Following suit with the indulgent nature of this city, one band is not enough for the average NOLA musician. West Bank natives Andrew Landry and Evan Cvitanovic, known as the masterminds behind noisy math metal band High in One Eye as well as spacey shoegaze outfit Glish, are no strangers to this tendency. When they teamed up with Jack Donovan, Brooklyn native and frontman of former folk-rock group Country Club, they began quietly crafting an arsenal of songs under the moniker Habitat.
Originally Habitat kept a low profile, existing on the backburner due to priorities to other projects. With the end of Country Club at the beginning of 2012, Habitat was finally given time to flourish. Donovan (vocals/guitar), Landry (noise/guitar) and Cvitanovic (Drums), as three highly skilled composers, have found a way to naturally fuse together noise, math rock, jazz and classical elements, paired with Donovan’s pop-inspired melodies, to craft a sound that has been steadily bewildering and thrilling audience members anxiously awaiting their next move. ANTIGRAVITY sat down with the trio at Cvitanovic’s uptown apartment to unravel the up and comers’ process, debut release and plans for the future.
How did you guys meet?
Evan Cvitanovic: Andrew and I were at Loyola sitting on a bench during orientation our freshman year and Jack came up with Keenan–
Jack Donovan: –Keenan McRae! I distinctly remember this interaction.
EC: They approached us and told us they were musicians, to which we reponded “Oh. We play music too.” Then we started vibing on each other. Later that night we went to the Hi-Ho Lounge and stayed in contact ever since.
JD: Later on, Andrew and I started playing in New Grass Country Club together. Outside of that, we had a couple of sessions where we just played around.
Andrew Landry: The first time we all played together was at a Student Composers forum at Loyola.
JD: That was the first Habitat show. [Laughs]
EC: This is all coming full circle.
How old were you when you started playing music together?
EC: Andrew and I were pretty young, about to be in high school.
AL: When we were 13 or 14 we started our first band. It was called Fungus You Can’t Kill.
Tell me more about your background in music.
AL: Evan and I both came from a classical and jazz background. We studied jazz at the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts.
EC: When we went to NOCCA, that’s when we started learning how to really play music.
AL: I knew nothing before I went to NOCCA. Then it was two years of an intense regimented study of jazz. Mind = blown. But we were also really influenced by metal. That’s what we listened to when we were younger.
Where did the name Habitat come from?
EC: Just the word “Habitat.” I think it sounds cool.
JD: Andrew came up with it. I don’t even remember having other names.
EC: There were no other names.
Habitat’s sound is really hard to describe. Who are some of the influences behind it?
JD: Claude DeBussy- in terms of harmony and melody. That’s who we really look up to. Also Philip Glass and Steve Reich.
AL: Don Cab. [Don Caballero]
EC: In terms of drumming, I look up to Can and Neu! Jaki Libzeit [Can]- all of his minimalist funkiness and then Michael Rother [Neu!]. Specifically the motorik beat: a lot of repetition. Plus whatever we like in general. What is relevant to the scene as in whatever is happening. Like Caddywhompus and Native America. I don’t know if we’re trying to assimilate into that but we are trying to react to it in some way.
JD: You always react to what is closest to you. Chris [Caddywhompus] and Ross’ [Native America] songs definitely influence me a lot I think.
EC: It’s hard not to and vice versa.
What music have you been listening to recently?
AL: I’ve been listening to a lot of spectralism. Spectralism and minimalism. Lately it’s been Tristan Murail and Paul Lansky. I am trying to get more into contemporary classical music and what’s going on presently and see how I can bring the classical world into what I do in the “rock & roll world.” But anything though, honestly. We discuss this all the time. We don’t like to limit ourselves. Any type of music can influence us. And metal. We still listen to metal.
If Habitat could be summarized in a work of art, like a painting, what would it be?
EC: Monet, baby.
EC: Nah, I don’t know.
JD: I’d like it to be Monet.
EC: Well since you like DeBussy so much… I don’t know art. We’re like a Jackson Pollock. We’re abstract.
AL: Number 31: “The Splatter.”
EC: We’re all about negative space.
AL: Slow is fast. But… just slow.
EC: Just slow.
JD: So a more angular geometric Monet.
What can we expect out of the release coming up this month? Was there any sort of theme or concept behind these songs?
EC: Honestly, whenever I make music I don’t think of anything. There is no meaning behind anything necessarily other than the act itself. The writing process is sort of a blur for me. It just happens and then we have songs.
JD: Some people have a concept before they write songs. Like Tyler [Sun Hotel] will have all the song names and a concept behind an album, but for me it’s just the act as well. The music itself comes first– what sounds cool and is fun to play.
EC: It’s really weird to me because when we are writing music we’re not necessarily trying to evoke emotion. We are thinking about what parts sound good sequentially. It’s not about the emotion that I am going for. It’s all about the part.
You’re touring right after the release. Where are y’all going?
AL: We leave May 19th and take on the East Coast. The shows I’m really looking forward to are Philly, Brooklyn and Boston. We’re still in the process of booking– trying to play as many house shows as we can, but since we are new to the touring scene under this name we are trying to build some connections. It’s all kind of coming together.
What will Habitat’s plan be from there?
JD: The plan is to tour as much as possible and try to get people to listen. Just to play a bunch of gigs. Playing live is really important to us.
AL: Basically, touring and more touring after that. I don’t really like to plan more than a year in advance. I don’t really like to plan for tomorrow.
JD: Any plan is an idealization and then you just get let down.
AL: It’s like that saying in Dodgeball. Why have any goals? If you don’t reach them, you never get disappointed. So we’re just going to tour and if it works out, it works out.
EC: I just like the scrapbook idea of bands. When I’m 50 years old I want to look back and remember, “Hey. That was cool.”