In its recent press photos, the electronic-instrumental five-piece Sound Tribe Sector 9 poses as a news crew from the progressive TV and radio program Democracy Now! This charade actually isn't far from the truth: Last year the band launched a similarly themed website, Peaceblaster.com, filled with posts on democracy-building and human rights. Isthmus recently spoke with bassist David Murphy about this project, plus the band's new album, Peaceblaster.
The STS9 Wikipedia entry describes the band's songs as "post-rock dance music." What do you think this means?
I'm not sure how much "post-rock" we do, but for the last eight years we've leaned toward dance music, from hip-hop to more of a house-music feel in the drumbeats. We care a lot about the rhythm of the music, and we bring a lot of intensity to our live shows, so there's a certain edginess there that someone might call "post-rock."
Why did the band move from Atlanta to California? Any regrets?
When we did our first cross-country tour and hit the Western states, we started feeling like we needed a change of scenery. It probably wasn't that wise to move away from our fan base, but we wanted to be somewhere outside our comfort zone that was more open-minded and progressive. Looking back, it was a good thing because it got us the hell out of the suburbs and made us focus on having fans across the country instead of being just a Southern band.
In previous interviews you've remarked that STS9's music reflects the dark underbelly of American culture. What kinds of dark topics was the band trying to address with Peaceblaster and Peaceblaster.com?
We were working on Peaceblaster at the beginning of 2008, knowing that lots of things were going to change in this country. It wasn't so much of an intentional thing [to address social issues], and we didn't do it so much through the words but with the music, through a lot of the rhythms and chord progressions. Politics was a big part of all of our lives at that time. That's also when we started Peaceblaster.com to give people some food for thought, not in a "vote for this guy" sort of way but a "let's talk about human rights and the environment - and do something about it" way. It's something we're really hoping to keep going. I think it keeps us going, too.