Seattle's own '60s-fed, garage-rock, she-surfer band Tea Cozies have a new video for the song "Cosmic Osmo" off their Bang Up EP. The imagery is hard, bizarre, and ultra-clear, while the music is stoic and drifting above. There's an ambiguous darkness and a mystery to the scenes. Veins bulge, a worm pulses out of a bloody, broken test tube. It's unsettling and ugly, but you can't look away. A dead, bald, silver man on a gurney bleeds from a slit in his forehead. A woman in a red sequined dress dances next to him. You can't see her face, but you're bracing for more worms to emerge. It's wrong, yet attractive somehow (spoiler: There are goats). Directors Nik Perleros and Ty Migota successfully hinge on quick-cutting, slo-mo perversity—their sordid shots leave you both turned off and on. In musical news, the Cozies' Jessi Reed, Brady Harvey, and Jeff Anderson will now be joined by Kithkin's Ian McCutcheon on drums. The four are at work on a new album. Jessi, Brady, and Nik spoke. I thought about worms.
What are y'all going for with the video? It's a doozy.
B: We want the viewer to say, "WTF was that? And why is it so beautiful? But WTF was that?"
J: It was time to do something seriously fucking weird, and Nik was our guy.
This year's SIFF features two showings of the 1928 silent film drama The Wind accompanied by live-score performances from Seattle's plains-rolling seven-piece the Maldives. The film portrays the prairie-town strife of naive and deprived Letty Mason (played by striking silent-film sovereign Lillian Gish). Letty moves from her Virginia home to Sweet Water in the western prairies to live on the ranch of her cousin Beverly, his wife, Cora, and their three children. But Sweet Water, as it turns out, is not so sweet. Cora hates Letty (especially in the beef-carving scene), thinking Letty is there to steal her husband, and all the men are overbearing, overaggressive assholes. Then there's The Wind, the incessant, somewhat demonic wind. Letty is isolated, beautiful, and pained. She's also longing and pure, and you want good to befall her—all facets the Maldives' sound conjures so well. The band's Jason Dodson, Jesse Bonn, and Faustine Hudson broke down some of their scoring process.
Off and on for 29 years, Primus have been rollicking about the land with the sound of their three-piece, psycho-funk, Nor-Cal frizzle-fry. Singer, storyteller, and slap-bass progenitor Les Claypool is an alchemical king. He's their heart and oil-soaked soul. To think of Primus is to think of Claypool's weird, impossible playing, and his chicken-leg strut across the stage in long johns. He pulls off ultra-fingered metrics on the fret, singing with a quirked-up, redneck joie de vivre. In 1991, Primus had a major-label breakthrough with album Sailing the Seas of Cheese, and the song "Jerry Was a Race Car Driver" became a worldwide spittoon-anthem. It wasn't a feel-good hit, it was a feel-strange, somewhat-inbred-genius, Deliverance-type hit. Like someone huffin' spray paint in the shed and seein' how many tadpoles they can eat 'cause they ain't got nuthin' better to do. Claypool is every bit the genius, sans the pig squealing and tadpoles. He spoke from Denver, and for someone who's released albums entitled Pork Soda and Green Naugahyde, he sounded like an upper-level calculus professor who ingests quarks and equations, not tadpoles.
Your new tour is a 3-D tour. What does Primus 3-D entail?
Everyone in the crowd gets a pair of goggles. There's a big screen behind us onstage—when we start playing, a bunch of crazy shit comes flying out over our heads and into the audience.
Where do your visuals come from?
We've been assembling visuals since the early '90s. We incorporate a lot of our own footage, and each song has its own set of images, which get treated with three-dimensional effects. It's not like going to see Prometheus or Avatar, it's like a Liquid Lunch show in 3-D. It's not something you're gonna see in an IMAX theater.
When you think of mixing and producing, what's the first thing that comes to mind?
At its most basic, mixing is the balancing of frequencies, levels, and panning to get things to even out. After you get the tech stuff out of the way, you have to concentrate on what's meant to be the musical hook at any given time—a guitar nuance, a vocal inflection, a drum fill—and make it pop. Production is the choices you make to create those moments during recording. Getting the vocal take, the vocal sound, arranging the song so that there are those little things to listen for on the second listen, or a year later, or five years later.
Where did you learn to sing like you're yodeling in a mine shaft?
My grandfather was a great coal miner in Betsy Layne, Kentucky. On his one day off, he liked to go there to assert his dominance over the miners, and sometimes he'd bring me.
Do you have any yodeling stories?
No, not really. I guess there was one occasion where my grandfather yodeled loud enough to startle a group of wolves away from some friends' sheep, but really it wasn't that exciting.
In a squalid, DNA-stained alley behind the club, Ethan Kath and Alice Glass of Toronto's Crystal Castles are injecting their goth-muse voodoo droid with probiotic sugar water. The muse was flatlining. The sugar water is complex, produced in a costly chem lab—it hits the droid's bloodstream like crushed-up Adderall SweeTarts coated in a cocaine-codeine combo. The droid snaps to and sits up with wide eyes, looking like a character from Edward Gorey's The Gashlycrumb Tinies. It opens its latex speaker-mouth, and the song "Transgender" comes out, from Crystal Castles' third full-length, III. Mutated, metallic ping sounds float over an ominous Gregorian synth-bass bed. Glass's distant vocals are basically unintelligible, "Will you ever preserve, will you ever exhume?" It has that post-rave/empty-cathedral feel. Beats shake and sift their way in; a kick lands and steers it into an improbable requiem banger. Death-march EDM. To record III, the duo isolated themselves with a 1950s-era tape machine in Warsaw, Poland. Themes on the album center on oppression. Images of blood mix with melancholy and chemicals in the dirt. When they flatline, their sugar water revives them. Kath and Glass spoke.
The lyrics for "Transgender" seem lost, yet leading—pained and headstrong. Where do your words come from?
Glass: Where does anything come from? As a lyricist, I like what bands like Crass and Crisis did, politically. They wanted to inform the masses of injustice in the modern world. Take human trafficking, for instance—America isn't doing enough to fight human trafficking within its borders, and something like 50,000 women are trafficked into America every year. There aren't enough shelters for victims, and many victims are placed in juvenile treatment facilities. Statistically, one in 12 children in America will be sexually assaulted. The biggest threat to women's safety and health is domestic abuse, but there is little funding to educate and help women. Stuff like that needs to be brought to light.
In "Affection," you say you catch a moth in your hand and crush it casually. How do you crush a moth casually?
Glass: You tell me.
Your lead-up to The L∞P, Pre-Alignment Vol. 1, is amazing. You've got a couple more things coming out before the album, right?
Thank you. Pre-Alignment was beats I had in my drive, for the beat heads. Next up will be Alignment, then there will be Enlightenment. Right after that, the album comes out. I have a movie that's broken up into three eight-minute acts, playing on the theme of The L∞p. The story is basically about me being sent to Earth to change the planet's frequency back to love. Some things have turned to hate—one reason being that music, which comes from the throne, has been contaminated, so to speak. My mission is to bring the love back. I'm working with a guy from Seattle, actually, on the footage—Sam Davis, he's a beat producer. We wrote the script and have some animation blended in with the real world. It's sort of Pink Floyd's The Wall meets Yellow Submarine meets Electric Company [laughs].
Where did you learn about music and production?
I never had any formal training. I'd say my musical education came from my grandmother, my mother, and my father, by default of them just being music lovers, always playing music in the house. Through hiphop, I started off as a DJ. I was always digging and searching for records, particularly break beats, and I discovered all kinds of different music that way.
Shafiq Husayn & Dove Society play Dahlak Eritrean Cuisine tonight with OCnotes.
Questions about Tyler abound. Would Frank Ocean and Syd tha Kyd—both out now—still work with him if he was antigay? Would Mountain Dew, Adult Swim, and Sony Music be working with him if he were such a social liability? He has carved out a certain mystique. Does he say too much? Perhaps. Does he push buttons and have fun? Definitely. Is it for everyone? No. Does he like cats? Very much so. Is he young and growing? Yes and yes. As of last check, he had stopped using the word "rape" in his shows. But with Tyler's worldwideness and overcharged, hard content, what gets lost occasionally is that he's an artist. Some of his brushstrokes are crude. If it causes reaction, that's what he wants.
On April 2, a deluxe edition of Mad Season's Above will be released with two CDs containing the original studio album, three previously unreleased tracks with Mark Lanegan singing, and a DVD that includes videos of their last show at the Moore and their New Year's Eve performance at the now-defunct RKCNDY. Mike McCready spoke.
When you think about Mad Season, what's the first thing that comes to mind?
Sadness. Tragedy. I think about Above, I think we made a good record. Sadness that Baker and Layne aren't around anymore and that I can't talk to them about stuff. I wonder what they would be like now. Would they be parents? What would they be doing? I miss them. I'm proud of the record, but sad as well.
How did Mad Season begin?
I was in rehab in 1994, getting sober for the first time, and I met Baker there. Layne was a friend of mine, and I knew he was struggling, I started thinking that I wanted to help him out. I was naive back then, thinking I could save people. My initial inclination with it was to help Layne out and to get to play with Barrett—I'd always loved his drumming.
Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic dominated music in the 1970s with more than 40 R&B hits (which included three number ones and three platinum albums). Live, the show became an otherworldly circus. There was the Aqua Boogie Bird, the Brides of Funkenstein, the Booty Snatchers, 20-foot shades, a pyramid, a spaceship, all consumed in gyration. Despite the spectacle, what never got buried was the musicianship. Clinton spoke.
Parliament-Funkadelic were so distinctive that you all needed your own language. There was the music, the show, and your own vocabulary. Where did that come from?
We'd be in the studio or on the road with each other, sort of shut off from the outside world—I guess it just came out of that. It wasn't like we tried to make up all these different words or ways of saying things, they just happened. On sleeve notes to the fans, one of the notes said: "Improve Your Funkmenship. The Nastified Secret Order of the United Maggots of Funkadelia is being magnetized for your convenience. Send all inquiries to Maggotropolis of Funkadelia, Los Angeles, CA. Warning: Obvious squares and turkeys attempting entry into the REALM will be reduced immediately to basic atoms of radioactive turds." Now, what that means exactly I can't say [laughs]. But you listen to the music and see the show, and you understand what it means.
George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic play Showbox at the Market Sat, March 23.
Central Tokyo, 3:35 a.m, 43rd floor: An anime animator for the movie Ghost in the Shell 4: Cells for Shirasagi sees his wife's face in a frame he's been rendering for 16 hours. Snowden's "Keep Quiet" plays through his headphones on repeat. The movie's mob-lord antagonist has a Jackson Pollock painting hanging in his glass-walled office. The face of the animator's wife floats inside the frenetic lines of the impossible-to-digitize Pollock. She's been dead for seven years. When the animator takes his headphones off, her face vanishes. But she's keeping him company, so he puts them back on and starts the song again. Solemn tom drums begin. Voice and bass follow, falling in together.
Snowden singer/songwriter/guitarist Jordan Jeffares has a forlorn Stone Roses crux to his vocals. He breathes long, placid notes repeating, "Is it so much for me to ask?" Something seems pained, yet masked—anesthetized. Around the beat, Jeffares enters, centers, and cuts out his phrasing over and under the one. It's an impetus/impulsion that bobs and weaves. Guitars fade in as angled sentinels. Jeffares continues, "I love how you ride, with your bed empty at night, even god can't get inside." The song is off Snowden's second album, No One in Control, due out May 14 on Kings of Leon's label, Serpents & Snakes. Not long ago, Snowden's music would have been called alternative, but for now we'll say rhythm and drone driven by staccato piston guitars and distorted luster-bass. Touches of '90s Brit-rock thrive. Jeffares spoke from his home in Austin, Texas. Anime films were not discussed.
The word "texture" gets tossed around to describe music. I hear and sense textures with your music. What is texture to you?
The music that I love tends to be able to stand alone, without vocals. Instrumentally, it would still be rich and interesting to listen to. Whereas on the other side of the spectrum, there's not really any texture on a Strokes record, but it's still brilliant in its own way. Then there's the kind of music I'm aspiring to make. Technically, I'm trying to be a little bit innovative. British rock in the 1990s was a great time for new studio techniques. Bands like the Stone Roses, the Fall, Blur. I find it really hard to just take a guitar and an amp and make something interesting—I always end up piling things on top of each other, because we've been listening to a guitar in a traditionally recorded format for 60 years. So trying to make something sound more interesting ends up meaning more toys and more screwing around with things.
Snowden plays Barboza tonight.
In the first single, "So Many Details," Bundick sings with his higher register, "You send my life into somewhere I can't describe." Then the thickened beat drops out, leaving delayed tubes of keyboards to aerate. The breakdown's image is of Bundick floating through deep space in a terrarium. There are mosses about him, palm trees, and lilacs. Holographic butterflies flap through the warm, damp air. Bundick stands next to a small, pellucid pool, gazing out of a window into the endless black envelope of the cosmos and the void. And he's okay with it all. Bundick spoke while en route from Atlanta, Georgia, to Carrboro, North Carolina. He was not in a terrarium, although he did sound tranquil.
How are you able to effectively incorporate synths into your music? You do it well. How do you approach your sounds?
Really, it's just messing around until I find the right sound. A lot of times, I'll hear something in my head and try to emulate that, whether it be a monophonic or a polyphonic kind of sound. I guess it's intuition. Nothing too calculated [laughs].
Where do you start working on songs?
Usually at home, I start finding sounds. The first song I wrote for the album was "Rose Quartz," and it took a long time to finish because it went through so many stages. It was a process of remixing myself over and over until it got to a space where I liked it. Once I found the vibe for "Rose Quartz," it set the mood for the rest of the album. "So Many Details" was started on tour as a hiphop beat I'd been working on. When I got home, I decided to sing on it, and then it turned into the single. I don't remember what goes through my head when I'm writing, really. I get into a certain zone where I don't remember what's going on.
Toro Y Moi plays the Crocodile with Sinkane and Dog Bite Wednesday Feb 27.
Up in Seattle, we're exploding with Macklemore. You know Macklemore?
Bizzy Bone: No. Inform me.
Rapper out of Seattle. He has a song called "Thrift Shop" that went double platinum, number one song in the world. He did it all pretty much independent.
Independence is good. Eazy always preached that. Anything that's a great idea is a great idea.
What's changed for Bone Thugs in 20 years?
I'd say maturity. And Krayzie Bone is back with us and talking to us again. Krayzie don't really talk too much. He's a quiet guy. And when he shares his musical ideas and opinions, it just turns the whole crew into something beautiful. When Eazy died, we were lost; life was messed up. We're back on our feet—the odds aren't stacked against us. As long as we ain't all crackheaded out on some Key & Peele shit, looking all homeless and lost, we're good. We get our publishing. We got granddad money. We are the Beatles, nigga. Take us or leave us, that's what we are. Flat out.
Bone Thugs-N-Harmony play two shows tonight at Neumos. An early show has been added at 6 PM. Tickets here.
How did "Open Sign" happen as a song? It all builds to where you sing "Arrival." And repeat it. What has arrived? The sign? What's the sign?
Schroeder: I had the main riff, the one during the "arrival" part, sitting around for a year or two, and we couldn't fit it into anything. A couple of weeks before we went into the studio, we shoved it against the verse part and went from there. We "finished" the song the night before our first day in the studio, which made the song a little more exciting.
UUVVWWZ play the Sunset tonight.
The dancers wore nun habits and garter belts, and the Papa Smurfs pounded Everclear Jell-O shots, trying ineffectively to grab and lick the women. Also, Eddie Money's 1978 runaway hit "Baby Hold On" played. (It was literally playing on my car radio.) The bumper boats listlessly bounced off each other while the inebriated Sufi men groped and attempted to hump with quick, convulsive pelvic jabs. The burlesque nuns made "Eeeew" sounds, driving their inflated mini-boats while at the same time positioning their bodies into old-timey, classic, dame-like sex poses that balanced on the line between "okay for the kids to see" and "this is about dirty sex and involves positions such as the stogie-alfredo."
There's an element of drone that you hit on and do so well. I wanted to get your thoughts on the drone side to your music. I'm probably picking up on Sanae's elongated keyboard parts. Where does it come from?
I'm big into La Monte Young's Theatre of Eternal Music crew, but especially Angus MacLise and Terry Riley. Angus is my favorite because of the bongos and the general hippie spirit of his music—it doesn't suffer from the overly intellectual vibe on a lot of the minimalist classical stuff. John Cale's early experiments as well, which of course all seeped into the early Velvet Underground sound. Later "rock" groups like Pärson Sound and Träd Gräs och Stenar have been a big inspiration.
Moon Duo play the Sunset Tavern tonight with Life Coach.
You wrote a film and an album called All My Friends Are Funeral Singers. It deals with a psychic. Do you know psychics?
I know some psychics and talked to a few during the writing of the songs and film. Hard to say when they're getting information from some magical ether realm and when visions bubble up from a collective unconscious mind. I think energy follows thought, and maybe we're all a little bit psychic. I wanted to make a film about change and the process of letting go of old ideas. A story of a psychic trying to free the ghosts that have surrounded her since childhood seemed like a good fabric for a story about making a real change and progressing.
How does doing music for a film differ from doing music for an album?
Making an album is about creating music that triggers pictures in the listener. Making music for a film is about enhancing the visuals and serving the story and tone of the film. I love doing both.
Califone play the Crocodile tonight with Rebecca Gates and the Consortium and James Apollo.
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.
Eighteen Individual Eyes play the Sunset Tavern tonight with Mr. Gnome and And And And.
Some call the music of Other Lives folk, but it's wider than folk—pieces are more orchestrated. The longing in the acoustic passages isn't orchestrated, however; the longing is innate, and lives in the voice of Jesse Tabish. Sounds of Other Lives are like an old piano, weathered but not threadbare. Live, the Stillwater, Oklahoma, five-piece continually shift instruments—violin, cello, keys, trumpet, clarinet, drums, bass, and guitar; they move yet remain fused. This past February and March, the band opened for Radiohead and even had Thom Yorke remix a track. Something Other Lives do embodies déjà vu. The ninth song, "Desert," from their second album Tamer Animals, for instance—as it unfolds, you imagine a late October day. You take a book you've never seen before off a shelf in a used bookstore and randomly flip to a page. What you read is familiar, too familiar, because you wrote it in a previous life. You had worked for Norfolk and Southern Railroad as a conductor and had recurring dreams that you were an ant. Then you felt a need to visit the Onon River in Mongolia, where you met someone, married, and settled as a pear farmer. Jesse Tabish spoke. He was in Stillwater, not Mongolia.
Everything you say is now on the record. So talk dirty. Tell me something disgusting, with as much profanity as possible.
Let's just straight up shit-talk. Really slam some people.
Talk shit on Thom Yorke right now.
[Pauses.] That guy. Man. Okay. I can't [laughs]. I don't have anything bad to say. It's impossible for me to shit-talk him.
He has no talent whatsoever.
He's never influenced me, ever.
What have you been in your previous lives? Maybe you were Genghis Khan. Maybe you were an ant. I take it from the name of your band that you believe in reincarnation.
Not necessarily, but I'm not opposed to it either. I've given reincarnation some thought, yes, but I don't totally subscribe to it. If I have had previous lives, I'd like to think that I was some sort of animal—something that had a 20-minute lifespan. Some sort of small fly.