Lo-fi indie / Doolittle-pop duo Aaron Pfannebecker (vocals / guitar) and Matt Conboy (drums / keys) may not be siblings but the moniker they perform under – Sisters – reflects their commitment to the music they manifest together.
Matt and Aaron met while studying fiction writing at the New School in New York. Knowing Aaron made music, Matt asked him to recommend a drummer for a project he was working on at the time. At this point Aaron had just begun to write songs, and the two quickly bonded over music, becoming roomies after graduation.
When the pair first decided to make music together it was as part of a four-piece outfit called Surprise Stranger; Aaron sang and played guitar, Matt also played guitar – a drummer and bass player completed the lineup. It was fun for a while, but ended when Matt began playing drums in rehearsal while he and Aaron waited for the other guys to show up. Eventually, these impromptu guitar and drum jams morphed into full-blown songwriting sessions, which sowed the seeds for what eventually became Sisters.
As a duo, it took a while for Aaron and Matt to figure out how to develop their sound. Wanting to create as big of a noise as possible with just guitars and drums, Aaron started playing his guitar through two amps, augmenting the monster sound he created with pedal-based loops. Upping the ante, Matt built a custom analogue drum synth into his kick drum. Running this feed through effects in real time allowed him to get a wholly unique sound out of his kit, completing the Sisters’ one-of-a-kind, 21st Century alt-rock sonic experience.
Aaron originally hails from Western Massachusetts, a small farm town not far from the liberal arts Mecca of Northampton where he attended a public charter arts school. Matt is from Oakland, California, where a cultural combination of gangster rap and punk rock dominated his young music life. The pair initially found common ground with bands like Nirvana, Pixies, Pavement and Sonic Youth (the Sisters moniker also gives a nod to the band’s 4th album), but from there their tastes diverged. Matt really loves fellow East Coast masters of noise, Lightning Bolt, while Aaron is into the popier side of 70’s post-punk, My Bloody Valentine-style noise. “We both like noise — and really good hooks in the music and voice,” Aaron notes.
Rehearsing at the infamous Death by Audio warehouse in Williamsburg (where Aaron used to live and Matt still resides), Sisters became part of an extended family of bands. A Place To Bury Strangers, Dirty on Purpose, Sisters, Grooms, Coin Under Tongue, and more, all practice, hang out, play shows and tour together, and are essentially part of a self-contained and very fertile eco-system. (Matt co-founded the Death by Audio venue and arts space with Jason Amos, and co-runs the bespoke pedal company which is also located in the warehouse – and whose custom units are beloved by likes of Lightening Bolt, Nine Inch Nails and U2 – with Oliver Ackermann from A Place To Bury Strangers.)
Sisters started out playing stealth unannounced shows at Death by Audio, while they became more secure in their sound. “We would have these ‘sneak attacks’ as we called them, where we would set up really quick in between bands in the hallway or doorway and just play five or six songs,” recalls Aaron. “We did that for awhile, then eventually people asked us to play.”
In July 2009 Sisters signed to Narnack Records. Their debut album, Ghost Fits, will be released on September 28th, 2010. It was recorded at Civil Defense studios in Brooklyn by Jeremy Scott (whose previous credits include Vivian Girls, Woods, These are Powers, Hollowpaw, Frankie Rose and the Outs). “Recording with Jeremy Scott was amazing,” says Matt. “He was always willing to try any crazy idea we had. It was a great experience.”
Self described as “messy pop rock fallout,” the album is comprised of 11 hook-laden songs covered with distortion and infused with eminently danceable grooves. “The record is about observations and connecting to people and place and feelings,” notes Aaron. “It’s a collage feelings record. I hope people like it, connect to it and want to hear more.”