Do Your Homework: An interview with Eric Paul of Doomsday Student

Doomsday Student have returned bearing their traditionally bizarre gifts in the form of the new single, “Angry Christmas.” Here is a tale of birth, life, skin, bones, and caved-in skulls, told with rhythms like soldiers trudging through mud and broken car-alarm guitar wails. Add to this the sound of what seems like a chorus of flies buzzing in beautiful harmony, and you have the band’s first single of 2016.
Luke Boggia’s video to go with this amplifies all of the qualities of Doomsday Student, equal parts hilarious, terrifying, and provocative: a series of vividly colored animations depicting selfie-taking of different sorts with a steady crescendo of absurdity for the duration of the track. It’s not for the easily offended, but it’s also not simple shock for shock value’s sake. There is more to be heard and seen from them in the future, but for now, Eric Paul reminds us that “we’ve just taken our first breath.” Celebrate. This track is from the upcoming Doomsday Student release, A SELF HELP TRAGEDY, recorded at Radar Studios by Daryl Rabidoux and mastered by Golden Mastering in April-August of 2016.
Doomsday Student is Eric Paul, Stephen Mattos, Craig Kureck, and Paul Vieira. Made up of members from bands such as Arab on Radar, The Chinese Stars, Athletic Automaton, and Chrome Jackson, one should not be particularly surprised by the level of dissonance, mania, and peculiarity thoughtfully melded into every layer of the music, from unsettling lyrics to hysteric guitars and irregular rhythms. Obnoxious to those who seek the obvious but beloved by many others, the band has made comrades of and played with Retox, Guerilla Toss, Child Bite, White Mice, Head Wound City, and Graf Orlok, among many others.
 Ghettoblaster recently caught up with Paul to discuss the endeavor and video and this is what he shared.
What was it about Doomsday Student that initially made it a project worth pursuing?
The band came together about a year after a disastrous attempt to reunite Arab On Radar.  Shortly after that Steve, Craig, and I decided to just keep playing without any ambition — simply to play.  Craig and I had not played with Steve since the original Arab On Radar days and being around him, his aesthetic, limitless talent again reinvigorated my desire to make thoughtful and challenging records again. For months we played, just the three of us, until we thought to ask Paul if we would be interested in joining us for a few nights of improvisation — to see how it felt. Paul came in like a tornado of ideas and energy and it all felt perfect.  The connection between the four of us —this is what makes it worth pursuing for me.
What continues to make it an important endeavor? 
As corny as it may sound, I think friendship is why it continues to be important. We are just four fucked-up friends (of twenty years) that dig making music together. It is simple as that.
Do you believe that Doomsday Student is easily digested by a casual listener? If not, what are some of the touchstones people need to be familiar with in order to understand what you are hoping to communicate and accomplish?
I do not! It took a lot of obsessing and a lot of discourse to arrive at where we are and where we have been with our work. For us, it started with our shared infatuation with Six Finger Satellite and then, we quickly devoured all the albums that inspired them.  I would say, start with Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band’s “Trout Mask Replica,” The Birthday Party’s “Junkyard,” P.I.L.’s “Second Edition,” Albert Ayler’s “Live in Greenwich Village” and  Chrome’s “Alien Soundtracks” and “Half Machine Lip Moves” then see where that takes you.

Who came up with the concept for the “Angry Christmas” video? 
The artistLuke Boggia, had creative control over the video. It was his concept and his animations. We always choose to work with artists we admire and try to give them as much control as possible. For us, It adds so much excitement to the process of releasing albums. We know exactly what we are doing with the music but beyond that, we have to trust others to see us through the rest of the way.
Is there a theme or message you are hoping to impart there?
Do your homework. No, wait! There is life on other planets. No, that’s not it either.  Real eyes, realize, real eyes. No, sorry, no message here.
When might did you begin writing and recording A Self Help Tragedy?
We began writing in November 2015
Is there a theme or common idea that runs throughout that record?
I’m sure the others in the band have a common idea they are adding viscerally  to the album. But for me, most of the lyrics are about the birth of my son and the love and chaos that surrounded his arrival. Not all of them, but most of them.
What are your proudest moments on the record?
On this album we experimented with a lot with new sounds and effects.  When writing with these new sounds/effects it slightly altered our direction.   I love the new areas we explored.  My favorite moments are during the songs: “LSD Mom” and “The First Trip” — these two songs had heavy effects and there were points during the songs where all the writing and all the sounds came together perfectly. I felt so privileged to be playing with Steve, Craig, and Paul.
When might that record be seeing the light of day?
If all goes according to plan in late November early December of 2016.
What is next for Doomsday Student? 
We want to spend time in 2017 touring to support the album.
(Catch Doomsday Student live here:
Upcoming shows:
September 17 – Brooklyn, NY @ St. Vitus w/ Head Wound City, Sick Feeling
November 4 – Providence, RI @ Aurora
November 5 – Boston, MA @ Hassle Fest)