Black and gray clouds inch across the East River, crossing Kent Avenue and Wythe, up Metropolitan toward Bedford. Below is Volume, Williamsburg's newest, dirtiest and most frequently attended club. Open for only a handful of months, it's hosted a Suicide Girls party, a Franz Ferdinand show and a freaky Burning Man fundraiser, but nothing like the performance the four men inside are about to bring on. But as the storm lurks above, vocalist Tim Harrington, guitarist Seth Jabour, drummer Harrison Haynes and bassist Syd Butler -- the four members of Les Savy Fav -- innocently sit cross-legged on stage, stringing flowers on strings.
Les Savy Fav has become renowned for its imaginative and hyper-kinetic stage performances, and tonight will be no exception. Tonight's show marks eight years in the making for the Fav, which is celebrating the release of its definitive record, Inches. The record compiles the nine seven-inches the band has released since moving to Brooklyn and beginning to unleash their post-punk mayhem on the indie scene. Prefix sat down with Harrington, Butler, Haynes and Jabour before the momentous show at Volume to discuss the band's past, its future and its status as "Godfathers of the Brooklyn Sound."
Prefix Magazine: Do you guys still live out here in Williamsburg?
Les Savy Fav: Part One: Syd Butler: Seth does ... Seth Jabour: I live in Greenpoint, man. Butler: Just accept it ... [Laughs]. Tim lives in Williamsburg; I live in the city. PM: When you guys started out, you were using a Knights of Columbus space. Do you still use that?
Les Savy Fav: Part One: Butler: No, it's gone. Actually Tim and Harrison and a few others had a pretty revolving door at that place. A lot of people would live in there. It was cool. PM: Where are you practicing now?
Les Savy Fav: Part One: Butler: Now we use a space that's actually right down here in Greenpoint. PM: Convenient for tonight ...
Les Savy Fav: Part One: Jabour: Convenient for me too, 'cause I live right down the road. PM: You all met at Rhode Island School of Design. Did you all finish together?
Les Savy Fav: Part One: Jabour: Harrison finished ahead of us, and ... Harrison, you graduated in -- Harrison: I found out recently I graduated in '96, 'cause I took a semester off, and it was winter of '96. Essentially I was a year ahead of these guys. Butler: I just thought you were hanging around for fun, 'cause that's where all the chicks were. Harrison: [Laughs.] But I wasn't the original drummer. At that point Pat Mahoney was the drummer. PM: Is he doing anything now? Do you guys keep in touch with him?
Les Savy Fav: Part One: Butler: He plays with LCD Soundsystem a little. PM: And how did you guys all meet?
Les Savy Fav: Part One: Jabour: There was a really tight side culture of music in Providence, because everyone was involved in art already, so that was prevalent. There were tons of bands. It almost seemed like people were doing music to blow off steam. So everyone kind of knew each other, if not through classes, then through music. Harrison: There was a big Brown University/RISD crossover. You'd go to something at Brown campus where they'd put on shows. It was a big mixture of kids; it wasn't just exclusively a RISD thing. The two schools are right next to each other. Jabour: Bands would play at parties ... or there were a few clubs around. At that point it was cool; there were about five clubs that were happening. PM: So you all met through hanging out in Providence?
Les Savy Fav: Part One: Jabour: I actually got called to audition, in a weird kind of way. We have a mutual friend who gave Syd my phone number, 'cause Syd was playing with Pat at the time and this other guy Tony who then moved to Boston. He was another guitar player of theirs and had some songs worked that were the first Les Savy Fav songs, which you've never heard. I think Syd called me one day and asked if I you played the guitar and if I was interested. At the time, I didn't really know much about indie rock and that kind of stuff. PM: What were you listening to?
Les Savy Fav: Part One: Jabour: I liked bands like Fugazi and the Pixies. Somehow the influences were there, but I wasn't like, "Oh yeah, man. I love Pavement!" PM: You can definitely hear some Pixies in you.
Les Savy Fav: Part One: Jabour: Yeah. I guess I didn't have an "approach" to playing music; it was mostly playing it in my room, playing this mindless bullshit for the most part. PM: Do you guys feel a sense of completion now that Inches is done?
Les Savy Fav: Part One: Butler: I'm real happy it's done. It was something that, once we decided that we were going to be a band and start putting records out and not just do it for fun and play parties, we had this idea. And it was kind of cool to have it be resolved, after all these years, putting out the records, forgetting about it, coming back to it. PM: Who did the artwork?
Les Savy Fav: Part One: Jabour: We had our first seven-inch on the way. We knew we were putting out a seven-inch with Sub Pop, and that was cool. And we were at Vaselka -- you know that place over on Second Avenue? Tim and I were there, I don't know if you (Syd) were there, and we just drew the square, like that.