The situation I'm spending the evening at the Twilight Exit having drinks and discussing personal similarities with Jason Baxter and Kyle Hargus of the electronic duo USF. We all have the same degree from the same school--creative writing at UW--although they call me an old crone and automatically assume I graduated before they were even freshmen. (Which isn't true.) Baxter and Hargus originally met at UW, where they started a now-defunct pop-culture blog and then eventually began making beats together.
How They Got Here Hargus works for a website that "posts news, federal documents" (It's not WikiLeaks, he's not a Julian Assange alias), and Baxter works four jobs, including running Cairo's blog and serving as the Vera Project's communications coordinator. "I'm just waiting to become independently wealthy from the band," he says. "Until then, I'll work as hard as I have to."
Shop Talk USF's forthcoming release is a full-length called The Spray, named and conceptualized after the Jonathan Lethem story about a couple who fools around with a chemical compound that causes their ex-lovers' ghosts to appear in their apartment.
"The story presents an interesting spin on nostalgia . . . " says Hargus.
" . . . which is what our project's about," finishes Baxter. Earlier USF songs were about Batman and breakfast cereal, and Baxter says that some were accusing them of being "Peter Pans stuck in their childhood." "We tried to make the mood of the record a little bit more complex," he says, "We thought it was interesting how ["The Spray"] combined a lot of emotions into this whole commentary on life and things that have passed." They say the new record has a ghostly ambience and a sense of aggression that their earlier music lacked. The video Baxter created for the album's first single, "Close Your Eyes," has premiered on Pitchfork and includes found footage of boxers in a ring, maggots feeding on a human corpse, and a guy getting his head cut off.
BTW: A love of cinema is one of the first things that brought Baxter and Hargus together--they're about to head off to watch The Last of the Mohicans for Mann Mondays, in which they alliteratively watch a Michael Mann movie every Monday, and several of their songs recently appeared in the economic documentary Waste of Time. When I think about it, USF's mood-shifting, ambient instrumentals actually would be perfect as a soundtrack to a dramatic film. "Call us, Hollywood," says Hargus.
USF headlines the Crocodile this Thursday, July 14. Blouse and the Fascination Movement will open. The show starts at 8 p.m. and tickets are $8.