Senior philosophy major Jackson Lucas and junior broadcasting telecommunications and mass media major Nick Morrison are the kind of people who give out cookies with free copies of their band’s, Stinky Smelly’s, EPs. They prefer the almost tangible vivacity that comes from dangerously crowded North Philly house shows to the impersonal atmosphere of pricey venues. When asked how they formed their one- year-old self-proclaimed “Modest Mouse rip-off band,” they laughed and said it began with the question “Wanna be buds?”
Their pleasant sociability resonates through their fuzzy guitar riffs and entrancing drum beats, which have a habit of building up to the point where even the most disinterested listener will be compelled to move along to the music. The duo recently released their fourth EP, “Spook,” after a summer of exchanging song ideas through emails between Morrison in Philadelphia and Lucas in Japan. Despite the distance involved in its creation, “Spook” maintains Stinky Smelly’s ability to make the listener feel closely connected to something–just what is unclear, but it is undeniably good. The Temple News sat outside of Ritter Hall with Morrison and Lucas to discuss the delights of being a duo, the use of pretzels as an instrument and music as a means of reaching out to people.
The Temple News: You both were in the band Old People, why did you branch off and start your own thing?
Nick Morrison: I think after playing with Jack in that band I was like ‘Jack is the by far the best drummer I have ever known’ and we both kind of wanted to try out different styles. So that’s kind of how it came about. Having a two piece [band] and working with limitations is real cool. You have to work with what you have.
TTN: What’s the story behind your name?
Jackson Lucas: I thought of it. At one point, I was like ‘Man, if I ever have a band I want to name it Corner Frosting. I thought of a bunch of them but one of them was Stinky Smelly. When we started playing together it was so not serious so it was perfect. And so I was like ‘Oh! You want to call it Stinky Smelly?’ and he was like “Yea sure!”
NM: I thought it was like the funniest band name I had ever heard.
TTN: How do you want people to feel when they hear your music?
JL: Definitely not angry, definitely not sad.
NM: I think, for me at least, it kind of goes back to the name. So many bands now are just really into taking themselves seriously. Not that I don’t want people to take us seriously, but I want there to be an air of comfortableness. It’s not like we’re trying to preach anything.
JL: But at the same time, there’s maybe like three songs that we have that I want to get people to feel a certain way. There’s something that I’m trying to communicate. One of them is “Bubba’s Rubbage Yard” which starts out really loud, like as loud as we can possibly play and then gets as impossibly silent as we possibly can. I guess it definitely has a lot to do with the energy involved in playing. People say how you communicate that to other people, but it’s really much more than communicating it’s like an exchange, a connection.
TTN: I noticed on your bandcamp page for the album “Spook” you credit additional vocals to a bag of pretzels. Can you tell me what that’s about?
NM: It was at the very end of the last song while we were in the studio. I was nervous that it was going to come off as too pretty and I had a bag of pretzels and a thing of Gatorade and he [the studio owner] was like ‘You should just eat the pretzels.’ So there is just a track of pretzels in there and I was like ‘this makes it sound more ugly.’ I thought it was funny–well at least for me and [Lucas].
TTN: You seem to play a lot of house shows. What was the craziest house show you’ve played at?
JL: The craziest house show was the one right when I came back from Japan. There were like 200 people in and out. It was probably the biggest basement show I’ve ever been to.
NM: We played this show at the Maggot House and it was just a nut house–everything got broken and one kid came up to us and was like ‘I lost my tooth!’ A bunch of weird stuff happened.
TTN: What are your plans for the future?
JL: I want to have a very high quality of living and that doesn’t mean making a lot of money, it just means being able to take care of yourself. I feel like a lot of musicians don’t do that.
NM: Their lifestyle takes a backseat to their passion which may or may not be conducive to living a comfortable life.
JL: There are certainly easier ways to live than trying to make money off your CDs.
NM: Especially when you’re giving them out for free all the time.
Missy Steinberg can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.