Something special happened when I ordered a Testface album ( What To Cut ) from Mister Dave Snider a year or so back - I got a very early copy of this brilliant band calling themselves Armored Frog. It's safe to say this Armored Frog "sound" was coming from a similar location / direction as the unique spot Testface dwells - and I was really into what was crawling out of the mildly amplified speakers that rest by my computer screen. Aching instrumentation - saws, sweing machines and things that turn - was followed (and at times led) by equally fragile vocals - I was prepared to seek out the makers of such tunes.. .
Then nearly a year passed, and I still had no idea who this Armored Frog was, any of the song titles or even if this album would see a proper release. Was it real?
Earlier this year, Sleepsound Records was added to the booming online community, and many of my blanks were filled in. Armored Frog is the proper doings of George Ayres and Jake Baker, and the Sleepsound Recording Foundation is kept in motion by Mister George Ayers from his Sleepsound Headquarters in serene Eugene, Oregon. A "do it yourself, but firstly - get it done" label that - only 3 releases in - should be on your scope & focus as one of the more promising nooks for new sounds in the days to come.
And as far as the brief Malkmus portion of these talks - don't let that keep you from the dazzle that is Armored Frog.
Again - we offer a special tune to accompany your browse . Here we present, from the nugget that started it all (and, for now, remains "never in print") - automated. Grab the third track (of 17!) on said album, "song of hope"
Eugene seems to have a pretty welcome audience for original, experimental
music (I think of Sleepsound & Schapendoes Records), but I take
it that it (Eugene) differs somewhat (or greatly?) from Portland,
correct? Like, Eugene has this mystique us kids on the East only hear
about in stories-so, how is the music "scene" where you
What came first, Sleepsound Records or the track "Sleepsound"
from Automated? As well, will Automated be added
to the SS catalog, or be solely an Armored Frog collectors' item?
You mentioned the offset press & packaging, and I have the early
Testface cd as well as the others (they all look quite nice) - is
this a "label mission" to try and do your own printing /
+ How about the current state of "digital music" - do you see Sleepsound going the iAlbum route for any future releases? As well, how about just downloading in general - the "stolen" type - any thoughts on that as a label executive!?
Downloading - probably not. I don't really mind the idea, obtaining music cheaply through internet downloads, but I don't think that is the "album," and it goes back to an original sleepsound idea: making products that look/feel/are different. When I download an album, it is very utilitarian - there is no essence to it, no product, no package.. . and I think an album is a package. As for a record exec's take on piracy, I feel like I said above. If someone wants to take my music and listen to it for free - go ahead, it didn't cost me anything, and I may have one more person who would consider themselves a fan.. . so I have no problem with it. The only reason I don't have every song from the sleepsound catalog available for download is because I would like people to consider buying the package, seeing everything that the artists put into the "final product".
Maybe next you could dig up some old Pelletgun stuff (pre-Testface)
and release it - these kids need that stuff! Do you plan to tour in
the near future as Armored Frog - as in, out of Oregon (into the great,
The Armored Frog sound / "sleepsound" is a mixture of many
uncommon instruments and "found" sounds. Are you and Jake
collectors of odd / unusual music machines and recording devices?
I look to your press shot in the field (is that a bow & chainsaw..
Ok, you mentioned it first - so don't blame me for jumping on it.
The next Armored Frog album you say.. . could that be this year?
+ How about this Led Zep cover I hear Armored Frog and Testface are working in unison on - where will this appear, and when?
Well, Jealous Butcher records decided to put this thing together - and Dave (Snider, Testface) knows all of those guys from many years ago - so they asked Testface to do a song. Dave thought it would be cool to team up with Armored Frog, and we set a goal to record the song ("No Quarter") in one day (which of course, turned out to be impossible). 9 hours later, we were starting to see how the song was going to work - and now it is close.. . I suppose sort of. Basically it starts with excerpts from the real "No Quarter" and heavy synths (kind of Frog like), then a LATIN beat (Dave insisted) comes in and the Testface element comes into play. The song progresses, and we hit the chorus with epic drums and guitars and more synths and more and more [and more!]. The solo section is heavily effected noise machines - with the outro being an odd drum machine beat and more samples / synths.. . but really, you'd have to hear it. As for its release - don't expect it too soon!
+ What makes Armored Frog / Sleepsound happy?
Hmmm.. . well, we both really enjoy recording music - but that is obvious. Coffee is lovely and a good steak can be heavenly. Sporting - basketball is our favorite. I really enjoy carpentry, Jake does electronics. A great new album and a couple bottles of wine, and I am sure many more things - too many to list.
Pictured above: automated :|: ghost cow EP :|: weasel on a weathervane
Armored Frog seem to have a thing for animal names - and that's simply an observation. Firstly, the name of the band (we gave you that one a second ago.. .), then you can take into consideration the album titles - ghost cow EP and weasel on a weathervane. With track titles like "flight of the zebra" and "snake in the grass" - the relationship takes on a bit of a life of its own. The fact that arises out of all of these minor details in Armored Frog make delicate, fabulous music - and the method by which I came to this conclusion is the sum of two incredible albums - the ghost cow EP (which is actually 12 songs in length) and the latest weasel on a weathervane, both on the bands own imprint sleepsound records.
A working duo consisting of Sir George Ayers and Mister Jake Baker - there is a set of dazzling albums on the west just waiting for you to spin them. Tales that play out like anthems, ghost cow EP takes on daily life as I - the depersonalized & heavily overmedicated - see it: folks yearning to rebel against the every day. Tracks like "working weak" and "honest verse" both strike the sweet air directly out of the life some seem to claim is so marvelous, with lines like "the 9 to 5 wasn't meant for me" ("working weak") and "When I wake, I feel perfect - then the day, it just gets worse." ("someday maybe"). And the instrumentation, oh the grand instrumentation.. . drums, guitars and piano (on some tracks, your guess is as good as mine as to what these fellas are playing - but it's just right) glide through like a broken nose-dose of prescription pills - the ideal pattern for watching snowflakes slowly accumulate on the hard, winter ground past midnight.
There are then those precise moments when Armored Frog decide rebellion is key to quasi-happiness, and the electricity gets juiced. "significant figurines" from weasel and "from inside an ac" on ghost both inject a reasonable amount of "hey, I'm going to stand really close to this amp and see what happens" magic around the already superb base Armored Frog's songs display.
Although when presented to the band, they modestly shunned the comparison - but Armored Frog will make any Good Morning Spider-era Sparklehorse fan appreciate the [heart]ache and beauty in both of these records. You'll wish you had titled a track "blasted record effect" (from weasel on a weathervane).
Oregon owns my heart, and for each new discovery like Armored Frog - I'm getting much closer to packing the poor bastard up and mailing it out there.