Taxidermists Wade Through the Shipwreck

Taxidermists Wade Through the Shipwreck

By Tobias HessMar 27, 2024

Life is better with friends, especially if you find yourself wading in the waters of a shipwreck. For the past few years, I have found myself consistently charmed by the sounds of LUCY (Cooper B. Handy), a Massachusetts savant who produces genre-bendy, lo-fi pieces of sonic patchwork that are as heart-forward as they are bouncy and infectious. With projects like The Music Industry is Poisonous and the EvilGiane collab-cut "WHAT SHE’S HAVING," Handy has made a name for himself as your favorite artist’s favorite artist, opening up for the likes of King Krule, and playing alongside rapper RXK Nephew and Cowgirl Clue.

But long before Handy’s cult-fav status, there was Taxidermists, a project composed of Handy and his best friend/collaborator, Salvadore McNamara. Initially meeting on Myspace in 2007 when they were just 13, the duo found themselves bonded over a shared passion and tenacity. Eventually, they turned their URL friendship into a IRL one and became embedded in the New England's DIY scene, touring around the region to deliver their signature bits of bashing brilliance.

Their forthcoming release KO EP, is like a kick given with a smile. A raw slice of life as taken from a five months of all-night sessions in McNamara's studio at The Asbestos Farm in Hadley, Massachusetts. Leading things off with their single, "Shipwrecked," Taxidermists are displaying their well-honed wit and candor. “Your parents taught the course/ My parents got divorced/ Don’t care about the force,” Handy starts off, his voice moving with a pugnacious lilt. Doing army drills, playing at a house show, performing in a field, all while the Massachusetts sea looms blue before them, the video has the warm familiarity of a project made between friends.

Below, PAPER speaks to Taxidermists about their forthcoming project, friendship and recording on a farm.

You met on Myspace in 2007. What drew you to each other creatively in those early days online?

Cooper: We could tell from an early age that we were both very serious about making music together.

Salvadore: Cooper had awesome songs from the start and we found it easy to jam and bounce ideas off each other. It was a good environment to learn how to be a band and record music.

You started playing together as Taxidermists in the New England DIY scene in 2010. How would you describe the scene when you were starting out?

Cooper: Shows in 2010 in Massachusetts felt very exciting. Partially because we were still in high school, so getting out to places like Allston to play a show with people who were older felt like a big deal. I also remember the DIY scene having more layers and locations in those times.

Salvadore: When we started playing shows in 2010, we played a lot of small gigs on Cape Cod. When we branched out to Northeast cities, the scene seemed to be more focused on other genres of music, which exposed us to different styles and ways of hosting and curating events. It’s also been interesting to see the rise and fall of other bands during the tenure of Taxidermists.

This project was recorded at the Asbestos Farm in Hadley, Massachusetts. Describe the process and environment in which this project came together.

Cooper: Sal's studio in Hadley (affordable sound) at the Asbestos Farm is a garage with a few tape machines and a few amps and a drum set. We experimented with mic placement and techniques a bit. Over the course of recording these songs, we communicated about how the sections should or shouldn’t fit together.

Salvadore: This EP has fragments that have been bouncing around for a few years. We approached this in a more focused manner than other records. A few of the songs were recorded the same night they were written.

How does your longtime friendship inform your collaboration?

Cooper: Making music together gets easier over time as we learn to grow together and separately as people. Knowing that we are both always down to create more seems to push our project in the only direction it can be pushed.

Salvadore: Being such long-term friends has allowed us to experience other projects throughout the years and learn how to keep Taxidermists as a safe space for us as individuals. It’s important that our friendship started with music because while things can get heavy in our personal lives, we will always let the music save us.

Photography: Harry Wohl, Olivia Becchio