Houston Calling

Ten Questions for UME

December 30th, 2004 · No Comments

UME is playing a New Year’s Eve show this Friday night at The Proletariat with Fatal Flying Guilloteens.

The band has a new record coming out in the spring on Pretty Activity
and will be touring to support the new stuff.

Eric, Jeff, and Lauren of UME were kind enough to take some time and answer a few questions for Houston Calling earlier this year.

Happy New Year!

Ten Questions for UME

HC: How did UME get started?

UME: The three of us met in the late nineties while playing in different bands around Houston. Eric and I met in ’97 and have been playing music on and off since then. Our friend Jeff attended our wedding in December of ’99 and two years later met up with us again at an Unwound concert. Each of us wanted to play music again and to try something new. At our first practice Jeff moved from the bass to drums. A few practices later Eric traded his guitar for the bass, and a few weeks later I worked up the courage to approach the mic. The result was UME.

HC: Lauren, I get a PJ Harvey vibe from your vocal range. It’s great. UME’s music is good as well–really experimental-sounding, but not all over the place and unfocused. I like it a lot. What do consider to be your musical influences?

UME: Some of the bands who have influenced one or more of us are Slint, Drive Like Jehu, The Descendants, Sonic Youth, Le Tigre, Los Crudos, Fingerprint, Velvet Underground, Cornelius, U.N.K.L.E., Clikitat Ikatowi, Nirvana, Archers of Loaf, Fugazi.

HC: You guys seem to be doing a great job marketing UME both inside and outside Houston. You guys have played shows on both the East and West coasts in the past. What do you think of the music scene in Houston?Sometimes we get a bad rap here. How is it compared to other cities you’ve played in around the U.S.?

UME: We think that the Houston music scene has improved. The music community here consistently brings in good shows with both national and local acts. Also, unlike a lot of other cities, there is dedicated and growing support for local bands, a diversity of sounds, and an increasingly active local press.

One of the hard things about Houston, however, is that much of the local music here remains within the local scene, while many other cities’ local scenes have broken out to a wider national audience through labels or other outlets.

HC: What’s your favorite place to play live in Houston and why? Also, what’s your favorite place to drink in Houston and why?

UME: The Proletariat is one of our favorite places to play and to drink–good music and good prices. Denise and Shawna gave us one of our first shows and have supported us ever since. While we prefer all ages shows, we also enjoy playing Rudyard’s, especially on account of the sound.

HC: What’s your take on the state of the music industry? I assume you don’t have any issues with MP3s since you have a few for free on your website–are you for or against the MP3 “revolution”? How has the internet helped you guys market the band?

UME: We want to give people a chance to hear our music so we make our music available on the Internet. It’s a simple and easy way to distribute songs. When we were younger, a lot of people we knew ran distros at shows and sold records. This was a great resource for finding good music and meeting people. The Internet has in large part taken that resource away, which is unfortunate. What it does provide is a never-ending stream of music in a network that is much more complex and confusing than the alphabetized CDs and records you saw at shows. Our goal is to help people listen to and hopefully enjoy our music, and the Internet has been a big help in that regard. Unfortunately, much of the music industry sees the Internet as either a thief or a gold mine. It is because of this commercialism controlling the music industry that a sense of sincerity has been lost in a lot of music.

HC: What is the one description that you hate to hear about your music?

UME: We see any feedback on our music usually as a good sign. It is frustrating, however, to still hear bands sold short or prejudged on account of their appearance, gender, or some other trait peripheral to the music.

HC: How do you guys approach the songwriting process–is it a collaborative process or do you take a piece and run with it? What studios have you used in Houston?

UME: The songwriting is always collaborative. Sometimes a song erupts out of us. Other times we struggle to break past a part for weeks. It helps not to take ourselves too seriously, so a lot of our parts have come about through being silly. We’ve recorded at Johnny Killed Rock N Roll studios and after hours at Sunrise Studios (where I almost broke the microphone used by Beyonce).

HC: If you could have any band cover one of your songs, what song would it be and what band?

UME: Bjork or Fugazi covering any song.

HC: What’s next for UME?

UME: We’re working on new songs and setting up a short tour of the midwest and northeast. We plan to record late summer and then release both a 7″ with Grey Ghost and a full length. We also have a song on the forthcoming Nothing is Forbidden compilation released by the Los Angeles-based label Deathbomb Arc.

HC: What is in your CD player right now?

Jeff: Joy Division, Substance
Eric: Dinosaur Jr, Green Mind
Lauren: Deerhoof, Milkman

Thanks to UME for taking the time to answer a few questions. My apologies for not running this interview sooner.

Be sure to check out UME on New Year’s Eve at The Proletariat. More information on the band can be found at their website (www.umemusic.com).

Now Playing in My iPod: Explosions in the SkyThe Earth is not a Cold Dead Place

Tags: Music