Ian Downey is famous. He's a lot of other things, too: a contrarian, an instigator, an extreme talent steeped in lo-fidelity and self-deprecation. But the moniker "Ian Downey is Famous" doesn't just hint at how Downey views or presents himself, it's the name of his band with drummer Darren De Wispelaere and bassist Chris Reeg. He's cut out the middleman and heads straight for the glory.
On stage, Downey comes on like a post-punk tantrum teetering on a sonic attack, full of accusations and insight. He kicks out the soul. This is the same chaos Downey brings to Ian Downey is Famous' first full-length album, "Destroy Language," coming on Carbon Records. It's all so exciting.
Downey popped his head in at CITY to answer a few questions and raise a few new ones along the way. An edited transcript follows.
CITY: So, big news?
Ian Downey: The big news is we have the record coming out. The tentative title is "Destroy Language," which is a line from one of the songs. It's not a concept album, but there's an idea there. There's some kind of war between bodies and souls. It's told from the point of view of the bodies rising up in rebellion against the souls. And the language is on the side of the souls. The original title was "The Revolution is Dead."
Body or soul: which side are you on?
I like being a body. That's pretty fun. It's kind of fun to think of the soul as some kind of parasite that has invaded and taken over and won't let you hear what the body has to say.
Can you be both?
Sure, you can do both.
I dunno, man, it sounds a bit like a concept album.
I love concept albums. I'm not sure it's a concept record in anybody's mind but my own.
What number album is this for you?
I've got a CD of solo acoustic stuff. This is the first release with the band. We've already started recording the next one.
Does it pick up where "Destroy Language" leaves off?
There's a song that didn't make it on this album called "Spirituality is Bullshit," which goes to the idea of kicking out the souls.
What other themes are you tackling?
I keep coming back to the end of history. It's a theme I go back to and will continue to go back to.
Is "Destroy Language" a soundtrack to the battle?
It's a pretty hard rock album. Musically it varies for me over the course of the album. Some of it is poppy, I guess. Then some of it is pretty heavy. There's a song, "You Should be Gayer," that's just hard and fast. And some of the album comes close to being metal-ish, but not really. I think it makes some kind of sense. It's remotely cohesive.
For one thing Darren's drumming is awesome and crazy. The day that we went to the studio to record it, my car got stolen with all my equipment inside. So we went in and did it anyway. I was using all borrowed equipment.
It did suck. But I think it helped give it a consistency you can hear throughout the entire album. It was a little uncomfortable.
Describe the typical Ian Downey Is Famous fan.
Sort of angular. Maybe a couple extra eyeballs. Most of the people we play for are other musicians.
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