Kevin Sweeney says he has an “obsession with weaving guitar lines, delay, and reverb.” “Nothing,” the first track he wrote as Raleigh’s atmospheric Less Western, begins with a sparse overdriven guitar before it blooms into that fixation. All at once creeping drums, dense bass, and fuzzed out guitar crash in, and then Sweeney’s swimming vocals finish out the wall of sound. It’s a faded, psych-shoegaze that creates its own time and space. He wrote it in the Spring of last year and it opens up Less Western’s first ep, Ghost. Self-recorded, under the glow of Christmas lights, from Durham bedsides to NC State dormrooms, Sweeney self-released Ghost last June. After recruiting John Mitchell (who Sweeney had previously worked with in the almost realized surfy, slacker Raleigh outfit Cold Currents) on guitar, John Kovalchik (Cat Be Damned) on drums, and Chris Bennett (Ghostt Bllonde) on bass , Sweeney debuted Less Western as a full band at the Mattress Fort that December. Since then, Sweeney’s songwriting has grown more confident, his obsession more enthusiastic. On “Broadcast” from this April’s the Broadcast Demo, Mitchell’s angsty riffs are broken by glittering guitar melodies and Sweeney shifts his vocals to a lighter range. Subtle “ahs” spin in layers of dreamy reversed delays, the warmth of it overwhelmingly optimistic. It’s a pretty turn from the darkness of “Nothing,” which is also the only track from Ghost that Less Western plays now live. But no matter what direction Sweeney takes, he recommends that Less Western is to best be enjoyed while participating in social media shit.
First show I saw in the triangle: I saw Rush at Walnut Creek Amphitheater. I saw them back in 8th grade and it was the first live thing I’d ever seen. It blew my mind. It was loud and there was all these lights. I remember there were a lot of old people there in their old Rush shirts and it smelled like weed at some places. I was young, seeing Rush, hanging out on the lawn.
Favorite rapper: I used to be really big into Eminem, Lil Jon and the East Side Boys, Snoop Dog, Ludacris, Chingy. That was back in like 5th grade.
Morning routine: Wake up, look at the Twitter, make sure nothing good happened on there overnight, see if I got fav’d, put on some clothes, and walk out the door.
My first pet: Kelsey the cat. It was a good cat, a black and white cat. One time it ran away and came back on my 7th birthday. It was gone for like a week, we thought it was dead. Then it died in a creek. I think it got bit by a snake. We buried it in the backyard. That was my first pet. But I think my dad found Kelsey dead. He’s always finding the dead cats, that’s what he does. When the last cat died, he also found it. He keeps having to deal with dead cats.
The state I’d like to live in: New Mexico. There’s not a lot of people. There’s a whole lot of nothing and it’s hot. The first time I went there I thought it was the coolest state I’d ever been in because I’d never seen anything like that. There’s no trees. It’s just all dirt and mountains and I thought that was super cool. And the buildings were all in that weird style. They were tan but they weren’t tall. I don’t even know how to describe that shit.
Favorite music video: I don’t know, the one Walt just made for our own band.
Best thing that’s happened in 2014: Something good has had to happen this year right? Well I made 100 on a test. A Heat Transfer Fundamentals test.
My dream job: I want to be a chef, but I also want to be in the band full time but also do engineering because that’s stable, and I also want to fly airplanes too. I used to want to be a pilot when I was a kid. That’s all I wanted to be. Pilot/chef/engineer that’s in a band that tours most of the year. That sounds about right. Is that OK?
If I was on a reality show: I don’t know if you remember this but there used to be this reality show called Rockstar: INXS and you got to be the new front man of INXS. That was back in the day. I used to want to be on that. But now I’d be on one of those cooking shows and try to make real shitty food.
Favorite thing to cook: I don’t cook real food so I don’t have to do too much. I just make desserts. I’ve only made one cheesecake in my life and I was real good at it.
First Youtube video I uploaded: “The Man Who Sold the World” by David Bowie. I was in 7th grade. Me and my friend Robert covered it. I used to have some up that I deleted. It would be me by myself in my room covering Pink Floyd but then a friend of mine quoted me as seeming “mentally slow,” but that was before he knew me. Just from the way I sung and stuff. People told me i sounded like a robot.
Favorite video game: Gears of War. It owned my life in 8th and 9th grade. That summer I didn’t do anything except play Gears of War everyday all day through the daylight hours. I would play online and I’d just kill people and that summer was good because of that.
Last best show I’ve seen: This year is the first year I’ve done this but I’ve been writing my thoughts on every show I attend and I’ve been making a ranked list. I’m just trying to organize my thoughts. It was back a couple of months ago when I saw Cate le Bon at the Cat’s Cradle backroom. I walked out of that show feeling really, really good. I didn’t know too much about Cate le Bon because I’d gone there to see Kevin Morby who was the opener. But the sound in the room was so good. Nothing was too loud, nothing sounded too crazy. She has some really talented musicians. And there weren’t too many people there. That’s the problem with shows now. When I go and see a band like Deerhunter or Mac Demarco and I don’t even have space to move. So I can’t get into it as much. But Cate le Bon was a good show because I had space to move and it sounded really good.
First album I bought with my own money: If I remember correctly I went to WalMart with my dad and bought Californication by Red Hot Chili Peppers around the time it came out. I was so excited. Well I was confused at first when I put on the first track and he was rapping and stuff. But that was it. I bought it because me and my cousin were super into the video for “Californication.”
If I could be anyone from history: I think it’d be cool to be like one of them Issac Newton people, defining the laws of physics. I like physics though, so I think that would be really cool. Or Albert Einstein for astrophysics. I’d look cooler for this interview if I picked some artsy person from the mid-century but I don’t know anyone.
Worst movie I’ve ever seen: Freddy Got Fingered. It’s a Tom Green movie. My friend made me watch it. The reception was so bad that it swept the Golden Raspberry awards. It’s a comedy but it’s not funny. It’s too offbeat and weird but I think everyone should watch it. There’s a scene in it where he’s got sausages hanging from the ceiling and they’re tied to his fingers while he plays a piano. That’s all you need to see to know that’s the worst movie you’ll ever see.
My last best purchase: This plant I got from Home Depot because it gives the room good vibes. Or maybe it was a TV antenna because now I can watch daytime, like Who Wants to Be a Millionaire and Jeopardy. That’s all I live for. My trivia shows.
Dream collaboration: Well I sent this message to Alex Caulder (Mold Boy) on Facebook one time. He used to collaborate with Mac Demarco.
“hey alex I just wanna let you know that what you’re doing it is very cool. i love some good psych pop but also shoegazey. ya’ll canada artists do it right. one day I hope you and each other will tour the US together. but also you should bring along monomyth and faux fur. it’s like a crazy 4 band tour that I know will sell out the hottest exclusive venues on the east coast like Madison square garden. when you make your inevitable stop in raleigh, nc you should request myShit non canadian band to open for the 4 band show. then it will be a 5 band show. then I’ll ask jackson scott to also play and it’ll be 6 bands and it’ll be like a little festival.”