The Creative Partnership (and Friendship) of the Noise-Rock Trio Advaeta

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I’m chatting in the women’s bathroom with the three members of Advaeta for long enough that the motion-detected lights begin switching to black. Frenzied hopping ensues. We’re at 630 Flushing Avenue, a huge mid-19th century factory in the not quite Bed-Stuy fringe of Williamsburg. For decades it was the home of drug giant Pfizer, but since they vacated in 2008 the building’s become a home to hip lovacore food companies like Good Eggs and People’s Pops and a malleable option for Hollywood film shoots. It also provides affordable practice rooms for young bands (in addition to copious amounts of creepily abandoned industrial space perfect for your next Walking Dead theme party). The Brooklyn noise-rock trio has spent much time stalking these floors, thoroughly scouting their weirder aspects. They can point out empty concrete bays featuring remnants of its pharmaceutical business past, 70s-era computers, hydraulic lifts, disused safety showers and eye-wash stations leftover, presumably, from past chemical blindings. By evening, it’s so deserted that the band’s suggested restroom interview locale ends up being cozy instead of horribly unfortunate.

For a band just now releasing their first album, Advaeta’s logged a lot of years. Guitarists Sara Fantry and Amanda Salane, and drummer Lani Combier-Kapel are native New York City kids who started playing together just after school. Fantry and Combier-Kapel attended Manhattan’s Fiorello LaGuardia High School for the Performing Arts, famed as the inspiration for FAME, with notable alumni like Nicki Minaj,  Azealia Banks, and Jennifer Aniston. Befitting the daughter of an opera singer, Fantry studied voice. Combier-Kapel,  who also happened to be a member of the New York City Opera in her youth, rejected singing for visual art studies before swinging back to an interest in punk rock. “They sent me to a boarding school for fucked up kids,” notes the non-attending Salane. “I don’t think that place is famous, but it should be.”

The band’s sound—heavy but melodic guitar music, informed by the effects-pedal worship of UK shoegazers but more furious and less vapourous than most of that stuff—took some sweet time to develop. It’s been over six years since their first show, a benefit gig at now departed Ridgewood DIY spot House of Yes that ended in a communal healing circle. Their first full-length record, Death and the Internet, will be released just this month on Brooklyn label Fire Talk. “Everyone else starts bands and leaves them and goes on to better projects. We just grew together,” says Fantry. “That creates a really good familial bond.”

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“I think it’s about healing,” says Combier-Kapel of Death and the Internet. The women all went through tumultuous breakups during the record’s extended writing process. “There’s a lot of anger at prior relationships,” says Fantry, “The two songs I wrote the vocals and lyrics for referred to one ex I was with for a few years who joined a church cult. Now he’s married to someone else and I never spoke to him again.” They came out the other side with an armload of emotional experience to mine for material, and a supercharged desire to recommit to getting Advaeta off the ground.

Though some of the songs on the album are years old, they’re only now realizing how they fit together as a cohesive picture. The album’s songs move from the roaring anger of “Church Cult” (its subject matter isn’t difficult to guess), past “Your New Life in Pictures” (which details the emotional shrapnel of modern romance via social media). It eventually gets to acceptance, forgiveness and, projecting out a bit for perspective, our assured eventual deaths. Its mix of psych-rock, post-punk, metal, and pop influences gives that arc a sense of high drama, punched with cathartic noise. Finally, it’s the statement they want to make.

A long gestation period in the Brooklyn music world has also given the band skills and connections to better capitalize on their deferred debut. Combier-Kapel works at Silent Barn and is part of the Bushwick arts hub’s booking committee. Seeing shows constantly, befriending touring bands and hopping on their bills, has given her access to DIY tour routes and a 360-degree view of dozens of working musicians. Though they’d been to SXSW before, this year she was savvy enough to hit up Austin bands like Spray Paint and Beth Isreal for tips for joining the choicest developing shows. Advaeta ended up on high-profile gigs, like a Stereogum party alongside ascendant indie-rockers like Girlpool, Alex G, and Speedy Ortiz, and consider it their most productive trip south, by far. “Things happen at the right time,” says Salane. “Right now we’re ready. Ready to have this album released, ready to tour, ready for the things that come along with it. Before we were not, at all. We’re strong enough now in our musicality, our vision, our relationships, for whatever comes.”

Those shows, along with the big sound of the record’s first few singles, has brought them a steady uptick in online acclaim. Upon return from Austin, Salane penned a post on the band’s blog, appreciating the attention given to them by Billboard and other publications, but despairing slightly that we’re still in a place where “all-female,” even used as a positive corrective spotlight, becomes a bigger point of emphasis than a band’s sound.  “New York may be forward-thinking,” she says, “but for New York there’s still a lot of sexist shit that happens. It’s changing and its beautiful that all of these all-female bands are being recognized, it’s just also important to recognize that…it’s not a genre.”  The sheer number of female musicians in loud rock music is something she calls a “renaissance,” but the need to note things in gender terms at all is proof of progress left to be made.

The band considers their own friendship and creative partnership a continuing feat of practiced balance. They make sure no one writing or singing voice is dominant, that no one is ever the default “lead girl.” The attempt at egalitarian expression even extended to an attempt to take each interview question in Round Robin turn. (This broke down almost immediately, likely due to inter-band rhythms ingrained since they were teens.) They see this conscious rejection of competition and self-sabotage as a necessary element of their current assurance. “We face the bullshit,” Salane. “Facing your true emotions and how things are making you really feel, that’s the only reason we’ve been able to stay a band as long as we have.”

“You have to be real and you have to be able to deal with your shit.”

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