Interview: Push Button Press
by DJ Azy of Obscura Undead
Push Button Press is the coolest local goth band you might not have heard of until today. Based in Tampa(ish), PBP released their self titled debut album in 2015 and just last year came back from a short hiatus on Cold Transmission Records with their sophomore release Spectacle 1.
I caught up with them last month to talk about their hopes and dreams. And of course their favorite food to eat together while they gaze lovingly at each other across the table. I know you do guys, don’t deny it. I mean, I would.
If I sound like I’m enthusiastic about this band, you’re not wrong! Full disclosure, we’re friends, but I can say without bias that their music is excellent. Their sound is best described as a goth 2nd into 3rd wave throwback with modern synths riffs. But don’t take my word for it. Hit play on Spectacle 1 on and read on.
Azy: Hey there Jim and Jet! Thanks for doing an interview with us. I can’t begin to express (complain?) how difficult it is to find out more about your project Push Button Press. Your men of mystery! Is this mystique part of the PBP experience?
Jim: That is a secret. =)
Jet: We have always flown a little under the radar, but we have actually been around for quite a long time. This project did start off under a different name, but that is for the future die-hard fans to discover.
Azy: We know you both live in different cities hours apart, so when you come together, what we really want to know is... what do you eat together that you both love?
Jim: Cuban sandwiches and pizza!
Jet: I concur, Jim used to be here in Tampa and we would always seek these foods out.
Azy: With the distance, can you tell us a bit about what your music writing and rehearsal process is like?
Jim: The process has changed over the years, but I normally start things off with a simple riff and some lyrics. We then all collaborate in musical software, through the cloud, finishing out the songs in demo form as a band. That way, when we rehearse in person, we already have a solid idea of how to play the songs.
Jet: We also tend to find that when we are together some things do not work out and tend to tweak and change once we can actually speak to each other face to face. This becomes rather interesting at times. Things are said and shouted like “Make me cry Jet, make me cry, I want to be sad” I will let you all think of whatever context you want.
Azy: What artists have had the greatest influence on you?
Jim: For me it has to be Ian Curtis, Rikk Agnew, Michael Gira, and Brendan Perry.
Jet: Oddly enough 80’s synth-pop star Howard Jones. He made me want the racks of synths all around me and helped shape my outlook on life with his lyrics. I took those to heart and realized that your dreams can come true, never stop, just set the wheels in motion. Pretty much whatever came out on Wax Trax!, Front242 (HUGE influence), The Cure, Depeche Mode, Clan of Xymox, and Skinny Puppy.
Azy: Coming of out of the very industrial and old school goth heavy scene of Tampa and The Castle nightclub, it seems unlikely that a band with your very modern post-punk sound would have come about at all. Yet you guys have been doing the post-punk thing long before it blew up in popularity. Why that sound? What motivated and inspired you to form Push Button Press?
Jim: This is a tough question. It may just be as simple as being more of a hardcore/punk guitarist than industrial/metal player. What we call Post-punk today luckily is the genre that the best music PBP has written falls into. So, for us, it is really as easy as just following the path of least resistance and doing what feels the most natural.
Jet: I agree. We would never fit a synth sound and we would never fit a goth sound. I gravitated to what Jim was writing and his punk stylings. We seemed to take all the elements of things and sounds we loved and mashed them up and bent them to our will.
Azy: You recently signed to Cold Transmission Records after self releasing your first album. How’s being on a label been treating you?
Jim: I cannot say enough good things. Without Andy and Suzy none of the success the music has had would have been possible. They are amazing people who work very hard to bring us all new music. Thank you CT!
Jet: There is not a whole lot I can add to that. Andy and Suzy work their asses off for their groups. I have never seen this level of dedication and conviction to helping artists blossom and thrive. I repeat, thank you CT.
Azy: Your latest album on Cold Transmission Records is called “Spectacle 1”. Does this mean there is a “Spectacle 2” in the works? Can you share anything about that? What was the reason to split it into multiple releases?
Jim: Oh yes, there will be a “Spectacle 2” and perhaps even a “Spectacle 3”. I am not 100% sure what the next release will be called right now. However, I want to delve deeper lyrically into the topic of Spectacle. Which one aspect is how our evolving social interactions through images and representation manufacture alienation.
Jet: Yes, the decline of our culture is a dire concept. Life is just a spectacle to watch anymore. Things play out before our eyes on TV and social media. We seem to cling to tragedy and despair, but this has always been. There is no more mystery in the world, except for us, as you say Azy. LOL.
Azy: Jim, “Spectacle 1” and your self titled debut album “Push Button Press” are like night and day in terms of mixing, the smoothness of your voice, and overall hazy brooding emotive quality. Who or what inspired that change in sound?
Jim: I think the idea for that sound was always there, but perhaps it was just better executed on Spectacle 1? Of course elements like equipment, technology, experience, and a self-imposed strict writing schedule may have also been a factor as to why Spectacle 1 turned out the way it did. I am happy with the up front vocal sound, which is something I like hearing in other Post-punk acts.
Azy: Jet, you’re well known in Tampa for your synth work in Ootz Ootz, and live keyboard support for Espermachine, Aeon Rings, and more. Does being well versed in the synth styles of multiple genres have any effect on how you perform in PBP?
Jet: Absolutely, it makes me set the newer sounds of modern synth styles aside for PBP. I love taking all the old synth sounds and re-using them in modern context. This creates the element of memory triggers. Like if you listen to The Cure’s “Sinking” I use the same synth sound in that, this then will trigger the memories from that time and it is all fresh again. I love this concept. It becomes very cerebral for me, and I love hearing the reviews about how it reminds them 80’s back in High School.
Azy: We're really excited about this wave of new post-punk revival artists - are there any that you two particularly love that you would recommend we keep an eye on?
Jim: Oh lord, I cannot even start to keep up with all of the great acts. I think that the Zeitgeist compilations give a wonderful snapshot of the genre. I recommend everyone head to Bandcamp and buy them. Of course, Communion After Dark has also been very instrumental in the revival as well. Post-punk will continue to grow and mature and I expect that at least one of the bands to make it very big.
Jet: There really are so many great bands out there. In this day and age of being a musician and putting your material out there is very easy to do. This allows this art form to flow and develop. I do not think of a particular band to watch or keep your eye on, more than watching what this genre of music will develop into. These are very exciting times.
Azy: You’ll be playing at Absolution Fest in Tampa this coming October. Is there anyone you’re excited to see yourselves?
Jim: I am excited about finally seeing and hearing these great bands that I have been into for so long now. I expect to be surprised by which band ends up being my favourite live.
Jet: All of them! I love seeing what bands are like live as opposed to the studio recordings. I like seeing the raw element being played out on stage. No re-takes, no overdubs, just raw live music. Plus, in the recorded material you do not see how they project themselves as well.
Thanks again for taking the time with us! I look forward to seeing you two out and about Tampa soon! Can’t wait to see you guys play live at Absolution Fest!