THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Adult Prom is an example of the magic that can happen when an unlikely pair of bands, bonded more by spirit than by sound, choose to join forces and make a thing together. Like a mouthful of sugar and salt, the contrast between the two reveals the power of each.
Where Lung bring sheer intensity, executed with dark, neoclassical flair, Conan Neutron & The Secret Friends revel in an exuberant, noisy reimagining of classic rock. Despite the divergent energies, these bands are united by friendship and mutual respect and they give themselves, one hundred percent, to this project. On Adult Prom, not only do the two share space on a slab of vinyl; each also covers one song by the other, reinterpreting it in its own singular style, and members lend their talents to other tracks as guest vocalists and musicians.
Explaining how the collab came to be, Conan Neutron states, simply: “We are fans of each other’s music and enjoy each other’s company and it just seemed like a cool thing to do.”
From Cincinnati, Ohio, Lung consist of Kate Wakefield, a classically trained opera singer and cellist, and drummer Daisy Caplan, formerly of Foxy Shazam. Fierce, ethereal, and heavy as hell, Lung rock with the intensity of early grunge, layered with sinister undertones. “Tony Iommi teaching a Nirvana class at Juilliard,” reads one review from a local paper.
“PJ Harvey is absolutely brilliant,” states Wakefield. “I also am a huge fan of Tori Amos, Hole, Cibo Matto. I also love dramatic classical composers like Prokofiev, Sibelius and Barber — who are all pretty metal, in a way. Daisy has also introduced me to tons of bands that have influenced our style since we started playing, like Minutemen, Smart Went Crazy and Death From Above. Our sound is intentionally genre-bending, but the consistent thread is that everything we do has an intensity to it. We mean every word and every note we play, and people can feel that.”
People can feel that, indeed, as Wakefield runs her cello through distortion pedals and big amps, and Caplan pounds out earthquaking beats on cartoonishly bell-shaped, vintage North drums. A relentless touring machine, the duo have played over 700 shows across North America and Europe, on bills with Brainiac, Screaming Females, Fucked Up and so many more.
With roots in Oakland, transplanted to Milwaukee, Conan Neutron is a wildly prolific musician, podcaster and impresario. As a co-founder and curator of Caterwaul Festival, and as the founder and host of the Protonic Reversal podcast, Neutron is a self-built pillar of what he has termed “independent-minded, iconoclastic, noisy music.” With Caterwaul, he has helped create an annual fest that has quickly become a major new axis for this “noisy music” scene, putting the likes of Flipper and Chat Pile on one stage and serving to strengthen a community of diverse, yet connected, bands and fans. With Protonic Reversal, he has chatted for hours with an absolutely legendary list of artists — members of The Stooges, Devo, The Birthday Party, Black Flag, and Fugazi, to name but a few — amassing a huge library of conversations that exists as a resource for the world to enjoy.
As a bandleader, Neutron wields the same creative fire and the same knack for putting exceptional people under one roof. His rhythm section, The Secret Friends, consists of none other than Melvins drum-slayer Dale Crover and bassist Tony Ash, formerly of Coliseum. (When Neutron takes the show on the road, he and Ash are joined by a revolving cast of live players — “a bench deeper than a baseball team,” in Neutron’s words.)
Contrary to what one might expect from these guys, the sound hits like a burlier version of power-pop – more Cheap Trick than AmRep. Honed over four albums and shows with Big Business, Torche and more, the songwriting and execution are world-class. Crover’s iconic drumming lays the foundation for rich tones, sweet hooks, and Neutron’s croon.
Given the underground cred of Neutron and his gang, their choice to rock unabashedly might come across like a subversive act. Neutron puts it like this: “What we do is big weird rock music. I have to throw the weird in, because when people think of rock music they tend to think of slavish imitators of bygone eras or a specific kind of very safe consonant guitar music for middle managers and wraparound shade dads.” One press release from the recent past calls it: “Small-scale arena rock for smart alecks and malcontents.”
Lung’s tracks on Adult Prom were recorded and mixed by John Hoffman at The Lodge in Dayton, KY; Conan Neutron & The Secret Friends’ tracks were engineered and mixed by Toshi Kasai. The album was mastered by Shellac’s Bob Weston at Chicago Mastering Service. Adult Prom’s album artwork, created by Aaron Cross, comprises paintings of the two bands’ vans — two 2006 Ford Econolines, coincidentally.”