Detroit Pop City: Prussia

The word “Detroit” probably doesn’t conjure up any immediate images of experimental pop music. Factories, cars, maybe even Madonna are good first thoughts, but freak-pop?

Well believe it or not, Detroit is the home of a blossoming DIY music scene complete with goofily-named underground clubs and a wide-variety of musical acts, including freak-pop-soul band Prussia, which will make its way down to Athens Sunday.

On first listen it’s hard to see how the yowling voice, the horns, the strings, the funky bass and African beat drums all work together.

Turns out Athens isn’t the only town that can produce totally original and catchy pop bands, and Prussia does so not just for the sake of being original or poppy.

“There was never a conscious effort on our part to have an idea like, ‘Alright, let’s go into making experimental pop music,’” said Prussia guitarist/organist Brenton Bober.

The band, which formed in 2007, has been driven by the diverse musical taste of its members, leaning heavily on Motown-style soul, folk and electronic music.

“When you have a bunch of people all being inspired by different things — take a song and when everyone gets a hold of it, by the time it’s done, it’s something that no one expected it to be,” Bober said.

With Detroit’s recent economic troubles, Bober said the music scene wasn’t necessarily helped, but it didn’t hurt.

“The fact that Detroit is kind of barren is actually something the artists are using in their favor,” he said.

Cheap rent and low pressure — he contrasted the town with New York, “where you go to get made” — have spurred along the creative and dedicated DIY scene, which birthed his and many other bands in the area.

“Detroit is somewhere where people really care about what they’re doing and really care about Detroit,” Bober said.

This scene of widely varying styles and general appreciation isn’t going unnoticed either, according to Bober, who says several friends have been interviewed recently.

“I think it’s definitely starting to get some attention and some notoriety,” he said.

As for Prussia’s near future, its sophomore effort, “Poor English,” will be out this spring.

“We’ve always jumped to releasing things quickly, so now we’re kind of waiting on this one to make sure it gets a proper release,” Bober said.

Their newly-released EP “Four For Attention” previews two of the new full-length’s songs. They’re quirky but surprisingly full of hooks and amazing, jarring lyrics, such as, “Each and all my mother’s friends are whores.” Catch the full deal this weekend before they mosey on to another strange new world.

“We’re obsessed with making music,” Bober said. “So we’re already a good way in into something else.”

Original online publication

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