Ask anyone about the current Des Moines music scene, and the first band name that seems to come up is the Poison Control Center. Originally from Ames, the foursome followed a handful of releases for their own Bi-Fi Records with debut LP A Collage of Impressions on Minneapolis-based Afternoon Records in 2007. Now, I'm not necessarily the type to discriminate by genre-- as you'll probably see, I'm just as likely to fall for a Top 40 hit or electronic dance track as a potential Gummy Award winner-- but I gotta say it's exciting to hear a band making such lovingly skewed, Elephant 6-style indie pop in my soon-to-be home city.
Singer/guitarist Patrick Tapes Fleming shares my affection for Welsh weirdos the Super Furry Animals, among other things, and he also does sound at Vaudeville Mews. Our edited e-mail conversation is below. (I repeated a few of the same questions I already asked Ladd Askland, 'cause I still have a lot to learn before I actually know what I'm talking about here. I'll catch up fast, I swear!)
1. What's next for the Poison Control Center?You can catch the Poison Control Center this Fourth of July at the 80/35 Festival. Patrick Fleming plays solo at the Des Moines Social Club July 16 and Ames Progressive Space Aug. 9.PF: Well we just spent 10 days on the banks of the Mississippi river recording our 2nd full length record with Pat Stolley of Daytrotter fame. PCC is pretty spread out right now (I live in Ames, [drummer/singer] Ephraim in Iowa City, [guitarist/singer] Devin in Columbia, Mo., and [bassist/singer] Joe just moved to Ashville, N.C.). So for the past 6 months we have been doing this thing called "DEMO OF THE DAY" where we e-mail each other demos we have written, since we all 4 write songs. And we went into the studio NEVER having played any of them together.. so we took 3 days filtered through the 38 songs, practiced them and we ended up recording 12 songs!
We said whatever we get put to tape in this week that is the album, NO IF's, ANDS, or buts about it!We actually recorded the album on a 1-inch, 24-track tape machine I just sold to Pat Stolley that was once owned by the guy who is now CARROT TOP and Jon Lovitz's manager.. 2009 is the first year in 5 years we haven't toured at all and I'm getting pretty antsy to hit the road again.. last year we went on 4 tours and it was amazing.. The last one we did was with the Apples in Stereo and we got Bill Doss of the Olivia Tremor Control to do "Jumping Fences" (OTC song) with us in Dallas and I need more of those kinda crazy dream come true magical moments in my life that only come with touring! Hopefully when the record gets released we can get back out there in the trenches! But I can't say for sure!
2. How would you describe the Des Moines music scene?PF: Well it's really vibrant right now and the best it's been in the 10 years that I have lived here. There is a 60-year-old banker who works at US BANK in Ames and he told me today his wife has been getting mad at him since he has been spending so many nights at the Ames Progressive Space watching bands! It's really becoming a place where you can spend every night watching great music if you want. In 1999 when I moved here you had to wait till the weekend to see any music.. Or drive to Chicago, Omaha, or Minneapolis to see the touring bands that you like. I started bringing my favorite bands to Des Moines just 'cause I was sick of driving to Minneapolis and having to use a FAKE ID to see ELF POWER or whatever. Ladd and the Vaudeville Mews has done an amazing job of bringing in great touring bands and giving locals a chance to play with these bands! Also the amount of DIY and house shows has grown as well! It honestly feels like a community. I know that's cliché, but I have toured from coast to coast and I feel like we have something small but special here.3. Any other local bands we should be watching?PF: Oh so many to name but I will give you a quick few for your first months in town.. Christopher the Conquered, Wolves in the Attic, Pennyhawk, Derek Lambert, Brad Unit, the Autumn Project, Aeon Grey, Volcano Boys.. just to name a couple! I could give you 5 bands per style of music but I'm already an Allman Brother in this interview-- get it, "Rambling Man"? Got my bad joke in, OK. Next.
4. What shows are you most looking forward to this summer?PF: Well 80/35 of course. Not too often [Stephen] Malkmus, Broken Social Scene, Chuck D, and Man Man are eating hummus and chips 15 feet from you. And I always get excited when friends are playing in town so Casper and the Cookies in August, David Dondero in July, and Alexis Gideon in September!
5. All right, I'll give... I'm a huge Jonathan Richman fan. Anything you can tell me about his performance at the Vaude last night?PF: Fantastic crowd that was totally into it and Jonathan and Tommy ruled! We got a bunch of classics and quite a few off the latest album! It was the 2nd time I have seen him this year and I must say he makes me so inspired to play music! ABSOLUTE GENIUS!