Page 35

while working at American Apparel. Upon their first meeting, Donoghue outlined his terms of friendship by asking Holland to "disconnect" from his other friends, to which Holland agreed, halfearnestly. In the Butt interview, Holland described Donoghue as "the hottest person I've ever met."    Marlatt met Donoghue while visiting Holland in Chicago for the summer, and the three immediately clicked. Donoghue and Holland had been working on high(er)-energy dance music, but Marlatt's presence shifted the focus to Salem. "We just had a certain understanding about things," says Holland. "We understand without having to talk about it." The group's first full-length, King Night, comes out in late September on IAMSOUND Records, and it'll probably be the grandest moment of the so-called "witch house" scene's non-existence. The opening title track is a teeth-grinding Christmas anthem perverted by fanatical choir stabs and crumbling, blown-out subs. It's basically Salem's annihilation hymn, and it puts their most fierce, polarizing foot forward.     The band's previous releases over the last two years (like the Yes I Smoke Crack and Water EPs, and the "Frost" b/w "Legend" single) offered a good hint of what Salem was capable of, but they were like partially finished ideas. King Night is far more realized in comparison, taking tracks from old releases ("Redlights," "Frost," and the YouTube-leaked "Trapdoor") and re-mastering them with Brooklyn producer Dave Sardy. The end result isn't necessarily what you'd call slick or accessible, but, along with eight new tracks on the album, Salem's towering, overblown aspirations finally begin to make sense.     The songs on King Night tend to intersect around a few main components: a weird, percussive mix between Chicago juke and southern rap, a blissed-out wash of synths and vocals reminiscent of Cocteau Twins, and a fastand-slow polyrhythm of fanned-out hi-hats and crisis sounds. There's other shit thrown in there for good measure, too—the gabber kick-drum squash on "Asia," or the almost-dubstep bass pressure on "Tair"—but pinpointing all those parts implies a reverence for influence that Salem doesn't really bother with. "We're taking liberally from so much," says Donoghue. "We're taking from rock, drone, European rave music, southern rap, Chicago, New York, whatever."     When I mention specific artists like Chicago juke/footwork producer DJ Nate, Donoghue says he's never met the early-20-something beatmaker, but he's definitely a fan. "His music is so smart," he says, "but I don't think he's, like, trying to be clever." Other guys like Gucci Mane (of whom Salem has done several unofficial remixes) and Wacka Flocka Flame are held in similarly high regard, but it's more like a detached appreciation


XLR8R 135 (Sept/Oct 2010)  
XLR8R 135 (Sept/Oct 2010)  

Indie rock's most talked-about band of the last couple years, Salem, starts off this issue we're dubbing The Chi-Light Saga, in which we dig...