Kevin Steinhauser and Justine Mainville comprise the "electro-punk-spazz" duo Math the Band, set to make their Anchor Brain Records debut next month with Get Real, the full-length follow-up to 2009's Don't Worry (available at maththeband.com). Try to imagine, say, Matt and Kim dry-humping a Commodore 64 into submission at 300 beats per minute, and then revel in the vintage mayhem that is Math the Band.
Steinhauser started out as a solo act in 2001 and met Mainville while playing a show at her college in 2006. They started dating a few months later, and in 2007 she joined on as a keyboardist. Steinhauser builds song structures from old-school drum machines, synths, and vintage 8-bit sound effects, all calibrated to lightspeed. While Don't Worry was a nonstop acid trip at breakneck speed, the new songs still capture the madness but come alive via standard (dare I say "normal") hooks and choruses.
Steinhauser built a Commodore 64 sound chip-based synthesizer for the album (as well as incorporating plenty of NES bleeps and blips) and explained the writing process: "It's kind of like conducting a tiny band of electronics. I have a collection of old synthesizers, drum machines, video game systems, etc., that all take messages from one master computer," he said. "I notate all the parts for each gadget, and then work out guitar and drums.
"I'm more interested in the melody and rhythm of the vocals than the lyrical content," Steinhauser continued. "I write the melody and then fill in the words like a giant Mad Lib."
None of the 15 antsy anthems on Get Real drop below 170 BPM, with "Dead Physical" topping out at 310 BPM (by my math that's just over five per second). Playful numbers "Positive Stress" and "Bad Jokes" open the album, and the pogo-punk fun continues on "I Hope You Die" and "Stay Real (Sock It Yo Me Satan)." And retro video game nerds (guilty as charged) will get a good dose of déjà vu on "Hey Alright" and "Nahh."
Math the Band's live show is a must-see event; they've toured with a wide array of acts, from Afrika Bambaataa to Andrew WK. Steinhauser recalled a bloody good time opening for Matt and Kim: "Right at the end of our set, I jumped and hit my head on the ceiling and split my head wide open," he said, "and next thing I knew there was a giant puddle of blood and I was getting 11 staples in my forehead."
The duo hooked up with local imprint Anchor Brain (home to Doomsday Student, What Cheer? Brigade, and Six Finger Satellite, to namedrop a few) last year. Anchor Brain CEO Eric Paul was kind enough to drop a line while on tour with Doomsday Student in Lyon, France: "Math the Band's enthusiasm is infectious. Because of this, working on Get Real with them has inspired an excitement in me similar to when I release one of my own records. They are one of the most hardworking and dedicated bands I've ever known and they deserve all the success that this release will hopefully bring them."
Get Real will be available starting November 20 at anchorbrain.com.
MATH THE BAND + HANK SINATRA JR. + IN GLOVE WITH BACH + DOWNTOWN BOYS + RANDY BUSH | Thursday, November 8 @ 9 pm | AS220, 115 Empire St, Providence | 401.831.9327 | maththeband.com | anchorbrain.com