When Phoenix, AZ. band Emby Alexander
played in Bend just over a year ago, the Source Weekly's music editor Ethan Maffy described their “wildly aggressive baroque music,” as “an ill-supervised field trip of feral urchins scattered through the Louvre’s halls with abandoned wonder.”
I'm not even going to try to beat that.
Since their last visit Emby Alexander has released a new album, Frontispiece
, made several mind-bending videos and have centered themselves squarely in the art rock genre.
The band has a borderline bipolar approach to making music, one that takes listeners on an unpredictable rollercoaster from symphonic highs filled with full-bodied drums and shouting harmonies, tumbling downward into tiny twinkling xylophone riffs and whispering vocals. I caught up with Michael Brian Alexander (AKA MB, AKA Emby) as he and the band were getting ready to hit the road for another west-coast tour. Emby Alexander will play at Volcanic Theatre Pub on Wed., Aug. 20 at 9:30 pm. $5.
Brianna Brey: Where are you guys right now?
Michael Brian Alexander:
Emby Alexander is in downtown Phoenix. We are getting ready to play a house show in Tempe, AZ. We are looking vainly into mirrors and hoping the lights will be dim tonight. This will be our last show in Arizona for a while. We are saying goodbye to everybody before we head out on tour. Some people we are sad to leave behind. Some people we hope are gone by the time we get back.
Do you guys considerer yourselves art rock? What does art rock even mean these days?
Yes, I think we are art rock. I think it means we are self-aware and we have a hand in every single aspect of what the audience is bombarded with. Every part is crafted. If you see or hear something and wonder if it was intentional.... the answer is always "YES!".
I like the aggressiveness of some of your musical elements and the epicenes of your drums. How did you guys develop your sound?
I think the sound comes from being obsessed with all things dramatic. All things extreme. Louds aren't loud unless you're quiet sometimes. Softness isn't soft unless you scream and bleed and lose your voice sometimes.
BB: What do your songs tend to be about more than anything else?
Relationships. Between things. Between humans. Between humans and things.
Your band name reminds me of Brandy Alexander…where does the name come from and why was it meaningful for the band?
My name is Michael Brian Alexander aka M.B. Alexander aka Emby Alexander. Emby Alexander is the name of the band, too. The drink should be renamed "Emby Alexander", and it should contain Dr. Pepper instead of what ever else is normally in it.
What is the Phoenix music scene like? How do the tastes or aesthetics of the South West differ from the rest of the country?
The Phoenix scene is made of little pockets of creativity. There are so many different thriving scenes that can be just blocks apart that have little to do with each other. Emby Alexander is flying the Phoenix flag trying to shine a light on this city. We are trying to be the city's representatives as we travel around this country and get international attention. Emby Alexander claims to be the "Sound of Phoenix". Many people agree, but many people oppose this viewpoint and don't think we deserve it. So many people transplant to Los Angeles and New York. So many people don't like "The Scene" here, so we said we are going to make our claim and say "Phoenix belongs to us". If you don't like it then change it. If you think of Phoenix, think of Emby Alexander. If you think of Emby Alexander, think of Phoenix.
What’s next for the band?
We are going to continue to make music videos for the "Frontispiece" album. We have some original music on the new Trevvor Riley feature film. We will continue to tour the West Coast and Southwest USA through the end of the year and then get out to the East Coast and Europe next year. We will get inspired and we will probably do something we never even thought of.