TLD Contributor Flora Theden catches up with Life Size Maps frontman Mike McKeever before their December 13 show at Cake Shop.
It takes a moment to decide what to think about Brooklyn-based indie trio, Life Size Maps. With a sound that’s high-energy, epic noise rock that meanders and roams wherever it wants, yet stays cohesive and ethereal, the band is one of the few that is difficult to categorize. Under the rattling, random electronic explosions and effects that growl and purr throughout each Life Size Maps song, there’s an emotional depth and complication to the vocals that brings their sound together.
The self-described “glitch pop” band just finished recording their first 12-song, full-length album (release date TBD) and will perform at Cake Shop tomorrow at 7pm, in between sets by Alarms and Controls and Poor Lily. Tickets are $10 at the door.
Heavily immersed in the Brooklyn DIY music scene, Life Size Maps is one of the most notable and memorable groups forging a path for other artists who are a part of the self-publishing audio culture. They recorded the new album with Daniel Schlett at Strange Weather Recording Studio in Brooklyn, and find the rich culture and flourishing music scene in the neighborhood to be a big advantage for their artistic process. Some of the band’s favorite haunts in Brooklyn include DIY music meccas 285 Kent, Shea Stadium and the Silent Barn, due to the energy and vibrant scene that set each venue apart.
“The New York DIY scene is really a one-of-a-kind phenomenon,” says frontman and singer Mike McKeever.
“Being constantly surrounded by fresh sensory input, I’m always amazed… I’ll hear an exciting new band on the internet and then realize they’re playing a couple of blocks away from me the following weekend,” he says.
The band made waves in the DYI music scene with the September 2012 release of “Abstract Speed,” and set themselves apart at the beginning of their music career by using junkyard car parts as part of drummer Sean Thornton’s drum set. But that phase quickly ended when one of the “instruments” crushed McKeever’s laptop. With those days behind them, Life Size Maps’ sound is evolving into a more electronic one, which McKeever attributes to the endless options available with new technology. “A guitar almost always sounds like a guitar, but a computer can sound like anything,” he says.
For their first album, McKeever said the band wanted to make the vocals and melodies crisp and defined. “We wanted the tracks to come across as clear as possible so that each song seems like a different side of a consistent idea,” says McKeever.
Heavily influenced by electronic musician Dan Deacon, it’s no surprise that Life Size Maps‘ sound is evolving slowly from noise rock to electronic glitch pop. “This year, I’ve gotten really into Rustie’s melted digital world. Anyone who says that everything in music has already been done before needs to hear [the song] “Glass Swords.”‘
The noise-pop trio consists of McKeever, his high school classmate and bassist Dave Stocker, and drummer Sean Thornton, who McKeever met while interning at a jingle-writing company several years ago (although McKeever holds that instead of writing jingles he mostly swept dog hair off the floor during the gig).
Life Size Maps is excited to open their set at Cake Shop with the band’s newest song, “Hyperreal,” which is high-energy and has a build-up that sets the tone for the rest of the songs. The band has played Cake Shop five or six times and enjoys the venue for its quirky personality and immense record collection. McKeever particularly enjoys seeing his friends’ 7-inch records in the bins scattered throughout the basement dive.
After Friday’s show, Life Size Maps will play at Death by Audio in Williamsburg on December 19 with Dinowalrus, My Teenage Stride and Echo Comets. The band kicks off 2014 with a January 2 performance at Glasslands with The Can’t Tells and Slavve and plays the Total Slacker release show at Rough Trade on February 12.