Making New York Noise With Russian Baths

Words by Audra Tracy
Photo Credit: A.F. CORTÉS

Halloween is here. It’s been raining in New York for days. Seems like a fitting time to introduce Russian Baths, a band of Brooklyn-based rockers with a Goth-inspired sound that will definitely scare your parents.

The duo is set to release their debut full-length album, Deepfake, this November 8, with a record release show at Saint Vitus the very same night. And today they’ve shared a new track, “Wrong” for all your spooky seance needs.

Jess Rees (guitar, vocals) and Luke Koz (guitar, vocals) checked in from the darkness to talk about sharks, city life, and horror movies…

Tell us about the new album, Deepfake. Is there a theme or message you’d like to convey?

Jess Rees: I heard that if a shark stops swimming forward, it sinks to its death. Is that true? I don’t know.

What is the ideal listening environment to best enjoy the album? Where and when should fans press play?

Jess Rees: I remember the first time I heard the mix for ‘Ambulance’. I was on, like, the 14th floor of the courthouse in Downtown Brooklyn in a room with an epic view of lower Manhattan. It was the first time I heard a song of ours mixed. The guitars entered like sirens, the rhythm sounded like a train grinding into the station, and the vocals were deep and hollow, like they were tracked in a warehouse in the rain. It was a gloomy, gray day where I was; overcast. I was in the clouds up there. I felt like I was in the middle of a storm. It all felt very gritty and grave, and very “New York,” whatever that means. I hope our audience gets to listen to our record with their eyes unfocused in a fast moving car, or underground in a subway train, headphones, eyes shut, the train pushing them around, or someplace high up with an epic, but dismal view, where the music can wash over them and overwhelm them like it did to me that day.

Would you say that living in Brooklyn has influenced your overall sound? How so?

Jess Rees: There’s a lot of noise here. You get pushed around. Everyone is shouting. There’s constant sound: a background hum. You can leave for a minute to try to get away, but when you come back, it’s louder than when you left. Repeat, repeat. That’s what our band sounds like to me. A combination of age, politics, and living in Brooklyn has made the music I’m writing darker than anything I’d done before.

Luke Koz: Yeah, I think time has the most to do with it. I’m sure socioeconomic conditions, cultural context, and access to technology played major roles. That said, I think the sheet music would be similar whether we wrote the music here and now or in Vienna over the course of 1913.

When you release new material, who do you want to please more – the critics or the fans?

Jess Rees: Both.
Luke Koz: Is there a difference anymore?

Your songs can be pretty dark and foreboding at times. If you were to compare your live shows to a horror movie, which flick would you pick, and why?

Luke Koz: Thank you! That’s a great observation, but there are so many options, it’s paralyzing. We’re not as unflinching as Haneke and we’re not depraved enough for Calvaire. How about Children of the Corn for the theatrics, K. Kurosawa’s Cure for the atmosphere, and Let the Right One In for the outbursts? Ringu for the box office.

You have an album release show coming up at Saint Vitus. What can fans expect?

Jess Rees: That show is going to be a lot of fun. We’re playing with our buds Bambara, who are one of the best live bands we know.

Any plans to add more tour dates?

Jess Rees: Yep, definitely.
Luke Koz: There will be announcements soon. | Deepfake