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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Noise Pop Q&A: The Baths

Posted By on Thu, Feb 25, 2010 at 8:00 AM

The Baths (L-R): Tanner Griepentrog, Jeremy Cox, Sheila Imandoust, Jigmae Baer - MADELINE ALLARD
  • Madeline Allard
  • The Baths (L-R): Tanner Griepentrog, Jeremy Cox, Sheila Imandoust, Jigmae Baer

The Baths haven't had it easy. In a city where garage rock can reign supreme and new bands form and fade away with the blink of an eye, it's tough to get noticed unless your songs can satisfy punk rock attention spans. But with four- to six-minute songs and slow, methodical drum beats, the Baths have won their way into the hearts of even the most raucous audiences--a testament to both the ability that San Franciscans have to recognize talent when they see it, but also to the incredible music and spectacle that the Baths have created.

The band has its obvious influences--the Velvet Underground and Spacemen 3--but to define them by these comparisons would be to vastly oversimplify their sound. Songwriters Jeremy Cox and Jigmae Baer draw from psychedelic soundscapes; dark, personal, and esoteric subject matter; and a bit of punk's apathetic humor and exigency. They conjure up haunting, reverb-heavy hymns to the degenerate and the broken. Buttressed by a sturdy rhythm section made up of their doe-eyed drummer, Sheila Imandoust, and their bashful bassist, Tanner Griepentrog, Cox and Baer have assembled a truly unforgettable ensemble.

On the eve of The Bath's free show (with the Odawas and That Ghost) for the Brooklyn Vegan Noise Pop Happy Hour at Benders on Saturday, Feb. 27th at 4 p.m., we interviewed Baer over a mug of Gentlemen Jack on the rocks to get a bit more intimate with the Baths.

Alright, first off, how did you guys pick the name the Baths?

Jigmae Baer: I wanted to pick a stoned-out, druggy name, to be honest, and the image of a bath is kind of solitary and sensual in a very personal way. When I'm writing the lyrics for these songs, it's very personal and comforting to myself, so it made sense. Beyond that...the San Francisco baths are pretty infamous, brutally hardcore sexual hangouts for a lot of people, so it's kind of punk in that sense. 

How did you and Jeremy meet?

JB: I was working in Arcata trimming pot and making a lot of money. Jeremy's from there, so we would play shows together with an old band of mine, and then when I moved back here, we kept in contact. Then he wanted to move to San Francisco so I let him stay at my house for a while.

When [your other band] the Tea Elles disbanded, why did you and Jeremy start to play together again?

JB: Well, we didn't at first. I started playing with Ty [Segall] immediately following that. He called me up and wanted to play music so we started a band with Charlie Moonheart called the Perverts. That band was cursed...all of our shows were cursed. I don't know why. It was a really good band, but we just got fucked left and right. We had to acknowledge that and realize that it just wasn't right at the time. 

Then Jeremy and I decided that we wanted to write really pretty evil...not pretty evil, but pretty and evil songs. We started writing songs in my room and we recorded a few and didn't really expect anyone to be too interested in it. But the reaction was so strong and so supportive that we decided to take it more seriously. We added Tanner, who had been playing with Jeremy since they were like fifteen or something, and got a drummer.

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Emily Rose Epstein

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