Born on the campus of the University of Puget Sound, $2000 Puma has just released their freshman album “Last Night’s Kill”, streaming free on bandcamp. Sometimes loud and angry, but often solemn and ponderous, “LNK” presents a young band unabashed about what it is and the type of music it intends to play.
Having seen Puma live, “LNK” captures the same energies and careful releases of beautiful emotion that beam off the stage. Polished or not, Puma’s “LNK” is raw and real, just the type of release we’d expect from the creative-core of area 253.
Helmed by Greg Merrell on vocals, guitar and numerous other instruments, the band features other UPS talents in Jake Berenbeim, Mark Maples, Sean Bernfeld and Charlie Bevis.
In the band’s own words:
$2,000 Puma is homemade eclectic electric indie rock music that will leave your temples drenched in sweat. Drawing from a variety of sounds, they have never stuck to a single genre. However, there is one commonality between their songs- they all rock hard. Their music is composed of spacey then rocking-effect-tripped-out-noisy guitar, groovy-jazzy-funky bass, explosively intricate jazzy and rocking drums, vocals with occasional vibrato application and the over-layering of synthesizer and simple guitar melodies. It pulls elements from Jazz, Blues, Math-Rock, Dub, Glitchier Electronic, Folk, and just straight up rock and roll. Like many talented artists $2,000 Puma doesn’t restrict their music to a particular meter. Syncopated rhythms are a common thread in $2,000 Puma songs such as “The Seasons”, “Ultraviolet”, “Money/Love Problems”, and “Paladin-Drome”.
Although their album has just released, rumor has it that Puma is already no more. With band members no longer students at UPS, they are looking to go their separate ways. I had a quick Q & A exchange with Greg Merrell about the band, the album and the future:
What goes into a song/ How does one come about?
Well it really depends on the song…
As far as songwriting processes go, I would say a majority of songs come from my initial rough ideas and I put them into a loose structure. Then, Jake and I will play through them with Mark or Mark and Sean and they’ll come up with some finer details to add to the song. This was the case for these songs on the album – Vitamin R, Hummingbird, Vose & Sons, Miscreation, and You’re a Slave, You’re a Stone. Some songs have just come out of jam sessions and then were refined later like – Wake Up Call and Blues. McNulty and Pulse are both tracks that I purely did and Jake just added some percussion texture (Lion’s Roar).
Pulse actually has a pretty interesting story as to its origin. The original idea of that song came from Elliott Snyder noodling around on a guitar and I was sampling what he was playing through a kaoss pad. Then I subdivided that sample into an 11/4 (A) beat and a 4/4 (B) beat and the song alternates sections using those respective drum patterns. Then laid down a bass and vocal track. You can listen to that track on our muxtape, its called Sleep Serene. Then later Jake and I recreated that song to perform live and it turned into a different song. We tried to record that version of the song and it didn’t really work out… so we took samples of that take and made it into an interlude.
It’s really interesting when you go to record these songs though because they take a bit of a new form (like I was explaining for Pulse). Vose & Sons was a song that was just recorded as it was written.
What is the future of Puma?
Well… unfortunately the puma is done but I’m sure we’ll play in other projects as time goes on. Jake and I have an agreement that if we ever happen to be in the same city or near by we’ll play music together again.
Sean and I currently play in a project called Redolent Entropy (redolententropy.muxtape.com/) with Nico Sophiea and Colin Taggart. I’ll always be working on recording projects with a friend of mine Greg Harpel who lives in Portland called Mellowtron and the Harp (mellowtron.muxtape.com/).
Any other projects on the horizon?
Not really. Marks going to Taiwan, Sean to St. Louis, Jake to Denver, and I’m heading off to Shanghai, China.
What’s the goal of this album? – take that one as you will.
The goal of our music has always been to express ourselves as musicians and as people. To bare our souls if you will. I think that’s definitely the goal of this album and I feel like it’s been accomplished.
Artists you compare Puma to?
Heh… that’s an interesting turn on the infamous “influences” question. I would just compare aspects of songs of ours to artists. The last song = Radiohead. Miscreation = Grizzly Bear meets Elliot Smith. Blues = Kusikia meets Black Keys meets some doom metal band. Hummingbird = Mice Parade meets Beruit meets The Globes – a Seattle band (specifically the track “The Glower”). Vose & Sons = some Jim O’Rourke instrumental. Its hard for me to think of some artists that Wake Up Call, Vitamin R and McNulty remind me of though…
Define $2,000 Puma in 3 words.
Pacific Northwest Rock.
Check out Puma’s full album @ http://2000puma.bandcamp.com/