No Babies’ sax & violence

Band name: No Babies (or nxbx for texting)

Personnel: Classic lineup=Yacob (guitar, bass clarinet, drum) Misha (Alto & tenor saxophone), Kim (vocals), Ricky (guitar, trumpet, bass), Ace (drums, sax). The new touring version also has Marissa Majick (punx, awesomes) guesting on vocals and Vanessa Harris (Sisterfucker) on guitar.

Place of Origin: Started when we were living in the states of Alabama, Mississippi, California, and Hawaii. We never had a home til we all moved to Oakland together. We wrote our first 8 songs or so in Alabama and the rest in California.

No Babies with horns locked & loaded. Photo: Nathan Backous.

Other people may know the answer but I don’t, how did No Babies (or NxBx) form and when?
No Babies: Sean, Ricky, and Yacob were all in a band called the Difference Engine that dates back to high school in Alabama, that had a tour booked with our friends band Outclassed, in the summer of 2008. However, our drummer couldn’t go, so we formed No Babies with our friend Caitlin Bender on vocals and Sean moved from bass to drums. We wrote a 7 song set in about 2 weeks. Lots of people have been in and out of the band since then but its kept the songwriting process interesting and the main common factor is we are all go all the time, and all very tedious composers.

Kim: this is how I perceive the origins…thinking back…I remember Jacob telling me he was going on a “Difference engine” tour and their drummers fell through, I think at the time it was Benny from “roman gabriel todd’s beast rising up out of the sea” and Michael from “xbxrx”, (correct me if I’m wrong)…so neither drummer could go, and Sean, Ricky, and Bender were playing together in a “Dark Lion” inspired trio, in which they called “No Babies”. At the time Jacob and I were in a crass/germs/dark lion inspired band called “criticism” When Jacob got there he jumped on guitar banging it with his drum stick and provoking feedback, bender lunging it rough, Ricky stuck to his awesome guitar tapping quick melodic intervals, and Sean went to drums and has become (in my opinion) an amazing drummer, one of my favorite…. I think NO Babies is where he really got good at drums…everyone has come a really long way musically since the beginning of the band.

When No babies wanted to go on a three month winter tour Caitlyn Bender (cbend) couldn’t go because of school, so that is when I joined the band. we were together for about a year and half and then Kandis came in on drums, playing a more minimal drum set and Misha joined on saxophone, has also progressed apace. being in “No Babies” has made me grow tremendously as a performer.

This is the second tour of only the first quarter of 2011. How has the year been going so far?
Yacob: We all just got back together after all of us were traveling to different parts of the country over the winter. The focus lately has been writing for the tour with Vanessa and Marissa, but we are gonna try to work out more new material with the classic five before we head to England in April.

Photo: Lars Pistolswing.

The Last mini tour of No Babies Featured the singer from the Awesomes and was probably one of the most intense shows, and definitely the most intense improv I’ve ever seen, is there going to be an improv element returning to NxBx any time soon?
Y: Thanks! We are really interested in playing with forms and musical ideas. Most of our shows have a small amount of improvising (though never the whole set as some people have surmised!). The improv we did with Marissa was set in the rhythms and techniques that we used on parts, but the notes and harmonies were all spontaneous, with a couple themes. When we all coalesce again it will probably be to focus on more fixed song forms. Borrowing more from modern composers, still punk shit though. Still no delay pedals.

Seeing as how No Babies were part of the mysterious Arab on Radar reunion tour, are there any stories you have?
K: When they played in New Haven it was so intense. I sat up on the bar near the PA to get a good safe view and at that point it was a barricade of people. The place was shaped kind of in a rectangular way, so of course that made the front of the stage had not a molecule of oxygen between any one person. Everyone was jammed in. The lights in the space were out but Arab on Radar had floodlights blazing into the back of our eye sockets, it was great. They all put their sunglasses on and some navy blue jumpsuits. It really gave a nuclear fall out kind of feel. In fact once the music started it kind of was a bomb in a way. The booming from the amps and PA envelops you so that it vibrates the hair follicles deep within your impressionable eardrums. It’s just really nice to see such brilliant technical musicians with lots of lure perform so neurotically.

Y: It’s just funny how people were super into Arab on Radar but even though we are doing a similar kind of forward-thinking aggressive music some of them hated what we were doing. A guy wrote an angry blog post criticizing us for jumping on the “chick singer” bandwagon. He went on to criticize us for talking about ceded lands, saying “do you really care about Indians?” Its ridiculous to make assumptions about our, or anyone’s cultural and ethnic history (members of No Babies are Puerto Rican, white, Hawaiian, Russian, and American), when colonialism affects people of all nationalities and ethnicities.
But aside from that one negative moment, playing with Arab on Radar was really fun. They are some of the most amazing performers we’ve ever played with. About 20 people showed up to the first show we played with them so AOR gave us the money they made from merch because we made so little from the door.

Photo: Lars Pistolswing.

When is the new No Babies record coming out!!! More info on the whole thing please.
Y: In the spring! Upset the Rhythm (insert link) is releasing our first full length ( record in mid-April, which coincides with our first UK tour! In addition to the full length Gilgongo records is putting out a 4 way split between us, Soft Shoulder, Orange Coax and Busy Lights. Also in the works are spilts with Magic Johnson, Nu Sensae, Shearing Pinx, and way down the line we’re working on a release of the various forms that we’ve gone through as a band.

So are there still any other NxBx side projects going around?
There is *Mind Cemetary, (Sean – bass, Marissa –vox, Vanessa – drums, max from stress ape – guitar) which is like everything ever good in hardcore;
*Mish, Ricky and our friend Jillian are working on a drum-less free jazz trio.
*Tusk (Ricky – guitar, Misha – drums, sax,) weird pop music;
*Sissy Fists (Yacob – guitar, vocals; Ramon – drums) which is melodic songs over detuned mush guitar.
*Misha recently started playing with Vholtz (long running bay area punk improv lead by Randy Lee Sutherland.

K: I have been working on some solo music involving, drums, guitar and vocals over dubbed. I’ve been calling it “Bangee Girl Realness”, in reference to the documentary “Paris is Burning” and I have also been working on music via email with the singer from “hot face and virgin blood”. I am doing drums and vocals and she is using effects pedals and vocals.

Are there any bands we should be aware of old or new?
Y: Roman Gabriel Todd’s Beast Rising Up Out of the Sea (Mobile, Al). Sisterfucker (Oakland), Ski Mask (from Boston), High Castle, Raw War, BUDDY BAG (Oakland to New York, , kinda russian tsarlaggy but their own thing), Orange Coax (from denton), Demon Horse (Kansas City, MO) Whore Paint (Providence, RI), Drug Mountain (Fort Worth, TX), NASA Space Universe, Cardiacs, Lucrate Milk, Murder Murder (SF), Magic Johnson (PDX), Stag Bitten (PDX), Terraform (PDX), Brotman and Short (Oakland), Primary Colors (Oakland).

K: Since Yac already mentioned most of the Bay area bands I will throw some Hawaii bands in there, Nostrojamus, Stephen Augustin, Deep Throat, Lapwing and Red Rocket. Mostly all newer bands that have started up in the past year or so.

Are there any last words of insight for this interview?
K: It’s amazing to be vested a subculture based around touring and music that was birthed out of the 80’s hardcore scene, raised by the 90’s riot girl and grunge scene and made an adult by the 00’s no wave and noise music scene. Being a part of the evolution of the punk scene and seeing it be kept alive is pretty historical for me.

Y: Dog’s gotta walk. Stack it up. Pop a Wheelie.

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