Xerox returns for premier record release show

Matt Fenner of Xerox recording at Flat Black Studios — photo by Luke Tweedy

Xerox w/ Haunter, True Posture

Trumpet Blossom Cafe — Friday, May 30 at 9:30 p.m.

If there ever was a town that sucked in and expelled more musicians than Iowa City, it would have to exist in a spaghetti western or a Cormac McCarthy novel. Musicians ride into town, shoot up the place, become outlaws and ride out right before their infamy can be appreciated. And after they leave they can become a kind of faceless legend existing in the sprawl of the internet and exaggerated bar tales.

Xerox may sit on the edge of disappearing altogether from Iowa City. With bassist/vocalist Mickey Shaw living in Minneapolis/St. Paul, the punk band’s remaining members, guitarist/vocalist Matt Fenner and drummer Brad Highnam, continue to carry the name here in town on the rare occasions they reunite.

“We get together once and awhile,” said Fenner recently. “But with Mickey gone, the focus in on getting the record done rather than practicing or writing songs.”

Their first self-titled 12″ has its official release party this Friday at the Trumpet Blossom Cafe. Recorded over two days last summer at Luke Tweedy’s Flat Black Studios, the album has laid dormant since then. Only the vitriolic, urgent “Slanted and Steady” has appeared tangibly, on Tweedy’s COMP compilation, featuring 11 local bands whose albums may never see the light of day. The rest of the songs appear on the Xerox bandcamp site, with donations accepted.

With the help of Candida Pagan’s Diagraph Press, Fenner, Highnam and friends have been busy hand-screening 300 letter-pressed covers for the release. The record, pressed at Palomino, a favorite for Iowa City bands wanting to press quality records on the cheap, is coming out as a split release under local hardcore archivalist Joe Milik’s Hard Art label and Fenner’s tentatively titled “Tomato Underground.” The six songs on the record are burners, methodical but riding a dangerously clamorous line, and wholly midwestern. It takes steps away from the regulations of the Iowa City punk rock scene. It has a Moog synthesizer on a couple songs. Although, the first time I saw Viking Fuck, one of Fenner’s older bands in which he played keys, they were playing an insane, deconstructed version of ? and the Mysterians’ ’96 Tears on a dimestore keyboard.

“We all listen to synth music,” explained Fenner about the expanded instrumentation. “I like the possibilities represented in a studio. The song just felt empty, we really wanted to fuck with that Moog.”

The future of Xerox is not necessarily in question, but the trio are weighing options to continue playing. Since their songwriting is based on the building of riffs and songs through jamming — a “jamming dialog,” Fenner grinned — he and Highnam feel the need to live closer in order to progress.

“It’s pretty difficult right now. We’re both pretty clueless about where we’re at. But we want to continue,” said Fenner. “We want to kidnap Mickey and take him to the desert. Somewhere less cold. We could go to the desert for a couple months, make a record and go on tour to make up for lost time.”

Xerox self-titled record release show kicks off Friday at the Trumpet Blossom Cafe. Records will be available for purchase for $10.

Kyle Miller’s Haunter and local noise sculptor’s True Posture will be opening. Doors are at 9 p.m.

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