The Absurd is an L.A. rock group comprised of Ben Foerg (vox/guitars), Josh Loney (bass/backing vocals), and Colin Jensen (drums), that’s been generating buzz all over the city with their live shows, and their newest EP, Motherless Child! The band was created with the mission to transform Foerg’s folk music into rock songs, with a Bob Dylan meets Pearl Jam-evil laboratory creation feel. Foerg and Loney’s partnership resulted in their first release, The Trigger Warning EP which debuted in 2015. Jensen came aboard shortly afterward, in time for their very first show at the Black Rose Tavern in West L.A., and to play drums for their well-received second release, the Trigger Happy EP. The band’s work ethic and determination has paid off, as they are now regulars all over L.A., playing everywhere from Santa Monica, to Hollywood, as well as Silverlake and Echo Park. They’ve come a long way since forming in 2014, with their first proper release party in late 2016, and a new residency at Silverlake Lounge. WorldArts sat down with the band to learn more about their early years, musical inspiration, and their latest EP!
How did you get started in music?
Ben: Man, for me, I was born into it. Actually, nobody in my family really played save for my grandpa… He had a synth that he let me mess around with every now and then. I joined band in fifth grade and quickly became the venerated first chair on the trombone, but around the same time I started playing drums and getting into rock. I formed a band in high school (Outlawed Expression…real creative) and started picking up the guitar and writing songs. The singer of that band got jailed for stealing golf clubs and selling them for heroin money, so I went to college. I recorded my first solo EP sophomore year and never looked back. A couple years later, Josh threw a rock at my window and we formed The Absurd after moving to Los Angeles.
Josh: Oddly enough, my family was very musical and I sort of rebelled by not really ever getting terribly into it. I always loved music, working in radio and as an audio engineer, making my own little avant garde sound collages. But it wasn’t until Ben started writing really, really good songs that I decided I should probably learn an instrument proper. Eventually the music evolved from its original folk sound to the filthy noise you hear today.
What is the inspiration & creative process behind your latest EP?
Ben: The title, Motherless Child, sums that up pretty nicely. It’s named after the spiritual “Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child,” which we cover on the EP. We released it in November 2016 (which is what got us our residency at Silverlake Lounge). It’s got a lot of angst and general anger at the world and society and all that crap, but it’s summed up pretty well by the lyrics of the title track.
Josh: I thought it was interesting to do a cover of an old slave song because everybody knows rock has it’s roots in black music. So the interpretation of “Motherless Child” as a heavy blues track is in some way a comment on rock music and American society. At the time of its recording the country was going mad with social unrest, it was like there was a new racially motivated shooting every week. So it seemed to fit into the zeitgeist. I also think that whenever a country goes through tough times there’s an artistic reaction, and rock is a big part of that. When life isn’t complicated it’s easy to be seduced by washy synth pop songs about getting rich, believing in yourself and having the best day of your life whoa oh oh oh ah oh oh. But when shit hits the fan, people turn to louder, rawer stuff. For us, some of that music that’s influenced our faith in, and take on, heavy music includes bands like Queens of the Stone Age, Radiohead, White Stripes, and Pearl Jam. There’s also a lot of folk in our music still, even if it’s hard to hear, it’s definitely there in the songwriting.
Ben: Outside of influences, the inspiration going into it came from knowing we had to record the songs we’d been writing, and we knew we couldn’t self-produce it again with the lo-fi equipment we had available at the time. There’s a lot of desperation coming from all of us. We’re a hard working band and sometimes it pays off, but we were anxious to put ourselves on the map with a “real” release that you didn’t have to suffer through the audio quality to hear. We think it turned out pretty nicely (much credit to Mitchell Haeuszer and Marcin Nowak for producing and mastering it, respectively).
What are you currently working on and what’s next?
Josh: We’ve written over a dozen songs in the past couple months, it’s been a blur trying to keep up. Choosing which ones to drop first is a legitimately tough decision.
Ben: We’re all working pretty hard to try and maintain our sanity… It’s a hell of an axe we grind. Currently we’re working on recording and releasing one of our most popular tunes from the live set, Hollow Land. We’re also playing The Viper Room on May 20th and The Lost Knight on June 10th. Should be a good time.