Oliver Ackermann manufactures noise for a living. Fronting Brooklynite Shoegaze/Indie Rock outfit A Place to Bury Strangers isn't enough to satisfy his thirst for rattling decibels. As a supplement, he founded Death by Audio, a guitar pedal company that shares its moniker with a New York venue. Creating for a client list that includes U2, Ackermann christens his pedals with fierce fire — there's the Octave Clang, Interstellar Overdriver and Total Sonic Annihilation.
“The names are designed around the function of the pedal,” he explains.
Even while he's become skilled at turning new projects around fast, messing with circuitry means some prototypes suffer a poor fate.
“It's good to have a test model so you can fuck it up and try to break it as many ways as possible,” Ackermann adds.
In A Place to Bury Strangers, he uses an array of pedals to craft enormous distortion-filled textures in the spirit of My Bloody Valentine. Last October's Exploding Head aptly demonstrated how he prefers his vocals to be restrained and sparse to contrast the blizzard of sound. “Keep Slipping Away” was a particularly melodramatic cut (“You have my heart/ You have my soul true love/ It should last forever/ Time's slipping away”).
Capitalizing on the oft-repeated notion that they're “the loudest band in New York” (although the band disagrees with the statement itself), the trio sells APTBS-branded earplugs at their concerts. Despite their reputation, Ackermann rarely uses plugs himself.
“I'm not really listening (to our performances), I guess,” he says before taking a stab at why his hearing hasn't changed after years of touring. “Maybe everyone around me is getting deafer as well. I don't notice because everyone is talking louder.”
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