The three main characters in Abandoned Buildings Club strike me as the kind of musicians where, if you define what they do by one quirky element, they'll eliminate said quirk and move on. Frankly, it's not really a quirk; it's more of an emphasis with more bang for your buck. Abandoned Buildings Club has two drummers. The second drummer isn't a cat in sandals giving peace a chance or a pompadour'd Lothario wailing "Babaloo." No, ABC has two complete drum sets to pound out the marching orders of its slow and sexy grind. The riffs are ominous in their speed — or rather their lack thereof. Changing speeds would change genres. I mean, you take a Black Sabbath LP and spin it at 45, and what do you get? Surf.
Anyway, guitarist Sean McVay, bassist Dan Reynolds, and main drummer Nick Pryor play some mighty mean hard rock. Words like "metal," "stoner," and "prog" get thrown around, but the band ducks and forges ahead loud and proud with double the beat. We sat down to ask the members some questions. They gave some answers. An edited transcript of the conversation follows.
CITY: What got this project started?
Sean McVay: It started as a weird idea between me and Nick. We'd been in bands together for about six years.
Heavy stuff like this?
McVay: It was more like indie rock.
Nick Pryor: It was hipster shit.
McVay: So we started jamming with the old drummer from Velvet Elvis. It was two drummers and me and we liked the way it sounded. Then we got Dan and we were a band.
And the dual drummer attack stuck?
McVay: At first it was just a crazy idea for us to jam, but then we liked it because it was big and primal and just a mess of sound in a cool way.
Besides the primary beats, are the drums playing the same parts, or is there a sort of rhythmic harmony, or call and response.
McVay: Usually, they're playing different things. Sometimes they're playing the same thing. They usually vary in their own way.
When did this approach finally click?
McVay: Right away. When Dan joined the band, we'd only been playing for about a month. We had a show a month later. It was the most fun we had had...
Pryor: ...in a long time
Is the way ABC sounds now the way you set out to sound in the first place?
McVay: Pretty much. We just really like making noise and want it to be fun and easy and loud.
At the core of each song is a sense riff. Do you build off those riffs first?
Dan Reynolds: Yeah, but we don't think to do it that way, it just happens. We just jam and build off of it and go from there.
Your influences are obvious in spots. What are the more hidden instigators?
Pryor: I'm into the older Motown stuff. The stuff we're doing isn't a genre I listen to a lot. I don't go to a lot of stoner-rock shows, even though that's what we get lumped in with. In a lot of ways it doesn't make sense for me to be in this band.
McVay: We've played with a lot of drummers, which is fun/annoying... Nick approaches the songs differently than if we had, say, a straight-ahead rock drummer.
ABC is a little more flexible than your average rock or stoner-rock band.
Reynolds: We play faster than most stoner rock bands. None of us are stoners.
Is there a sort of dynamic push and pull that propels the band?
Pryor: I think it's more of a weird blend. Anyone that comes in to play with us, we don't want them to play what we want them to play. We want them to play what they want to play. The next show will have the sixth drummer who has played with us.
So you're more or less the lead drummer?
Pryor: I would never call myself that. I will always be just one of the drummers. I was there in the beginning, I'll probably be there in the end.
What are audience members saying about what they hear?
McVay: People are surprised how loud we are when they first come to see us. We say, If you have earplugs, bring 'em.
Reynolds: It's the sound of the two drummers. We just fill in around that.
Any additions planed? Horns? A third drummer?
Reynolds: Theremin. There's not room for much else. I like that it's thick but defined.
When is the end? When does Abandoned Buildings Club meet the wrecking ball?
McVay: Probably the 21st.
Punk-metal icon Wendy O. Williams will be inducted into the Rochester Music Hall of Fame on Sunday. Plasmatics guitarist Wes Beech and Rod Swenson, the band's creator and Williams' life partner, talk about the legacy of the singer.