May's Made for TV Movie was a completely different animal than September's. This spring, only three months after they formed, the trio was timid onstage, a yearling plucking its way through emo's blacktop meadow. They tip-toed through songs that should have raged with intimate force. Where peels of distortion should have been massive, they sounded hollow and impotent.
Is this the same band?
Perhaps it was the cold settling down and making the leaves pink. Maybe it was the anticipation of taking their first US tour (from which they returned three weeks ago). Definitely they practiced a lot, became more comfortable in each other's styles. Whatever it was, autumn brought on a newer Made for TV Movie--tighter, cleaner, more intense. Dan DeVriend, guitarist and vocalist, gained incredible confidence and enthusiasm. His body jerked and quivered with each chord and lyric, with the same dangerous vigor as Ian MacKaye or Jawbreaker-era Blake Schwarzenbach. PJ Aylward (drums) and Tanya Smith (bass) held steady, their rhythms running parallel with DeVriend's outbursts. Their improvement has been remarkable. "I think the fact that [Smith and Aylward] are so solid means that I can go out there a lot," says DeVriend.
The release of their first record, The Story of My Heroics (CD--Jealous Butcher Records; vinyl--Donut Friends Records), is a distinct checkpoint for their progression. Recorded at the Robot Steakhouse and Type Foundry studios, it captures their live sound appropriately, although it's impossible to fully appreciate their infinite energy without seeing them play. Of this, Aylward says, "The record sounds one way, and the songs never really sound the same. It depends on whatever pedals Dan's stepping on or mood he's in."
What the album shows best is how Made for TV Movie unites hard-boiled riffs with the gravity of introspection, making something haggardly into something pretty. "The way we try to write stuff, how the changes kind of work with each other we put together a lot of ugly, ugly noises," says DeVriend.
The Story of My Heroics sounds like a rolling sheet of lava, bubbling, roasting, and splashing up--it's both dangerous and offers warmth.
"We brought a video camera on tour," DeVriend says coyly. There's a pause, and then Smith says, "Dan and PJ did a porno."
"It was an adult-themed film," Aylward continues. "No penetration."
"There's not even any nudity, at all!" says DeVriend. "Lots of sexual innuendo. It was at five in the morning driving through Nevada. I was asleep. They'd just totally lost it from tour delirium," Smith explains. "They took shots of geysers around town."
DeVriend says, "It's just a little piece of the puzzle of who we really are."
"Can we give props to all our favorite bands?" Aylward asks. "That's what I think is good about getting interviewed; you can give props and maybe people will read it and think, 'Oh, maybe I'll check out that band.'"
MADE FOR TV MOVIE PROPS: Heart Beats Red, Machine that Flashes, Last of the Juanitas, Swords Project, Kind of Like Spitting, The Places, The New Carissa, Operacycle, Captain vs. Crew, 31 Knots, Cosmos Group, Scared of Chaka, Jackie-O Motherfucker.