All News & Blogs
Oliver Ackermann makes the sounds that assault your ears
A Place to Bury Strangers has the tools to make explosive music.
View More Images from this story
Visit the Photo Place
BY ANDREW LEAHEY
FOR THE FREE LANCE-STAR
Oliver Ackermann lives in an unmarked warehouse near the Williamsburg Bridge. The old Diamond Sugar Refinery is next door, and a handful of art galleries fill the adjacent properties, advertising culture and class in an otherwise quiet, industrial block of Brooklyn.
Walk into Ackermann's warehouse during workday hours, though, and you'll find yourself entering the busy office of Death by Audio, a gear factory that churns out custom-made guitar pedals for people like Trent Reznor and The Edge. Swing by the warehouse at night and you may find yourself waiting in line for one of the noisy rock shows that Ackermann hosts in the building's basement. If your appetite for eardrum-shattering rock music isn't quenched by the end of the evening, come back during the weekend; you may be lucky enough to catch a rehearsal by Ackermann's own band, A Place to Bury Strangers.
Before he moved to Brooklyn and formed what critics have deemed "the loudest band in New York," Ackermann spent 17 years in Fredericksburg, where he attended Stafford High School and formed Skywave, a shoegaze band steeped in the noisy tradition of My Bloody Valentine.
During a recent phone call from his New York headquarters, he waxed nostalgic about his old hometown.
"I pretty much grew up there," he said. "I lived in Fredericksburg from 1980 to '95, and then again from 2000 to 2002. Ever since high school, I was playing shows up and down the East Coast with Skywave."
Ackermann remembers a small, active music community dominated by regional bands like Nihil, Gracie and Alcian Blue.
"It wasn't much," he acknowledged, "but there were some pretty good bands around town. It got me excited about playing and listening to music at a very early age. None of these bands were touring internationally, but what they were doing on a local level was very awesome and very exciting."
Skywave's sound was thunderous and sometimes abrasive, anchored by the waves of fuzzy distortion that Ackermann coaxed from his guitar. When he moved to New York in 2004 and began playing with A Place to Bury Strangers, though, Ackermann decided that store-bought equipment wasn't giving him enough volume. He began building his own guitar pedals, giving birth to Death by Audio in the process.
What: A Place to Bury Strangers Where: Rock & Roll Hotel, 1353 H St. NE, Washington, D.C. When: July 26 at 7 p.m. Cost: $14 Info: 202/388-ROCK; rockandrollhoteldc.com, aptbs.tumblr.com