Don’t hate the Scene Creamers because they’re beautiful. Perhaps the group’s biggest claim to fame at this early stage is that it features the deliciously stylish former Make-Up-ers Ian Svenonius on vocals and Michelle Mae on bass. That band’s detailed visual presentation always helped to fuel the rousing gospel-psych-punk-funk shouts, wails and calls to arms. But whether the intention this time around is to cream the scene or to get all frothy up in it, there’s meaning behind the makeup — even if the band hasn’t yet fleshed out its current manifestation.
“It’s embryonic. We have placenta all over us.” Svenonius is still quick to conceive a plot, spouting his characteristic revisionist histories with half of his tongue claiming authority and the other half reaching for his cheek.
“Our old group got redundant,” he states. “It felt like it was made redundant by infiltration, by the enemy camp, the counter-gang doppelgängers. CIA clone groups were manufactured and we felt a little bit like our statement, our presentation, was a little bit redundant. And we felt like we had to regroup in a new manner that wasn’t so easily commodified. So, yeah, Scene Creamers, the storyline, essentially, is that it’s sort of like those Japanese soldiers who were stuck on the islands after World War II who were never told that the war had ended. That’s sort of what it’s like.”
This paranoid vision might explain his desire to constantly be changing his band’s names — from Nation of Ulysses to the Make-Up to the Scene Creamers — even though each project has carried over members from the previous one. Aside from Mae and himself, the current lineup includes Alex Minoff, who played guitar at the end of the Make-Up and was in Golden, and Blake, whose last name, Svenonius says, “is a secret.”
Last year Svenonius’ reinvention obsession took form in an entirely different identity named David Candy, a suave semimotivational speaker taking a swirly dip into a pool of retro-pop pretentiousness. It was a stretch from his rock roots and he wanted anonymity with it. Jetset, the label that put out the Candy record, however, decided its best marketing strategy would be to slap Svenonius’ picture on the cover. Within the lyrics, the punk agitator speaks coolly on literature and politics, gallery lighting and pudding. And music was built around the words. “I think it’s interesting to work like that,” he says. “But there’s a problem once you’ve gained a certain amount of notoriety. You can’t do things in that off-the-cuff way, really. Things obtain significance that really shouldn’t have.”
Though he’s a bit wary of discussing his new band too much — which is still so new it has nothing recorded — he has no qualms discussing his peers, perhaps, in effect, creaming the scene. When on the topic of Detroit rock, he launches into a conspiracy theory in which the British are partially responsible for the widespread popularity of the White Stripes. “So essentially, what I’m saying is that in the same way that America uses rock ’n’ roll as a cultural colonizer worldwide, England reflexively uses their critical opinions in the same way, to make England powerful, to make England sympathetic.”
In terms of electronic music, Svenonius isn’t a fan of “people checking their e-mail onstage,” but he is excited to play with Atomic Audio and Detroit’s Tamion 12 Inch, a group that aligns more with the performance-heavy electro-ites than the laptop rock stars.
Tamion has been working together slowly for a little more than a year, but the inclusion of a song (“Thin Boys Murdered”) on the recently released Ersatz Audio compilation Misery Loves Company has provided a boost. The group’s sound fits somewhere in the middle of punk and electronic noise, an electroclash of funk beats and cheap clatter with screeched vocals. “Thin Boys” has a scene-creamy feel to it, maybe an electro version of what the Make-Up had in mind for “White Belts.”
The rock-electronic pairing for this particular show makes a lot of sense to Samuel Samuel, who creates beats and sounds out of foundling electronic boxes for Tamion 12 Inch. Both he and vocalist Kerry Biernot used to play in punk and New Wave bands, the Dance Fasters and the Snitches, respectively. Tamion 12 Inch’s sound is more suited to playing in small rock venues than spacious clubs, he says.
The group has a 12-inch EP planned for release in November on Ersatz Audio and an upcoming CD to be released on Friendly Fires. So the lineup for this particular Wednesday is shaping up to be one of those “you saw them here first” kind of affairs.
Just watch out for the placenta.