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Josh Arnoudes and Raky Sastri, the sole members of the due You Won’t, brought a seemingly excessive amount of equipment for just two people to perform in studio for WERS. So much so, that these frail writer arms had to personally assist in the load in, and for us writers, manual labor is unheard of. Grumpy and sore, I was skeptical that all of the equipment was going to be used, but was proven wrong. With a whole drum kit with other miscellaneous percussive instruments, a keyboard with a pedal board barely big enough for the pedals it encased, and two guitars complete with separate amps and pedal boards, it was hard to find a place to stand in the cramped studio with just two people in it.
You Won’t opened their set with “Three Car Garage” off their debut album. Josh started playing guitar unaccompanied by Raky’s percussion, and started singing in a nasally folksy whine instantly reminiscent of Jeff Mangum. Raky came in a filled in the sound with some explosive percussion complete with tambourine and rim hits. Raky’s dropped his sticks to pick up a harmonica after harmonizing with Josh, only to quickly drop it and pick up his sticks again.
You Won’t has built a reputation for themselves by using a lot of “weirdo instruments” in their songs; saws, buckets, anything they can get their hands on. “Having these weirdo instruments has become something of a trademark for us” said Josh, “so we’re recording our second record and this time around were thinking much more intentionally about how we can use different textures that allow us to deviate from the guitar and drums backbone.” When asked what they plan on using on their next record, Raky said with a hint of ambiguity, “some things that are considered toys.” “No!” interrupted Josh. “We’re not going to say anything we haven’t figured it out!” While they didn’t reveal much, their next record is shaping up to be quite interesting, to say the least.
The next song the duo played was “Fryer” which Josh made very clear not to confuse with “friar.” The song was easily the strangest and most unconventional of the set, opening with nothing more than a bouncy flanged guitar that sounded like a metallic slinky making its way down a set of spiral stairs. Raky started fiddling with his keyboard, making scratchy feedback noises that built slowly over the guitar in to a cacophonous alien orchestra. The song was stimulating on a certain visual level, which isn’t surprising considering the two’s background as filmmakers. “It’s a real important outlet for us, we like to combine these fields of interest,” said Josh. “I’m fond of bands that have a distinct visual style.” The song eventually caught its rhythm just as the drums came in, releasing all the tension in a very satisfying way. Just when I thought the song couldn’t get any more bizarre, Josh threw in some perfectly executed Graceland-era Paul Simon falsetto. It was all a brilliant display of the band’s balance between musicianship and childlike sonic curiosity.
Josh picked up a plugged in, fuzzed out acoustic guitar to bring the Neutral Milk Hotel influence full circle, and closed the set with the song “Television.” The song had the most instantly infectious vocal melody, and was relatively sparse compared to the other songs; the majority of the song’s percussive energy was fueled by a single hand clap, but when the drums did come in, they were wild. Raky had one hand on a stick and the other on the keyboard, channeling the spirit of an octopus, he made more noise than any four-limbed human should be able to make (but perhaps a “Raktopus” could). The song acted as a mission statement for the duo; enough experimentation to keep us on our toes, but grounded enough in pop tradition so that we don’t fall over doing so.