Brokedown Mountain: Ayin summits van woes, gets its equipment back

It started, basically, when the oil gauge dropped. They were between Houston and Dallas, near a town called Madisonville, and there was a good deal of smoke coming from under the hood of the 1994 Chevy Astro van that Louisville’s Ayin calls home on the road. They soon learned, after pulling the ashen beast off the highway, that the radiator was fucked: all burned out, overheated.

Daisy Schwartz and Sarah Patrick, bassist and keyboardist, respectively, slogged down the shoulder, and soon enough were retrieved by a roving pack of hippies, who took them to meet with a state trooper, where they called AAA and waited with the cops for three or so hours.

The van sat useless, like some wounded elephant playing dead.
The AAA guy towed it to a repair shop, where the members of Ayin were presented an estimate: $1,500. Too much, Schwartz said, no way it could cost that much for an oil pump. The mechanic disagreed, saying the van needed a new engine.

Nonsense, they thought.

So they had it towed to another place, which is where it sat until last weekend — with all of the band’s equipment — having its engine completely replaced. It was the oil pump that did it, the bastard, and of course driving at speed without the proper fluids in the engine. All told the band dropped about $5,000 they don’t really have — that includes repairs, hotel rooms, gas, a rental car (since no band member is over 21, they were basically entrapped, according to Schwartz, into paying an additional $300 to get a car back to Louisville).

The whole scene is unfunny beyond belief, particularly for five young folks in college with no money and no immediate prospects on the order of 5,000 extra bucks. But it’s no death knell.

In fact, after retrieving their van and equipment last weekend, Ayin picked up at least remotely where it left off, preparing for tomorrow’s show with what they call some of their favorite bands: the St. Louis post-electro dance duo Femme Fatality, Cincinnati’s Foxy Shazam, and Look What I Did, from Los Angeles.

Being fans of the same band is a profound achievement for Ayin, a weird mix of people with wildly disparate interests who — having grown through the ignominy of adolescence together and retained an articulate understanding of one another’s adulthoods as a result — make rock music informed by everything from video game boop music and Iron Maiden to Milemarker and scores of Louisville bands past and present. It’s an intriguing dynamic to play out on record — Nothing Islands, the band’s debut full-length, wears the blend quite well. The band also plans to record again this spring.

“Ayin is an inherently hypocritical band,” Schwartz said with a smirk. “I think the main difference between our band and other people’s bands is that we don’t subscribe to one particular ideology.”
“That’s why I think it’s odd that we work well together,” Patrick added.