Q&A: Ben Greenberg Of Hubble, The Men And ZS On "Cyber-Dread" And "Shred-Fi," Playing Guitar On His Bed-Stuy Rooftop, And Not Being A Boner

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Ben Greenberg's riffs are so virtuosic, they prompt the young ax-dude to toss a Steve Vai quip as he transmits dizzying sonic waves from his Bed-Stuy roof .

Jokes notwithstanding, the tat-covered, mop-topped Greenberg geeks out and slays in his myriad projects including longtime experimental pioneers Zs, the recently defunct noize-punk Pygmy Shrews, and the Men, for whom he'll now be playing bass. But as of late, the bulk of Greenberg's playing has been as the lone member of Hubble, a minimalist one-man show of cataclysmic fret-hopping grandeur. The recent Hubble Drums (Northern Spy) is a shred epic—three massive, equilibrium destroying jams drenched in glorious delay and loopage action.

Sound of the City talked to Greenberg via email about Zs' duo show at Crossing Brooklyn Ferry and Hubble.

How and when did you think up the idea of Hubble?

Over the summer of 2010, I started to realize I wanted to make something more specifically guitar-based without other instruments involved. I began climbing up to the roof of my house in Bed-Stuy and playing guitar all day, every day. After a week or so, I started recording myself and focusing my playing. I don't remember when I started doing the militant stereophony, but I do remember seeing Rob Lowe roll up to a Lichens show on a bike with his modular synth in a messenger bag and thinking to myself, "I gotta ditch these guitar amps and start going direct!"


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The 17 Best Songs Of 2012 (So Far)

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Tomorrow is the last day of March, as you might already know, and it also marks the end of the first quarter of 2012. What better way to close out a three-month span than to size up its musical offerings via playlist? Below, please find the contents of my "2012 awesomeness" playlist, a running-all-year diary of the songs that have hit my ear in a particularly pleasurable way. Among the 17 bands on it are Tanlines, Pop. 1280, fun., and Pistol Annies!

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Download: Pop. 1280's Howling, Grinding "Bodies In The Dunes"

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Guess who's back? After wowing us and creeping us out with 2009's definitive bedbug anthem and the 2010 EP where they "pushed aside their clanky-clonky Birthday Party lurch to reveal the horrific marks where fingernails meet fresh flesh", NYC's hardest-working scumbags in the scuzzfuckery business, Pop. 1280, are back with their best work yet. Their long-awaited first full-length The Horror(due January 24 via Sacred Bones) moves our anti-heroes from gazing into the void to practically assaulting it; a new rhythm section gives chief muckmakers Ivan Lip and Chris Bug a robo-sex swagger somewhere between Devo and Pussy Galore. First taste "Bodies In The Dunes" is loaded with their howling end-of-the-world synths, complimented by some death-soaked, bummer-beyond-bummer lyrics.

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Download: Pop. 1280, "Step Into the Grid"

Yes In My Backyard is a semiweekly column showcasing MP3s from new and emerging local talent.

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After last year's itchy (and shockingly prescient) Bedbugs 7", the scum-scraping bloody-booger-wipes in nu-pigfuckers Pop. 1280 have returned with their first 12", The Grid EP. Holing up in producer Ben Greenberg's Python Patrol studio, the band aimed for something gnarlier, meaner, uglier, more blown-out, pushing aside their clanky-clonky Birthday Party lurch to reveal the horrific marks where fingernails meet fresh flesh--think early Swans, Pussy Galore, or a mouth full of worms. The 12" is also their first release for tastemaking Brooklyn label Sacred Bones, who will be dropping it on October 26, a thorny chaser for their usual art-wooze of Zola Jesus and Gary War. Opener "Step Into The Grid" pulls no bloody-knuckled punches, with drummer Andrew S. literally hammering a piece of scrap metal for their cymbal sound. It's a decidedly noir, decidedly New York guttergazer about masturbators and shit-surfers where every alley is dark and every streetlight is blown.

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Yes In My Backyard: Download Pop. 1280's "Bedbugs"

Yes In My Backyard is a semiweekly column showcasing MP3s from new and emerging local talent.

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Pop. 1280 are the post-punky, crust-flicking Booger Dawsons of the new wave of Brooklyn Birthday Party skronkmos--slow, lurching, tribal, skeletal, slightly unhinged. Similar bands like recent Hardly Art signees Golden Triangle and YIMBY graduates Preacher And The Knife have been turning Death By Audio into their private Nick Cave-flavored Junkyard for a while. But Pop. 1280 is definitely the sickest, the band most likely to spit in their hand before they shake yours. Their music is intentionally grungey, dismal, and icky--a sound that fondly remembers that punk rock is supposed to be gross. Says lead singer Chris Bug, "Before I lived in New York, I was living in Shanghai, China, which is a seriously filthy city. I think this undercurrent of filth and sewage and parasites is the most fascinating part of city life and it is something that inspires all of our music." Their debut 7", Bedbugs, is a self-released frightmare that captures New York's layers of filth perfectly. Recorded live in a room with very few overdubs at Brooklyn's Seaside Lounge, "Bedbugs" hinges on a disgusting, farty Flipper bassline and vividly discusses a very real, very current problem in New York's itchy underbelly.

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