Ed Schrader: Baltimore’s New Hope

The first time I saw Ed Schrader it was a rainy cold night in Baltimore. I think I had met the guy maybe once, but really all I knew about him was his talk show in Baltimore. I’ll be the first to admit I was never really into any of the Wham City stuff in Baltimore, and Ed Schrader was a big part of that, but Schrader is something different. Instead of relying on ironic imagery or some kind of dorky art school new wave bullshit, Schrader seems to be carved from a different elk. The repetitive tribal nature of his songs have an industrial feel as if Harry Pussy was an industrial band with members of Death In June. The short burst of simplicity of the songs might not seem like a breath of fresh air on paper, but  listening to his new single on Load Schrader hits it out of the park. The consistency and intensity of his live shows is what makes what Schrader is doing so special, there is nothing like it in Baltimore, and surely anywhere else. I talk to Schrader about his music, live shows, and the new LP out on Load this fall.

Ed Schrader – Sermon (Load)

The 7″ Load just released is flooring, is it safe to say this is what the upcoming LP sounds like?

We decided that the single should be short and high impact, for me the decision was influenced by singles like : Radio Free Europe, or Fall Out by the Police. Songs that don’t need to beat you over the head to get across the idea that it’s perhaps a band worth checking out when your done eating $5 foot longs. So I figured if it worked for those cool dudes, it’d be just fine for our silly asses.

Speaking of Load, how did that come about? What has it been like working with Ben?

The whole Load thing happened as a result of me playing a gig at The Dark Lady in Providence about 2 years ago. I was on tour with DJ Dog Dick and Adventure, we had a blast, and Max set up some really ill gigs for us. Ben just happened to be in the audience at The Dark Lady and dug what I was doing and approached me via email a month later to buy an album, but at the time i did not realize who he was, I just thought it was a supportive fan trying to purchase an album, SO i WAS LIKE “thanks so much for your interest, just send $10 for an album”. Only when he gave me his address did I realize, wait this is that label with all those bands I like, and he is…oh snap! So I emailed him saying it was on the house and that I had know one willing to put out the next record, I think people saw me as more of a side show back then, and that hey why not give me a roll? He was into it, and is a really great guy to work with, with Ben it is and always will be a labour of love, I mean hell I aint paying anyones light bill any time soon, he works with bands he believes in, regardless if they have nice cheek bones or not. And he is fun to get drunk with!

The live shows I would say are even better than the recorded output, how are your feelings on playing live and tour heavily? What is rewarding about it?

Well unless you have a secret copy of the album that is not finished yet, which I have not heard either, I assume you are talking about my last album from 3 years ago (field recordings with a hand held tape recorder) which yes I suppose is much different from me blasting a drum and yelling while Devlin plays bass ha ha ( : That was a very different project compared to now, and if the single was able to replicate the same experience you get from a live show well hell I would just put that bad boy on a grey hound and sit in jogging pants eating chicken salad sandwiches all day watching the Larry Sanders show, ha ha. Our live show is like A Play, like Cats or The Lion King, the album could never replicate that, and is a different entity all together, and (the new one) will stand on it’s own 2 feet as it’s own singular experience, separate from the live show. I would never want the album to be what the live show is, The album coming out will be a more insular experience with all the bangs and pows of the live show with intermittent quieter moments. But I think you will be very pleased, put it this way, The Live Show is eating ice cream with your family at Friendlys, The album will be eating ice cream alone at your aprtment while getting stoned, totally fucking naked, LET IT BE NAKED IS THE NAME OF THE NEW ALBUM. For me Playing Live is all about that night, and those people, it is its own universe that needs to be treated as such, I hate when a band gets up and replicates their album. Each audience is like a new date, with its own quirks and you got to find that G SPOT ! Playing to each audience as if you were just a pair of speakers giving them the same thing that they have at home would be like going on a date and reciting all the hot emails you sent to one another and calling it a night, you gotta get real, and sweaty!

Touring is great because you really get to go some place and get under their skin, as opposed to them hearing you played CMJ fest in Spin Magazine, that only works in New York, my old base ball coach had a saying, “you can’t make the club in the tub” Players who tended to slack and hang out in the locker room with pretend injuries or some bull shit would generally fail, or rather fail to gain anything from the experience, even a losing game has such valuable lessons, and that is how you grow and get better as an artist and expand your audience, you have to play a weird show in Dubuque Iowa for 3 people every now and then, but here is the nice part, when you come back the 5th time there will be 30 people, and that is great for a show in Dubuque. Plus hell who doesn’t want to try the Ribs at Coopers in Raleigh North Carolina, can’t do that at some trustafarian cafe in Brooklyn, nope, not the same kids. Be a real woman and get on the road!

I remember you killing it at the Fan Death Records showcase earlier in the year. I remember thinking to myself on how it felt like Big Black or Swans meeting early Death in June live, is that a fair comparison?

 Totally I have worn out many a Swans, Death In June, and Big Black Record, which probably explains why you can hear that in the mix. I like to absorb stuff and regurgitate it and boil it down in a new way, otherwise you are just reinventing the wheel and there is enough of that going around. Some of these Pitchfork bands just sound like cover bands to me, with no balls or structure of their own, history will not look kindly on them, so have fun now assholes! Have another 4 Loco and pretend to be Sid Vicious!

I heard there are guests on the LP, any chance you can tell us who?

Yes sir, The guests will be Matmos, and Randy Randall of No Age. Matmos was hanging out at the restaurant where I wash dishes, and I went up to there table telling boob jokes or something, and they told me that they bought a copy of The Choir Inside, my first release with Wham City, and really dug it. Well you could have nocked this guy over with a feather! I jokingly said “hey we should jam”. They took that joke to heart and had me over for dinner and we discussed the album, and I made it clear that I wanted to just give them the tracks and step away, and see where that took us, as they obviously do not need any directing from yours truly. The outcome is superb ! Featuring a REAL HURDY GURTY ! With Randy that actually came from a tour that Dan Deacon was nice enough to take me on. I opened for Dan, No Age, and Deer Hunter every night for about a month, and Randy and I really hit it off and he expressed interest in collaborating, which was so flattering for a gal like me! His stuff on the album is restrained and very minimal, as he is a very multi faceted fella, and it took the album from sweet to SWEEEEEET!

Baltimore seems to be going through a lot of changes musically. What is it like being involved in music in Baltimore as of now?

Being involved in Baltimore now feels weird for me, I kind of feel like a dead beat husband that took allot of sexy business trips, and now my lover seems strange. The shows are killer, and the city gets behind me as it always has, yet the cohesiveness that existed 5 years ago has gone, it seems like allot of half ass promoters have diluted the scene by just cranking out shows which they only promote on face Book, and don’t put allot of effort into. This turns off touring bands, who will eventually make a point not to come back. Though we have some great legit venues and warehouse spaces, the bad apples are making things difficult. Booking a show should be a labor of love, once you start depending on it to pay your rent, you are not a Baltimore promoter, you are a NYC promoter, and you can take that to New York cause we don’t need it here. The best part of Baltimore is that people actually give a fuck and book shows (for the most part) because they love the bands playing, when it becomes something besides that you got a BIG BIG problem. I think you just need to irrigate bands towards the right promoters before their taste of this city is spoiled by a badly run show. But I don’t relate musically to anyone in the country, maybe there is a dude in Peru banging on a drum that I could tour with, but I feel like the odd man out most of the time, which has proven to be a great thing, and Baltimore enjoys that!

I really enjoy how short the songs are, straight to the point. For example ‘Sermon’ is a min. long, do you like writing songs like that?

I feel like if you can’t say it in 90 seconds then don’t say it at all bub! But if you feel you gotta get a little foreplay in there and lead us along in an interesting way I will stick around if you have something worth saying. I think bands like Emeralds, Dope Body, and The Santa Dads can say something that takes 7 to 10 minutes and at the end you’re like FUCK YEAH! I just feel like making short songs now. In the future I may try something else, but it is really just a product of me making most of the songs up at work, and having to sneak into the bathroom for a minute, (if you leave the dish room longer than that it gets backed up) . So I would sneak into the bath room for a minute and bark out the basic draft, or general vibe of the song and press stop. Allot of times I found that those sketches were more powerful than the elongated versions which seemed to just repeat the ideas. I don’t like hearing a chorus over and over, say something once , why say it seven more times? We got stuff to do man, we have to get back to work and pay bills and get us out of this recession!

The lyrical end of the songs I painstakingly work on. Having been a former music writer / book critic / and poet, I take the written word very seriously, and if it means re writing something 30 to 40 times stepping away from it for a month and coming back and testing out live, so be it, ultimately the finish product has to be perfect, because why make things which are imperfect? Obviously that is a high water make, but I feel in the effort to reach something great you can grow as a writer, and you are going to get better stuff than that dude who just says pretty phonetic bull shit, people will actually return to your music if you give them a riddle. But that is not to say that Love Love Me Do is not perfect as well. I just choose this approach. When I say perfect what I really mean is, stir the sauce and add stuff till it tastes great baby!

Is there any other recorded output coming beyond the Load record?

As for additional stuff after this, well yes I will God willing have more albums in the future, there is a single out now, and The Choir Inside has been completely sold out, but I may do a tape release with someone, I have the original Choir Inside which Is 33 tracks, 9the wham city one is about 12) we will call it Welcome To The Roman Empire, it is totally insane and probably for fans only, but if it makes someone chuckle why not!

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