El Ten Eleven, the duo of drummer Tim Fogarty and guitarist Kristian Dunn, has been creating dancey instrumental post-rock since 2003 -- all fuzzy bass, primal dance grooves and spacey guitar textures sometimes reminiscent of mathy groups like Battles. How two people manage this has something to do with Dunn's double-neck guitar/bass and loads of effects pedals. But it also has quite a bit to do with musicianship. After a visit promoting last year's These Promises Are Being Videotaped, El Ten Eleven's back in Pittsburgh this Friday, road-testing material for a new album.
You're both accomplished instrumentalists, and it can be challenging for "good" guitarists and drummers to simply rock -- how does El Ten Eleven avoid proggy wankfests?
We think of our songs as pop songs, not vehicles for us to show off our chops. No "jamming!"
How is playing bass and guitar at the same time not showing off?
It's a means to an end. Most people who hear our records don't realize it's just two guys. The double-neck is simply my instrument. If I was showing off there would be all kinds of solos, and there aren't. I'm trying to move people, not impress them.
I imagine some musicians get really good at looping because they didn't have a band while growing up, and played music mainly alone. Was that the case with you?
I wasn't alone but I was a freak about music from a very young age. I used to hear the theme song from Lost In Space in our dishwasher.
Looping musicians and bands can end up cornered in the "every-song-is-a-crescendo" mindset. Do you have a pet peeve about bands that use loops or live overdubs?
I don't really know of any loop-on-the-fly bands. The bands I've seen that claim they loop just have a laptop on stage and are playing to tracks. Oh, wait, I saw Andrew Bird and he looped live. Yeah, he was really good.
What are some of your favorite instrumental rock albums? Are you a Jeff Beck Blow by Blow guy?
That music leaves me cold. I just thought of Ratatat, who I like a lot, but sometimes they have vocals. Oh, Tortoise! -- that's good instrumental stuff. Some of Brian Eno's stuff, too. There is probably more but I'm coming up blank.
The reading and listening recommendations on your Web site's "Think" page made me wonder: Is there some connection between Malcolm Gladwell, Ayn Rand and Genesis' Abacab?
There is. Can you not figure it out?
Umm ... the use of very expensive reverb as applied entrepreneurial philosophy? I give up.
Haha! That's a great answer. Objectivist reverb!
El Ten Eleven with Dawn Canon and Gangwish. 10 p.m. Fri., Nov. 27. Brillobox, 4104 Penn Ave., Bloomfield. $7. 412-621-4900