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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Q&A: The Walkmen's Peter Bauer Talks Heaven, Crossing Brooklyn Ferry, And Being A Parent

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Earlier this year, the Walkmen hit their 10-year career mark, and on May 29 they'll give us their sixth studio album, Heaven, produced by Phil Ek (Built to Spill, The Shins, Fleet Foxes) and recorded in Seattle. Through the band's ups and downs, they've elevated to one of the most defining bands in the past ten years' indie rock scene. After starting as a bunch of dudes living in Harlem, the members now find themselves not only with kids, but spread across the country. With that maturity comes a growth in sound, as well as a clear acceptance of what the band has become. Peter Bauer, who plays bass and organ, chatted with us about recording Heaven, New York's intimidating music scene, and what it's like to make music about being a dad, instead of drinking a beer.

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Q&A: Sam Hilmer Of Diamond Terrifier And Zs On Booking PRACTICE! Gigs At Zebulon, "Zs" As A Genre, And Not Being Jazz

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Sam Hilmer is one of the purveyors of daring, free-minded, sound-manipulating experimentalist local outfit Zs, and it's fitting that the seriously bearded saxophonist would refute the generic "post-minimalist, neo-no wave, industrial noise" descriptor tossed at the band he shares with guitarist extraordinaire Ben Greenberg and drummer Ian Antonio and opt for his own genre: "Zs is Zs."

For a decade, Zs has clung to that "It's Zs" philosophy, constantly reinventing then retiring its music from the live setting. At this weekend's Crossing Brooklyn Ferry festival, Hilmer and Greenberg will debut new material from their forthcoming LP, cryptically entitled Xe.

But Hilmer has a hell of a lot going on besides Zs. Under the nom de plume Diamond Terrifier, the sax-slinging Hilmer composes a storm of apocalyptic skronk waves of both face-ripping and hypnotic proportions; in the fall, Northern Spy will release his solo debut, KILL THE SELF THAT WANTS TO KILL YOUR SELF.

Sound of the City caught up with Hilmer at Williamsburg's Zebulon, where he books killer gigs every Tuesday evening and usually performs as Diamond Terrifier.

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The Crossing Brooklyn Ferry Festival, Starring The Walkmen, St. Vincent, Beirut, And A Bunch Of Other Bands, Is Happening In May

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St. Vincent headlines BAM on May 4.
The Brooklyn Academy of Music has announced the inaugural running of Crossing Brooklyn Ferry, a three-day music, film, and art extravaganza put together by the National's Bryce and Aaron Dessner, and set to take over BAM from May 3 to 5. Named after a poem by Walt Whitman, the festival has a lineup stacked with the borough's biggest musical names on the rock side of things—The Walkmen, St. Vincent, and Beirut will headline, while the lineups are rounded out by quite a few YIMBY alums, including Zs, Oneohtrix Point Never, and Skeletons. Full lineup and ticketing info below.

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