Promising Noisemakers

Ellen Chu/

Get Him Eat Him with blowfish

Charleston City Paper | September 20, 2005
“This definitely the biggest tour we’ve done,” says Matt LeMay, lead singer, guitarist, and musical mastermind of Rhode Island-based rock band Get Him Eat Him. The tall, gangly 22 year-old is enjoying a day off in San Francisco during the band’s current six-week tour. “It’s the first time any of us have played a lot of these places. It’s just the five of us and all our gear in a pretty small car.”

In just a year-and-a-half, Get Him Eat Him has already signed to a label, released a full-length album, and shared the stage with the likes of Arcade Fire, The Wrens, The Constantines, and Ted Leo in support of heir debut, Geography Cones.

“I still don’t really believe it,” he says. “It happened really quickly for us. As students at a university, the challenge for us at this point is balancing all the things in our lives.”

As virtual ringleader, LeMay wrote many of the songs in his teen years (about the same time he started writing record reviews for the then-small Pitchfork webzine). These days, he’s found a dedicated line of comrades in guitarist Jason Sigal, keyboardist Raf Spielman , drummer Jeff Wood, and bassist Joe Posner. This lineup collaborated to make Geography Cones, released this summer on California’s Absolutely Kosher label.

“With the instrumentation, a lot of it had to do with the fact that we recorded at a great studio (Tiny Telephone in San Francisco) where they had a lot of old synthesizers and gear,” says LeMay. “Our keyboard player enjoyed experimenting with them all. I used to use a really bad, cheap processor that used to feed back and make a lot of noise. We still used effects like that, like harmonizers and vocoders, but we use digital effects that mix clean and wet vocal sounds … usually not the way they were intended to be used.”

The band carefully mixed the clean and the dirty while performing, overdubbing, and mixing — a difficult task for any expert noise band, much less a troupe of rookie twentysomethings studying at Brown University.

“We get some odd reactions,” LeMay says. “Some people definitely think it’s too dense and a bit distracting. I try to find ways to enhance the emotional impact of a song, rather that nullify it. I put them into songs where they wouldn’t usually be used.”

LeMay previously played drums in Rhode Island band with GHEH guitarist Jason Sigal. They first got together in February of last year when Sigal booked a show at a local place called AS220 in Providence — before the group even started properly rehearsing. They played the first show under the name “Grumble Grumble” in March and recorded their first demo in May.

“That demo made its way to Absolutely Kosher and things started happening,” says LeMay. “That’s when we really had to get serious about being a band.”

By August, ’04, the boys announced their signing to Absolutely Kosher, but faced legal action from another band with a similar name. They received a cease-and-desist letter from a lawyer representing Chicago space-rock ensemble Grimble Grumble. To avoid legal tangles and confusion over the monikers, the band decided on the name “Get Him Eat Him” — a goofy name based on an idea for a cartoon where a man overboard falls is chased through the sea by two seals, one of whom yells, “get him!” to which the other responds, “eat him!” The new album’s cover art reflects the story.

Listening to Geography Cones, one gets the impression that LeMay and the gang may have had a little too much fun with the studio toy box. While in fine moments, they approach the rebellious fuzz of Sonic Youth and the lo-fi, mischievous grooves of Stereolab, they tangle up in their own sonic gooning from time to time, too.

Opening tune “The Celebration” kicks around with some confident, syncopated rocker stuff, replete with Head East-style Moog, clanging sleigh bells and tambourines, rapid 16th notes on the hi-hat, and LeMay’s calming, sleepyhead vocal delivery. “One Word” is more spazzy, loose, and dynamic with choppy guitar chords, dramatic drum fills, and a more sneering spoken vocal style.

“Pardon My French” — punctuated with wild guitar and keyboard work LeMay’s nonchalant singing style — starts to sound a bit out of place. At one point, it almost sounds like he’s going into an a cappella version of Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi,” which throws the energy level off.

Things get most intense on “Metal Splinters” with more melodic guitar and synth riffs and snappier drumming — a fine demonstration of musical playfulness and potential.

The sound of the album is a ultimately a joyous one, though, and that’s the main idea behind the band’s approach to everything. LeMay concerns himself and the band not with falling in line with any rock ’n’ roll categorization, lifestyle, status, or expectation, but rather, with bringing a few musical ideas to the table and having fun with them — no matter how awkward or silly.


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