In the near future, a 200-foot-tall machine called The Mantis rises to power. The Mantis has eighteen individual computerized eyes and rules like a bad queen. She's quickly ill tempered and eats the court entertainers when they displease her—musicians rarely leave her royal domed listening chamber. When Seattle foursome Irene Barber, Jamie Aaron, Samantha Wood, and Andy King are summoned to perform for The Mantis, they are unafraid. They set up in a sliver of moonlight spilling through the window and play their song "Mares"—the peculiar sonic beauty leaves The Mantis riveted and rapt. She eats no one. She loves it, and she appoints them her court band. Eighteen Individual Eyes, as they are known, are a band of balance and counterbalance. Their dual guitars drive indie-sutured progressions through onyx-coated chutes. Songs are hypnotic and full yet also full of sparseness. Live, they're completely in their element and the compositions have no ceiling. Vocalist Barber casts a glossed and pleading vibrato over the clean melodic runs and distorted panels of Aaron's Fender Jaguar reissue. The bass and drums of Wood and King batter and plant a well-ordered pulse. This past March, they released a glistening full-length called Unnovae Nights produced by Matt Bayles (Isis, Mastodon, Minus the Bear, Blood Brothers). Aaron and Barber answered 18 questions. No one was eaten.
1. Where does your name come from? A 200-foot tall computer monster with eighteen eyes? Called The Mantis?
Irene Barber: The summer we were coming up with a band name was the same summer I decided to read The Bell Jar. Eighteen Individual Eyes is a misquote from The Bell Jar. The text is, "I walked in and found nine pairs of eyes fixed on me. Nine! Eighteen separate eyes." I liked "Eighteen separate eyes" as a complete sentence. But when I relayed it to the band I said, "Eighteen Individual Eyes." Sorry, no Mantis.
2. Plath is nice and all, but what about compound eyes, commonly found in arthropods and insects? Hundreds or thousands of tiny lens-capped optical units called ommatidia. Or there's the mantis shrimp, which possesses detailed hyperspectral color vision and is reported to have the world's most complex color vision system.
Jamie Aaron: Who are you?
IB: Can we steal this information to put in our press kit?
3. How and when did you know you were going to play your particular instrument?
IB: When I would pretend to play guitar on this blow-up guitar I won at the fair in third grade. I also attached a flashlight to the top of a broomstick as my pretend mic. The full vox/guitar experience.
JA: I picked up the guitar when I was 10 because the violin was a pain in the ass to carry to school every day. And because I wanted to be like Wynonna Judd.
4. What is your song "Octogirl" about? You know Octomom does porn now?
IB: Octogirl is part girl, part deadly octopus. Can you imagine falling in love with that? Octomom does porn? Link, please.