject is Uniform, a Brooklyn-based outfit that warps industrial aesthetics into their own unique version of sludgy punk/metal, once via drum machine and currently with live drums (courtesy of Liturgy and Zs percussionist Greg Fox). Their new album, The Long Walk, drops in August via Sacred Bones; you can catch them on the road with Deafheaven and Drab Majesty now.
WHO ARE UNIFORM? GIVE US A BRIEF HISTORY ON HOW YOU MET AND WHEN.
BEN GREENBERG Michael Berdan, voice, electronics, synths and sequencing, opinions. And Ben Greenberg, guitar, drum programming, also synths and general production — tracking mixing etc. — mumbling.
MICHAEL BERDAN We met many years ago playing in different bands and working on records together. Then after not seeing each other around for almost three years we wound up living on the same street. Ben had a dream one night that we were onstage together doing this incredibly loud, motorik [sic], cathartic music that was somewhere in between a guitar-driven rock band and an electronic industrial band. We ran into each other on the street the next day and started playing together shortly thereafter.
WHAT WERE THE BANDS THAT YOU GUYS AGREED UPON AS THE CORNERSTONES FOR CREATING UNIFORM? WHAT DID YOU LIKE ABOUT THEIR APPROACH?
BERDAN Wracking my brain here and I honestly don't remember there being a specific reference point. Obviously the drum machine as backbone recalls bands like Godflesh, Big Black, My Dad Is Dead, Dead World etc., but we didn't want to sound like any of them. Everything was just a means to an end at first and has developed from there. There are more clear reference points today then there were a few years back. We really just wanted to play lunkhead shit by ourselves early on. If you revisit those early recordings, I think that shows.
WHAT WAS THE EUREKA MOMENT FOR YOU, WHEN YOU DECIDED THAT THIS COULD BE SOMETHING THAT WAS MORE THAN JUST FOR FUN?
GREENBERG It's still fun! We've both been in so many bands, so there was a lot of perspective and hindsight when we decided to start one from scratch at this point in our lives. There are still tons of surprises and unpredictable shit happening all the time but it's been really interesting.
HOW HAVE YOU IMPROVED IN THE LIVE SETTING BETWEEN THE START AND NOW?
BERDAN We brought our own PA and full stacks to our first series of shows, running everything off of a billion-watt power amp. Everything literally caught fire about a minute into our first-ever performance. At subsequent gigs we'd regularly short out power on stages, forcing us to cut our sets short. It was objectively fucking stupid.
WHAT WERE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES IN REPRODUCING THE LIVE SOUND ON THE RECORD?
GREENBERG It's kinda the opposite actually. We've gone thru basically a complete technical redesign with every record we've made, and how that will translate live is always part of the plan. Wake in Fright was made almost entirely in the box, with obsessive sample layering and sequencing in Pro Tools, when it came time to play those songs live we made a few different attempts at making loops and backing tracks out of the existing Pro Tools sessions 'til we arrived at a simple, reliable solution. That's always what it comes down to: What's the simplest, most economical and direct way to have this music translate on stage? The process with The Long Walk was supposed to essentially be the opposite of Wake in Fright — we'd write songs, practice with a drummer, go into Strange Weather, my absolute favorite studio, and just bang out takes. We did as much pre-production work as possible to expand the guitar rig, develop a bass synth rig, and build a hybrid acoustic/electronic drum setup so that what we were tracking on the record could simply be packed up and set up onstage and literally be the exact same setup.
YOU'RE ON THE ROAD WITH DEAFHEAVEN RIGHT NOW, BUT BEYOND THAT, DO YOU PLAN TO TOUR EXTENSIVELY? WHO WOULD BE SOME DREAM TOURING PARTNERS?
BERDAN We'll see where the wind takes us but we'd like to tour as much as we can. We're already scheduled to be on the road more than we ever have been and hopefully we're just gonna be adding to that from here on out. As for people that it would be cool to play with, I'd love to kick it with buds like Plaque Blague, Boy Harsher, Moor Mother, and the BFFs in the Body.
HARD DECISION: KILLING JOKE OR WHITEHOUSE?
BERDAN Damn fool, hope you practiced good firearm safety while loading that question.