New York–based guitarist Alex Holden is telling me about his former group, Big Numbers. “Not many people are familiar with it,” he says. “It’s a really angular guitar post-punk thing.”
We’re chatting because his new project, Higgins Waterproof Black Magic Band, is a little more on-the-radar. He shares the group with Tunde Adebimpe, the front man of post-punk standouts TV on the Radio, and with drummer Ryan Sawyer (Lone Wolf, Cub) and bassist Josh Werner (Lee “Scratch” Perry, CocoRosie).
Its funny name, he explains, is derived from a brand of ink.“Both Tunde and I are cartoonists,” he says. “Basically, the band formed when a local comic-book store [Desert Island] asked Tunde to play the Brooklyn Comics and Graphics Fest. He and Ryan had been playing together in Stabbing Eastwood. My theory is that he thought of me because of the comic thing.”
The project, also known as HiWaBla-MaBa, performs a style of reverb-laden, groove-based rock that resides somewhere in the region of Can, The Police, and Massive Attack (in fact, a few tracks have been remixed by Massive Attack’s Robert “3D” Del Naja). Its five-song self-titled EP, dropped in October, was promptly followed with a month-long residency at Brooklyn’s Union Pool.
“October was super-fun,” says Holden. “We got all our friends to play these great mixed bills, like Chris Corsano, the free-music drummer; Banning Eyre, an American guitar player; Abdoulaye Diabate, a Malian guitar player . . . and William Tyler [Lambchop, Silver Jews].”
The mixed bill, which includes Holden’s own axe playing, continues tonight. “I took guitar lessons from Richard Lloyd,” he says. “The guitarist from Television. He gives lessons in the city.”
BLACK MAGIC BAND With Chimurenga Renaissance, Magic Mouth. Columbia City Theater, 4916 Rainier Ave. S., 722-3009, columbiacitytheater.com. $12 adv./$15 DOS. 8 p.m. Sat., April 26.