Sisters: Pedals to the Metal
This Brooklyn duo may be the next great thing in lo-fi.
Aaron Pfannebecker and Matt Conboy use the men’s room, so, despite what their name suggests, this lo-fi duo isn’t an actual pair of sisters.
Even so, the group has a debut album on the way, “Ghost Fits,” that gels the superfuzz of grunge with those sporadic melodies that made indie rock appear boundless decades ago.
Their influences vary between genres and periods from the past, including noise offerings from Providence, RI, and everyone’s favorite, The Beach Boys, yet what comes through in bright colors are pioneers, like Nirvana, Sonic Youth, and Pavement, who pushed their respective scenes out into the open.
But Sisters doesn’t simply cut and paste their record collection into tracks. They tool around in Death by Audio and their apartments with pedals, a keyboard, and wrap these around the staple, brunt energy of Conboy’s drumming and Pfannebecker’s guitar riffs and vocals.
They met with me on the roof of Death by Audio—the Brooklyn music venue that counts Sisters as a house band—and talked about the project while sitting on a hammock by a pool and badminton court.
In 2006, they met while studying writing at The New School, and soon after moved into an apartment in Greenpoint. As mutual guitarists, they quickly formed a band with a drummer and a bassist.
“We were both playing guitar and I was singing,” says Pfannebecker, “and then we just got sick of playing with these other people. And when we were waiting for them to come to practice, Matt got behind the drum set and just started blah-blah-blah-ing and I started doing something that could work with that. Then we were like, That’s a great song! We wanted to play the song with the other guys, but we said, ‘Could you not play on this song, and we’ll just do it?’ Eventually, we just stopped playing with those other guys.”
As they put it, the initial work had a “straight ahead” design — just simple rock music. After moving on, they compensated for being limited as a duo with layering loops and changing off between high and low parts and instruments, as Pfannebecker explained:
“Well, on some of those songs we’ll have a backing track of a drum track and Matt will be playing keyboard. It will loop in, then he’ll come in on drums, and on some I have guitar parts or things made from other instruments on a loop and I’ll insert them when they need to go. I play out of two amps—one’s a bass amp and one’s a fender—but they’re both just split.”
Their method of elaborating on a simple idea works to such ends as including a xylophone on the single, “Highway Scratch,” which goes to show that even artists living in dingy quarters on cheap alcohol have a sense of boyhood levity.
The debut album, “Ghost Fits,” comes out next Tuesday September 28th. Regarding why they shot for an LP rather than an EP, Conboy said, “It’s a body of work. An album I think is in the same vein as a book or a film.”