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The Strange World Of Microwave Miracles
By EA Poorman
Fort Wayne Reader
I don't know what I think about Microwave Miracles' music. As guys to sit down and have a been with they seem like pretty good dudes. Affable and well spoken, with a decent sense of humor.
But I'm a simple guy. It's hard for me to process humor in music. Sure, I get humorous stories and fun in music, but when the joke is delivered with such a straight face I'm not sure if I'm supposed to laugh or not. Instead I just get uneasy.
Microwave Miracles make me uneasy with their Yamaha keyboards' preset noises and schmaltzy keyboard sounds. They make lounge lizard music with lyrics about trash men, dying brains, and being left behind at Bed, Bath, and Beyond. I don't know how to take lyrics like that. Sometimes they seem earnest, sometimes they don't. I guess it says a lot about their album The World Is A Trash Can when for the last few days songs I'd forced down my gullet keep making their way back to the surface. Standing in the shower rinsing what I have left of my hair, the line "I wanna be your trash, baby/I wanna be your trash" echoes around in my skull. On a downtown bus I hear "The brain is dead" over and over again. I don't know if these songs have made a mark with me or they're trying to possess my soul.
Microwave Miracles is a two-piece "microwavecore" band out of Fort Wayne. Jared Andrews and Dani House started the band with the intention of doing a split single together, but the single turned into a full blown record. The guys allowed me to pick their brains a bit about their songwriting and I learned a lot. You will, too.
EA Poorman: So tell me about the band. How did you get come together? What other bands were you two playing in before/still playing in currently?
Jared Andrews: We met through the FTW music scene, basically. My old band (Elephants In Mud) played at Dani’s “Have You Seen Me?” album release show several years ago and he gave me a copy of the album and I thought it was really cool. We stayed in touch after that and worked together on a few tracks prior to Microwave Miracles. I'm currently in another band (The Meat Flowers) and also do solo shows sometimes.
Dani House: We first got together around last summer when I returned from Indianapolis and we were showing each other recent recordings. We tossed around the idea of doing a split album with them and realized everything came together more like a band, and after playing a couple shows it just kind of took off. Beforehand and currently, I've just
been recording solo albums and playing occasional solo shows.
EA Poorman: You describe Microwave Miracles music as "Microwavecore". For the newbie (like me), can you discuss this genre? Are you two the pioneers of Microwavecore? When I'm listening I think of Bill Murray in an airport lounge singing.
Jared Andrews: We are the fathers of microwavecore. It is our beautiful mutant lovechild and it will outlive the entire human race. Just like the cockroach.
Dani House: Honestly, I forgot about the “microwavecore” label. To me it's always just made sense to make up a genre or label because I don't feel like I've ever done anything that's fit into any genre without it being too much of a stretch, and this is no exception. So I prefer to just go with the first thing that comes to mind when describing the sound. So
microwavecore is basically just us. If for some reason people start imitating it, then sure I guess we'd be pioneers, like the Louis and Clark of the microwave movement. That'd be cool I guess.
EA Poorman: Where are you guys pulling inspiration from? What artists are informing the sound? I hear some Daniel Johnston, Ariel Graffiti, and weird cable access children's shows from the 80s.
Jared Andrews: Daniel Johnston is in there, yeah. I also love Billy Joel so maybe he's in there too. I don't know. Wesley Willis too, I suppose, because of the whole Casio-chord thing. Even though we generally use Yamaha keyboards. We both love Ween very much. I really dig the band Trio as well. I remember my Grandma Virginia having an old organ at
her house when I was a kid and we used to mess around with the auto-play feature, so I've always had a soft spot for old weird keyboard sounds.
Dani House: Yeah I mean, Daniel Johnston’s always had an influence and it's usually the first people notice. For me, early Ariel Pink definitely inspired some of this, as well as the Magnetic Fields. But those are more permanent influences deeply embedded in me. I'd say influences that had a more direct influence on this specifically would be lo-Fi artists on small cassette labels I've found. Finding Goaty Tapes completely changed me, with artists like Banana Head, Son of Salami,
Robert Ridley-Shackleton and Gem Jones. I was really inspired by the idea of one person in a bedroom with a keyboard, tape recorder and pseudonym. It's so mysterious and just fun.
EA Poorman: What is the songwriting process like with Microwave Miracles? Do you both contribute to the music and lyrics equally? The songs, despite their eccentric leanings, are rather earnest. There's sort of a "be yourself" vibe in the songs. Trash seems to play a big role in the songs, too.
Jared Andrews: For the most part, we write and record separately and then compile all the songs onto one album. Then once we do that, we’ll get together and work out the songs so we can play them together live. The first album had a few that we actually wrote and recorded together, like “Space Monkey Valentine” and the open blues jams. But for this album we were living in different states during the recording process so it was all done separately. The trash theme happened very organically. Picasso had his blue period, this is our trash period.
Dani House: Honestly, the songwriting process is completely divided. With the exception of the Christmas album, we've always written and recorded our songs separately and put them together on the albums, which is why they tend to sound quite different live. Which I think is great because it does keep things equal. Yeah I suppose that's the point of the project and writing predominantly with auto-accompaniment. It puts the focus on the songwriter rather than the band, because our band is an old computer. My favorite kinds of songs are ones that sound like someone singing a journal entry over kind of blurry accompaniment, just as honest and genuine as possible. The trash thing was more of a funny coincidence than anything. I've just always loved the imagery and the metaphor and it ended up being mutual, so Jared mentioned the idea of having a strongly trash-themed album which I thought was perfect.
EA Poorman: Let's talk about the new album The World Is A Trash Can. Where did you guys record the record? Was it just the two of you involved?
Jared Andrews: I recorded my half of the songs in the living room of my house in Fort Wayne, and Dani recorded most of his songs in Michigan. I don't think we have any guests on this album. It's just me and Dani. Our coach Jon Ross mastered the album. He gets us fired up before every show and gives us a moving speech before every big game.
Dani House: Yeah it was just the two of us, aside from the mastering that Jon Ross did. It was recorded separately, my songs were recorded in my old bedroom in North Muskegon, and I'm guessing Jared did his at his house. It's meant to sound very situational, like just recording whenever the mood strikes and that's it, song’s done.
EA Poorman: What's a Microwave Miracles live show like? What can people expect to see? Are there trash groupies?
Dani House: The live shows are more than anything unpredictable. They polarize the crowd and tend to vary depending on how much we feel like testing people. That being said, groupies are a thing that simply can't happen, because once we start playing the crowd is divided, and the people that stay that genuinely enjoyed it are the type that will hang out and just become our friends. If we ever had groupies, it’d be my cue to step aside and try something else. I feel like trash groupies would be like that trash humpers movie.
Jared Andrews: It’s like being front row at a championship game watching your favorite team battle for the coveted gold and all your friends are there and all your favorite songs are playing and the energy of the crowd is so strong and you feel more alive than you have ever felt. Suddenly you realize your team is down by 3 points and the clock is running out and the star player plants his feet and shoots. The buzzer sounds. Time stops. The ball hits the rim. It circles around. The crowd collectively gasps. The ball rests on the rim for what seems like an eternity, and you watch in horror as it slides off and falls to the ground with a thud that echoes throughout the auditorium. Your team has lost and the opponents rejoice. You and your friends hang your heads, crestfallen. It's then that you notice your team on the court, rejoicing. Why are they celebrating? They lost the championship. You don't understand. You look to your friends for some sort of explanation. They look back at you. They smile. You smile back. You get it. You understand.
EA Poorman: Are you guys currently touring? Is there an extensive tour planned to support the album?
Jared Andrews: Yeah, we're on the road right now. I'm typing this as I sit shotgun on the way to Tulsa. We have a couple dates left and then we come back home to play with Swimsuit Addition from Chicago on 8/19 at CS3. The Snarks and The Meat Flowers are playing too. I have a feeling it's gonna be a swell time, friend.
EA Poorman: Are there plans for a new album, or has everything been said?
Dani House: There’s rarely any plans for future albums. We just sort of let them happen as they happen, but I'm sure before long we’ll be working on another one.
Jared Andrews: Yes.
Head over to bandcamp and check out Microwave Miracles' The World Is A Trash Can. Download it, or snag a cassette copy if you're into that. Make sure to check them out live at CS3 on 8/19 with Swimsuit Addition, The Meat Flowers, and The Snarks.