written by Kara McGinley
In just under a decade since joining forces, Jared Artaud and Brian MacFadyen of The Vacant Lots have made a name for themselves in the psych music scene, drawing inspiration from the likes of Iggy Pop, Galaxie 500, Television, and of course, Joy Division. But their indoctrination into that scene was more than just fandom from afar as they have and continue to collaborate with underground music legends from Sonic Boom (who mixed their debut album Departure), to Alan Vega of Suicide (whose vocals are featured on the band’s second album, Endless Night) and Anton Newcombe, who recorded and produced 2 EPs with the band at his Cobra Studios in Berlin.
As Jared describes, “I feel really grateful because I’ve been able to work with a lot of the artists that inspired me to do what I do. For example, I started working with Dean Wareham and then ended up working with Sonic Boom on our first album. Dean also played on our first record. I met Alan Vega and we got to work with him. I was one of the last people to see him alive. Through that connection and the work Alan did with Vacant Lots, I’ve maintained a relationship with his estate on music and art projects from his last record.”
But The Vacant Lots are merely keeping up the age-old indie tradition of collaboration, which includes contributing to the constant give and take of the cultural continuum. And not just in terms of their minimalist, primitive rock and roll sound and their genuine punk spirit, but with the release of their new video, Bells, we see that same approach to the visual aesthetics as well.
“I love collaborating with visual artists,” says Jared. “With this video, we had our friend who is a visual artist, Sam Quinn, come with us on a few tours. So a lot of the footage is behind the scenes. I thought maybe we’d make a documentary. But in general I wanted to create a time capsule of the band.” And isn’t that exactly what the best music does? It can convey a time and sense of place with one simple note. So as one generation of artists borrows sounds and techniques from those from our shared past, they continue to give back to that same cultural continuum with every album, song, or EP.
Bells— a track from the forthcoming EXIT EP, coming soon on A Recordings— was produced when the band had 3 days off in Berlin in 2017 with Anton Newcombe (Brian Jonestown Massacre) before they went on tour with Black Rebel Motorcycle Club that year. Newcombe also plays bass, synths, guitars, and vocals on it. So, sit back, relax, and enjoy the never-ending cultural game of tag that indie music is and will always be.