Alexander Litinsky On His Prolific Solo Project, A.M. Overcast
Posted on November 11, 2014
November 11, 2014
by Paul Blest
One of the worst kept secrets in the “punk” scene or any of its sub-scenes is that a band must, to some extent, market itself to potential fans, in much of the same way that any of the “mainstream” acts do. For a lucky few bands, the hype from a catchy first batch of songs allows them to skip this step; for A.M. Overcast, though, it took six years of releasing tight, beautiful guitar-driven math rock and generally not giving any kind of a shit about any kind of self-promotion before most people wizened up and took notice of Alexander Litinsky, the sole member of the Winnipeg, MB-based project. Now, it seems like they can’t get enough of it; BrooklynVegan recently hosted a stream of A.M. Overcast’s new record, and Rochester, NY pop-punk band Such Gold, one of the more creative groups in that scene, recently included a song from A.M. Overcast’s first EP, Extractions, on a playlist of songs that informed them on their new record.
Now, six years after his first EP (which along with every other A.M. Overcast release is readily available on Bandcamp), Litinsky’s new album Lexicon Palace, a ten-minute concept track in seven different movements, is seeing a 7-inch release by similarly-underrated Hoboken, NJ-based Soft Speak Records. The track moves seamlessly between sections, using Litinsky’s mind-destroying understanding of time signatures, fantastic pop melodies, and frantic instrumentation that’s equal parts Don Caballero and The Medicine-era The Jazz June to craft one of the most entertaining records you’ll hear this year.
We spoke with Litinsky about the new record (which you can hear here), his other projects, and his love for electronic music.
The Runout: You’ve had a busy couple of months, with Lexicon Palace getting some attention as well as your other band Grand Beach’s full-length which saw release last week. Are you surprised at the attention these records are getting?
Alexander Litinsky: I’m always surprised at any attention my music gets. To be honest, I’m really just making music that I would want to discover. So when I find out that people around the globe are sharing and enjoying either A.M. Overcast or Grand Beach, it both excites and humbles me.
Do you see both projects equally in your mind in terms of touring, recording, etc., or do you define one or the other as a studio project?
A.M. Overcast used to play live, but over last three years I’ve approached it solely as a studio project. Grand Beach is more of the live “act” or “performance.” We see ourselves doing small tours in the future if the opportunity presents itself. But as of late we’ve just been working on a new material and rehearsing, hoping to play locally in December.
Lexicon Palace is the first physical vinyl release you’ve done, but you have five other EPs and a full length dating back to 2008. Do you have any plans to release some of that stuff on a physical format?
I’d like to. I actually still have CD copies of Extractions and Distractions. Not much was done to distribute them online (I would just sell them at shows), because at this point those albums are relatively old and it’s a lot of work. If there were enough requests for a certain album to be released physically in whatever form, I’d consider it. But at this day in age, almost all media is experienced digitally. So I’m happy with people simply downloading the tunes and throwing them on their iPod or whatever.
I have this impression of Winnipeg as a very cold, industrial place that also has a lot of radical art and politics coursing through it. Is that at all accurate?
I don’t even know where to begin on this one. Weather is crazy, art is crazy, politics are fucked (as usual), but it’s home, so I love it.
What was the punk scene like growing up in your part of Canada?
From what I remember, it was pretty awesome. I have memories of being 14 and cramming into loud sweaty shows so I could mosh or ‘skank’ to some ska. That eventually evolved into the “hardcore” scene, where you should find the more tough-guy version of ‘moshing.’ Anyway, it’s fair to say the Prairies definitely had some sort of punk scene.
You’ve been doing this band before this style of music really even caught on in the states – how do you think that scene has changed over the past six or seven years?
I’ve just always just sort of done what I’ve done and kept to myself. I didn’t realize I was part of a ‘scene’ or ‘internet community’ until recently. Not sure how that community has evolved, but what I can say is that I’ve discovered many bands/projects that approach songwriting in a similar style as AMO, thanks to the internet. There is so much awesome innovative music out there.
What are some of your favorite like-minded bands that you’ve found over the past couple of years?
Well I definitely have to mention a wonderful tap-master and melody-smith, Mr. Pete Davis of Invalids. If you haven’t heard Invalids yet, this guy takes progressive pop music to another level (also a one-man-band type of project). Another project I really enjoyed finding is called Zefs Chasing Cara (I think he’s from Scotland?; it’s really nice stuff). Some others include Yowie (completely alien rhythm and structure, innovative and inspiring), Ghosts and Vodka (instrumental band from a while ago, still really enjoy their sound), and ALL (or Descendents, whatever, it’s all good stuff). To be honest though, I really have to be in the right mindset to listen to a “band.” Most music in my rotation is electronic.
That’s interesting that you say that, because when I first heard A.M. Overcast, it reminded me a bit of some of the (limited) electronic music I’ve heard in my life. What kind of electronic music would you recommend for someone who’s into A.M. Overcast?
Anything by Aphex Twin, Squarepusher, Burial, Venetian Snares, Prefuse 73 … Those guys are the real deal.
As a fan of that style who plays this kind of music, are you surprised that there isn’t more of a crossover between the more “mathy” kind of punk and indie rock, and fast-paced electronic music?
I have a feeling a lot more of it exists out there, but the internet is just so vast, it’s harder to come by.
Lexicon Palace is out on Soft Speak now on limited vinyl.