Flashback Friday: Factories Talk the '80s

Where we're going, we don't need roads; just a synthesizer, eyeliner, and a touch of androgyny. Welcome to Flashback Friday.

In case you missed it, Google commemorated the 78th birthday of electronic music pioneer, Bob Moog, with a wicked-cool doodle earlier this week.

Moog left his mark on the world when he invented the Moog synthesizer, revolutionizing how sound was manipulated and inspiring generations of music-makers. Needless to say, the '80s sound couldn't have been possible without him.

For this week's edition of Flashback Fridays we talk with the Valley's own electronic mavens, Factories, to see how synth sounds of yesteryear resonate with them today.

Factories will be playing along with Ladylike, Gospel Claws, and Steff Koeppen and the Articles tonight at the Crescent Ballroom in Phoenix.

Mike Duffy: For me, aside from [listening to] mainstream pop music like Madonna and Michael Jackson, I grew up fairly young in the '80s. I was born in 1983, so a lot of the '80s music that I've found in flux with what we're currently doing, is stuff that I've kind of come back to in the last 10 years.

Coming out of the '80s, a lot of that stuff was cutting-edge technology that you couldn't get your hands on. Now you can go on eBay and for $50 you can buy a used drum machine to try out. So for me a lot of the influence comes from all sorts of bands experimenting with all sorts of different things. Especially at the time, and even now, bands are using things that are considered special instruments.

New Order was a big influence on me. That was the first time I had seen a really big crossover that incorporated programs, drums, and drum machines. So those guys were pretty influential on me, even though I kind of came back to them at a later age.

Audra Marscovetra: During the '80s I was mostly listening to what my mom was listening to. So that meant a lot of Barry Manilow and Bette Midler. I didn't really get into '80s music until the '90s, when I was in high school. Devo and the B-52s were really big influences for me. They were super-fun, poppy, and they were really tight and together. And they had a really cool look about them. I think that's what we sort of are, too.

Bryan Marscovetra: I was never really too big into '80s music. I don't think I got into it until about five or six years ago when this buddy of ours got us into Talking Heads. [I liked how] things integrated together and different instruments kind of play a role with each other. I think how that relates with this band is; Duffy's kind of the mastermind behind the beats and what's cool is when we're writing, we can do it in a very percussive way and focus on what percussive instruments are hits and kind of morph those beats into a different sound and see where it takes us. Add to that keyboards, guitars and vocals. Are the vocals choppy or are they more fluid? Are there harmonies here or is it dry? It probably influences more, our decision making.

Up on the Sun: What are some particular songs that are favorites or classics for you guys?

Audra: "Don't You," by Simple Minds off of the Breakfast Club soundtrack. I usually think of these great songs that came out of the '80s that were linked to movies. There's just a lot of nostalgia with cool songs like that. And I think that's kind of happening in music now, too. A lot of indie music that's coming out is often linked to movies or TV shows. They kind of give you that same nostalgic feeling that kids are going to have when they get older. But, yeah, I just really love that song. It totally puts me back to that time.

Duffy: Paul Simon's Graceland. One of my earliest musical memories is taking road trips with my parents and listening to that album over and over. My sister and I afectionately referred to it as "Life Saver music" as Life Savers had recently done a commercial with Ladysmith Black Mambazo, who also were featured on the album. I remember watching the video for "You Can Call Me Al" and thinking, "That's so cool that Chevy Chase is an actor and he's in a band." It resonated strongly with me as a child but it was only after revisiting it years ago when I was older did I realize it's significance in exposing African music to a world of pop music listeners. It's still one of my favorite albums and the territory it explored musically is still very relevant and sounds fresh today even 25 years after it was released. The accordion at the beginning of "Boy in the Bubble" or the horn stabs from "You Can Call Me Al" will always bring a smile to my face.

Factories, Ladylike, Gospel Claws, and Steff Koeppen and the Articles tonight at the Crescent Ballroom in Phoenix. Factories will be playing a Devo cover.

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