Lower Dens' Jana Hunter On Vulgarity, Exercise And '70s Housing

Ed. Note: Sometime Press contributor Tex Kerschen of Indian Jewelry spoke with former Houstonian Jana Hunter last week, before her new Baltimore-based band Lower Dens' show at Walter's this Saturday.

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Rocks Off: What is a "lower den"?

Jana Hunter: The deeper echelons of the dragon's hovel, recessed living rooms mft'd in the '70s - a deep, dark and round thing, possessed of (fire-) breathing inhabitants. Residential pit.

RO: The last time Lower Dens was rolling into Houston, you had a bit of trouble on the road. Could you take to take a few minutes to tell the people of Houston what you have had to deal with to come here and shuck your music for them?

JH: We wrecked the hell out of our van in Vidor and then got towed to play with youse (and let's not forget your show-poster of a wrecked van advertising your Totaled record) last time around. Comparatively, this trip has been thankfully uneventful. We're pumped.

RO: What's the vibe in the van? Healthy? Bloody? Desperate? Medicated?

JH: Food-poisoned the last 24 hours, but otherwise quite tranquil. We're desperately boring by most standards, or would have you believe. We exercise and cook our foods. We read with great difficulty. Our drug-mop days may be behind us.

RO: Is it getting better out there in the world, or worse?

JH: Haven't any overarching perspective. Have felt long on the cusp of something, long enough to believe we are deluded, we all.

RO: Who is the ideal audience for your music?

JH: Hungry packs, all sorts.

RO: I'm sure you get asked this all the time, but what's with all the vulgarity in your songs? Is it really necessary to your message?

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Pitchfork gave Lower Dens' debut Twin-Hand Movement an 8.1 rating in July.
JH: "A Dog's Dick" tells the story of the nerd youth seeking it's favored place with cool kids but getting inevitably busted being a nerd, for some weird thing that will make them a rad, worth-knowing person someday, and the kind of crushing disappointment said nerd faces that also helps to shape them.

In this story, nerd kid's telling find is a dog's dick, which is weird and fascinating but also obviously instant outcast material. I'd think the crude composition of the story would be more offensive than anything else.

"Two Cocks Waving Wildly At Each Other Across A Vast Open Space, A Dark Icy Tundra" describes the founding and difficulty of a relationship between two gifted, driven, arrogant artists.

Life is terribly vulgar, which can be a great anecdote when puritans try to literally bore the hell out of you. Vulgarity in its communicative form is an effective consolation prize for adulthood, obviously necessary.

RO: Now what you're doing there, is it art or entertainment?

JH: Eye of the beholder thing. See above.

Lower Dens, "Hospice Gates" (via Stereogum)

RO: Greatest prop comic? Most overrated?

JH: Josh Fadem did a prop bit last I saw and was pretty good.

RO: I know you've toured by car, by van, by bus, and by sailboat. By way of history, could you tell us a few stories about the many means of transportation in which you have toured?

JH: Somebody else should do the boat tour right, cause we blew it when one of us brought a videographer, who incidentally wrecked the boat. I suspect that trip would have been the best of our lives had we thrown that guy into the water right at the start.

The Baltimore Round Robin toured in a veggie-oil bus, and I ran the oil-gathering operation every night. We donned yellow slicksuits and raided barrels behind restaurants after our shows, in the middle of the night. We were all very thin and dirty and must have been terrifying to behold. Opened barrels to find, swimming in oil, dead rats and incredible quantities of fat. Got laid. You know.

I have ruined the transmissions of at least three rental vehicles. Missed a bus on a greyhound tour and hitched a sexual-favor-free ride to Columbus, Ohio. Hooked a pony.

RO: Also related to history, is your song "Blue and Silver" from your new record Twin-Hand Movement a Civil War reenactment song?

JH: Sure.

RO: We all know this is a fickle business. Besides Indian Jewelry, can you name some of the people who stuck by you all during the hard times?

JH: There are many people in Houston who've always been better to me than I deserve, but I'd like to take this opportunity to say that Erik Bogle has always been a rock for me, and I hope he pulls through.

RO: Now that Baltimore is kind of on its last legs, creatively speaking, can we expect you to return to Houston for good anytime soon?

JH: Soon as I want to get fat again.

With sIngs and YellowFever, 8 p.m. Saturday, September 11 at Walter's on Washington, 4215 Washington, 713-862-2513 or www.superunison.com.

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