To all someones, no-ones, and everyones in between: Brace your ears for some truly new sounds at New Noise, when Portland-based rockers Strfkr debut never-before-played live cuts from their newest album, Being No One, Going Nowhere. Despite the anonymity of the title, the band themselves have certainly become someone on the indie-rock music scene, with an experimentally leaning, synth-inflected take on rock and pop that is jaggedly creative and fresh, a sound that is unquestionably placed in Portland, sovereignty of indie creativity. Paired with their friends Unknown Mortal Orchestra, whose name also evokes a certain nothingness, music fans will certainly have something to talk about once New Noise has sounded off.
The title of their new album was inspired by the writings of Buddhist nun Ayya Khema in her book Being Nobody, Going Nowhere, said singer Joshua Hodges. Hodges has embraced “that idea of letting go of the idea of who we think we are and what we need to be happy and letting ourselves exist as we are,” he said. The title evokes a kind of egolessness, an experience of life without the limitations of self-expectation or the blindness of self-importance. It’s a much nicer way to engage in the world, he says, when you are not running up against your own expectations of life and their failure to coincide with reality, or when you’re no longer pressuring yourself to be anything more than what you are in the moment.
Some of the lyrical themes of the album were inspired by Hodges’ recent adventures with BDSM, when he underwent a philosophical and spiritual liberation at a BDSM club. Having grown up in a strict Catholic household, underneath domineering doctrines of guilt-inducement, the experience lifted some of the weight of his past. “I had a lot of baggage around sexuality, and going into this place and seeing this group of people who I felt had a really healthy and social relationship to sex, with zero shame, was really kind of cathartic and healing for me,” he said. “All your concerns and stresses just disappear, and you are very much in the present moment; you’re playing with the sense of self and the ego.”
Hodges has run up against some philosophical difficulties with indie-rock stardom. “The ego, no matter what happens, will attach to anything that you do,” he said. “It can be totally pure and great, and then your ego attaches and builds it up to be something else.”
Public exposure always tempts with the opportunity to believe one’s own self-aggrandizement, but Hodges is happy to play with his public persona. His uncle was a Liza Minnelli impersonator at a cross-dressing club, and the young Hodges saw much inspiration in his gender-bending uncle; he, too, is now known to wear dresses onstage, along with the rest of his band. “It kind of goes with the idea of overcoming that sense that there’s something that you should or shouldn’t be — that there’s no right or wrong way to do any of this, and in a perfect world, people would wear whatever they want and identify with however they want.”
So whether you consider yourself a someone or a no-one, going somewhere or nowhere, or some combination thereof, Strfkr’s set of brand-new songs will be an excellent opportunity to simply be: Be yourself, be happy, and enjoy the music, played live nowhere else before.