Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Interview With Teo Wise


Can you start by telling us how you began playing music?

I started playing music by learning some covers on you tube when I was a teenager, then with the time I just started to play random chords that I learned in different order and I sang some random words on it and that’s it. I thought it sounded cooler then much of the music I listened in Italy, so I went on. 

What's your current live setup like, as far as instruments? Have you been playing a lot of shows recently?

The last couple of years I played a lot of shows with my band “Teo Wise and His Mother”. 

We are always four people on stage. Usually I’m singing and playing E-Guitar, and sometimes I play also keys and the melodic. 

Then we have drums, bass, and second guitar or keyboards for melodies. 

You released a great split tape with Busted Head Racket on Painters Tapes. Can you tell us how that release came about?

Actually I got my own label “Spya Sola Records”, and the guys from BHR asked me if I was interested in releasing their singles on tapes.

I Listened to it, and I directly felt home, so I proposed them to make a split. Which came out as a 7” via my own label.  

And then we asked Painter Tapes if they would have like to release it in US. 

 What's the music scene like where you're from?

Where Im from the music scene is weird. I don’t really follow a specific genre, for me art is everything, it doesn’t matter what you do but the way you do it, the principles you follow. 

There are some bands that know each other in EU, but I feel like it’s not so open. I live in Germany, but Im from Italy, and especially there I see a big wall between Italy and the rest of the world. 

In EU is a bit better it’s hard to find real people that want to share something for real.

I'm not saying they aren't there but it's difficult, and for sure there are cool people taking care of it without taking them self too serious. 

What do you do for fun besides music?

For fun I do a lot of things haha I like cooking, I paint a lot. I Like to write, last year I wrote and recorded a spaghetti western short movie, 2 friends of mine were the actors. 

I read and try to find people that think like me and get inspired. I watch movies, I like to drink some alcohol and talk a lot. 

And even if it’s not for fun, I work to pay my rent and to buy some food, but I do just enough.

What do you hope people take away from hearing your music?

I Hope they feel that this is free music and have some fun, I‘m not stuck in a genre, I just do what I like. I hope they see that Im trying to destroy some walls that we create even in the art. 

What are you working on next?

I’m always on the next project haha. I got a new Album, which is currently being mixed by one of the guys from BHR. 

But before releasing that Im gonna make a big Europe tour in October with my band and also with Beta Maximo. 

How do you feel about the future of art/music?

I don’t know about the future, but I think people should take themselves less serious and have more fun.

Art can be a job, but if you start making art thinking about the Job, you are gonna make only something ugly and uncomfortable. 

To make art you have to start watching yourself and transform yourself in something, which can also be music or anything else. Even if you build a house you should know who you are. 

And we should look at each other, there are no “Followers” or “fame” we are all trying to express ourselves. 

Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Interview with Buglvr3000




Can you start by telling us how you got started in music?

Music has always been a natural interest to me. Since I was a very young child I was fiddling around with sounds and constantly looking for new music to listen to. I remember probably starting around the age of five I would sit at my grandmother's piano for hours just piecing the notes together by ear. So I guess that was my first instrument, but the guitar was the first instrument I really consciously tried to learn. I started teaching myself guitar when I was about 10. I was really into Underoath and Dillinger Escape Plan back then. As I got into highschool I made other friends who were interested in music and we recorded some improv albums where we’d play really loud and yell about inside jokes. That was really fun. We were all really into Ween. I got Ableton when I was about 16, and from there I got really obsessed with recording. I didn’t really have any equipment, but I got a bunch of free plugins and I’d just lock myself in the basement and go crazy with it. I didn’t really know what I was doing at the time, but I ended up making what turned out to be sort of an experimental ambient synthpop album. It took about 3 years to develop, but that’s what really started it for me. Since then I’ve just been collecting equipment, always seeking to learn, and just spending a lot of time recording. I released my first fully realized project last October called Earthmover, and that was a pretty big deal for me. It’s a conceptual piece accompanied by a short story. It’s also my first solo release with vocals and live instrumentation. Since then I’ve only been getting better and having more and more fun.

Where does the name Buglvr3000 come from?

Buglvr is because I really like bugs. I added 3000 because it’s a really big number. Recently though, I’ve discovered even bigger numbers. There may be a change sometime in the future…

How would you describe your sound?

Probably the biggest descriptors I could put to my music would be post-punk and shoegaze, with occasional electronic elements. I like to include synthesizers quite a bit. A few bands and artists that have sort of shaped the way I look at music are Have a Nice Life, Deftones, Weatherday, Guided by Voices, Melvins, Boris, Fishmans, and Aphex Twin.

What are your thoughts on Detroit?

A depressing portrayal of economic inequality, but also home to a lot of great communities dedicated to things like mutual aid and independent art.

Any favorite local bands or artists you'd want to shout out?

Keep an eye out for Belial, really sick grindcore with a debut on the way. My other band Texas in Heaven if you want to hear some droney sludge metal type stuff. My friends in Clipboards, super nice group of guys who always put on a great show. Stations has some great minimal synthpop/new wave music. Zastava is a great Detroit shoegaze band. They played a mesmerizing set opening for They Are Gutting a Body of Water. Lava also puts on a great show. There’s lots of great music out here. 

What are you working on next?

Currently I have a 5 track EP that will be releasing later this year called BUGLVR. I put a lot of work into both the music and the album inserts and I’m really happy with how it’s all turned out. Keep an eye out for that and grab a physical copy if you like album inserts as much as I do. Aside from that I’ve been making a lot of sludge metal, hardcore, some IDM, synthpop, a little bit of nu metal. I’ve just been making music. Some comics too. I’m not totally sure what the future holds. Definitely looking at locking myself away for a while and planning out my next project pretty soon though. Whatever I do I want it to be big and focused. Likely some combination of comics and music. Maybe even some animation involved.

How do you feel about the future of art/music?

I don’t really know. If you’re looking at it from a capitalistic point of view, we’re currently experiencing an artistic drought. The art industry has very little quality art to offer, because innovation no longer affects profit. Independent journalism has been convoluted and watered down by social media. The decline of physical media and the collective obsession of social media has largely removed the meaning behind the ways we consume art. There is a lot that could be said about these things. But, as always, the real quality art takes a little more effort to find. And one positive about the rise of social media, is that communication is a lot easier. There are millions of great artists to be found in every corner of the internet. People collaborating everywhere. Community has always been the best thing for art, and the internet does make that easier. So there are plenty of pros and cons when it comes to these things. One community project that I found really inspiring was A2B2 Radio. That was a really great showcase of talent that caught a good amount of traction. Artists would submit a song or a music video and every month they’d select about an hour and a half's worth and stream it on discord. Lots of great artists got their name spread from that. So I’m looking forward to community efforts like that. I have some ideas of my own. There’s always going to be people looking to express their perspective, and that’s what I live for.

Friday, May 12, 2023

Interview with Wolf Eyes


Can you start by telling us how you first got involved in music?
Nate: My interest in music started with skateboarding in the late 80's. My skate punk friends and I would pull anything out of the dumpsters and shred it. Old crates, boxes of canned goods, heating ducts, and one time an entire cow carcass. This was just what we did, it wasn't too much of a stretch to start dragging the louder pieces of trash back to our basements and start banging on them together. 

Johnny: Hearing one of those Motown K - Tel comps when I was kid like 9 years old. Had it set up next to my bed so it would be the first / last thing I heard during the day. My mother Sharon played harp and accordion and jammed “Chorus Line” soundtrack non stop so music was everything as a youth man. Started with punk drums, then alto saxophone and electronics after that. Now its a combo of em all really. 

What does your current setup look like, as far as instrumentation for your live shows?

Johnny: Lyra - 8, Octatrack MKII, small cannibalized mixer feedback machine, Jomox T Resonator MKII delay filter, C - Melody Silver saxophone with X ray reeds, and new bass string / spring / reed instrument morphed from a white bed frame. 

Nate: I've been making my own instruments for 25 years. I am currently playing a homemade drum synth that is based on paper circuits developed by Peter Blasser of Ciat Lonbarde. I call it the Crash Box. It's a collection of circuits that work together to form a system of sequencing based on sacred geometry. Basically even nodes oscillate and odd nodes create paradox's and when they interact you get an archaic electronic pattern. I am also using an Octatrack as a sampler, mixer, FX box, file player and VCA. The combo allows for constant motoring of the random patterns produced by the Crash Box and live sampling. 

What have you been listening to recently?

Johnny: Anything on Tribe Tapes
Worth / Prose Nagge label
Gates of Janus new cd 
Anything on Easy Listening Label
Slacking “Roundhouse A Bootlicker” 7”
Ethix “Bad Trip” 7”
RRR Pure Cd’s
AMK “Needle Hit the Groove” set 

Nate: Mainly the Fall but I've dusted off all my old Underground Resistance 12's and they have been looping in the background of my studio.

Wolf Eyes upcoming record Dreams In Splattered Lines was recorded in Pontiac and Lansing. Can you tell us what it was like recording this new record?

Johnny: Handed off a lot of ideas / tracks in classic Home Taper fashion. Some old tracks, many of them new. A slew of splattered audio. The “suite” at the start is truly beguiling. We did not have a deadline and that kept things very fresh and choices sharp. Feel like it is our best full length, a truly varied strange journey through all sorts of tangled moods. 

Nate: Dreams in Splattered Lines was recorded following Wolf Eyes’ residency at the New York Public Library for the Performing ArtsWe started by continuing to explore the ideas of short dense sound collages that had similar behaviors to ‘hit singles.’ Using a lot of ideas that we established on the Difficult Messages series, we started to look at hit songs like terrariums: folding the idea of music and sound happening inside sound environments we created in the studio. The record starts with a Car Wash that includes a Short Hands track playing on the car radio while waves of white noise and contact microphones are plunging into water buckets. The track is then played in a car while going through an actual car wash and finally layered and mixed in the studio. We recorded a lot of the tracks remotely and found that some of the overdubs were best done blind. So many of the tracks were swapped with eachothers. This helped create surprising transitions and breathe new life into simple ideas. 

Do you have a favorite medium for releasing music?

Nate: Lathe Cuts are my favorite.

Johnny: All formats are amazing and hold their own specialties / problems. Like Nate lathes are favorable but CDRs are prob my fave. Anything with soul. 

What kind of car do you drive?

Nate: 2001 Subaru Forester 

Johnny: 2009 Black Honda Fit aka the “Blues Hawk.” Had it from the jump, just had a radiator flush and CV joint fixed. 212K miles going on 412K. Love it. Manual. Broken locks and CD player so the aux in is for the audio destruction. 
What are your thoughts on the local Michigan music scene?

Johnny: Amazing from a distance. Has everything and has HAD everything. Bottomless. Like no other. 

Nate: It's my home and fam so it's complicated. I love it. 

So, do you smoke weed?

Nate: Tons, I love RSO oil.

Johnny: Roll it up MF.


What is one thing that would surprise people to know about Wolf Eyes?

Nate: That we rehearse and record every Friday unless we are on tour. This adds up to roughly 3021 minutes of music a year. We've release about a quarter of it for the past 25 years. 

Johnny: We have never stopped nor will. 

How do you feel about the future of art/music?

Nate: We are all doomed! LOL 

Johnny: Always bright and all ways dark. Even with a bleak AI future something will emerge utterly unique. Has to. “Be Yourself Don’t Hesitate.”

--- Wolf Eyes new record Dreams In Splattered Lines out May 26th ---

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Interview with Katie Lass

Remove Records: Tell us about yourself and how you got started making music.
Katie Lass: Music has been a constant companion to me. I’ve been playing around with different instruments since I was about 15. It started with guitar and occasionally piano, sometimes other people's drums. In Arizona my group of friends during high school were a bunch of skate punk kids and that was a really important time for me. We went to tons of shows and our world basically revolved around music. I’ve had a lot of fly-by-night collaborations with other musicians over the years but mostly just meandering jam sessions, and hadn’t really tried writing songs in any deliberate way until 2020. 

I was tired of waiting around for something to coalesce with other people, and I had all this energy buzzing through me and ideas bouncing around. So I just bought some basic equipment and started recording things. Usually beginning with a chord progression on guitar but not always, sometimes a bass line or keyboard part, often a vocal melody. Whatever catches on the wind. I’m not a trained musician, maybe more of a painter/illustrator so when I’m making music it’s all about the textures and layers and I’m just kinda sculpting the frequencies to create the movement I want in the song. I’ve been thinking more about structure and using metronomes and things like that lately, as a result of playing live more. It definitely helps to boil it down to the essentials when writing songs you intend on performing repeatedly, so my new songs are a lot different than the ones on the forthcoming album. That momentum is really exciting, but I like the stuff from the first album just as much as the newer stuff. 

I’ve always listened to so much music and been around musicians my whole life so I feel like I’ve absorbed a lot that way. I don’t really want to rehash the past in terms of emulating existing genres, but I just do whatever comes organically. My process is for the most part really intuitive and reactionary. It’s all very meditative. I wouldn’t say I’m trying to escape reality entirely with my music but I’m definitely trying to reshape reality and create new environments and surprises.

Who are some of your inspirations?

Elizabeth Fraser / PJ Harvey / Trish Keenan / Luigi Serafini / Gary Panter / My Bloody Valentine / Delia Derbyshire / Takako Minekawa / Iggy Pop / Portishead / Arthur Lee / The Kinks / David Bowie / Blonde Redhead / Leonora Carrington / Arik Brauer / Henry Darger / Francis Bacon / Patti Smith, to name a few. It’s hard to narrow it down. I love musicians and painters and writers, all sorts of artists, across all mediums and styles, who do their own thing in their own way and aren't afraid of being different. People with fierce, playful spirits are the ones I gravitate toward. Magic sees magic, if you feel it you know it’s there.

You're getting ready to release your new record "Hypnopomp"? What does that title mean?

The word refers to a certain mode of consciousness leading out of sleep, characterized by hallucinations and projections which the dreamer perceives as real. I’ve often willed myself into a kind of trance state when I’m making things, and to me good music is sort of hypnotic in nature, keeps you suspended somewhere between this world and another. Some people mistakenly think it’s “Hypno Pop,” but that’s cool too. Symbolically this album was a sort of awakening for me in a lot of ways. For a long time I was just really shy and never imagined I could play my own music for other people. Making this album changed all that. I was able to accept the version of myself I already was and the capabilities I already had, which really freed me up to try things and delve into my subconscious. As a result I covered a lot of ground really quickly. The converse of that is “psychopomp” which is actually etched into the dead wax on the B-side of the record, and refers to the spirit that guides souls into the next realm after death. Not necessarily to be taken literally, it’s kinda just about letting go of your hang-ups and accepting that uncertainty is to be embraced rather than resisted, and that really renders the present moment more important than anything in your past or future. If you can get your mind into a state where you’re always half dreaming I think that’s kind of ideal, creatively.

How did you record Hypnopomp and what do you hope people listening to it will take away from the record?

Most of the record was recorded at home in my Hamtramck apartment, using a 2-input interface, a condenser microphone and a couple borrowed microphones and borrowed drums. A couple of the tracks were a collaborative recording process but 99% of the songwriting and recording was a solo endeavor. Basically I just started recording songs knowing I would eventually compile the best ones, but I wasn’t trying to make things that sounded similar or stick to a theme. I wanted to let some different styles interact. Some of the songs started as loops. Many of the tracks didn’t have drums or percussion until later. A couple of the tracks started as garage band recordings on my phone, but most of them I recorded through my interface using Studio One on my laptop. A lot of multi tracking, sampling and overdubbing, but in a few cases I would do a live recording of guitar or bass with vocals along to a beat loop. Mixing was really meticulous. In the beginning I was working with a wild amount of track layers, which I definitely started to simplify as time went on, but the action/reaction factor really took off during the process and a lot of things just happened really quickly and spontaneously.

Besides just a heady dopamine trip, the takeaway for people with this record might be that you don’t have to wait for permission from others to create the world you want for yourself. You can start right now, and just continue to build on that. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Don’t be afraid to make something strange or inaccessible. That's where the discoveries happen, which I think is a James Joyce quote, and maybe a Broadcast lyric too… probably tons of people have said that. The willingness to be vulnerable and make a mess is really the only way to get anywhere worth getting to I think.

How do you feel about the Detroit music/art scene?

To be honest I never feel too comfortable in any 'scene’ really… I’ve always just been a pretty solitary person preoccupied with working on various projects in my free time… but since I moved here from Arizona about 6 years ago, I’ve established some connections with a good number of really talented and supportive people and their encouragement has been crucial for me in the past few years as I’ve devoted more and more of myself to these things I enjoy doing and I’ve become more confident about putting myself out there. I feel a lot more comfortable collaborating with people these days and I definitely intend on setting up more shows and working with more people as time goes on. The Detroit music/art scene is great and powerful and raw. I’m happy to be here.

Who are some of your favorite local artist/bands/venues?

Outer Limits is always doing fun stuff. We just played with this new band Zastava at Andy Art Center, they have a really great sound. I like Eck. Sun Astros are good friends of mine, they’re always great. DaddyMother is sick. Shadow Show is cool. Day Residue rules. Just heard about this band Clinic Stars that I like a lot. Kathy Liesen’s solo music and paintings are some of the best I’ve seen/heard as far as my taste is concerned around here. There are a lot of other ultra talented and driven people around too, it’s all really inspiring.

If you could collaborate with one person, who would it be and why?

I’ve never been able to really plan or anticipate collaborations… they always just kinda emerge naturally if they’re meant to be. I can’t say I sit around thinking about hypothetical collaborations, but… maybe Isabelle Antena. That electro-samba stuff from the 80s still really gets me. I don’t know though, hard question! Tastes are always fluctuating.

How do you feel about the future of art/music?

I find the most pleasure when I’m planted firmly in the present moment. But I do know art/music for me will continue to be my main source of joy, and probably some pain too. It’s not all about having fun, it’s a lot of work really. 

Hypnopomp by Katie Lass is out November 4th via Happy Happy Birthday To Me Records and Remove Records!!

Sunday, September 18, 2022

The Whole Damn Family Band

 “This is what Dead shows must’ve felt like man…”  I lean into Jake’s ear as I snap some shots of the An-drool Corn Starrch Jamboree.  Or whatever the fuck they’re callin’ it these days.  Everyone in the band posted it as a different name.  Too much gear shufflin’ around and exchangin’ hands to get an accurate count on the band members.  And the vapor trails aren’t helpin’ much.  I’m smokin’ a spliff.  Scarf tied around my head.  I’ve never been one to take pictures durin’ shows.  Gotta stay in the moment man…  Mostly though I use this camera my sister gave me in high school as a fancy point and shoot.  I just hate usin’ the flash durin’ shows.  Broke my mom’s point and shoot as a kid exposin’ the flash in my eye.  But this is gonna be one of those “ya had to be there” moments.  Need some solid evidence I didn’t just trip too hard after our set.

“It looks like they just grabbed a buncha people off the street to play.”  KC whispers as they start on some spacey noodlin’ the way the Dead used to open their sets.  Andress Starr Family Groove Thang.  Sree in a construction helmet and vest.  Feelin’ like a real road worker holdin’ up traffic as they wheel their amp down the streets of Hamtramck after their set.  Two drummers.  Diego in the banana suit while Mahadeva hides behind a Spider-Man mask.  Geoff.  With a fresh shave!  Kyle.  With a clean shaven fingertip!  The prosthetic he built fallin’ off durin’ the 208 set outside the scene of the crime.

It’s nights like these I’m left thinkin’ about memories.  I put on my copy of Tonight’s the Night by Neil Young.  Bought it at a record store in Grand Rapids after makin’ the drive with a pinhole in the head gasket to meet a Tinder match.  What can I say?  In her first DM she talked about the Butthole Surfers.  I found out about the Butthole Surfers in the backseat of my mom’s minivan when she put on the Dumb and Dumber cassette with their cover of “Hurdy Gurdy Man.”  Anyways.  I remember tellin’ her when I bought it about the time I overheard Jake talkin’ about his favorite Neil Young albums.  I told him I always dug Tonight’s the Night“I bet you really dig heroin too Nips…”  And we both had a good laugh without him needin’ to know the truth.

I thought about coverin’ “Albuquerque” for our set.  First song that came to mind to cover when we got asked to play the Hamtramck Labor Day Festival.  This year’s festival dedicated to a hundred years of Hamtramck.  Has it been a hundred years of gettin’ drunk in the streets?  Let the Yeji Boys toast to a hundred more.  Even though I’ll miss their set Sunday while I get ready to go have a panic attack watchin’ some house DJ I’ve never heard of.  Man.  The things drugs and alcohol protect ya from.  At least I can still disassociate sober as I flashback to dancing as the art of escapism.

“This is the greatest city in the world!  I never wanna leave!”  Cam yells standin’ on a chair as we watch the Labor Day yacht races.  Thankin’ Jeff for hookin’ ‘em up.  My first Labor Day Festival I met Jeff pukin’ in the street and he asked me to kiss his dinosaur.  Pullin’ the stuffed animal from his shirt.  Cam didn’t get the memo it was bring your own damn water balloons.  You can hear the smack of one pop against someone’s face.  The kids dart into the street to salvage the unpopped balloons between laps.  Only one of the poorest cities in the country can pull off shuttin’ down the streets for three days to commit a mass act of rest.  The most defiant thing you can do in this system.

“It’s the most punk rock thing you can do under capitalism…  Be vulnerable and share your feelings.”  Stacey tells me this a few weeks ago at the fifth annual Punk Rock BBQ after she congratulates me on gettin’ cleaned up.  Four months to the date I had been off blow.  She makes it a point to tell me this because she realizes we’ve known each other for four or five years now.  Which means I’ve known most of you motherfuckers for four or five years now.  And we’ve seen each other through some shit.  Well.  You’ve all seen me through some shit.  Even if ya don’t know.

Kev and Antonio put their arms around me at the Magic Stick a week later.  Playin’ the Rachel Cobra memorial.  The first time they played a show at my house they were still in high school.  And they ripped...  Tonight.  I’ll get to feel the vibes of Sugar-T through those monitors as Antonio gains +100 shred for rippin’ my weed pen while on stage.  They’ve never stopped thankin’ me for tapes or bookin’ ‘em.  Even though the pleasure has always been mine to watch their growth.  Not realizin’ they’ve been inspirin’ mine.  Does the scene realize how much life it continues to breathe into people?

So much of who we are comes from other people and our memories with them.  Durin’ our set I wear a shirt I bought from Nick.  The Miller Time cap Jake bought me in LA when we first met.  The guitar pick with mine and my brother’s favorite Vine reference engraved on it is around my neck.  I got a Jager bracelet from an old coworker I used to drink too much Jager with on the clock.  And even spend a minute talkin’ to Manchester about the teal die earring I bought from Sav at a pop up at Nice Place.  Fuckin’ remember that bullshit?!

“I don’t wanna know the answer to that…”  Sean’s briefcase goes off like the bomb everybody used to think it was.  Pullin’ up to the function with a briefcase full of fuckin’ wires.  To this day I’ll look at the thing with the same awe-struck confusion as when I’d see it at the Russell.  The same awe-struck confusion as I watch the Andrew Starr Warrs Jedi Mind Fuck.  I remember Cam workin’ on the song at the Russell when we first got the lease.  Wanted as many instruments on it as possible.  I didn’t know THIS was the fuckin’ the vision!  Do you even realize how many motherfuckers are on that stage right now?!  Decoratin’ space and time and the whole damn continuum with pure genius.  How could you meet people like this and not find the beauty of life and bein’ a goddamned fuckin’ human?  How could you see somethin’ like that and not be inspired by the infinite realities we can create?  Unpack the work from your briefcase for Labor Day.  Rewire it to somethin’ that makes you wanna fuckin’ move.  Creatin’ sounds that prove to you the only limitation of reality is our imagination.

Snap some shots of a lost Jake.  Searchin’ for Sav.  For his uncle.  Lights a cig as he gives up his hunt for family and watches Cam’s cult.  “He came all the way down here to see me play and I didn’t even get to talk to him.”  Seems to be a recurrin’ theme.  I didn’t even get time to talk to my mom before she left.  Since I first started playin’, all I wanted was to play this festival.  Deep down that’s all we crave still.  That approval from the people we love that they’re happy for us.  Lookin’ for someone to give us reassurance everything we do is right.  Like that early house show at Shireen’s.  We’ll always be those lost kids on the festival grounds hopin’ to win the prize that’ll make us feel good about life.

ESG on Monday night might be responsible for reteachin’ me how to dance.  And feel good doin’ it.  But that ain’t got shit on this moment.  This moment is that prize.  This beautiful fuckin’ moment feels fuckin’ good.  Antonio and Kyle bounce uncontrollably.  Sunglasses and hair maskin’ ‘em from bein’ perceived.  Movin’ with the dual beat of the synchronized drums.  The band morphin’ into somethin’ you’d hear on a cruise ship through a wormhole.  Diego’s sax cuts through the open air as Sree cries into the mic.

I lay in the bean bag chair and begin to cry.  The way you do when nobody is there to see it.  “I’ve been starvin’...  To be alone…”  Ash the spliff as the words pass through the wire and into my ringin’ ears.  The memories blur.  Seein’ ‘em through the haze of chainsmoked cigs.  Drippin’ sweat and drippin’ noses.  “The odds of all of us bein’ here right now is so unlikely.  That alone should make us wanna savor these moments with each other.”  I hear Jake sayin’ somethin’ along those lines at the end of Summerfest while we listened to Daniel Johnston and Bob Dylan.  Infinite variables in our lives have led to this exact moment.  Takin’ direction from the infinite people our lives overlap with.

I mean.  If I hadn’t taken guitar lessons from Troy I never would’ve found out about Daniel Johnston.  Which is probably the only reason I’m here in the first place.  “What a great teacher to have.”  Peter says as we watch Troy’s band the Witches near the end of the night.  Which is funny cause a few hours ago.  Just a few feet away.  The man who taught me life is just the constant bangin’ of your head against the wall was sayin’ “who would want a miserable recluse like me around children?”  But those lessons spent usin’ vomit porn as a metaphor for the Dave Matthews Band were just as consciousness expandin’ as when he showed me the Penguin Cafe Orchestra.  And you can see all these dots connectin’ from different people and experiences.  Like the aux chords slitherin’ like sonic snakes from Sean’s briefcase.  You call it coincidence as it all melts together like Kyle’s feet on the ninety degree concrete.  Or maybe it’s one of the obvious signs you’re where you’re supposed to be.  How many times has Daniel Johnston saved your life?  How many times has the scene been your only motivation to bang your head against the wall another day?  Keep on livin’.  Wake the fuck up!  Get outta fuckin’ bed in the mornin’!

Splashed awake as Cam douses the crowd with a water jug.  Baptized and rejuvenated in infinite possibility.  “WE CAN MAKE EACH OTHER HAPPY!!!”  Cam screams.  Shimmies and shakes as they kick pedals around in the puddles on stage.  Danglin’ over the monitor.  So glad they moved here from Grand Rapids.  I was talkin’ to this girl from Grand Rapids one time and she said there was no sense in makin’ memories with people that aren’t gonna stay in our lives.  But KC I’m glad you’re here for this beautiful fuckin’ moment regardless.  Time flies.  Things change.  People leave.  But people never leave us entirely.  Even if they are merely a brief memory of how the right vibration can send life pulsin’ through your fuckin’ body again.

“WE CAN MAKE EACH OTHER HAPPY!!!”  The crowd screams.  Everybody moves.  Everybody bangs their head futilely against the wall.  Sax screeches.  Bass drivin’ with the dual drums direction.  We can make each other happy.  Maybe not forever.  Or even most of the fuckin’ time.  But we can build memories that help make the sound of our heads against the wall sound like the beat from the Andrew Starr Whole Damn Family Band.  Cam has always had a way of makin’ you feel like family.  “WE CAN MAKE EACH OTHER HAPPY!!!”  Hands clap.  Feet stamp pedals.  Instruments drone and squeal.  This place brings you in like home.  Ben says it durin’ his set Monday night.  How could you ever leave this place?  You think as you smoke a joint with Byron, the guy whose house you parked in front of.  This is the place where you found a will to live.  The people that showed you this world is as beautiful as you choose to make it.  “WE CAN MAKE EACH OTHER HAPPY!!!”  It just takes one good memory.  One beautiful fuckin’ moment.  Like Cam’s smile as they sit between the drums they lunged through at the end of their set.  One of those prized “ya had to be there” moments no footage could ever do justice.  These beautiful fuckin’ memories that will keep our vibrations pulsin’ and dronin’ with life.

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Interview with Alluvial Fans




Can you start by telling us a little bit about yourself? How'd you all get started in music?

Ollie: I started playing the drums when i was ten because my dad played the drums and i wanted to be just like my dad but then i found out my dad had tinea pedis and so maybe i didn’t wanna be exactly like my dad but i still wanted to play drums.

Drew: I remember listening to a Nirvana CD that my uncle burned for me on those walkman CD players when I was 5 or so. That pretty much hooked me. A lot of my dad’s friends and my friends were into music when I was young, so that also inspired me to start playing. I played alto sax and guitar in middle school. I quit alto sax to play guitar in rock n roll bands and in jazz band in high school. I studied music technology at Wayne State until 2015 and have been playing bands around Detroit since 2015. It’s my favorite part of life and culture.

Gilad: I grew up in a musical household. My parents have a gigantic CD collection with tons of classical/jazz/world/folk music and nice speakers in the living room. My mom is a soprano vocalist. My sister grew up playing piano and flute. I started taking classical piano lessons when I was 5. So music has always been a central part of my life and who I am.

Caelin: Both my parents encouraged me to pursue music from a young age; started on piano at 7, cello at 10, and finally electric bass at 11. I more or less dropped the first two and took the bass to college. I studied jazz at University of Michigan and during my time there I got very into math rock. For awhile I played a lot of drum and bass and duo groups in that genre. Now I just write on guitar and play bass with whoever I can.


How did Alluvial Fans come together?

Drew: Well, there’s been a few different versions of the live group at this point. It was always my intention for Alluvial Fans to be an energy-driven, melodic and dynamic rock band. I had the idea around 2014-15. I played in a lot of other bands and wanted to focus on my own songs after giving so much of my musical self to my friends' visions. The first lineup was composed of good friends and room/flatmates Nick Sapounas (bass) and Mike La Bella (drums). Nick’s band at the time was GrayBliss. He also played in Dr. Wolf, and now composes and performs in Torus Eyes. Mike moved to DC in 2019 and has been working on solo music while teaching at the local school of rock. Mike and I played with Nick in GrayBliss and in another band called Honeybabe. 

Nick, Mike and I played a handful of Alluvial Fans shows in 2015. A lot of those songs are on our first album “Lag Air”. The project fizzled out as we were all musically spread thin. Mike and I continued with Honeybabe: Matt McBrien (guitar, vox), Danny Despard (bass) and Austin Keith (drums). I also played bass with Taxon Clade: Daniel Ericksen (guitar, vox) and August Leo (drums). Through playing solo sets, I met Gilad and Ollie and we started playing together in 2019. We recorded the second album “Earth to Astronaut” in 2019 and it was more of a collaborative effort than the first one. Alluvial Fans would not exist without all the support from these and other close friends and family. We are better off together. 

Our current iteration came together on a fateful occurrence last summer outside of Marcus Market. Caelin Amin (bass, vocals) was inhaling tacos and cigarettes when I ran into him and asked if he might want to join the band. A few weeks earlier, Nick suggested Caelin to me as a bassist as we were looking out across the Keweenaw Bay while working on August’s first feature film called Attack of the Flies. Caelin played with Nick in Dr. Wolf as well. Alluvial Fans has been heavily active since 2019 but we had a two year live gig lull since the pandemic. We’ve only recently started playing shows again and I’m feeling more like myself because of it.

Ollie: Well first i met gilad in israel when I was fifteen years old and we talked about baseball and then later like way later i was playing in a band with a pirate when i met scotty and mikey from maine and they bought a church van so we could go on tour with these guys from texas so i said to gilad who was from detroit lets play a show together when we get to detroit but then the van broke down in florida and we slept at the walmart and had to go back to maine so we drove forever and when we got back i felt sad so i went to detroit anyway and the other bands still played the show and i worked the door and gilad played and drew played and caelin played and that’s where i met drew and caelin because gilad already knew them and gilad said i should move to detroit so i did and then started a band with drew and asked gilad to play with us so he did and then he moved to brooklyn and then caelin started playing with us and that’s how alluvial fans came together.

Gilad: Nothing much to add, Drew and Ollie pretty much have it all covered. Mostly just grateful to Ollie and Drew for believing in my abilities as a bassist when at the beginning I really didn't think of myself as  a bassist... more of an electronic musician/DJ. In retrospect definitely one of those butterfly effect/fateful moments and my involvement with the band shaped how I see myself as a performer and musician today, as well as how I feel when I check out shows given how many we played.

Caelin: I know about as much as you, diligent interviewer.

What is something people would be surprised to know about your band?

Gilad: We (were) all geminis ha. 

Ollie: The drummer doesn’t even know what he’s doing.

Drew: If there were a band mascot, it’d be a falafel sandwich.

Caelin: Me and Ollie swap mustaches every so often and sometimes Drew doesn’t even know. 

Rumor is that you have a new record on the way. Can you tell us about it?

Ollie: Spume is the new record and it’s the best one yet or at least that’s what my dad and my brother say and it’s about the ocean and the tides of our lives and the foam in the ocean cause that’s what spume means it’s like the stuff in the foam or that makes it foamy or maybe it is the foam i'm not sure drew came up with it. 

Gilad: It was an insane 180 for me to go from basically just staying home and meditating and riding my bike and keeping myself busy with all sorts of random things that weren’t music to recording an album crash course style in around 10 days. Frankly it took me a few days to get back into the swing of things. Like everything else post-pandemic being in a band again for a second took some getting used to. But overall super cool to hear these songs that we started playing live just before covid hit polished up and in a time capsule. For me a punctuation mark on the end of my time in Detroit for the foreseeable future.

Drew: The pandemic split us up for a bit. Ollie was back in New Hampshire and Gilad and I were locked down in Detroit. I made a lot of electronic solo music during this time. I had 9-10 songs for “Spume” and wrote 5-6 more during this time as well. Ollie came back from New Hampshire and slept on my couch for all of March 2021 while we rehearsed to record “Spume”. We tracked 15 songs live in one week at our practice/studio space. The record ended up being 9 songs but there’s leftovers for an EP or future release or split. We then took a one-week vacation to the Smoky Mountains to step away from it. I finished writing lyrics and recording vocals in the fall/winter. I was in a dark and dissociative place during that time, but music kept me going through 2021, as it does generally. I wish this record was out last year but I'm still proud of it. 

“Spume” will be self-released on July 26th. Our release show is July 30th at Ghost Light in Hamtramck. I guess if there’s a theme to this album, it’s the vital role of expression and detoxification through art and the intention of being true with ourselves and others. That’s where the word spume resonated with me for the title. These songs are what was leftover on the surface from things that were boiling underneath. The music is mature and second-nature to me and I never second-guessed it, as I tend to do with lyrics. This time around the lyrics became more grounded and personally emotionally expressive than the last 2 records. I was sad, confused and frustrated with myself for bad coping habits after a break up that hit me pretty hard. Healing did not come quickly but it did with time. I’ve struggled with some form of depression and anxiety for most of my life now. Spiritual practice, friends, and self-producing this record helped as a psychotherapy to untie some of the knots in my head and come to a higher understanding of myself during the pandemic. I see my struggles and life’s challenges as a form of anti-fragility, which create the opportunity for genuine growth. I’m much better these days and grateful to be moving on to new music and be inspired by old and new people in my life.

What are your thoughts on the local music scene? Any favorite bands/venues?

Ollie: I didn’t grow up here and one of the reasons i decided to move here instead of moving back home or going someplace else was the music scene i think it’s real special lots of interesting people doing creative things and making different sounds and i used to go to burts and have pecan pie and listen to the horn players and they’d let me play drums and maybe even sometimes gilad would take me dancing and i’d hear things i never heard before and i wouldn’t even know where the sound was coming from because you couldn’t see the musicians and a man in a white suit would dance all crazy and cool and that would make me feel better.

Gilad: Now that I've been living in Brooklyn for almost a year, I can safely say that I think Detroit's music scene is superior. Though I think that's also a result of me not having found my favorite locals here, and part of that is because of the insane variety of live music available here. In Detroit, the quantity is a lot less but the quality is a lot higher and more consistent, and when you show up to something you can really feel like you're a part of it. Lots of one-off DIY stuff in unusual spaces. A healthy respect for the city's Black musical foundations (gospel/jazz/motown/techno) and a predisposition to exploration and experimentation is a current that runs through all the good stuff in Detroit. Recently I heard an old poet say "sometimes you just walk into the real thing." I would get that feeling more in one month in Detroit than I have in one year in Brooklyn.

Caelin: I have freelanced as a bassist in this scene for a few years now and one thing I can confirm is that there a lot of different types of gigs to be had which in turn, would mean there’s a diversity to it. I think that’s nothing but a good thing.

Drew: I’m inspired by the plethora of predecessors and contemporaries here in Detroit. Grateful to be a thread of the city’s musical lineage. A lot of raw talent spanning many genres. Friends and family from outside Detroit will emphasize the music scene, so that’s a good sign I suppose. I think the cheap rent (for how long?) and geophysical space of the city allows for more creative incubation. I think about the concept of emptiness a lot, physically and psychically, and how that space in this city nurtures new growth and ideas. I also sense a lot of us are alienated from nature and existentially lost in this volatile post-industrial modern age, me being one of them, and turn to friends and strangers in the music/art/food/party community for a sense of comradery, purpose and solace. There are many great bands and venues, but I don't feel obligated to name any. Although I will say house shows are my favorite. 

Do you have any favorite gig memories you can share?

Gilad: My favorite gig was at a local artist residency/gallery space called Spread Art around Woodbridge. Every band that day -- Imaginatron, Cookie Tongue and Favi Demacho -- really brought something special and had a super unique performance style. I feel like I return to that gig a lot in my head as the gold standard for a good bill. Also the space was far more DIY and intentional than a random dive bar trying to pedal alcohol.

Caelin: Pretty much any gig where the crowd all dances in a line, I think that’s the best vibe. Weirdest vibe was a nude resort I played at on the west side of the state. Let's say the band wasn’t the only thing swingin’ that night!

Drew: There’s two that come to mind for me. We had a group of people dressed as superheroes from the League of Enchantment hop on stage with us at Ferndale DIY fest in September of 2019. They danced to an early version of “I Am Now” which is on the new record. The other one was recently at PJs Lager House where someone in the crowd was headbanging in the front row on their knees like a dolphin having an out of body experience. Later found out his brother has the same name as me, but he said he loved me more than his brother. Still processing that one. 

Ollie: Everytime my friends come to a show is my favorite because i don’t get to see them enough and everyone is so busy all the time but i love them so much so those are the best memories but one time like drew said these superheroes danced with us on stage and you could tell how much the kids liked it because they felt like they could do anything and maybe i felt that way too a little bit even if i don’t like to say it and that’s how i want everyone to feel so that’s a favorite memory too.

Besides the new record, what are you all working on next?

Drew: 4th record, vinyl/merch and maybe touring in the fall. Most of the live set is currently newer songs that aren’t off of “Spume”. Caelin has been a creative catalyst and an amazing addition to the band. I can’t stop writing as of recently and find a bit more satisfaction in composing and recording than playing live. We tracked drums for the 4th record last month. I’m trying to get in the habit of recording material while it’s fresh. I have another solo-electro album that I want to finish up this year as well. We’ll also be settling into a new practice space at the Russell after 7 years at the bagley vision building. Besides music, I’d like to take some more camping, kayaking and bike trips with friends and maybe have a vacation to simply relax.

Ollie: Ya there’s so much going on all the time we just keep doing things i am trying to keep up with my yiddish translation work and my job making solar systems and also i have anxiety and depression and lately i have been learning about single use plastics so i watched all these videos about the history of plastic and did you know by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish and that plastic isn’t really recycled just downcycled and only nine percent gets downcycled anyway and that the plastic industry just tells us to recycle so we feel like plastic waste is our problem and that's how they continue to produce plastic without creating outrage so i am trying to eliminate as much plastic from my life as possible so if anyone knows any cool bulk grocery stores let me know also i got this cool camping mug and a camping silverware set that folds in like a pocket knife and i can keep them both on my keychain so i don’t have to use plasticware isn’t that neat but if you meant what are we working on next in terms of music then a new album and maybe a video.

Gilad: These days, I've just been settling into my new home and figuring out how to live here. Haven't honestly had a whole lot of room for creating music, which is something I struggle with sometimes. I have been running a beat making workshop through the organization I volunteer for called 8 Ball Community, and much more active as a radio/club DJ, which is something I always find a little bit easier to do when I don't have time to practice creating music and improving as an instrumentalist. I also wrote a bunch of poetry in my notes app when the inspiration would strike me walking around the city. I've been dreaming about taking a retreat somewhere remote just to create.

Caelin: Working on a solo album with my best friend as the engineer which is wonderful, that’s my main personal project. Other than that, I live with my wonderful partner so moving in together has been another project, but a fun one. Would like to have a home studio set-up eventually. Besides that, just writing and playing when I can and selling marijuana legally.

How do you feel about the future of music/art?

Gilad: I don't like thinking about the future. Man plans and God laughs, an old yiddish saying that Ollie taught me. Music/art will continue to be created. Fuck fame and recognition just make what you need to make, share it with the people you love, and move on. And if you're not making anything then be nice to yourself about it. There are no quotas or requirements to creating, just your own drive set against the circumstances and realities of your life.

Caelin: Sorta with Gilad on this one, I don’t enjoy thinking too hard on the future. There is in fact so much music that’s already been so much art created that looking into the past is more interesting to me a lot of the time, I rarely keep up with new releases. Sometimes I wish I listened to things as they came out, but a lot of the time I prefer going back to something without current opinions affecting what I think about it; time is the best palette cleanser. As far as the future goes, I only hope that whatever  I can accomplish in the current time can be enjoyed/discovered in it just as easily.

Ollie: I don't think anyone can stop art from happening it doesn't matter how bad they want because art is so important to so many people and some people even care more about art than eating food or having a place to live but it does make me sad that artists don't have enough time for art because of everything else they have to do and i wish more people wanted to give artists what they need to do their art because it would make the world way better.

Drew: Mostly optimistic. I think it will probably serve us in the future as it did in the past, as a transcendent quality of expression that is a definitive trait of humanity. At the same time, we are living in a world of omnipresent capitalist commodification that threatens art’s integrity and directs its energies towards selling products. That is not the point. It is to express yourself and go deeper into your feelings. It is to question, perhaps without any answer. Does touring make sense in a world of fossil fuel addiction? Are money and music ethically compatible? How does my art contribute to the rich lineage of music and human culture? Creating and sharing art to me is an act of vulnerability and celebration. I’m excited by the idea of cooperatively owned venues and event spaces that can double as community organizing centers. Like I mentioned above with my earlier bandmates, I’ve been able to make and record music because we all teamed up. Power in numbers made the practice space and recording gear viable. I feel empowered without being indebted. Things are tough when you’re alone. Life is much easier and rewarding when you team up and communicate with your peers and loved ones.