Casual Victim Pile II

SXSW 2011 Picks 2 Click

Casual Victim Pile II
Photo by John Anderson

Fresh Millions

SXSW showcase: Sat., March 19, 1am, Red 7

Fresh Millions operates under the same basic premise as the mullet: business in the front, party in the back. The local trio (bassist Geoff Earle, guitarist/keyboardist Cody Skinner, and drummer Dan Skarbek) looks like a modern IT department – wired to the gills – but throws down go-go-gadget funk that pulls equally from Girl Talk's glitch-pop raves and the compact instrumentalism of Ratatat.

Earle started the project four years ago as an outlet for his freelance beat production, pitching primarily to Columbia Records. Over time, unused jams developed into the Fresh Millions debut, released last year on Austin's oddball Insect Records. The nine-song patchwork proved a perfect summer mix, layering tweaked soul samples by the likes of Marlena Shaw and the Spinners – and in the case of "Monty," a string section lifted from a "shitty daytime soap opera" – atop slinky guitar grooves and quaking beats.

"We sound like a late-Seventies funk band that really enjoys nerdery," offers Earle, a local chauffeur by day. "We love bands like Chic and Earth, Wind & Fire, and all of the stuff from the late Nineties on Warp Records.

"The idea was to do both of those at the same time."

The band's new digital single, "Hot New Jam From '73" b/w "Control Freak," ups that Squarepusher factor, with more manic impulses and vocoder leads. As for nerdery:

"That's anything that uses electronic toys in ways not described in the user manual," explains Earle. "Our gear is not old or vintage in any way, but the nerdery comes from the sampling and how we use the talk box to push the synths. Right now we're getting really into MIDI control looping."

The Sword's Bryan Richie can relate. The bassist took a hands-on role as producer of the EP, lending it a hard, at times metallic, sheen.

"I checked out their demo and was completely sold," Richie recounts. "It was so complex yet not complicated at all – full of killer hooks and tasty melodies. Anyone who likes funky beats will love Fresh Millions."

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