The Squid's Ear Magazine

Three-Layer Cake (Mike Pride / Mike Watt / Brandon Seabrook): Stove-Top [GREEN VINYL] (Rarenoise Records)

Circumventing pandemic lockdowns, the trio of Brandon Seabrook on guitar, banjo & tapes, Mike Pride on drums, marimba, glockenspiel, bells & organ and Mike Watt on bass recorded their contributions in separate studios and file-shared to create this genre-merging album of free improv, rock, experimental and inexplicable forms; an inspired and seriously unique album of challenges overcome.

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product information:

UPC: 5060197762216

Label: Rarenoise Records
Catalog ID: RNR128LP
Squidco Product Code: 33344

Format: LP
Condition: New
Released: 2021
Country: UK
Packaging: LP
Mike Pride recorded at Farming Studios, in Chester, New York, in October to December, 2020.

Mike Watt recorded at studio tHUNDERpANTS, in San Pedro, California.

Brandon Seabrook recorded at 5151 Studios, in Brooklyn, New York.


Brandon Seabrook-guitar, banjo, tapes

Mike Pride-drums, marimba, glockenspiel, bells, organ

Mike Watt-bass

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Descriptions, Reviews, &c.

"The past year's [2020] lockdown has proved undeniably challenging to improvising musicians who typically thrive on face-to-face interaction. But bassist Mike Watt, drummer/percussionist Mike Pride, and guitarist/banjoist Brandon Seabrook have all built their careers on kicking down the barriers between genres, so why would they let a little pandemic-induced isolation and geographic distance stand in their way? Convening for the first time as Three-Layer Cake, these three dizzyingly inventive artists bake up a long-distance set of singular, boundary-defying collaborations on their combustible debut, Stove Top.

Stove Top is uncategorizable in the best sense of the word, patching together elements of punk, free jazz, new music, no wave, doom metal, dub, avant-funk, and various subsectors of the experimental in such freewheeling and raucous fashion that the very idea of divvying them up into disparate inspirations seems laughable.

That's hardly surprising given the credentials involved: Watt, of course, has been rewriting the rules of rock since his ground-breaking days with the legendary Minutemen, through his influential work with fIREHOSE, his idiosyncratic solo career, and his latter-day hook-up with Iggy and the Stooges. Watt has always referred to punk not as a style of music but as a "movement," one which encompasses a far wider range of exploration than is typically associated with the four-letter word.

"I've really outgrown that genre shit," Watt insists bluntly. "For me, music is music. he movement wasn't about a style of hair or beats per minute. It was more of a state of mind. So in a way, forty years later, I wanted to somehow signify to that."

Watt's younger cohorts embody that lesson. Pride has brought his powerful yet adventurous drumming to work with everyone from improvised music icon Anthony Braxton to punk legends Millions of Dead Cops (MDC), toured arenas opening for comedian Amy Schumer with Jason Stein's Locksmith Isidore, and spanned the worlds of modern-jazz, avant-rock, noise and death free jazz with his own ensembles - a roster that includes the jazz quartet From Bacteria To Boys, the 7-drummer installation Drummer's Corpse, and the piano trio I Hate Work. He is also co-leader of the ensembles Pulverize The Sound (w/ Peter Evans and Tim Dahl) and Period (w/ Charlie Looker and Chuck Bettis).

Seabrook has established himself as one of the most forward-thinking and versatile guitarists of his generation as well as an influential banjo innovator, described by the New York Times as "a man apparently hellbent on earning the title of World's Least Rustic Banjo Player." He leads the nuclear trio Seabrook Power Plant, donned "a manic clusterfuck of merciless banjo torture" by the Village Voice, and has been called upon by titans such as Anthony Braxton, Nels Cline, Cecile McLorant Salvant, So Percussion, and Joey Arias for his idiosyncratic physical performance style, hyperreal technique and impeccable articulation.

Three-Layer Cake was spawned from Pride's guest appearance on Watt's long-running radio show/podcast, "The Watt From Pedro Show." As Pride recalls, "We immediately hit it off, so I sent him a message as soon as we finished saying, 'Hey man, that was really nice. Your energy is great. We should try to do something some time.' I thought that meant three years, five years down the line if we're both in the same city. But he immediately responded and had a ton of ideas right off the bat."

The basic idea for the project is embodied in the name, which came to Watt fully-formed along with the concept itself: Pride would record drum tracks and send them to Watt, who would respond on the bass. As Watt summarizes, "There's a lot of fucked up things about the Internet, but this is one of the good things: instead of spreading lies you can trade files."

Watt then tasked Pride with finding the third layer for this improvisational concoction. "I knew Brandon was a big fan of Watt's and kind of carries a lot of that ethos that Watt carries around in his own work," Pride continues. "And Brandon is amazing, so I thought it would be musically cool and karmically cool to connect those two guys."

The guitarist was immediately on board. "I was excited," Seabrook says. "I discovered the Minutemen in high school, and they were my break from the jazz and classic rock that I had always listened to. They were a big influence that broke open the world of the punk rock movement. They also taught me words like 'malleable' and 'foist' and 'fascist' that I wasn't used to hearing in Led Zeppelin or Black Sabbath songs."

While Watt insists that he's far from an experienced jazz player, he's used the platform of his show to connect with veteran improvisers like Jack Wright and Bob Marsh, and recently hooked up with a band of improvisers including avant-garde mainstays Henry Kaiser and Vinny Golia to reinvent John Coltrane's A Love Supreme in electric form. He also recognizes a spiritual connection between the underground scene from which he emerged and the free jazz realm. "I feel like those guys and the movement are like parallel universes," Watt says.

Pride creates a tense, scraping drone to open the album on "Beatified, Bedraggled and Bombed," to which Watt responds with furtive, probing bass interjections before the piece breaks open with Pride's clamorous beat and Seabrook's skittering banjo. "Big Burner" erupts with a skronky no wave groove, while "A Durable Quest" is a stealthier animal, built on Pride's atmospheric brushwork and Watt's slinky bass.

The order for the round robin was switched for two tracks: Seabrook instigated the spacious, elusive "Shepherds," which glistens with Pride's shimmering glockenspiel. Watt's intricate bass line was the first layer on the album's closer, "Ballad of the Gobsmacked," which Pride then transcribed and developed into a sludgy, steamroller beat. Seabrook's swirling reverse guitar adds a psychedelic haze to "Tiller," an erratic mélange featuring Pride's playful marimba melodies, distorted metal crunch and hypnotic banjo runs. "Primary Fuel" alternates blistering blues licks and shimmering strings over Watt's dub groove, while "Luminous Rangeon Anxious Valve" builds untethered free jazz excursions into angular funk.

In the end, all three members of the trio were thrilled by the range of territory explored via the genre-averse collaboration. "Watt's music and energy and life ethos are super important to people like me and Brandon," Pride says. "So to bring us all together was really exciting. I love the fact that this record is improvised but there are parts of it that are very composed and complex, and that everything still sounds like a rock band. It doesn't sound like some jazz dudes putting on the rock hat. It sounds like each of us, and there's a modern fusion of styles."

"Watt is a very open musician," Seabrook adds. "Knowing his history, I think this fits into the Watt canon but it's also unlike anything else he's been a part of. We all work well together, experimenting with different sounds and taking different approaches. Recording at home, we had a lot of time to try stuff out."

And finally, Watt described the bicoastal collaboration as an ideal response to the restrictions imposed by quarantine. "This record is kind of a diary entry for this sitch," he says. "When I look back and hear this, it won't be all bad shit about no gigs and wearing masks." "-Three Layer Cake

Artist Biographies

"Described by Spin Magazine as "An apocalyptic, supersonic general of the banjo..." Brandon Seabrook has made a name for himself in the New York avant-garde music scene as an explosive guitar and banjo performer, relentlessly committed to immediacy and precision.

Seabrook honed his terror-inducing riffage skills at the New England Conservatory in Boston. He has since performed extensively in North and South America, Mexico and Europe, as a solo artist, bandleader and collaborator. He has been summoned by the likes of Anthony Braxton, Elliot Sharp and Joey Arias for his unpredictably spiked approach to improvisation and impeccable caterwauling. He has been profiled in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Magnet Magazine, Fretboard Journal, NPR and The Wire.

Seabrook Power Plant, the nuclear trio donned "a manic clusterfuck of merciless banjo torture" by the Village Voice, is Brandon's brainchild, blending the brutal energy of punk-rock with the intricate execution of through-composed avant jazz. The band has released two albums to much critical acclaim. Time Out New York praised the band's eponymous debut as "not only one of the most baffling experimental releases of the year... also one of the best."

Brandon is an accomplished solo artist, named Best Guitarist in New York City by the Village Voice 2012. In 2014, New Atlantis Records released his first solo album titled Sylphid Vitalizers. Noisey called the album a "dissonant guitar army...(with) mind-blowing prog-rock complexities - all at mind-numbing breakneck speed."

Brandon is currently working on two new albums with his noise-prog trio, Needle Driver and a new sextet featuring immoral, percussive compositions under the name Die Trommel Fatale. This recent work is a poly-rhythmic exploration of the dark side of the drum, layering cello, bass, electronics, voice and guitar against dichotomous drummers."

-Brandon Seabrook Website (

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"Mike Pride: Percussionist • Composer • Vocalist • Visual Artist

Born and raised in Southern Maine, but based out of New York City since 2000, Mike Pride currently performs solo, leads modern-jazz quartet From Bacteria To Boys, the 7-drummer installation-band Drummer's Corpse, and the MDC piano trio I Hate Work. He also co-leads the ensembles Pulverize The Sound (w/ Peter Evans and Tim Dahl), and Period (w/ Charlie Looker and Chuck Bettis). Pride is renowned for his ability to excel in a wide range of genres and ensembles. He has worked with everyone from improvised music icon Anthony Braxton to punk legends Millions Of Dead Cops, toured extensively on four continents, appeared on more than 100 recordings, and is currently touring the world opening for comedian Amy Schumer with Jason Stein's Locksmith Isidore.

A short list of his collaborators includes Mick Barr, Tim Berne, Boredoms, Eugene Chadbourne, Nels Cline, Andrew D'Angelo, Trevor Dunn, Dynamite Club, Peter Evans, Charles Gayle, Milford Graves, Drew Gress, Mary Halvorson, Curtis Hasselbring, Nona Hendryx, Jon Irabagon, Brad Jones, Haino Keiji, Kirk Knuffke, George Lewis, Frank Lowe, Bill McHenry, Tony Malaby, Sam Mickens, Butch Morris, Joe Morris, William Parker, Marc Ribot, Matana Roberts, Herb Robertson, Jamie Saft, Sonny Simmons, Craig Wedren, Nate Wooley, Otomo Yoshihide and John Zorn.

Pride's versatility doesn't end with his eclectic résumé as a popular sideman and leader/co-leader of many active ensembles spanning the worlds of modern-jazz, avant-rock, noise and doom metal improv. He is also a busy educator and clinician, a soundtrack composer for TV shows, video games, podcasts, independent films, and websites, and an experienced and exhibited visual artist.

Mike proudly uses Yamaha Drums & hardware, Vic Firth striking implements, and Humes & Berg Cases."

-Mike Pride Website (

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"Michael David Watt (born December 20, 1957) is an American bassist, vocalist and songwriter.

He is best known for co-founding and playing bass guitar for the rock bands Minutemen, Dos, and Firehose. He is also the frontman for the supergroup Big Walnuts Yonder, a member of the art rock group Banyan and involved with several other musical projects. From 2003 until 2013, he was the bass guitarist for The Stooges.

Watt has been called "one of the greatest bassists on the planet." CMJ New Music called Watt a "seminal post-punk bass player." Readers of NME voted Mike Watt one of the "40 Greatest Bassists Of All Time" and LA Weekly awarded him the number six spot in "The 20 Best Bassists of All Time."

In November 2008, Watt received the Bass Player Magazine lifetime achievement award, presented by Flea."-Wikipedia

-Wikipedia (

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

Track Listing:


1. Beatified, Bedraggled and Bombed 05:16

2. Big Burner 02:48

3. A Durable Quest 08:01

4. Shepherds 03:06


1. Tiller 08:04

2. Primary Fuel 04:59

3. Luminous Range - Anxious Valve 05:48

4. Ballad Of The Gobsmacked 02:02

Related Categories of Interest:

Vinyl Recordings
Improvised Music
Free Improvisation
Rock and Related
Improvised Rock
Electroacoustic Composition
Trio Recordings
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New in Rock Forms
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