By Ponytail & Dom Sinacola | 23 August 2011
Back in 2008, we asked Baltimore noise-hippies Ponytail to put together a playlist of some of their favorite or recently favorite’d songs. The goal was to get a tad intimate with the forces that made Ponytail tick. After some awesome html flirting, they compiled a rollicking, ADD smattering of the Ponytail mythos into forty-something minutes, talked interstitially about themselves, then blended it finely and squirted it into a bowl so you can use a straw. I also asked them a few questions about Ice Cream Spiritual and being super sweet and they kind of answered. Imagine us screaming at each other from separate islands, a hefty swim apart.
CMG’s Dom Sinacola (CMG): Hey Ponytail, introduce yourselves!
Dustin Wong (D): I was born in Hawaii, grew up in Japan, and now I’m living in Baltimore! I’m asian.
Jeremy Hyman (J): I was born in Baltimore, grew up in Baltimore, and now I’m living in Baltimore. I’m a huge fan of rock music & I’m girl crazy.
Molly Siegel (M): I was born in Montana, grew up in Phoenix, and now I’m living in Baltimore. I’m a crazy girl!
Ken Seeno (K): I was born in Atlanta, grew up in Pennsylvania, and now I’m living in Baltimore. I’m caucasian.
CMG: The podcast, in many ways, plays out like a primordial ooze of influence.
Ponytail as One, Fused and Immutable (P): Well, we chose the songs separately and mixed them in together. It’s a portrait of our influences at the time, yes.
CMG: As far as contemporaries go, what or who has acted as influence or inspiration for Ponytail? Anyone you’ve toured or played with?
P: Battles, Joan of Arc, Dan Deacon, Hella, the Death Set, Health, Abe Vigoda, High Places, Dirty Projectors. They are all bands we really admire and have spent time with. We’ve learned so much from all of them.
CMG: I’m fascinated by that P-Model song, especially in the way you describe it within the podcast, almost just as scary as it is exciting. I could possibly see some parallels in that idea to how Ponytail operates: garish colors, big sharp notes, impossible energy, but still something—at times—institutional and measured…Would you say you’re one of the hardest working patriotic bands in show business? Or would it just be easier to say that you like to flirt with frightening, abrasive themes without totally alienating a wide fanbase?
D: Haha, I don’t think we’re a patriotic band. I think with P-model I just really enjoy the tension between the nationalistic and freedom. Contradictions is, I feel, a major energy source for rock music.
J: The answer is in the question ;-)
CMG: What about the Slits get your motor running?
M: Shit’s still edgy.
CMG: Like Bruce Haack or Brian Wilson, can the band relate to that kind of obsessive binge of creation? What fascinates you about people like that? About genesis like that?
D: It can get pretty obsessive when we write songs, since we try to make sure that we all enjoy every part of the song. Some songs took a long time, about two months for one. The song played in the practice space being composed versus performed on stage feels totally different. I like Brian Wilson a lot and I saw him on his Smile tour in DC and it was great and everything but I like to imagine listening to his music as if the music is being performed inside his mind.
CMG: Is it too early to start obsessing over where you want to take the band, what new avenues you may want to explore?
D: We always play it by ear. It changes depending on what we are listening to at the moment.
CMG: Is there a kitsch quality inherent in what you all do, or would you rather it be translated as something more of a child-like innocence? I can’t get the cover to your album out of my head.
D: I feel like kitsch was the first step for me to open on to almost everything. I realized I could like something that I didn’t like before. So in a way kitsch was a catalyst for me to open up. Obviously kitsch isn’t everything and every element is important. And life is about opening up, no?
CMG: Regarding the Cluster song, you mention that you imagine a jungle composed of inorganic materials working together harmoniously. Internet culture has made you guys stars of sorts—would that be “harmony” in a technological jungle, how, despite whatever disadvantages come from having your music leaked all over the digital realm, it will be heard by people all over the known universe, creating a network of artistic support that somehow sustains your art?
D: The internet is quite chaotic, there really isn’t any control, but I might feel quite rested if I type ‘beach’ on an image search. Shintoism comes to mind, that everything is a god, and for me I feel like anything can give you insight into the spiritual. I personally think that our album title is all about that idea. So can the internet [be spiritual] you know? Someone might see or read something on the internet and experience enlightenment. Our album leaking on the internet is just part of that chaos, that we can’t control, it just exists like everything does.
CMG: Inevitably: how cliché is it to talk about drugs?
D: You’re the first one to ask about drugs! I don’t do any hard drugs, just the ones that are natural and non-addictive.
1. Craig Leon: “She Wears A Hemispherical Skull Cap”
- (0:01 – 6:44)
- from Nommos (Takoma; 1980)
2. The Slits: “Instant Hit”
- (6:55 – 9:22)
- from Totally Wired (Razor & Tie; 1995)
3. Bruce Haack: “Super Nova”
- (9:23 – 14:25)
- from The Electric Lucifer (Omni; 2007)
4. Meat Puppets: “Out in the Gardener”
- (14:26 – 15:26)
- from In a Car (SST; 1981)
5. Yellow Magic Orchestra: “Technopolis”
- (15:27 – 19:38)
- from After Service (Restless; 1983)
6. Solex: “Ololo”
- (19:39 – 22:45)
- from Low Kick And Hard Bop (Matador; 2001)
7. Cluster: “Umleitung (Diversion)”
- (22:46 – 26:09)
- from Sowiesoso (Gyroscope; 1996)
8. Ashra: “77 Slightly Delayed”
- (26:10 – 32:46)
- from Blackouts (Virgin Schallplatten GmbH; 1977)
9. Lee “Scratch” Perry: “Rainy Night Dub”
- (32:47 – 35:16)
- from King Tubby Meets Lee Perry: Megawatt Dub (Shanachie Entertainment; 2006)
10. Brian Eno & John Cale: “Lay My Love”
11. Smart Growth: “Too Fucking Cool”
- (39:54 – 42:32)
- from Surrey (Self-released; 2008)
12. P-Model: “Oh! Mama”
- (42:33 – 46:45)
- from One Pattern (Alfa; 1986)
13. Brian Eno: “Windows ‘95 Theme”
- (46:46 – 46:57)