SE: Gives us a short Action Painters bio, where did you guys meet, how long have you known each other, etc.
Allison: See attached bio for the juicy details. The gist is that we all met on craigslist in 2006 and by shear luck have become great friends and comrades. We all wanted to get along with each other and enjoy each other’s company above everything, since we devote every free minute to this project.
SE: Where did the name “Action Painters” come from, did any of you have a background in art, etc.?
Allison: Tom is very arty and he came up with it. We had booked our first show at the Annex in NYC back in June of 2006 and still didn’t have a name. So we all gathered at a bar with a list and decided to pick one that we all didn’t hate. Since Action Painters had nothing to do with Dungeons and Dragons it got my vote.
My favorite part of the name is that it celebrates the act of making art – not just the finished product. The journey of this band for me is about the strategy, comradery, and live performance as well as what you hear on the CD, so it fits.
Our newest member Ray Heekin (on bass) was an art student, and will be drawing some of the animation you will see on our newest video for “Supermarket,” which we’re shooting this weekend.
Tom: A lot of us have art backgrounds. Like Allison said, Ray went to art school, I went to film school, Allison just wrote a novel and is also a makeup artist, Joe (guitar) comes from a family of artists and is really into web design stuff, and Amit (drummer) was a ballerina in Teaneck, New Jersey in the 1990's. But the name is just a name in the end. Interpol the band had nothing to do with international police forces even though Carlos D wore a gun belt for a while.
SE: There are some obvious disadvantages to being a completely DIY outfit, but what are some of the ways you feel that it has benefited you guys?
Allison: I think the best part is creative control and getting to be our own boss. We get to decide everything – album art, which singles we release and when, which shows we book, which bands we play with, tour schedule, photographers, web site content, promotion, t-shirt design, etc. And the added bonus is being able to work with our creative network of friends in NYC. For example our friend Jesse Mclean designed our t-shirts, and our friend Jason Whalen shot the cover for our Live EP coming out this month and is working on our new video as well. We feel fortunate to be part of such a collection of hard working talent in NYC.
Tom: It's benefited us in pretty much every way. We all share a vision for what we want this band to be, and no one stands in the way of that. At some point we will sign with a label and we'll let them do the leg work, but for now we're building this thing exactly the way we want and thinking long-term. It's pretty intoxicating to challenge yourself to do more than you think is humanly possible. Also, in fairness, Allison is the most organized human being I have ever met, so that helps.
SE: Do you feel like the whole DIY aspect lets you connect more directly with fans/the scene?
Allison: I think so. We have to have our hands in everything and are so attuned to the response from our music since we get the word out ourselves. If we see someone has an AP track up on his or her MySpace, we’ll send them a CD. If we see a band play and dig their sound, we’ll introduce ourselves and try to book a show together.
Tom: Yes definitely. I feel like people who like our music tend to be people who we would want to hang out with anyway. You tend to share the same sensibilities.
SE: With no booking agent or promoter you managed to sell out the Mercury Lounge in NYC, a) how were you able to accomplish this, and b) to what do you attribute your success?
Tom: Working our asses off, playing good songs, promoting like crazy and wearing tight jeans.
SE: You guys are currently planning a big spring/summer tour, where all will this take you/do you think you will make it down to our neck of the woods?
Tom: Not this time. This is unfortunate because I love Austin and Tex-Mex. The highlight of SXSW last year was the tacos, hands down (well that and seeing Matt Pinfield's bald pate everywhere I went). Our tour this time around is going to be Northeast, Mid-Altantic and Midwest. We'll be doing way more later in the year, so most likely we’ll be in Tex. You guys are really lucky with the taco situation down there.
SE: I have to say that the YouTube video you guys posted to promote the upcoming digital release of your new live EP was one of the most creative/sexy/funny promo ideas I’ve seen in a good while, who’s idea was it to shoot a faux vintage porno clip, and what kind of response have you seen from it?
Allison: It was all Tom’s idea. We have a video camera, so he thought there was no reason not to create as much media as we can for ourselves. Plus it’s fun. We’ve been putting it out there, and the response has been really enthusiastic, except for maybe my dad who raised his eyebrow when I told him about it.
Tom: What's the point of having a girl in the band if you can't make a porno? People have been pretty into it. I think it's just so out of left field that it gets people's attention. We've got a bunch of other video projects that we'll self produce in the coming months that will be equally retarded.
SE: As of last week I hadn't heard when the official release date for the live EP was, when can we be expecting that?
Tom: The EP, "Lay That Cable", will be out on March 31st! It'll be on iTunes, on our website, all over the damn place. It also has our first ever recorded cover song. We're really excited about it. It's being mastered right now by Ron Shaffer, who mixed and co-produced Chubby Dancer.
SE: We love the single “Supermarket” from your upcoming album, what other types of sounds/surprises can we expect from the new disc?
Tom: There will be 2 albums this year. The Live EP out 3/31 is dirtier, sexier, louder, more raw, but you can still dance to it and the melodies will stick in your brain. We recorded it in one day, live, no overdubs. It was a way to capture the spontaneous act of creation. Albums take so long to finish, and we wanted to do something NOW! The video for "456", the first track, was shot live during the recording process. The disc is mostly mixed and produced by this crazy German filmmaker named Helge Bernhardt (he also worked on the video). In keeping with pretty much everything we do, it's a highly collaborative thing that involved more than one type of media, some very talented friends, and virtually no money.
SE: Do you have a title (or working title)/release date/tracklist for the new album yet?
Tom: Our second album will be out later in 2009. It's being produced by our friend and wunderkind Peter Wade. Supermarket is the first single off of that album. Everything else is top secret.
MP3: Action Painters - Supermarket
Action Painters Website
Action Painters MySpace