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Termination Dust revives Motown with dreamy, low-fi debut

  • Author: Chris Bieri
  • Updated: July 14, 2016
  • Published July 13, 2016

Termination Dust, from left: Jacob Dee, Stefanie Vigoren, Joshua “Chubbz” Ireland, and Jaybird Parkhurst, photographed in Spenard on Saturday, July 9, 2016. (Loren Holmes / Alaska Dispatch News)

There would be a temptation for the members of Termination Dust to get a little haughty.

After opening for indie rockers Modest Mouse last month, the Anchorage band has taken a turn from relative anonymity to local celebrity.

But the group won't be trading in beer and pizza for caviar dreams any time soon. In a recent meeting, they seemed as excited about a band promo poster featuring an illustration of an ice cream cone eating an ice cream cone, cementing their status as the Alaska band most dedicated to snack culture.

"We've peaked," bassist Jacob Dee joked about his initial reaction to landing the prized gig.

While the band admits the opportunity came as a shock, its recently released debut album "Familiar Eyes," is Exhibit A for why they've had such an expeditious rise.

The record features dreamy, lo-fi pop songs with a candy coating of the Motown sound popularized by girl groups in the late 1950s and '60s.

Fronted by the duo of Jaybird Parkhurst and Stefanie Vigoren, Termination Dust formed in the late summer of 2014 when the two women started to collaborate on songs.

"I broke my finger one summer and she offered to play guitar for the band (Unicorn Hair)," Parkhurst said. "From there, it was easy for us to work together and we started making music after that. Once we had three songs, we started searching around for other members to complete the project."

Drummer Chubbz Ireland and Dee were added to the mix that fall, just as termination dust fell on the Chugach Mountains.

"It was perfect," Parkhurst said. "That's when we became a band, so it's very pertinent to the time we started playing together."

Parkhurst and Vigoren are the band's primary songwriters, generally working independently on songs before fleshing out the details with the full band.

Vigoren described the songwriting process as being cathartic for both.

"A lot of the songs are really emotionally charged," Vigoren said. "They're about either traumatic or exciting situations. They all really run deep and essentially the rhythm section helps hold them together."

Chad Reynvaan produced the album at Wattage Studios in Anchorage, capturing the band's garage sound in raw form.

"We chose to go with him specifically because of the content of the music," Vigoren said. "It just seemed like he'd fit well with that. He'd been wanting to produce a '60s rock girl group for a while. I don't think we had any expectations (on how the sound would be formed). We just went with the flow."

Ireland, described as the "band's ear," also played a role in the mastering process. The result was an album with immediacy and yearning.

"A lot of people have proclaimed the album the break-up album of the summer in some senses," Parkhurst said. "A lot of the songs are about personal hardships but some of them are love songs, too. It's pretty much just a lovey dovey album."

Prior to Modest Mouse, Parkhurst said the band had already had a chance to share the stage with "inspirations and idols," including Tobi Vail of Bikini Kill, and recently, Angel Olson.

Vigoren chalked the Modest Mouse gig up to the state's tight-knit music scene, with its propensity for supplying interesting experiences.

"We're really lucky here," she said. "The scene is really tight and you get opportunities you might not get otherwise."

After going through soundcheck, the band realized it was not going to be as nerve-wracking as expected.

"I thought we were going to be freaked out," Dee said. "Personally, it's more stressful to play in front of a bunch of people I know than a bunch of strangers."

After a busy spring, the band will have a limited performance schedule this summer. Instead of touring, Termination Dust is planning on producing a video for a track off "Familiar Eyes."

"All of us have full-time jobs right now, so it's nice to dream and want to do those things, but it hasn't been an option at this point," Vigoren said.

Termination Dust

July 15-17 at Spectrum Festival in Willow

July 21 at Williwaw with Granddad and Brux

Termination Dust photographed in Spenard on Saturday, July 9, 2016. (Loren Holmes / Alaska Dispatch News)

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