Indebted to no wave and post-punk, and named for one of noir novelist Jim Thompson's bleakest tales, Pop.
1280 was started by Chris Bug and Ivan Lip as a vehicle for their dark creative vision, and their early work was an assaultive mix of distorted guitars, bruising rhythms, and a mix of the electronic and the organic that harkened to early industrial music. On early releases such as the 2010 EP The Grid and the 2012 LP The Horror, guitars played a major role in their music, and the music was physical and intimidating. But their approach continued to refine itself, and by 2020's Way Station, Pop. 1280 adopted a more refined approach, with the keyboards and harmonies giving their sound a more polished surface with a hint of goth.
Pop. 1280 was launched in Brooklyn, New York, by friends and musical misanthropes Chris Bug and Ivan Lip in 2008 after Bug returned to America after two years in China. With Bug as lead vocalist and Lip on guitar, the pair recruited John Skultrane to play bass and Andrew Smith as their drummer; neither had previous musical experience. In 2009, the band released their first single, a creepy song about the bedbug epidemic in New York, and it set the stage for their follow-up, the six-song EP The Grid, their first release for the Sacred Bones label. Bug and Lip revamped the group with a new rhythm section, bassist Pascal Ludet and drummer Zach Ziemann of Twin Stumps, who made their debut on a limited-edition 7" in 2011, "Thirteen Steps" b/w "Dead Hand."
After an East Coast tour, Pop. 1280 returned to the studio to record their full-length debut, The Horror, which was released in early 2012. For 2013's Imps of Perversion, the band worked with producer Martin Bisi (who also worked with Cop Shoot Cop and Swans), and he helped them focus their fury into more cohesive songs. The album also introduced Allegra Sauvage on keyboards and cello, replacing Pascal Ludet. By the time Pop. 1280 reconvened to record their next full-length album, Ziemann was also out of the lineup, and the group brought drummer Andy Chugg on board for the sessions for Paradise, released in January 2016. In January 2020, the band welcomed a new decade with the powerful and forbidding album Way Station. ~ Jason Lymangrover & Mark Deming, Rovi