Cleveland is not the only city in Ohio providing the world with new rock sounds. In fact, if you go south and west of the capitol, you will run into Dayton, a city developing its own rock niche. Most notably are the Breeders and Guided By Voices; however, a lesser known band, Brainiac is getting a good chunk of that niche as well.
The first time I ever saw Brainac was a few years back when they opened up for Lungfish in this little rundown warehouse in Dayton. It was one of their first shows, but they had the cohesion of a band that has been together for years. The show itself was impressive flrainic1c was a good stab in the Dayton rock scene which mainly consisted of punk and hardcore bands. The Nation of Ulysses/Sonic Youth influence was obvious–hell, they even had an attractive female guitarist
But Brainiac has distinguished themselves from those bands and all others. For the most part, all of their songs are in 4/4 and are generally straightforward. Naturally, they use many guitars and alternate tunings, hence the NOU/SY comparison. Where the NOU are . punk based and SY are rock/pop based, Brainiac blends the two. They make rocking, dissonant pop songs that would make a S0’s kid who was aspiring to be a science fiction author want to do the twist. The big topper on their sound is the use of their Moog keyboard It adds non-chordal. space melodies throughout the songs and is also used to stress some of the guitar chords Not only is their sound unique, but Brainiac has a hold on pop culture with their lyrics. For instance, they have a song called “Sexual Frustration,” where some of the lyrics are “Boom-shalock-lock-boom, ooh I think she likes mel” And then there is “Hurting Me” where some of lyrics are “I lost my jack rabbit. It you find it, I’ll stab it.” Useless wit is the key here.
Well, Brainiac was just here in December, opening for Shudder to T hink, and I had the chance to talk to them. First of all, the individuals need to be introduced. Timmy Taylor is their frantic singer. He often finds himself flailing through the air and performing other music roles as Moog and second guitar player. Monasterio is their clammy, pale bassist who spends most of his time hopping up and down. Their new guitarist is John Schmersal, and on the kit is Tyler Trent. One of the first questions was the generic “who are your influences” or at least “who are you listening to these days?” Initially, they were into the Nation of Ulysses most of all and Sonic Youth second, and they grew from there. Nowadays, they tend to be themselves after discovering their own sound. However, in their tour van all that they had been listening to was
So then I was curious about all of their touring and where they’ve been. At the conclusion of this tour, it had made Brainiac’s third; the first was out on the west coast, doing opening stints with Cleveland laves the Jesus Lizard. The second came about at the beginning of last year (with new guitarist Schmersal replacing Michelle) when they hit the east coast. In fact, Brainiac’s tour schedule was what influenced Michelle’s decision to get out of the band. Apparently, they were doing too many shows, and she liked being at home, and she had a stable job and blah, blah, blah. So Schmersal became their new guitarist. One of his first shows was right here at the Euclid Tavern. It was one of those below freezing dates in January, and I remember walking.
The Moog keyboard is one of Brainiac’s most distinguishing features. So I asked about its existence. For a long while, before Brainac, Tim and Monasterio· were playing in bands together throughout high school. One day, Tim was at a pawn shop and was lucky enough to find three IVIOogsfo r the piddly price of $1 oo. At the incarnation of Brainiac, Monasterio was going to play bass parts on the Moog. However, the tones and sounds are rather limited with the Moog. It was just a natural decision to let Tim play it sparsely, and to have Monasterio play a real bass. They continued the conversation by telling me how they have other neat toys, like a hand clapping machine.
Another thing asked about was all of their releases. Their first came in 1992 as a seven inch on Limited Potential. It contains “Superdupersonic (Theme from Brainiac)” A few months later a split seven on Dayton’s Twelve X Twelve came out with Olympia’s pride and joy, Bratmobile–blech. In 1993 came Brainac’s first lull-length, though it was only just over 30 minutes long, and the vinyl actually had more tracks than the disk. Grass Records released it and it goes by the name SMACK BUNNY BABY. After these releases, Brainiac did the tour thing. So there were no new recordings until late 1994. The first was a split seven inch with Lazy on Dischord sidekicks Simple Machines. And now the new album, called BONSAI SUPERSTAR, is out also on Grass.
So on this new release subject, I was curious about the differences between the albums. It came down to experience. Brainiac took more time mixing this album. They even had a pre-recorded four track version of the whole album done before they went in and recorded it. They used a lot more effects everywhere on the album. After hearing it, it sounds more like a band’s third or fourth full-length. rather than their second. I can only imagine what their next release will be like.