Soon after Joseph D’Agostino got his band underway, Cymbals Eat Guitars received Indie Rock's most profitable stamp of approval. Pitchfork assigned the 2009 debut Why There Are Mountains album an 8.3 rating and included it on the site’s “Best New Music” list.
Early acclaim did come with a price. “We had no fucking clue what we were doing in those first few months,” D'Agostino has said. He doesn’t hesitate to elaborate on went wrong. “Our live act was what was most troubling,” he explains. “I hadn't really had formal vocal training. No one taught me that I had to warm up to scream my head off.”
Consequently, he launched into one set with a shout that wiped out his vocal range for the rest of the performance. At another time, Cymbals was invited to open for The Walkmen at NYC's Webster Hall, but on the eve of the concert the band’s keyboardist fell ill with a condition that would later force him to leave the group.
“We were running around like chickens with our heads cut off,” D’Agostino says. “It was a very stressful and scattered time.”
Yet Cymbals’ scrappy clatter on Mountains proves that havoc is healthy in proper doses. “And the Hazy Sea” exemplifies the band’s unpredictable style of songwriting, opening with a bang that sparkles with tuneful guitar flourishes and knots into manic distortion and closing with instruments fiddling around at a disjointed pace.
D'Agostino does attest that there have been changes since making Mountains: Instead of having to translate studio flourishes to the stage, Cymbals' next recording will serve as an extension a live performance, something that's drastically improved in a year.
“I couldn't be more confident in our live show,” he says. “We definitely know what the fuck we're doing.”
(Buy tickets, check out performance times and get venue details here.)