A Place to Bury Strangers guitarist Oliver Ackermann has a high tolerance for pain.
A PLACE TO BURY STRANGERS with SIAN ALICE GROUP and OFF THE INTERNATIONAL RADAR at Lee’s Palace (529 Bloor West), Friday (September 19), 7 pm. $12. 416-532-1598.
Death by audio is the name of Oliver Ackermann's Brooklyn-based effects pedal company, but it's also an apt description of his band, A Place to Bury Strangers. Often referred to as "the loudest band in New York City," the three-piece combines ear-splitting shoegazer guitars, industrial-strength electro beats and menacing bass lines that are so abrasive, you wonder if they're actually trying to kill you.
The past two years have seen the band go from obscurity to the top of the indie rock pile. In fact, APTBS has become so big that Ackermann's having trouble dividing his time between his pedal business and his burgeoning band.
"People think it's a vacation to be off the road from touring," says Ackermann on the phone from his workshop. "I'm working like nobody's business building effects pedals and then also writing and recording new songs."
With no formal education or background in electrical engineering, Ackermann taught himself the trade through years of experimentation and trial and error.
"I broke a lot of things for a while, taking apart pedals and amplifiers. Then I learned how to solder and build things and read tons of books until I figured it all out."
Ackermann started Death by Audio in 2001 after moving to NYC from his native Virginia, where he fronted another shoegaze band called Skywave. At first it was a solo venture, but now that business is booming (he's built pedals for U2, Lightning Bolt and Wilco), Ackermann employs a team of interns and assistants.
Just like A Place to Bury Strangers, Ackermann's pedals are unique because they take strange noises to the max.
"Other designers are sometimes afraid to go as extreme as we go. We're not afraid to make something that sounds fucked up. Some people want that."
Recently, Ackermann's pedals caught the attention of Trent Reznor, who ordered a few custom stomp boxes before asking A Place to Bury Strangers to open for Nine Inch Nails on their summer tour.
"It was amazing and ridiculous," recalls Ackermann of the six sold-out NIN dates back in August. "Playing to 18,000 people on a really big stage, you become hyper-aware of what's going on with the music. You could almost be alone at practice."
Their fall headlining tour will take APTBS to much smaller clubs, but Ackermann says fans might get treated to some new tunes if he can find the time to finish them.
"A whole bunch of new songs are written but not worked out, so hopefully we'll have a chance to do that while we're on the road."