AA Exclusive: Set Sail On EL DRUGSTORE’s “Plague Ship”

Ahoy, ya scurvy dogs! We here at American Aftermath are proud to present unto you, El Drugstore’s debut full length Plague Ship; the future of drug-induced technical wizardry. The album will officially be available for download on December 31st via Nefarious Industries. After the break you can stream the album in all its eclectic glory. As an added bonus, the band have provided us with a special track-by-track rundown of the album. You can check it all out below.


Hey there! We’re El Drugstore, from the great state of New Jersey. We’re gonna tell you all the shit that you never asked to know about our new record, Plague Ship, out December 31st on Nefarious Industries. As usual, our drummer Squid has declined to participate in this, as it’s a press type thing and he’s not into that sort of stuff. But he says “hi.” Let’s dig in, shall we?

1) Tell Them I Said Something
Conway: We wrote this one specifically to kick off the album. It was one of the last songs we finished. When we surveyed the songs we had, there wasn’t a logical starting place for the record. This song was designed to set a tone and unfold in a way that introduced the record without bombarding the listener with everything we have to offer all at once. The title is a reference to the supposed dying words of Pancho Villa, although there doesn’t appear to be any evidence that he actually said that, which is deliciously ironic.Ro: This track has a completely different feel to me than any of the others, almost out of place, yet it seems to start things off perfectly. Conway brought very distinct A, B & C riffs to the table and we just ran with it. Seth and I do a lot of contrapuntal stuff over each section, which I guess is a sign of things to come on the record. I like how this piece has a cryptic title while the rest have origins that are completely absurd or nonsensical.

2) Hipster Tits
Conway: Ok, so I’m sure no one cares about anything except the title. The story isn’t all that exciting though. Ro and I stumbled upon the phrase, which we found very funny at the time, after seeing someone walking down the street in Brooklyn who was perfectly described by those 2 words. We added it to our list of song titles, where it sat dormant for a long time. Fast forward a few years to when we were working on the song that would eventually become Hipster Tits. We mentioned the new song in a Facebook post and asked the group what we should call it, and lo and behold one of the suggestions was Hipster Tits. That seemed like fate, and thus the title was born. I’d like to think the song itself isn’t as stupid as its title.

Ro: This tune is so fucking weird, but it’s one of my favorites. I came up with the first 3 movements while East of the Wall was on tour, but had no idea where to take things after what Conway appropriately calls the “stress test” part. When we got back in the room together, things came together nicely… or not nicely, depending on how you want to look at it. Conway has a great sense of how to make a composition feel like a song and that played a big part in shaping the middle section onward. Seth’s drum performance here is tremendous.

3) Enthusiastic Corruption of the Public Good
Conway: Ro wrote the bulk of this one. The beginning movement makes me think of Weight/Come In and Burn-era Rollins Band, which was a huge influence on Ro and I growing up. It has that nasty Melvin Gibbs sort of bass groove. Then it gets all note-y and stupid at the end. We have a bad habit of doing that.

Ro: I also wrote a bunch of this while EOTW was on tour. If you’re at all familiar with the great Stinking Lizaveta, you can tell that I was listening to them a lot when I came up with the heavy riff that the first part of the song builds up to. I showed up late for a rehearsal once and walked in to Conway and Seth playing what ended up being the end movement of the song. They’re real characters, those two…

4) Fascinating Underpants
Conway: This was my attempt at writing something major sounding. That didn’t work out too well.

Ro: Conway had a really strong sense for where he wanted to take this one, start to finish. He said that he wanted to write a piece that was “happier” sounding and you can obviously hear how well that turned out. I’m going to have to teach him how intervals work some day.

5) By What Ill-Begotten Means Have You Procured This Meat?
Conway: Fun fact: I wrote the first 1:15 of this song on a classical guitar while taking a shit. True story. The title is a phrase I uttered in response to a delicious meal that Ro cooked for me. In addition to being a wonderful bass player and a huge asshole, Ro is quite the chef.

Ro: I honestly have no recollection of how we wrote this. All I know is that when we play it live, it either falls completely flat on its face or it is the best part of our set.

6) The Natives Are Getting Useless

Conway: I originally wrote the bulk of this song for another project that never ended up happening. That project was supposed to be a lot simpler and kind of poppy. I’m apparently very bad at writing stuff outside of my wheelhouse. This song was originally called “The Ministry of Outrageous Stances,” which would have been one of the all-time worst song titles in music history. Sanity prevailed and it was re-named while we were mixing the record.

Ro: I think this composition highlights a little bit of everything that we do and is one of the stronger cuts on the album. If I recall correctly, ideas for the two start-stop transitions in this were communicated verbally during a break at rehearsal. You can imagine how much fun those conversations were.

7) Tokyo Assault
Conway: My idea behind this one was to take heavy riffs and structure them like a jazz song. Think Ornette Coleman or some of Eric Dolphy’s crazier shit. The light-speed riff that appears several times throughout the song is supposed to be the head, and all the guitar leads are improvisations around some phrases I use each time. I’m not sure if the end result comes across that way, but I can’t help but laugh every time I listen to this song.

Ro: I once went to see a show at a warehouse full of vintage arcade games. I got pretty drunk and spotted a game called Tokyo Assault. I then spent about an hour yelling at Conway and demanding that we play Tokyo Assault. Turns out that the game was actually called something else, but we decided that the next tune we wrote should probably be called Tokyo Assault. I think it works for this one. On a side note, Conway’s solos here are pure comedic gold.

8) Wheel of Sadness
Conway: This one is supposed to be structurally similar to Tokyo Assault but the “A” and “B’ riffs are so thrashy that I think that’s even less obvious here. This has turned out to be a pretty big hit with the metal crowd, so it’s a good get out of jail free card in front of a hostile hesher audience who’s sick of our avant garde bullshit.

Ro: This one came together in seemingly no time. Everything clicked right away, and so I guess its appropriate that it’s the quickest tune on the album. Besides having my favorite song title, this is always really fuckin fun to play.

9) Pandemonium in the Bronx
Conway: This song is partially comprised of riffs from a really old aborted project from way back before I joined East of the Wall. It was supposed to be me, Brett from Revocation and Todd & Ninja from Abacinate/Hammer Fight. Parts of that song sat around for 6 or 7 years and I always swore I would find a use for them. Random inspiration led me to re-work those riffs into an El Drugstore tune. The opening riff to the song was actually about twice as fast initially. When I was teaching it to Ro and Squid I was playing it slower so they could see what I was doing. We just settled into a nice groove on it so we adjusted the tempo. The big sweep-y sounding movement towards the end was also part of that old jam. That’s probably the most physically demanding riff I’ve ever had to play. We pretty much have to close with it if we’re playing it live because my hands don’t really work anymore after that part.

Ro: One of the things I remember most about writing and arranging the pieces on this album is us being stuck on the first riff of this tune, and Seth recommending that we just modulate it up a whole step. It was a simple suggestion but it opened the floodgates for all of the ideas we needed to get to the second half of the composition. There’s something bare-bones and intensely focused about the first half of Pandemonium that I really like. There’s just enough restraint exercised that it allows things to really open up when Conway later goes completely into beast mode.

10) Steakback
Steakback came together rather quickly. There is actually a riff in here from when we first started out and were strictly playing improv and Ro was playing upright bass. The clean guitar part towards the beginning of the song makes me think of the desert level from Super Mario 3. Is that weird?

Ro: I’m glad this cut closes the album because compositionally I think it’s our strongest. It’s not as in your face or spastic as some of the other parts on the record, but it’s creepy, ruthless and calculated. As Conway alluded to, the middle riff is the first thing the 3 of us ever played together. I’d like to think that we did something halfway decent with it.

So that’s our new record. Hope you enjoyed it. Make sure to pop by our website, http://nefariousindustries.com/ on December 31st to download it for whatever price you’d like, including free. Also, come check out our record release show on February 1st if you’re in the area. It’ll be at Paradise Lost in New Brunswick, NJ with Zevious, Fond Han and a very special guest to be announced shortly. Thanks to American Aftermath for giving us the opportunity to prattle on about our nonsensical musical ramblings. Cheers!


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