Breaking Away From the Normal With The Secession Movement

by Bret Miller The Secession Movement is a New Jersey band that combines noise with pop melodies to make a truly adventurous and enjoyable sound. They call it “Pop Damage.” Let’s find out more about them.

Name, birthday, and astrological sign: David Downham, 6/20/76, Gemini
Nicholas Kessler, 11/23/77, Sagittarius

Where you from, man: Southern New Jersey

Instrument and why you chose it: (David) Guitar, I liked to pluck (not to bow).
(Nicholas) Bass, like everyone else, I thought it would be easier.

Favorite food and why: (David) Indian, it takes you down.
(Nicholas) Italian, not the real shit, the synthetic American kind, eating is a chore.

Favorite book and why: The Razor’s Edge by Maugham – it’s fun to experience the upheavals of another’s life; fictionally or non-fictionally.
(Nicholas) The Moon and Sixpence also by Maugham – because we have no control over inspiration.

Last movie you saw: (David) A foreign film called Millennium Mambo (it was terrible).
(Nicholas) Spiderman (Kirsten Dunst is hot).

Favorite movie and why: (David) Surviving Desire, directed by Hal Hartley – The inevitability of lust.
(Nicholas) Bottle Rocket, directed by Wes Anderson – optimism and lack of self-consciousness

Favorite person: (David) The philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein
(Nicholas) My sister Antoinette

What do you each bring to the band musically and personality-wise? (David) That’s a tough call, but my cousin used to use Motley Crue (or any other rock band she felt worthy) to explain what she felt was the template for a good rock band – you need the organizer, the reckless drummer, the sober and balanced bass player and the rather imbalanced creative impetus. These archetypes are not found as the clichés that a Led Zeppelin possessed but have more of a balance that gives our band a cohesion and an ability to work ‘together’ and create rather than just ‘play together’ and jam.

Your music seems to contain some extreme dichotomies, sometimes within the same song. I had to turn down my stereo quite often during the chaotic parts but wanted to hear more of your cool instrumentals. Do you plan on more of these on your next album and do you play these live?
(David) Well, I think there are a lot of dichotomies among the personalities in the band – a lot of mood swings that cannot be hidden and become a tool of catharsis within the music and within the band dynamic. I think we strive to be honest about those things musically; you know, what moves us. Our next album actually only has one instrumental on it but we do play at least one at every show. They can definitely act like a pause in many respects from the hyperactivity and relentless energy of some of the other songs.

Why “Pop Damage”?
(David) It was on a flier for a show we had in Morgantown, W.V. and we felt it was a fitting description of our music that tends to hang in the balance between a tradition of pop music drama but filtered through a rather bizarre and unique perception of what it is to be a rock band.

What is your live show like? How is the audience reaction?
(David) Our live show tends to go a couple of different directions; it can be really tight and fun or can (possibly fueled by alcohol or just general frustration) get rather out of control. In the right environment it seems that either one of these types of shows can go over really well with at least a small portion of the audience. I think what we do has a bit of confrontation to it because of view of rock that we are trying to project. It can be a bit confusing at first I am sure.
(Nicholas) We try to convey something emotionally honest, it resonates with someone new at every show, that’s all one can ask for.

What initially inspired you to become a musician? What has inspired you since and/or recently?
(David) Probably the challenge of having something that integrated creativity, coordination and intellectuality. This continues to inspire me; the challenge of expressing myself through an artistic medium.
(Nicholas) Girls, until I was 16 and was introduced to Dischord records. Music hadn’t been as powerful to me until then. What I realized was that there’s a life outside of the mainstream, that I didn’t have to follow a linear path. That’s led me to travel which is what I’ve gained my richest experiences from. Travel and self-expression, I want to communicate with people.

Your album artwork references all things scholastic. Where you good students? What was your overall school experience like and what did you take away from it that you apply to your lives now?
(David) Considering that I take note of your spelling errors I would have to say that I was at least a conscientious student. (You took note. HD’s conscientious proofreader.) I enjoy learning although I found it difficult, as is often the case, to enjoy because I spent a little too much time on the doing of assignments rather than the enjoyment of acquiring information.
(Nicholas) My grades were decent enough to be invisible in school. Teachers that challenged me, English teachers mostly, were my favorites. Latin was a dreadful class, I took it for the mythology and spent all my time studying grammar. School taught me, ironically, that the regimentation of knowledge is not the way to go (unless you want to live, work and eat). That is what I feel “Academic” is about.

If you weren’t in the Secession Movement what work would you be doing?
(David) Well, as you can probably assume, we all work while doing this. I teach music and enjoy that very much. If I were not doing this I would still be writing music.
(Nicholas) In school, working on a degree in something inapplicable to real world situations.

When can your fans expect a new album and what new directions will your band take us?
(David) We will have a new album out in the fall. It has uniformity and a subtlety that is definitely better realized sonically and clearer in a lot of respects than our previous effort. We always aim to impress ourselves with each new release.

Will the band be touring through Los Angeles any time soon? The band will most likely be touring through the LA area in the fall or winter of this year.

I for one am looking forward to seeing the Secession Movement play live as well as hear their next CD We Need A Hill out in October 2002. Guitarist Timothy Day and Drummer David Dworanczyk round out the band.