BNLX is the newest band to be featured in jillypopmusic’s in-depth Band Spotlight series.
I’m excited to introduce you to BNLX, an experimental/noisepop/post-punk group based in Minneapolis.
Ed Ackerson – guitar, vocals
Ashley Ackerson – bass, vocals
David Jarnstrom – drums
PD Larson – lights
Jim McGuinn – guitar
BNLX just released their 9th EP Flextime in December 2014 on Susstone Records. They are working on their 3rd LP to be released this Spring.
BNLX’s influences include Sonic Youth, The Jesus and Mary Chain, My Bloody Valentine and New Order. Their songs are an experimental mix of pop hooks and hi-fi/low-fi noise. Ed Ackerson and Ashley Ackerson’s voices blend perfectly into a modern sound reminiscent of British post-punk/new wave of the 1980s.
I recently interviewed Ed Ackerson to learn more about BNLX.
JPM: What does BNLX stand for or mean or do you just like those letters together?
EA: BNLX is the abbreviation of Benelux, which is the union of Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg. This band started as a side project for us, and we wanted to have a sort of strange and obscure name. We certainly got that!
JPM: Who are the dog and cat on the LP covers?
EA: Our dog Wiggy and cat Twiki are on the covers of our two LP releases. Both of them are always with us when we’re recording our records, and Wiggy even goes on tour with us, plus they fit our black-and-white theme really well.
JPM: When did BNLX form and how did that happen?
EA: BNLX started as a side project from my previous band Polara and Ashley’s band The Mood Swings. Our initial plan was to put out a series of four EP’s, compile those on an album, and then probably move on to a different project. However, we’ve wound up having a ton of fun doing this band, so we’ve kept it going! At this point there have been nine EP’s, an full-length album, and another album compiling the first round of EP tracks. In four years we’ve put out about sixty songs across different releases, so we’ve been pretty productive.
JPM: What’s the Minneapolis music scene like and where do you usually play shows?
EA: The Minneapolis music scene is as strong or stronger than ever, with a ton of interesting bands. We mostly play venues like First Avenue, the 7th St. Entry, Varsity Theater and the Turf Club. We’ve also done some art gallery and DIY-type shows at unofficial venues. There’s a lot going on around here! We’re very involved with the scene here as musicians, and also because we run an indie label (Susstones) and recording studio (Flowers Studio). I do a lot of work helping develop new artists and making records with them.
JPM: Where have you toured?
EA: We’ve been back and forth to the East Coast a number of times now, and we’ve also done shows in Los Angeles and San Francisco. We’d like to do more road work and will hopefully be out all over the place after our next record comes out. We did our first overseas shows in Argentina last year, so we’re looking forward to getting back to South America as well if we can pull it off.
JPM: What are your favorite songs to play?
EA: There are a lot of them that we really love playing, particularly “Everything Must Go,” “Do Without,” “Blue and Gold,” “1929” and “Opposites Attract.”
JPM: Flextime is your new EP. It’s so unique. How did it come together?
EA: For the new EP, we wanted to make a release that was both the catchiest and most experimental thing we’ve done to date. “Flextime” is definitely a huge proto-shoegaze pop “hit”. We wanted to make a track that was really danceable, emotional and soaring melodically. We did the cover on “This Is Love” by PJ Harvey because she’s always been a foundation inspiration for Ashley and me. But the final 22-mintue drone/improv song “It Was the Light” is really the big news on this EP. We’ve been doing more and more improvisation and spontaneous composition in rehearsals, and we’re really enjoying doing music that’s no-holds-barred psychedelic. We won’t have any 22-minute tunes on the forthcoming album, of course, but we thought that the EP format would be cool place do something really out of the ordinary.
JPM: When are you releasing the new album?
EA: We’re hoping to have the new album out by late April. We record everything ourselves at our studio, Flowers Studio and we’re now at the final mix stage. We can’t wait for people to hear it!
You can watch the video for Flextime and preview/buy the EP below. It’s also available at iTunes/Amazon/Spotify.