Interview: :3

Sounding a bit similar to the Slinkeys, (featured in yesterday's review), San Antonio's :3 create fuzzed-out bedroom pop that's simple and delicate, yet conceals a sinister aura, not unlike the photo the e-mailed me, shown above. Read on to find out why frontman Joshua Belmares chose the band's seemingly unpronounceable name, what food he enjoys, and when :3 might make their live debut.

1.) Why did you decide your name after an emoticon? How would one pronounce it in conversation?

I’ve been writing songs since I was thirteen but always knew they weren’t actually songs so much as weird song embryos that awkwardly exist in a sort of bardo state, between abstract noise and conventional sound. it wouldn’t necessarily even be right to call it music, noise or otherwise, and it’s certainly shouldn’t be thought of as avant-garde, but that still left the action of writing and recording, which I was doing, and some of the compositions I created could have sounded like songs to a deaf person. :3 is an attempt to sort of pretend my songs exist in the real world along songs by other people who also exist. we called it such because no other words really captured what we were trying to do, and it always reminds me of sending text messages in high school on cheap plastic phones, so there’s a nostalgic element to it. I’ve always pronounced it silly cat face, but :3 is pretty anti-language, so you should ask them instead.

2.) How did :3 originate? Who's in the band and what are they like?

:3 is me but a lot of other people also. we all have a lot of fear, anxieties and nervousness and that’s kind of what created :3 in the first place. it’s all teenaged satanic music and we all exist inside of it, so listening to the recordings should tell you exactly who and what we are. and if you want to meet us in person (whatever that means), we live in san antonio, in texas, in the united states. our address is 1110 vista valet, apartment #704. I think our zip code is 78216. we have two cats.

3.) Your latest release, "Mindless Eating", has a chaotic and extemporaneous atmosphere. How are the tracks recorded and written?

mindless eating was kind of strange for us. it was recorded after a lot of emotional turmoil the previous and summer and was sort of an attempt to come to terms with that stress - it’s very much a summer record. I wanted listening to the album to be kind of uncomfortable, like when you’re home fevered in bed on the hottest day of the year, sticky cough syrup dribbling out the corners of your mouth. we had sent a digital version of the adventures of me and my ghost twin to almost halloween time and they wrote back asking if we had any other songs they could listen to, so we kind of rushed through the recording process, but it worked out since this was our punk record and it was supposed to be a blurry memory of an angry season. we recorded everything between our car and our apartment (we have very thin walls), mostly at night, and our lyrics were written mostly in the middle of the day. I ended up failing the semester at school because the record took up most of my energy.

4.) What bands would you consider influences on your sound? I definitely hear at least a little Sentridoh in there.

any similarities with sentridoh aren’t necessarily deliberate, other than the home recording aesthetic that a lot of shrimper bands had out of necessity. I never really listened to any of lou barlow’s music until I was already out of high school. actually a much bigger influence would be daniel johnston, who collaborated with jad fair of half japanese on it’s spooky, an album I’ve always been mildly fascinated by. we got to see daniel when he performed at an art show during south by southwest last year, after all the people from california descended on austin like a swarm of angry bees. it’s a really horrible experience being in the city that week (imagine a stream of terrible automobiles flushing inside and out like a douche), but seeing him in a tiny gallery was a dream come true for us. spook houses are another one of the artists who we admire best - they create these amazing jangly dream punk compositions and make it seem effortless. every time we listen to one of their records it makes us want to go out and create our own. they’re a lot like wisdom tooth in that respect, whose beautiful pop record baby neptune we could listen to over and over again. it kind of sounds like watching cartoons stoned and then vomiting from eating too much cereal. two other bands who influenced us in a giant way are woods (especially woods family creeps) and the unicorns, who we’ve been listening to since middle school. they both planted these achingly psychedelic compositions in the recesses of our brains, so whenever we’re playing one of our tunes we’re playing one of their songs too.

5.) How did you get the chance to get a release on Almost Halloween Time? I love the artwork for that label.

we initially emailed our demo to labels, blogs and artists we like very much but didn’t really receive any kind of feedback except for some extremely polite and slightly ambiguous no’s. I think cassie ramone has a cd we burned and decorated with paint markers, and we’re sending a few unreleased songs and photographs to the experimental musician christina carter later this month through the postal service. the most positive reaction we got came from luigi falagario, who owns and operates almost halloween time by himself and hand paints each of those releases. I’m not sure any of them have sold yet but we’re really grateful he liked our sound enough to dub the cassettes, even though the people releasing the new recordings would be completely different than the ones behind the adventures of me and my ghost twin. mindless eating became much more of a traditional exorcism compared to me and my ghost twin’s high school record.

6.) Are any of you guys (or have you been) in any other bands?

some of us have performed with others in things which could have become non-fictional bands but didn’t, but we’re all still pretty wet behind the ears. one of us produces electronic music under the name franklin eighties. mostly it’s just :3 though.

7.) What's your favorite food to eat mindlessly?

I really love bread, candy, cakes, sweets, sugary things and anything that’s there and cheap and plentiful. that’s a really big issue with me, consuming out of boredom anything devoid of nutrition so that I kill my appetite for any kind of actual food. all of mindless eating is kind of about that, devoting your time to any repetitive action which doesn’t deserve it, whether it be masturbation or smoking or watching television. that’s why the thing on the cover has a screen for a head - he’s the personification of death from sterility, so it’s good that he’s vomiting. all of that fecal matter becomes ghosts inside your body unless you release it somehow. 

8.) 2nd favorite emoticon next to :3?


9.) What's in store for the future of :3?

we’re going to play a show this year, probably around halloween-time. we’ve been practicing a lot. I’ve never performed in front of any kind of audience so it makes me kind of nervous. we have no idea what venue we might perform at in the city or who we might open for or play with or how long it should be or which songs should be played. right now I’m working on some outtakes from the mindless eating sessions and recycling some lyrics that were meant to be recorded already, and some covers of spooky songs we like very much. we still have a few mindless eating experiments to do before the next collection of songs, before the album can be buried; we should sell a few tapes too so someone will want to put out our next release