The underground punk scene can be a fickle beast with rigid puritanical guidelines. Bands are expected to grow organically and slog their way through years of touring before attaining anything approaching success. The slightest scent of selling out can alienate the fanbase a band has worked to cultivate. Brooklyn-based Uniform has created nightmarish industrial metal since 2013. While the members have likely paid little mind to the stringent punk code, their trajectory has inadvertently followed the path. Pre-Uniform, vocalist Michael Berdan and guitarist Ben Greenberg spent a decade touring in vans and playing D.I.Y. shows. Uniform started from nothing more than two friends building from the ground up. After a half decade of building momentum, the band appears poised for success.
In advance of Tuesday’s show at Turner Hall Ballroom, Milwaukee Record spoke with Berdan about Uniform’s upcoming full-length on Sacred Bones Records, the band’s collaborative album with The Body, as well as Uniform’s music being included in an episode of the latest season of Twin Peaks.
Milwaukee Record: How did you start working with Sacred Bones Records?
Michael Berdan: We’ve known those guys for years. Ben played in that band The Men and had a good working relationship with them, plus I’ve always dug them as people and enjoyed their overall aesthetic. We were fortunate to have some options with labels and I feel that Sacred Bones wound up being a great fit. It’s killer working with them.
MR: Uniform released a collaborative LP with The Body earlier this year. Has any of that been performed live?
MB: Not yet. We’ve toured together a lot and kinda jammed a bit as a single unit in Russia once, but it was really bad. The record was mostly pieced together in the studio over the course of a day. We’re going to do a collaborative tour later in the year, so we’ll get something together.
MR: How did the your current tour with Deafheaven come about?
MB: Those guys are next level cool. George [Clarke] and Kerry [McCoy] gripped dinner with us when we played in the Bay last year and we seemed to get it on pretty well. When they asked us to do this run with them we jumped at the chance.
MR: How is it different touring with larger acts than going out by yourselves?
MB: Night and day. On package tours, you have to adhere to strict schedules and a much larger volume of people, many of whom have no idea who you are. We try to play as well as we can and hope that the crowd enjoys it. Things can be much more loose when we go out by ourselves, playing to our own crowd. We never want to disappoint anyone, but in particular those who have gone out of there way to see us. Both scenarios have their pluses.
MR: What is the crowd size on this tour?
MB: Fucking bonkers. Most of the shows have been sold out and all of the caps have been 500- to 1,800-person rooms. It’s a lot to take in.
MR: How does the dynamic change with larger shows than the smaller ones you grew up playing?
MB: It’s strange, man. Sometimes I feel like it’s less intimate, but in reality, it is just a different beast. We tend to still be most comfortable in smaller spaces where we can be at one with the crowd, but we’re slowly learning to navigate these larger rooms. The transition can still be a bit jarring.
MR: Do you approach these shows differently?
MB: Kind of, but only in terms of logistics. We’re still trying to go out and play as hard as we can, no matter what.
MR: The Long Walk comes out next month, will you be doing a headlining tour in support of it?
MB: Yeah, we’re gonna be going out throughout the fall and 2019. Really looking forward to being on the road as much as we can in the coming months.
MR: How has the band evolved since adding a live drummer?
MB: It’s a different beast. Overall, the feeling is more natural to me. Nothing against the drum machine of course, but there is just something human that can’t be replicated with the box. I feel more at home this way for sure.
MR: Besides adding a drummer, is there any significant changes from Wake In Fright?
MB: Wake In Fright was mostly sample-based and recorded entirely on a computer. [The Long Walk] was done all live on tape in the studio. The songs themselves are a bit less frantic, but I would like to think there is a greater attention to human detail in there. Very cautiously excited to finally have people hear it.
MR: What were the circumstances behind “Tabloid” and “Habit” being included on the most recent season of Twin Peaks?
MB: Our friend Dean Hurley was working with David Lynch on the music for the show. He pitched us to David, who I guess dug it. The whole experience was fucking surreal. Very grateful to have had that opportunity.
MR: What has been Uniform’s biggest boost up to this point?
MB: It is hard to say. Every show on every tour, every person we talk to impacts us in some way. It has all been an accumulation and a fucking wild ride. Honestly can’t believe that we get to do this. I’m truly humbled.