Water From Your Eyes is Anti-Connection Music

The dance rock duo talk Slipknot, outer space, and more with Devin McKnight (Maneka).

Devin McKnight is a Brooklyn-based rock musician who records as Maneka, and has played in bands like Speedy Ortiz and Grass is Green; Rachel Brown and Nate Amos are Water From Your Eyes, an also-Brooklyn-based dance rock band. To celebrate the release of WYFE’s new album Structure — out today via Wharf Cat — the three hopped on a call to catch up about Slipknot, Tommy Lee, and more. 
— Annie Fell, Editor-in-chief, Talkhouse Music

Devin McKnight: They probably want us to talk about music, right? How does everyone feel about music today? Rachel, you start.

Rachel Brown: Today, I feel like I really like music, but most of the songs I hear on the radio, I do not like, and I wonder, How did these people get on the radio? Because this song fuckin’ sucks

Devin: Yeah. What if they killed somebody, or something, to get on the radio? You never know.

Rachel: I think we should investigate.

Devin: Yeah, that’s a working theory. Uh, Nate — music and you?

Nate Amos: Music and me — well, I’m kind of emptying my brain of music today, because I was supposed to have my third show in a row tonight with three different things, and then it got canceled. Two of the things had never happened before live, so there was a lot of practicing this week, and I was just getting really tired, so every once in a while I just listened to Iowa by Slipknot, and then I’m awake again.

Devin: Yo — I’ve been doing that.

Nate: Yeah, that’s one of my favorite albums of all time. I’ve been fully realizing that recently. 

Devin: It’s intense. Rest in peace to the drummer.

Nate: Oh, my god, I know. That’s how I got launched back into this. Every summer, somehow I end up getting back into Slipknot. But it’s really just that, the first two Slipknot albums. For the first time ever recently, I heard the original demo tape with the original singer, and it’s really funny because some of it’s way more intense, and then some of it is like Incubus, like funk guitar stuff. They have these like, funk-rap breakdowns that just sound entirely not like Slipknot in any way.

Devin: What happened to the original singer?

Nate: I think they replaced him because they wanted someone more melodic, because they were, like, hell-bent on getting super famous. And he was more of a straightforward screamer, metal vocalist. Like Corpsegrinder vibe.

Devin: He was too Iowa for the band.

Nate: Yeah, I guess so. He also didn’t have a mask.

Devin: What!

Nate: He just, like, put electrical tape around his face, and he just looks kind of like GG Allin or something. 

Devin: Well, that’s a fireable offense I would say, for Slipknot.

Nate: Yeah, it seems like they don’t have that much trouble firing people.

Devin: Yeah. I mean, there’s, like, nine members. 

Rachel: How do you feel about music?

Devin: I guess every time I feel good, I feel bad again. I just like to have a plan forward, and I started to feel like I had some plans, or some cool ideas of things to do, take up my time. But then I’m just like, What’s the point? That’s kind of how I’ve been feeling lately. 

But yeah, I don’t know — I’m recording a friend of mine’s project, and that was fun. I played in a band the other day, and that was that was fun. [But] music is is exhausting for me, and it really shouldn’t be. But, you know, I guess that’s where I’m at. I’m waiting for my blues dad, but it hasn’t happened yet — any day now.

Rachel: It’ll strike when you least expect it.

Devin: Yeah, those licks will just start coming out. [Laughs.] Me and Nate were talking about how all of us have been juggling a lot of music. Why do we do this to ourselves?

Rachel: I think it’s because we’re Capricorns — all of us are Capricorns.

Devin: Really? 

Rachel: Yeah, I know you’re a Capricorn from Twitter. 

Nate: So we’re all just stubborn, I guess.

Rachel: We just won’t stop working. 

Nate: I’m just going to keep making music until something happens. 

Devin: What’s gonna happen? 

Nate: I don’t know… I’ll play more shows, I guess.

Devin: [Laughs.] You’ll play another show.

Rachel: Maybe they’ll ask you to be the first person to play music in space, Nate.

Nate: Oh, that’s the kind of eventual goal — whatever this is all leading to, I hope it doesn’t happen too soon.

Devin: You know what’s really weird? I was actually saying that to somebody — we were having a very intimate talk, and she was saying, “What do you want out of life, or music, or something?” I was like, “You know what would be awesome? Being the first musician to play a rock show in space.” I had no idea anyone else felt that way. [Laughs.] It wasn’t a joke either, I was being serious. I was like, “That would be sick.” Space is dangerous, though. 

Rachel: So is planet Earth though.

Nate: I feel like crazy, rich-people corporate parties could take place in space too — let’s say, like, 30 years from now, there’s some event where they’re like, “Hey, everybody gets into this building,” but then for the duration of the actual thing, the building’s going to go up in space and you could all look out the windows.

Devin: And then there’ll be a gig in the background? 

Nate: Yeah, exactly. It’ll be for some, like, news conglomerate — Rupert Murdoch will hire us to play his space show. And I’m sure he’ll probably swim in his pool while we play for him, and no one’s gonna know who we are.

Rachel: Can you swim in space? Is that possible? 

Nate: They’ve gotta have some sort of artificial gravity. I guess we would have to, like, anchor all our equipment, like the drums and stuff. We’d have to do the Slipknot thing, because they turned him upside down and shit like that. 

Devin: Did they?

Nate: Yeah, they fasten all the drums to this platform, and he’s in this strap chair and they push it out over the crowd and turn it upside down, so he’s doing the drum solo upside down above the audience.

Devin: Mötley Crüe was really big on that, it was Tommy Lee’s thing for a while. I hope he doesn’t get this space before us.

Nate: I mean, how much longer can he really last?

Devin: He seems healthy, which is surprising. I mean, I have a few drinks now and I just can’t I can’t handle it. So I don’t understand how you did that for decades, plus other stuff and still walking. But maybe he’s not.

Rachel: It could all be fake.

Devin: He’s just like a puppet.

Nate: He’s a robot.

Rachel: You heard it here first. He died during that two-week stint where nobody saw him — desperately trying to make hologram technology work for those two weeks. 

Nate: It’s good they got it figured out so he can headline Coachella as a hologram.

Devin: And Biden can close for Tupac.

Nate: There’ll be a supergroup that’s Tupac, Kurt Cobain ,and Joe Biden just rocking out together on the stage, playing the Star Wars theme or something.

Rachel: The Star Wars theme?

Devin: Well I was thinking about holograms, and you know at the end of Return of the Jedi when they show up as holograms?

Rachel: They don’t show up as holograms, they show up as ghosts!

Nate: Oh, yeah, they’re ghosts. That’s right. 

Devin: What’s another music thing we can talk about? I don’t wanna make you guys talk about your band…

Rachel: [Laughs.] I guess we never really answered why we all make so much music. 

Nate: I would add that I’m bored — it’s because I’m a Capricorn and I’m bored.

Rachel: Is it boredom? 

Devin: I mean, I wanna have a more uplifting answer. Because I feel like there is a sort of joy I get from it. You know, maybe I’m searching for a human connection I just can’t find otherwise.

Rachel: That you can’t find with people.

Nate: Is that playing music with other people specifically?

Devin: Yeah, to connect with people. I have a hard time sometimes connecting with people in person, so that’s why I tweet a lot and that’s why I make music. Maybe not all of my ideas will fly — you never have an idea, and then your band mate is like, “Uhhh, I don’t know.”

Nate: It actually happened many times within Water From Your Eyes. I’ll be like, “I have this Water From Your Eyes album!” And Rachel is just like, “You just made an album by yourself.” Just like, “Alright, this is probably solo music.”

Rachel: I mean, I stand by my feelings.

Nate: Yeah, well, it’s been the right call every time. I just get kind of wrapped up in working on shit sometimes. I guess now it’s different — now I’ve got three very distinct different hats that I wear.

Devin: It’s hard to know all the time, how to divvy it up. It’s still just the two of y’all, right? 

Nate: Yeah. Our friend Mike Kolb plays with us live.

Devin: felt like with your live streaming shows, your band was uniquely set up for the livestream. I was just like, How did they do this so seamlessly? I mean, it works because it’s just like, beat, guitar, vox. Simple. I envy that.

Rachel: I feel like it makes sense, because most of our sound is already coming from the computer.

Devin: Less of a human connection. 

Rachel: Yeah. We’re all about bot connections at Water From Your Eyes.

Nate: Water From Your Eyes is like anti-connection music. I guess at a certain point, we get together to figure out what the words are going to be. But with the music and stuff, there’s no human connection at all, I guess in that it’s  solitary. At a certain point, once everything’s laid out, we’ll tackle the lyrics and stuff. But before that, usually Rachel is the first person that I show any of the music to. But there’s a long incubation period with the music before I show it to anybody, generally. It breaks out of that zone because of the lyrics we do together, and then Rachel’s voice brings more personality to it. But only from a creative standpoint, it all begins as very solitary.

Devin: Rachel, do you listen to rap at all?

Rachel: Sometimes.

Devin: I mean, you don’t really rap, but I get a vibe of like… because, I don’t know, I did that in high school, and there’s something different to having just the microphone, and having the freedom to do whatever. I guess a singer also has that freedom too. But if you were to be a rapper, what rapper would you want to be? 

Rachel: I feel like I’d like to be both members of Outkast. [Laughs.] 

Devin: That’s definitely not a bad choice. I feel like it’d be wild if they were just one person.

Nate: It’d probably be someone with split personalities or something. Could you imagine having  a split personality and both of your personalities are just, like, monumentally talented rappers? [Laughs.]

Devin: It was great talking to you all, and I wish you all the best. And let me know when you’re playing next.

Rachel: Come to our show, September 2!

Nate: It’s at Purgatory. 

Devin: I’ll come on through! I’m not doing anything, I can tell you that. [Laughs.]

Devin McKnight is currently a working musician in Brooklyn, NY. You might have previously seen him playing guitar in such indie rock projects as Speedy Ortiz, Grass is Green, and Philadelphia Collins. At the moment, his main focus is the rock band he fronts, Maneka, which fuses elements of jazz, improvisation, math rock and shoegaze.