A few years ago, NYC musician/publicist extraordinaire Curran Reynolds debuted his solo project, called Body Stuff, which was a total unexpected surprise. The endeavor is a departure from his previous work as the drummer for Today Is the Day and Wetnurse, as it combines industrial metal, post-rock and experimental drone with ’80s pop influences and haunting tones. As the mastermind and frontman of Body Stuff, Reynolds showcases a much more personal side of himself and the result is captivatingly brilliant. His new EP, Body Stuff 2, was recently released on Novermber 4 and features more of the harsh rhythms, dreamy melodies and dark, Michael Gira-esque vocals heard on the first Body Stuff EP. However, Body Stuff 2 also captures an eerie, isolated vibe, which reflects the remote surroundings in which the EP was written. In this recent interview with Svbterranean, Reynolds discusses the new EP, the circumstances surrounding the writing process and how it affected the themes present on the release. He also talks about his various influences, lyrical inspirations and much more.
How did Body Stuff come to fruition?
From age 10 onward I was totally obsessed with rock n’ roll. I started playing drums at 10 and I stuck with that instrument for about 25 years. By 2012, I had followed this path to the point where I’d gotten to join one of my favorite bands, Today Is the Day. I got to make one album with Today Is the Day, and tour Europe and the US a few times. I think through that process I fulfilled all my drummer dreams and it actually liberated me of those dreams, and allowed me to move forward to the next things in life. One of those next things was to make music that was all my own, and that’s what Body Stuff is.
How are you feeling about the outcome of the new EP, Body Stuff 2?
It’s the best thing I’ve ever made. It’s the truest representation of what’s in my heart.
It’s been a few years since the first EP. What was the writing and recording process like for this one?
In spring 2013 I did my final tour with Today Is the Day. At the end of that tour I went to Maine to visit my family for a few weeks and instead of returning to my home in New York City as planned I wound up renting a house on a lake up there and staying all the way through the following spring. That year in Maine proved to be the end of one chapter and the start of another. It was a time of recuperation and reflection. It was there in the house on the lake that I wrote most of Body Stuff 2.
I made three trips down to New York during that year and each time I recorded some new Body Stuff music with Ryan Jones, my friend and engineer. When I moved back to the city in the summer of 2014 we continued. We worked sporadically in various practice spaces and apartments across the city and finally finished tracking and mixing in late 2015.
How does this release compare to the first EP?
The first EP was very much a New York City record. It was about making sense of life in New York, where I’d lived from 1998 up through then. The songs were written literally on the streets of New York, walking around the city alone. “Street Walker” is a song about choosing to regard the strangers on the street as friends instead of enemies. “Wanted Man” is sort of the flipside of that scenario, where your good intentions are misunderstood by the outside world. “New York Story” is specifically a tribute to my friend Mikhal who fell off a fire escape and died on Halloween night, 1999, after we’d spent a pretty wild summer together in the Lower East Side – but I think the song serves as an anthem for anyone who has experienced the sheer infinite power of youth then felt that power get cold and transform into something else.
Body Stuff 2 is a Maine record. It was written in the house on the lake – a New Yorker hiding out in the woods, reflecting, weighing what’s next. “Cabin Song” is quite literally the anthem of that lake house, a song that puts solitude on a pedestal, as a symbol of living life your own way. The language used on the record – words like “ice,” “cabin,” “a bird in a tree” – it comes from that Maine setting. And Maine is where I lived for much of my childhood before moving to NYC, so some of the songs reach back in time to those old buried memories. “World of Men” is a song about growing up out in the country with my mom and my sister – we were broke, isolated, and without a father figure but, within the song, I chose to glorify this time in my life, to wear it like a badge of honor and to pay tribute to these women who were, and still are, the most important people in my life.
Body Stuff’s sound combines a few different elements, including alternative rock, industrial and drone. How do you describe the sound?
My reason for making this music was to express something even more honestly and more completely than I’d been able to in other bands in the past. It wasn’t planned but naturally a lot of ’80s rock and pop influence came to the surface, because that’s the first era of music that ever rocked me as a kid. It’s like I was going back to the source with Body Stuff, going for pure visceral impact. So naturally there’s traces of Motley Crue, Bon Jovi, Billy Idol, Springsteen, Michael Jackson, Madonna, and so forth. Then secondly I think there’s a heavy New York City vibe in the sound because, again, this an honest autobiographical work, and NYC is the place I’ve lived for most of the past 20 years. I think there’s something akin to the spirit of Lou Reed or Alan Vega or Michael Gira, in the sense that it’s music saturated in years and years of NYC experiences. People like to say that the NYC of my lifetime is not the city that once was, but still I have stories. And the third element is the metal and hardcore influence, as that’s the world that has been my home base my whole adult life, as far as the bands I’ve played drums in, and as far as my career in the music industry as a publicist repping other people’s bands. I think these elements are three of the big ones you hear in Body Stuff. It was never planned out as such, but looking at it after the fact I think that’s what’s going on.
What are your influences?
Jon Bon Jovi backstage in the “Wanted Dead or Alive” video.
The A-ha singer in that hallway in the “Take On Me” video.
Iggy Pop in that hallway in the “Five Foot One” video.
The drums on “In the Air Tonight.”
The countdown on “The Final Countdown.”
…And Justice for All.
Axl Rose’s screams.
Jeffrey Lee Pierce.
Hitchcock, Kubrick, Tarkovsky, Antonioni, Fellini, Altman.
Steve Austin of Today Is the Day.
Napalm Death, AcMe, Discordance Axis.
Every Devourment tempo shift.
The end of “Good Morning, Captain.”
New York City, Maine, Kansas.
My single favorite album of all time: Jane’s Addiction, Nothing’s Shocking.
My family and friends.
You’ve also been a member of a few other bands, drumming for Today is the Day and Wetnurse, but Body Stuff puts you at the forefront. How does that feel?
It was the right evolution of things. I had to put in 25 years as a drummer first. When it felt right to move up front, I did that. I really value certain aspects of being a member of a band: the teamwork and camaraderie. A solo project is a different vibe, it’s less of a football team, it’s more like you’re a painter, painting.
How does this project differ from the other bands as a creative outlet for you?
It’s 100% my vision. The other bands were democracies.
Although Body Stuff is a solo project, in that you write all of the music yourself, recording and performing involves other members. What kind of impact have they had on the project?
Ryan Jones records the music with me. He’s one of my best friends and he played in Today Is the Day and Wetnurse with me so there’s a lot of history there. I write the Body Stuff songs, I bring them to Ryan and together we sit down to track and mix them. The technical aspects of this process are 100% Ryan.
For live shows, my band consists of me and Ryan and our friends Rush Moody and Matt Kepler. That’s the four of us in the band photo with the motorcycle. These guys are true rockers who bring exactly the right vibe for the live version of Body Stuff.
There have been only two Body Stuff shows so far. The first was with Psalm Zero, the second was with Uniform. After playing hundreds of shows as a drummer, it was a really powerful feeling to be up there as a frontman, singing my songs, with my friends backing me up. We’re rehearsing now for the next shows.
What inspires your lyrical approach? Is it all based on personal experience?
Yeah, certain words bubble up to the surface and if they’re important enough to be put in a song, I’ll know it right away. Looking back on the lyrics of the two EPs, I see two categories: there’s the reflective lyrics that seek to make some sense of the past, and there’s the here-and-now lyrics that illustrate a certain freewheeling worldview and a plan for how to live today to the fullest.
The lyrics are a significant part of Body Stuff. How important are they to you in comparison to the music?
Totally equal, lyric and music, one and the same.
You’re also on the PR side of the music business. How does Curran the musician differ from Curran the PR guy? Is it ever challenging to do both? Are there any conflicts that come up?
As a publicist I’m a champion for other people’s bands. It’s very selfless work, I’m out there representing other people’s art. I’m out there saying, “OK guys, here’s this new band I like, here’s a description of what they’re all about, and here’s why I think you should write about them.” As a publicist that’s essentially the conversation I’m having with editors and writers, every single day. So then to be a musician, it’s a very different role, of course. It’s more selfish. To make the Body Stuff music I slip into a supremely solitary zone, deaf to anyone else’s opinions or standards or wishes. But in spite of that, this is intended to be music for all people. The name itself, Body Stuff, was meant as the most neutral and universal pairing of words, a name that belongs to everyone, and one that maybe also implies a fundamental realness. As personal as the music is to me and my experience, it’s my hope that the realness of it will rock people and bring them some joy.
Thanks for the interview! Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Thanks Denise! Your support is awesome.
Body Stuff 2 is out now via The Path Less Traveled Records. Order it in digital and cassette formats here.