By Emily Clinch
As Small Black winds down their tour, Black On The Canvas got a chance to interview their lead singer Josh Kolenik before their show at Signal Kitchen in Burlington, VT. The indie synth pop band consists of Josh Kolenik (lead vocals, guitar), Ryan Heyner (guitar, keyboards), Juan Pieczanski (bass, guitar), and Jeff Curtin (drums).
How did all of you guys meet?
Josh: Ryan and I are from Long island and met through my friend from high school. Jeff and Juan are best friends from college. We played together in other projects before this. We ended up doing the initial thing in my uncle’s house in Long Island. We met Jeff and Juan through our friend Shane, who produced a lot of records. He did the first two Vampire Weekend records.
What inspired most of your music?
Josh: Records the most, nine-inch nails, and Bruce Springsteen. I was always obsessed with records and I have collected them forever.
What are your favorite bands?
Josh: New Order and the Velvet Underground. I love this band called The Blue Nile from the 80s and Top Talk is another 80s band I really like. I like lots of solo artists too like Neil Young and Leonard Cohen; Cat Power is probably my favorite.
What are you trying to accomplish with your new album?
Josh: Comfort, I am just trying to understand myself as far as the song writing goes. I hope it engages people emotionally, that all we are trying to do. I like the jammy tracks on the album the most.
Are there any special stories that go along with any songs?
Josh: Boy’s Life is an interesting one because the music was kind of this lost piece of music that we stumbled on to during a recording session. We recorded in a cabin in upstate New York for a couple weeks and we were going through old stuff because we were drunk and didn’t care and tried to see what was there. And we stumbled on this piece of music that ended up being inspirational for that song. If we never would have opened that folder that would have just never existed.
What is the weirdest thing that has ever happened to you on tour?
Josh: Juan our bass player is kind of the king of weird. One time our van exploded in Santa Barbra, like the bottom of the car pretty much just fell out. So we had to figure out how to finish the tour because we just left the car there. We kept trying to rent vans to get to our shows so we would not miss them. One morning we were in San Francisco and we had to play in Portland the next day and it’s like a 10-hour drive. So Juan volunteered to sleep in the back of a U-Haul for what ended up being like a 13-hour drive. There was a really bad rainstorm the entire time so we just gave him a six-pack of PBR and told him to knock twice if he was dying. We ended up getting to the show so late that we had to immediately unload and play.
How do you think your sound has developed?
Josh: We started off as a bedroom project and it’s become a full band. It’s better because the first stuff is really fun to play and I love it, but it is very hard to do live. It super noisy and kind of a lot of electronic. We have been playing together for long that peoples strengths and things they want to introduce to the table eventually come out. It fun to incorporate all the different tricks that we have that we haven’t used in the past.
If you could be a hybrid between two animals which ones would you be?
Josh: There was this crazy show called the Wuzzles that was this weird cartoon. There was a character called the Moosel. He is half a moose and half a seal and he was really cuddly and cool. So I would be half a moose and half a seal.