Touring the country behind their self-titled debut album, released this summer on Brah Records, Brooklyn rock trio Pterodactyl aren’t interested in getting tight or putting on a pleasant and slick performance. They couldn’t care less about politely tip-toeing around a dainty melody. They can’t be bothered with developing delicate chops. They wanna crank up the volume and the tension. They want to make pretty noise.
“It’s loud and there’s a lot of noisy stuff in our music,” says guitarist Joe Kremer, speaking by phone from the band van from somewhere in Minnesota. “On our record, we tried make things sound pretty within that. On stage, too, that’s where it comes off with a lot more energy.”
Pterodactyl moved to N.Y.C. in 2002. Kremer, drummer Matt Marlin, and bassist Kurt Beals first got together while attending Oberlin College in Ohio, not far from Cleveland.
“There’s a lot of pressure when you live in N.Y.C.,” Kremer says. “There’s so much around and you see and hear so much music, and your friends are making stuff … it’s a pressure that we never felt in Ohio, where we just played shows and did what we did. When we moved to N.Y., we had to step it up a notch. It’s easy in a way, though, because there are a lot of small, like-minded communities who encourage and affect each other.”
The new release is raw, live-sounding effort with minimal production tricks. It sounds like a confident band who set up two nice microphones in a big room, turned up, counted off, and went for it on each take. The fuzzy, lo-fi quality fits the attitude and no-frills songwriting approach.
“We spent a little less than 10 days in a few different stages with two brothers [Josh and Eric of Brothers Studio] in Brooklyn,” says Kremer. “Parts & Labor and Professor Murder had recorded with them. It was perfect, because they were eager to record and get their stuff out there. We’re really happy with it. This is the first tour we’ve done where people have actually heard our music beforehand and came to see us try to play it live. It’s been great. It feeds us a new energy. This tour has a lot more power. It feels like we’re connecting to people.’
The band previously released two limited 7-inch records but never enjoyed great distribution until this year. The 13 songs and sketches on Pterodactyl aren’t just a spazzy mix of noise and chaos; they’re a complex and mesmerizing texture of extremes, from loud to quiet and from harsh to beautiful.
The Brah folks describe it as “a compellingly catchy, scratchy sound that combines a noisy post-punk palette with adventurous, arresting lead vocals and harmonies.” That’s pretty right-on.
“I resist the idea of being called a ‘noise band,’ but I know it’s true,” laughs Kremer. “Just because there are a lot of funny sounds in the songs that guitars don’t usually make. That’s been our approach from the beginning. Our goal has been to take that and use it all the make pleasant pop songs. That’s a priority.”