Few things smell more like the ’90s than post-rock bands.
They're a two-in-one phenomenon, really. Post-rock bands prove that the ‘90s weren't all bad (though they were pretty bad... a princess, like, died), and they make for a great conversation-starter when you're trying to hit on that alternative girl at that party.
John Herndon was not a girl I was trying to hit on. Well, he's not a girl. Herndon's the drummer for Tortoise. The post-rock band. From the 90s. As a band that started out over two decades ago, Herndon confesses that little has changed in their approach to all things audible.
The only difference seems to be that now "shit gets done". "I guess now we just cut to the chase, we're not all just fucking around, fucking around."
But what of the Chicago music scene that spawned such vocal-free sonic madness?
"I lived here in '85. It was a freakshow, man. I guess it is now. Everything's a freakshow. Back then I'd be going around and being out all night at punk rock houses, at weird art groups going on. There was just a lot of stuff happening.
“I mean, it's such a big city and there's so much music going on. Aspects of the music scene that I've never seen. Kids doing crazy footwork dances and shit! But looking at the scene now, I have a feeling that it's as thriving as it always has been."
From that description, I have no idea what Footloose-esque part of Chicago Herndon has been doing time in. That could be because I've never been to Chicago.
But listening to the meatier, aggressive subtlety of Tortoise's last album (2009's 'Beacons Of Ancestorship'), one would assume that the way it stands out from the band's discography indicates members like Herndon have been exposing their ear muscles to new types of noise.
It's not entirely true, though. Tortoise's influences remain steeped in history.
"You get a different influence from every member in the band. Myself, I grew up listening to Miles Davis, Bob Dylan, Coltrane, Blondie. But in terms of today's music, I don't even try to keep up, to tell you the truth! I kind of stumble into gigs accidentally. I don't try to keep up, I just make music."
Tortoise play The Zoo October 12.