FLYER Q&A: The Messthetics to play at George’s with Or on Dec. 9

The Messthetics / Courtesy photo

The Messthetics is the new band from former Fugazi rhythm section Brendan Canty and Joe Lally. The two started playing together again when Lally moved back to D.C. after living in Italy for almost a decade. Lally had hit a roadblock in writing his next record and wanted to play music with Canty again. Canty soon invited guitarist Anthony Pirog to join and the focus soon shifted away from their original ideas into noisier and jazzier terrain.

The band released two record in less than a year, their newest being Anthropocosmic Nest, which is tighter and weirder than their debut. It’s a result of constant touring and sounds like a band coming to grips with their potential sounds.

The group makes a stop in Fayetteville on Monday, Dec. 9 at George’s Majestic Lounge with Or.

Who: The Messthetics / Or
When: 8:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 9
Where: George’s Majestic Lounge, 519 W. Dickson St.
Cost: $12-$15 + fees at
More: See the Facebook event

I asked drummer Brendan Canty some questions about the band and here goes…

Hi Brendan. You’re preparing for a Midwest tour, what do you take with you?
I have been on tour off and on all year, so my bags are pretty much never unpacked. The most important thing is the right book. This time I pulled a copy of William T. Vollman’s “An Afghanastan Picture Show” and Raymond Carvers complete Poetry anthology.

We take turns driving, but I try to get some reading done every day. Other than that, perhaps you meant equipment. In that case it would be my drums, the same Gretsch drums I’ve ever played since 1989 or so when I bought them during Fugazi times. My ludwig colosseum snare drum, and of course my bell, the same bell, yes the same bell. It’s a little dusty but still very loud.

Anthropocosmic Nest came out quickly after the first record – what changed for the band after the first record and tour?
We really wanted to get this record out to document what we’ve become in our 200 plus shows of touring. I think the constant touring is unsustainable probably
so I think it’s important to make sure we got a record of what we’ve become organically, a single unit with three heads. That’s the significance of the cover of Anthropocosmic Nest. We are wound way up in each other’s shit right now, and digging away at the
noise potential. I never thought I’d be here again, but am so glad to have found these sonic brothers.

The first song and the last song on the new record almost sound like different bands – how do you approach what makes a record with so many options? Anthony’s guitar is essentially the voice of the band and he doesn’t have the same limitations that a singer would have.
Anthony’s guitar is definitely the vocals and most expressive element. He’s a fantastic player and spontaneous assassin. My job is to make it sound good, in playing and recording and mixing. It’s actually easy when you have players like Joe and Anthony. As to the writing, it’s just like writing on any other record. You try not to repeat yourself. You look inward for sounds that speak to you and
inspire you. You listen for what the world is missing. You listen for what you are missing. You try to challenge yourself. You try to please yourself, and of course, you try not to repeat yourself.

What have you been reading and watching lately?
I like Jenny Zhang’s book “Sour Heart”. I’m watching the Righteous Gemstones. I’m listening to Johnny Greenwood’s soundtrack to Phantom Thread.

What’s the first thing you do on tour when you get to a new city?
Guitar store. Book store. Coffee. Food. Day off? Museum and walking. I go see art. It’s great for my mental health.

Do you make or read Best Of The Year lists?
I don’t. Years are way too short. Nothing happens in a single year.

You’re in Fayetteville, Arkansas on Dec. 9. Do you have any Arkansas memories from touring here with Fugazi? Anything you’re looking forward to seeing in Fayetteville?
I remember knowing some amazing people from back then in Fayetteville. I can picture the venue, Studio 225, and the stairs going up. I remember the joy of meeting kindred spirited strangers, and then the joy of being welcomed back into their lives a year later. It was a long time ago, but I remember the faces, and the laughs. I just don’t remember anyone’s names. Ian and Guy remember everyone’s.

So I usually ask them. I’m sure we have pictures in the archive at Dischord house. I’m afraid I don’t have time to dig them up right now. Really, really looking forward to playing Fayetteville again!!

What are your plans for 2020?
Less touring probably, but more writing. Looking to get another record out before the end of the year. Strike while the iron is hot.