By Dan Barry
12:26 PM EDT, October 26, 2011
Michelle Montavon and Brian Albano are freaking out about several things. First, the bad news: they're still reeling from last week's announcement that Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon are breaking up. The split between Sonic Youth's lead dude and dudette might be a news item for most folks, but it hits close to home for Montavon and Albano, whose punky romance is cut from a similar mold. The New London husband and wife co-founded the Suicide Dolls in 2002, but they've been a couple since high school. Moore and Gordon — one of the few happy rock couples out there — projected a fusion of stability and creativity that Montavon and Albano found appealing.
"I never thought there was gonna be no Sonic Youth," says Montavon. "Even the Rolling Stones are in their 60s and putting out music that's still challenging. They're not just phoning it in. So I figured if they were still together, Sonic Youth would be too."
"[Sonic Youth was] doing something bands haven't done recently, which is that they were progressing," adds Albano, musing on their recent run of acclaimed releases.
The Suicide Dolls are progressing, too. (That's the good news.) Along with drummer Matt Covey, Montavon and Albano finally entered the studio to record their first album. "We've done everything kind of backwards as a band," Montavon explains. "We didn't take the whole thing seriously until five or six years ago, and then we quit our jobs and said 'Let's do this, we're not getting any younger.' We really didn't have the money to get a producer or go into a nice studio. We did a lot of home recordings, which I think sounded OK for home recordings, but they didn't capture us in the best way."
The grunge trio was sick of making excuses ("We would send tracks to booking agents but we would always say 'We really sound better live!'" says Montavon), so they decided to take the plunge and record earlier this year. The resulting album, Prayers in Parking Lots, comes out in November.
Albano describes the album's sound as "big guitars, big bass, big drums; a lot of moodiness, rockiness, a lot of emotion in there. I think we put our hearts on our sleeve. It gives a nod to a lot of the bands we were influenced by. I would say we're more influenced by the underground bands of the '80s than the '90s. Our drummer calls it like a rhinoceros of sound. Always sort of on the attack."
It's a long-overdue album for a band that has been a staple of the New London scene for years now. Dark and bitter, the Suicide Dolls have been at the center of the city's image as a source of turbulent rock. "There is a lot of angst in our music," says Montavon. "We still have that 15-year-old angst that comes through. But a lot of the music [that's popular right now] is sort of happy, like 'I'm gonna forget about what's going on and dance the night away.' That's great, but there needs to be some room in the industry for stuff that's dealing with the changing times."
Albano sums up their outlook thusly: "I don't mind if you find happiness and lollipops, but first I want you to take a journey through night to get to it."
You can preview nine of the tracks from Prayers in Parking Lots on the Suicide Dolls' Bandcamp page, thesuicidedolls.bandcamp.com. Keep an eye on their Facebook page for an announcement regarding their upcoming CD release show.
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