Activity made an isolation-themed video, tell us about what they’re listening to & more during quarantine
Brooklyn band Activity (which includes members of Grooms, Russian Baths and Field Mouse) released their terrific debut album, Unmask Whoever, back in March and have made a new video for one of its standout cuts, "Violent and Vivisect." The video was shot in all four members' homes during this time of coronavirus isolation and was put together mimicking the artwork for the album. "Our record coming out in the early stages of this quarantine put our release show and tour on hold," says guitarist Jess Reese. "We had a lot of extra musical energy with nowhere to go. We can video chat to stay in touch, but playing tunes together over the web has technological limitations - the slightest time delay makes it impossible in real time. We play off each other, listening and responding as we go. It’s really illuminating how communicative and interactive we can be as musicians, even without using a single word. Anyway, we made this video. Each of us alone, in our apartments in New York and Philadelphia. Selfie mode engaged. Looking forward to a time when this is in our past and we can reconvene." That video premieres in this post and you can watch that, and listen to the album, below.
Meanwhile, we've been asking artists to tell us about what is keeping them occupied during COVID-19 isolation and all four members (Rees, Travis Johnson, Zoë Browne, and Steve Levine) gave us lists that include music, TV/movies, books, hobbies and more. Check those out, complete with commentary, below.
ACTIVITY - WHAT WE'RE LISTENING TO, WATCHING & READING DURING COVID-19 ISOLATION
Travis Johnson (guitar/vocals)
Silver Jews - Natural Bridge
All-time comfort record, gotten me through a lot)
FACS - Void Moments
I think this is their best yet. Production is nuts.
Carla dal Forno - Look Up Sharp
I think this came out late last year? It's really good "sitting quietly" music.
Tom of England - Sex Monk Blues
GREAT weirdo kinda dance stuff on LIES. Neil Tennant on helium.
John Coltrane - Crescent
One of his best for me.
Faust - IV
Even the goofier stuff seems sad this past month.
Sam Waymon - Ganja and Hess score
Saw the movie on a 35mm print. Incredible. Score is too.
Ulla - Tumbling Towards a Wall
Also good for sitting quietly.
Leya - Flood Dream
Dreebs were my favorite NYC band when they were going, and this is Dreebs-related, but it's a lot more tender and tranquil. Still kinda scary at times.
Plus Instruments - "Bodies"
I miss DJing.
William Carlos Williams - Spring and All
Great poetry book for this time of year in general, more so this year.
Plot Against America
TV, not book. Haven't read the book.
Zoe Brown (bass, vocals)
I’ve been finding comfort in music that’s familiar and nostalgic. Lately it’s been The Shins, Ben Kweller, Fountains of Wayne, Pavement, Talking Heads, and the B-52s. And I’ve been watching about four episodes of Community every day, cooking a lot of pancakes, and reading. I’m in the middle of the dystopian MaddAddam trilogy by Margaret Atwood, which feels appropriate.
Jess Rees (guitar, vocals)
Music: I've been listening to this compilation of quiet music to clear the head. Kankyō Ongaku, “Japanese Ambient, Environmental & New Age Music 1980-1990"
Books: Just started Braiding Sweetgrass, which came on a recommendation. It's about the scientific and spiritual connection of humans and nature.
Hobbies: I've fortunately been able to dig around in my backyard garden in Brooklyn. It's far too contaminated to turn into the mini vegetable farm of my dreams, so for now I spend time with flowers.
Steve Levine (drums)
TV: A think a lot of people my age (209) lean on The Simpsons during tough times. Here is a clip Travis and I quote all the time at each other:
I watched all of the Fargo TV show and for a while was talking to myself in an Upper Midwest accent. Ah jeez.
Deerhoof - Breakup Song (I’ve been putting this on while cooking my sad meals (one egg w/ salt & pep)
Maria Bamford - Weakness is the Brand (She’s the best)
Some comfort bands: