feature: hello

Family Planning
Health don't need band therapy, but they could use some time apart



by Jessica Suarez

The orthopedic surgeons that employ Health vocalist/guitarist Jake Duzsik don’t like his band’s name. “They think it sounds too plain,” he says. And the surgeons might be right. The word “health,” with its feathery lisp and hygienic connotations, hardly does justice to a band that sounds as frantic and blustery as this. In some ways, though, “health” conveys a notion of balance that describes the way the group nestles their clangor in layers of vocal gauze. “That’s one of the ideas we had about recording,” says Duzsik. “We wanted the vocals to have an even, unaffected feel. A softness, like a Zombies melody, or even a Gregorian chant. We aren’t just interested in being a noisy screaming band.”

While that aesthetic decision seems to have been easy, others needed to be talked out extensively. Exhibit one is the band’s home page, which, instead of a bio, lists band members best and worst characteristics, the kind that would emerge in a relationship, or, say, a band. John Famiglietti (the band’s “passive aggressive” bassist, according to their website) says things are better: “We used to fight in the beginning when we weren't sure, but everyone trusts each other now. Everyone’s anger cycle is compatible.” In fact, at the time of our interview, the band’s anger cycles had aligned to the point where they would only speak about the band together. Part of their compatibility as a band undoubtedly grew out their practice of literally sketching out their songs. While some of the songs on their debut, self-titled album (Lovepump) began as exercises based around a particular concept, feel or sound effect, others were  drawn out on paper. “[Like] a little kid’s drawing, or a really fucked up centipede,” explains Famiglietti. Lyrics are actually just as specific, but they, like the band name, are purposely kept vague for the listener (they’re not included with the LP) to provide a “unified musical experience,” according to Duzsik. Again, it was part of working as a unit: “[Lyrics] sort of begin to bring out this more individual quality to the whole thing like, ‘These are the lyrics, and this is the guy is singing them, so I can relate to that.’ Which is really not something we want.”

All of this also fits the insular community of musicians and kids that live in L.A. and spend a lot of time at legendary venue, the Smell, where Health recorded their album. “ It is definitely the epicenter of our weird little, fucked up musical universe,” admits Duzsik. “We needed a trial separation after the record though, we just spent so much time there that we needed to detox.” Famiglietti remembers another reason why they needed some time away: “Jake touched bum shit.”

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Single File: Health - “Crimewave”

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