ARTIST SPOTLIGHTS: Aluminum Knot Eye, Primitive Broadcast Service

Primitive Broadcast Service

It was a bitterly cold night on Friday, but that didn’t stop Aluminum Knot Eye and Primitive Broadcast Service from the rocking the house at Circle A. DJ Timothy Triplett kept the party going afterwards.

Aluminum Knot Eye consists of vocalist/guitarist Keith Vercauteren, guitarist Mark Biermann, bassist Voot Warnings and drummer Justin Propp. They have a unique, multifaceted rock style that incorporates punk, garage and experimental elements. The project began as Vercauteren’s solo endeavor in the 90s but gradually became a full band, as he explains.

“We played our first show in like 1996,” Vercauteren said. “I’m the only member left from the first lineup but Mark has been in the band since like 1999. I started making recordings under the name by myself when I lived in De Pere; I just had a boombox and did weird techniques to try making electronic and experimental music, and it ended up sounding cool so eventually I moved down here and I started a band…I wanted to have it be more of a rock thing once it was actually a band. When I was in high school I was reading a book called “The Illuminatus Trilogy” and Aluminum Knot Eye came out of saying “Illuminati” in a weird way.”

The band did a LP back in 2004 called “Trunk Lunker” and then in 2013 recorded new material for their “Northern Secrets” EP. In 2019 they did a 7″ split with Green Bay punks Shithole. On his lyrical process, Vercauteren said, “I’ve always written about weird stuff that happens in small towns in Wisconsin. Occasionally I vary from that and write more about living in Milwaukee and the weird characters I meet, or something I have in a dream.”

The band’s been working on new material. “We’re going to try record this winter,” Vercauteren shared. “During the pandemic, our previous bass player (who’s actually the DJ tonight) Tim Triplett decided he didn’t want to do it anymore but he’s still a close friend; he actually played a bunch of instruments for us. I was hanging around drinking with Voot one night and mentioned that we needed a bass player and he said he could do it, so he joined. We’ve got songs that we’ve been playing for years and then we’ve got some new ones since Voot joined. We’re going to try recording it all ourselves with an 8-track and get a nice, raw sound.”

Aluminum Knot Eye will have more shows in the coming months.

Primitive Broadcast Service are a noise rock trio consisting of vocalist/guitarist JD Morgan, bassist Andy Steffen-Haagen and drummer Bryan Dorn. Formed in 2018, the band’s sound is described as skronk for the political and social disparities of our times.

On how the band started, Morgan recalled, “I just started writing songs by myself and then I found a drummer, but then he couldn’t play after a little while so I recruited Bryan, and it was just the two of us until we found a bass player. I wanted to do a noise rock thing because there’s a truth that you can find in that kind of symphonic dissonance.”

The band’s sophomore LP “Colors for Chameleons” came out in October 2021. Morgan said about the album, “We did it all through the pandemic. Vince Smith from Avenues is my buddy and he recorded all of it for us; it was a very painstaking process because we had to do it in little bursts. It took us months to mix but finally it all came together. I like to work with friends; a buddy who was in one of my first bands in the 90s did the cover art, my wife played violin, and my daughter consulted on the cover artwork. I wanted to call the album “Music for Chameleons” but Truman Capote took it already; “Colors for Chameleons” works because each song is a different color. The song “Chameleon” is about feeling invisible in the city but being able to change and go somewhere else. “Word is a Virus” I wrote when I was walking around in April of 2020 during the pandemic and not seeing anyone anywhere. “City of Clocks” is about Milwaukee being the leading incarcerator of Black males in the US and how there’s obviously something broken here.”

Morgan shares a bit about what the band’s working on now. “We have a third album that we recorded all of the bed tracks down in Chicago at Electrical Audio Studio, which is Steve Albini’s studio. This time we’re working with Shane at Howl Street too. Albums are expensive so it’s kind of on hold until we figure out how we’re going to finish it.”

Primitive Broadcast Service play Club Garibaldi’s on January 20th and Promises on March 17th.

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