Cosmic Rupture : Riding To The World’s End With Mythic Sunship

The right name can say a hell of a lot. The right name can say it all, really. Take Mythic Sunship, for example. That’s a name that leaves its mark. When it rolls off the tongue it feels as if it’s a statement of defining purpose. I imagine if there was an actual Mythic Sunship scooting across the galaxy that it would hold Gods and super beings with the secrets of the universe. They’d be traveling from world to world attempting to right wrongs and espouse knowledge that could help beings make their worlds better places.

As it happens, there really is a Mythic Sunship. They’re a four-piece improvisational rock outfit from Copenhagen, Denmark. The band consists of Emil Thorenfeldt, Frederik Denning, Kasper Andersen, and Rasmus “Cleaver” Christensen. They fly high on a wave of snarling, atmospheric noise that brings to mind both early Mogwai, Blue Cheer, and Black Sabbath; to free-thinking jazz Gods like John Coltrane, Pharaoh Sanders, and Sun Ra. They lay the riffage on thick, but leave room for mind expansion and serious inner exploration. From their debut Ouroboros to last year’s Land Between Rivers the band expanded and honed their sound exponentially. Now with their newest record(and third release for El Paraiso Records) Upheaval, Mythic Sunship seem to have reached a newfound high when it comes to their brand of molten improvisational post/doom rock.

I got the chance to talk to the guys about the band, their music, and how after 500 titles they finally arrived on Mythic Sunship for a name.

J. Hubner: So tell me about Mythic Sunship? How did you guys get together?

Frederik: I think that back then, Rasmus was the only one playing in another band. Coincidentally he didn’t join Mythic Sunship until much later, when his other band was no more. Originally it was just Emil, Kasper and me jamming. Our first time together must have been 2009 or 2010. Our debut concert was in 2010 at least. As anyone who’s heard our first CD-R will be able to testify we were horrible back then.

Emil: I still have a soft spot for ‘Colour out of Space’, the cassette we released in 2011. Fittingly enough, the two jams on that tape were the two very first 100% improvised tracks we ever recorded.

Frederik: We were just back jamming yesterday and something actually struck me, while we were playing: I think all of us have developed a lot as instrumentalists while playing in Mythic Sunship. Before playing in the band, I had never played drums, and I basically learned playing drums by playing with Emil, Kasper and later Rasmus. I think the same goes for Emil and – to some extent – Rasmus too. Kasper was already a very good guitarist when we started out, but would likely also say that he has developed a lot in Mythic Sunship. So what this boils down to is that we’ve basically learned to play our instruments playing in Mythic Sunship. When people tell me that they think I’m a good drummer (it does actually happen), I just shake my head in disbelief. I imagine myself playing in any other band, and I would probably suck. I don’t think I’ll ever play drums in any other band, so I’ll never know, but I really think that our situation in that sense is very unique. We’ve developed this style of playing our instruments that is so significantly Mythic Sunship that it fits very well in the band and together, but would probably fit very poorly in other bands. This is also the reason that if you took anyone in the band and replaced them with a far better musician, the band would get significantly worse.

Rasmus: Yeah, so I joined the Sunship in late 2014. And I think Frederik is right about our evolution as a band. I picked up playing music very late in my youth and wasn’t a very good bass player in my first band. Mythic Sunship was only the second band I joined. I guess growing as musicians simultaneously and together probably makes for a more cohesive band in the end.

Photo by Pihl Stanley

J. Hubner: Can you tell me how you decided upon the name Mythic Sunship? Has a real “out there” feel to it. Free jazz, acid, and very freak scene.

Frederik: Honestly, I don’t think anyone remembers. Emil has said before that we went through probably 500 names until we came up with Mythic Sunship which none of us particularly hated. At that time that was a huge success. El Paraiso made up a great story about the name stemming from Coltrane and Sun Ra titles. In retrospect that sounds perfect.

J. Hubner: Your records are all instrumental. There’s a lot of that coming out of Denmark which I love. As I get older I find myself gravitating towards instrumental music. Seems to be more room for interpretation for the listener. Was it a conscious decision to go the instrumental route, or was it that no one wanted to sing?

Frederik: Very conscious. We always knew that we wanted to play music with a certain element of improvisation to it, and we have been 100% improv almost from day one. We used to plan out our jams a bit more, discussing how and when we wanted it to peak for example. Maybe we had a simple riff we wanted to play halfway through. It was horrendous. A big part of it probably was due to the fact that we (except for Kasper) couldn’t really play our instruments back then, but largely it’s just not what the band is about. We’ve found that every time we try to write something down or make some kind of agreement before we start it always ends up sucking. We tried “writing” a riff once, when we recorded ‘Ouroboros’ and it’s as painful to listen to as it was to play. It ended up being the worst recording from the entire session by a very wide margin.

Rasmus: If you want to make music, and you’re not a songwriter, and you don’t have anything in particular you want to express with words, I don’t see a reason not to just play instrumental music. I find it so hard to write lyrics, and most of the music I listen to is instrumental anyway, so for me it’s the most natural thing.

J. Hubner: Who are some artists you guys are pulling inspiration from; be it bands, musicians, writers, filmmakers, or painters.

Frederik: One of the things that is great about the dynamic in the band is that we are all huge music nerds, but with slightly different preferences. Personally, I’ve listened to a lot of jazz the past 10 years. In some periods exclusively. So for me I actually find much more inspiration in jazz than rock. What I like about the band is that there is no idea of: “Let’s play something that sounds like Black Sabbath, but jazzy” or anything like that. When we rehearse, of course we have discussions about how we can evolve our musical expression, but in the end, we just start playing, and all we’ve agreed upon is the key we play in. This means that it’s basically just the four of us bringing whatever musical inspirations we have to the table. We don’t overthink it, we just play some rock. And yeah, that’s what I like about this band. It always feels fresh and very pure in some sense. I’ve played in other bands were we have played more traditional songs, like indie-rock bands and that sort, and in those bands it never really made sense to play if it wasn’t targeting an audience in the end. With Mythic Sunship it would still be great to play in the band even if we didn’t play another concert ever. Though of course, specifically playing live is the best thing about the band by far.

Emil: In addition to what Frederik said, some of my specific references would be Can, Grateful Dead, Bardo Pond, Sonny Sharrock, and noisy Japrock like Mainliner or Fushitsusha.

Rasmus: Yeah, what Frederik and Emil Said. Also, It’s hard for me to play improvised rock without being just a little influenced by especially Grateful Dead and some of the Japanese and German 70’s jam bands of the Japrock and Kraut scenes, as Emil suggests. I also dig a lot of classic rock and draw inspiration for bass licks and styles of playing from that. But mostly I would compare our way of structuring the music and the interplay between the instruments to that branch of jazz, that’s built around collective improvisation but still holds on to a groovy, bluesy feeling – Charles Mingus, Ornette Coleman, mid-60’s Coltrane, that sort of thing.

Frederik: I never listened to a Grateful Dead record in my life, so there you go.

Rasmus: That’s not true. We’ve listened to it many times in the cabin. So maybe you are under the influence…

J. Hubner: I suppose we’ll have to leave the Grateful Dead mystery for the next interview, though I wouldn’t mind hearing you guys cover “New Speedway Boogie” at some point. But about the Sunship’s sound, I feel that it’s this massive wall of noise that just engulfs you. Part punk rock, part post-rock, and all sonic devastation. The band has been dubbed as “anaconda rock”. For the person not in-the-know, can you describe Sunship’s sound? And where did the “anaconda rock” moniker come from?

Frederik: I can understand that experience, and it somehow relates a lot to my answer above. You know, just four guys playing whatever they feel with whatever inspirations they have at the moment. I think you are very right that what makes up our sound is super eclectic – meaning at least the elements that make it up are eclectic, the end result, I find to be fairly consistent. There are some elements in our sound that we are trying to stay away from. Never using a Wah pedal has actually been a conscious choice to avoid the typical “psych”-jam sound, and we know when we go too much in the post-rock or prog-rock direction. We’re all music nerds, so we’ve all been at the edges of music, from Merzbow to Mayhem to Stockhausen. When you listen to a lot of music, its natural to seek out the extremes, to continually be challenged. I think everyone can recognize this, whether they listen to a lot of music, drink a lot of whisky or go to a lot of art exhibitions. Mythic Sunship to me is not extreme music in any sense of the word, and it’s not something we are trying to achieve. But when you describe that feeling of noise that engulfs you, I think that is simply something that is “built in” to all of us. I think it’s just a natural part of who we are as musicians and music-lovers, so there has never been a conscious choice to go: “Let’s be a noisy band”. I actually find that we are fairly straight rock music, but when my mother tells me that it sounds like noise, I also get where she is coming from. It’s all a matter of perspective.

Emil: My mom thinks ‘Ouroboros’ sounds like Santana, for what it’s worth. I think it’s funny that we tend to get pigeonholed into being a doom or stoner rock band, because I don’t get that feeling at all.

Frederik: The term anaconda rock is pretty simple to grasp. Just like an actual anaconda, it’s long, it’s heavy, and it’s a metaphor for a big, fat dick.

Rasmus: Not fully embracing the big, fat dick part, I think the anaconda moniker fits the brutal, monolithic feeling that our wall-of-sound-type music can have. Also the tracks are fairly long, like anacondas are long.

J. Hubner: You just released your newest record, ‘Upheaval’. Before that it was ‘Land Between Rivers’ last year and ‘Ouroboros’ in 2016. Three albums in two years I think qualifies as prolific. What’s the writing process like in Mythic Sunship? Do you fill the fridges with plenty of lagers and then just see what happens when you hit record? Do you start with a riff and go from there? How do you know when a song is done?

Frederik: I touched a bit upon this above, but we’re 100% improvisational. When we record, we usually have a couple of ideas for how a track can start out, but it’s always more of a mode than a riff or a fleshed-out idea. An example could be that we know we’re playing in A, we know that it starts with guitar and we know that we want it to be “cosmic” for example. So maybe we play with that in mind 10 times when we rehearse, and in the end we have a good idea about the mode. It never starts with the same riff, in the same tempo or anything, but we kinda know how we want the track to feel. I think a fair guess is that 50% of the stuff that ends up on the records, we have never played before going to the studio in any sense, the other 50% are tracks where we had a general idea of the feeling. For ‘Ouroboros’, ‘Land Between Rivers’ and ‘Upheaval’ we isolated ourself along with our good friend and engineer Jesper Bagger Hviid in a cabin north of Copenhagen. We drink a lot of beers, cook some nice food and have a good time. We also play rock music 10-12 hours for two days straight. It’s intense, but it works. Three records might seem like a lot, but honestly when you work like we do, it has felt natural. We record ‘Ouroboros’ and then, the week after we’re back in our rehearsal space thinking: “Now what?”. Then we try to challenge ourselves, try new directions out, we play concerts. A LOT happens in just a few months, when you’re an improv band. Imagine what happens in a year. You can hear the change simply by listening to the openers of the first two records: “Ophidian Rising” and “Nishapur” from ‘Ouroboros’ and ‘Land Between Rivers’ respectively. Even though I believe that we have been consistent in our sound, we are actively trying to evolve it, and then three records in two and a half years doesn’t feel like that much.

Emil: It helps that we don’t spend ages tracking guitars, making sure the levels and tone are just right and so on – we set everything up, make sure all the instruments are properly plugged in and start playing.

Rasmus: Exactly. In relation to what I said earlier, when you’re not writing songs nor composing, but do everything instantaneously, you don’t really need to be in control of the situation, and you don’t need much time to make an album. Of course we couldn’t record a new album every week. It’s a culmination on months of rehearsing and finding a form and a sound that we want to document for prosperity. But most of the time between the first three records has been put into mixing, artwork, making up titles, pressing vinyls etc. That’s a much longer process. After these three records, we’re also ditching the cabin for a real recording studio.

Frederik: As Rasmus jokingly put it the other day: For us, deciding on titles is an equal task to creating the album, haha.

Rasmus: Who said I was joking?

J. Hubner: Let’s talk a bit about the new album ‘Upheaval’. Going into record it, were you guys wanting to achieve something different than the last two records? There seems to be more contemplative moments this time around. More dynamics going on, especially in both “Aether Flux” and in the last track “Into Oblivion”. What were some influences going into this new album? I think it’s your best work yet.

Frederik: First of all: Thank you. I can tell you that it means a lot to hear, because we do put a lot of effort into not stagnating as a band. Being an improv band I think it’s very easy to fall into the trap of being good at jamming in a specific way and then just doing that 50 times. With ‘Upheaval’ we’ve tried to explore some new territory, though it falls very naturally in line with ‘Land Between Rivers’. I don’t think we had any specific influences in terms of other bands, but I definitely think that you’ve caught onto something with regards to the dynamic. Especially “Aether Flux” represents a mode that we’ve been playing a lot, but that just hasn’t felt natural on a recording so far. It’s not that far from something like “Year of The Serpent” from ‘Ouroboros’, but as you say, it’s a bit more dynamic and contemplative. “Into Oblivion” was a very specific idea of exploring a much heavier sound. We’re tuned in drop C, and the whole feeling of the track is like we’re almost dragging every note behind the beat like four cavemen returning from a hunt.

Rasmus: Yes, thanks so much! I feel like the whole A-side of ‘Upheaval’ is a kind of Other Sides of Mythic Sunship concept that has – as you say – a more contemplative and in the case of “Aether Flux” almost laid back feel to it (as laid back as it gets around here). We felt that we could do that on this album, whereas on the first two… we mostly wanted to move some speaker cones. “Into Oblivion” was an attempt to take that vibe and channel it downwards and get real earthy, heavy, doomy even.

J. Hubner: Your guitar sound is immense. What are your guitar/amps of choice? Are there any pedals you can’t live without, or do you go straight into the amp? Also, your rhythm section is very tight. That allows the guitars to really go interstellar.

Emil: I’ve never been obsessed with guitar tone so I’ve gotten by playing on beat up, cheap guitars and mostly shitty pedals plus whatever I could borrow from friends whenever we’ve had recording sessions. I quite like not being completely in control of the tone and having to work with what I’ve got. I think Kasper’s pretty much the opposite which makes sense given that he’s the brains and I’m the brawn when it comes to the guitar section, haha. I don’t think I could live without a delay pedal and a couple of overdrive/distortion/gain pedals, though.

And definitely, having a tight, forward-moving rhythm section allows us the freedom to mix it up and kind of go back and forth between playing melodic, airy bits and digging into the groove. I don’t think you can underestimate how much the drums lead the way, Frederik can change the complexion of a jam completely whenever he wants to just by varying his intensity or pattern.

J. Hubner: Production-wise, are you guys producing yourselves or is there someone guiding you in the studio? Where do you typically record?

Frederik: The first three records are recorded by our friend Jesper Bagger Hviid. He also mixed ‘Ouroboros’, while the two latest are mixed and mastered by Jonas Munk. We have been going to a cabin for the first three recordings, but now we’re trying out other methods.

Rasmus: I’ve really liked doing the cabin recording sessions. Going there in the summer time, creating a really nice, friendly, and relaxed atmosphere around recording. But taking that with us to a real recording studio, I’m sure the music only benefits from the sonic possibilities the studio gives us.

J. Hubner: Are you guys touring to promote ‘Upheaval’?

Frederik: There will in fact be a tour in April. For now that tour will be in (most of) Europe, but in the future we are looking to possibly tour the US as well. However, it goes without saying that touring within the EU is one big logistical puzzle, going outside to the US would be a completely different and even more complicated story.

Emil: This will be our first foray into Europe, so that should be a blast. Massive shout-out to Jonas Gonçalves from Ya Ya Yeah for organising everything!

J. Hubner: How did you guys get hooked up with El Paraiso Records? Seems like a pretty solid group of dudes to make records with.

Frederik: El Paraiso is an amazing label, yes. I’ve known Jonas and Jakob for a long time, and when ‘Ouroboros’ was done and being mixed they were the only label we sent it to. We knew they were perfect for us, and to be honest, it had been a dream signing with them since we started the band in 2010. The fact that they were actually up for putting the album out was great, and we’ve continued to have a great relationship with them in the couple of years since.

J. Hubner: So what’s 2018 looking like for Mythic Sunship? More improvising and maybe another album?

Frederik: It’s probably a bit too early to share details, but I can say that 2018 will very likely be the most prolific year for Mythic Sunship so far, and that people can expect something significantly different than what they’ve heard on first three records.

If you’re in Europe make sure to get out and see these guys live. It’s gonna be a face melter, for sure. And if you haven’t yet snag a copy of Upheaval right here. Can’t say enough about the record, or the band. Good dudes all around.

Sleep On It : A Talk With Sean Richardson of Best Sleep

by J. Hubner

So say you’re in a pretty successful local band. You guys make a name for yourselves as a group that’s the real deal; you make solid, blood, sweat, and tears rock and roll albums, you leave scorched earth wherever you play a gig, and you not only garner the respect of fans but of fellow musicians you play shows with. Sean Richardson is the drummer in The Dead Records, a band that by all accounts fits the description above.

The Dead Records are the quintessential rock and roll band. No gimmicks and no carefully carved-out genre, just loud guitars, big melodies, and solid songwriting. But as things slowed down for TDR, Richardson had an urge to keep writing and creating. He turned in his drums for a guitar and recruited TDR guitarist Dan Obergfell to help him in the process. To round out this new project he reached out to Shade’s Ian Skeans to play bass and James Wadsworth of Heaven’s Gateway Drugs for drumming duties. The result of this musical collaboration is called Best Sleep.

The guys are putting the finishing touches on a 5-track EP(I’ve heard it and it’s great.) In-between finishing that up and gearing up for their debut show on February 16th at the Brass Rail, Richardson sat down with me and we talked about Best Sleep.

J. Hubner: So how did Best Sleep come together?

Sean Richardson: This project started as a creative outlet for me to continue to do something I very much enjoy, writing music.  My favorite part about playing music has always been the writing process, however for years I have always been playing drums.  I started to play guitar because I wanted to continue to write songs.  My other band, The Dead Records, were kind of slowing down on the writing process, but I wanted to keep going.  I felt like I was going through a range of different emotions and experiences in my life and the best way for me to articulate that is through words.  I had the opportunity to write a good amount of lyrics on the last TDR album and if felt very therapeutic to say how I was feeling through lyrics in a song.  So most of my songs start with words and then go from there.

J. Hubner: How did you bring everyone into the band?

Sean Richardson: Once I had some bare bones for the songs I asked Dan if he would be interested in hearing them and filling them out a bit with me.  We probably played guitar together a handful of times before we wanted to hear how they would sound with drums and bass.  I also encouraged Dan to write some lyrics and versus in the first few songs because I have always been a big fan of Dan’s voice and I thought it would be a shame to have him in the band and not have him singing in some way.

I asked Ian for two reasons.  I loved a band he was in called Pink Balloon Band and because I thought he played bass with Ryan Kerr when they do full band stuff.  It was not until he came over to my house for our first full band practice that he told me he didn’t play bass with Ryan, but he said he was happy to play bass so we went with it.  However, the main reason was because I have always appreciated Ian’s ability to write a good fucking song.  The Pink Balloon Band EP he released some years ago is probably my favorite release from a band that I am friends with.  I spent some time working in a kitchen in New York and when I drove out that way this PBB EP was the only CD I had in my van and I literally listened to it every single day.  Ian seemed honestly excited.  It was also a great excuse to hang out with a dude that I have wanted an excuse to hang out with for some time.

I was kind of asking anybody I knew who knew how to play drums if they would be interested, but once James came over and played through the songs with Dan and me it was a done deal.  It is nice to hear a part for drums in my head and then have James play that part without any sort of coaxing or conversation.  It is odd, because I think that James and I probably have the most different musical influences in the band, but when it comes to drums we both like to fucking play with emotion and our preferences are linked behind the set because every time he plays a part I usually think, “That is what I would have played if I was as talented as a drummer as he is.”  On top of that, as a new guitar player, I have been trying to push myself in time signatures and different ways of playing things to the best of my ability to see what the fuck he will come up with to play with me.

J. Hubner: From the sound of the upcoming demo you guys have really gelled quite well together.

Sean Richardson: We have been a band for roughly 4 months.  It has really blown me away to see how these songs have come together.  It think it has been a true representation of everybody bringing something to the table.  I will usually have the rough idea for a song, some bridge chords, a melody, and some lyrics I like and a couple practices later we have landed on a song that is vastly different than what I had envisioned, but more unique because every voice is heard.

J. Hubner: I’m sure it helps that everyone has experience outside of Best Sleep. What are those other projects in case folks want to dig a little deeper?

Sean Richardson: Ian is always doing something in his musical cove at his house in Warsaw.  He is playing with his band Shade, he does these great fucking one minute song deals, and also dabbled in some shit he was calling Garfieldwave.  I honestly don’t really understand what it is all about, but it is great.  Dan’s baby is Big Money and The Spare Change, he also plays with me in our other band The Dead Records, and plays bass in The Meat Flowers.  James is playing drums with Heaven’s Gateway Drugs.

J. Hubner: Tell me a little bit about the song creation in Best Sleep. What’s your writing process like?

Sean Richardson: For me playing guitar and singing in a band is way different than anything I have ever done.  I have really been trying to write things that I maybe would not have normally thought of.  I will play something and then try to force myself not to play the way I naturally want to.  It winds up being something that I am connected to so it is going to sound a certain way regardless, but I want to make sure that I am really focusing on how I am playing what I am playing.  Once I started really paying attention to songs and how songs can feel a certain way I wanted to approach them from a sense of how I want to be feeling when I am playing that song.  Some parts may seem a bit uncomfortable and then be followed up with something that is very familiar.  I try to articulate that to the other guys the best that I can and explain to them why I decided to put certain notes in certain parts and I think that can change their thought process a bit too.  Hopefully it is about more than just piecing together different parts to get to the end of a song, hopefully they can feel a bit of emotional connection to the songs as well.

J. Hubner: It sounds like you’re really taking your time crafting the songs. Very therapeutic, even.

Sean Richardson: It may sound incredibly cliche, but I am really getting a sense of calm from playing in this band.  I need loud music periodically to keep my head from spinning.  I have never questioned whether or not I am good or no good at playing music and writing songs, because in the end I always feel better after playing than I did before.  If you are able to find something in your life that makes you feel like everything is working out, then I don’t know why you would ever want to stop doing that.

J. Hubner: Are there any bands that are influencing the vibe you’re going for?

Sean Richardson: I don’t know if we are really going for a particular sound.  I will say when I really started writing and playing guitar every day I was very much into The Front Bottoms, Modern Baseball, Sorority Noise, Tigers Jaw, Free Throw, and The Hotelier.  But I am always influenced by Pedro The Lion, The Weakerthans, Manchester Orchestra, and will constantly listen to Jim Croce and Jimmy Buffet, guys that I think are just good fucking song writers.  I thought maybe I was going to write songs that sounded a certain way, but in the end I just play what I want to and what feels right and how it sound is how it is going to sound, especially once the other guys get going on it.

L to R: James, Dan, Sean, Ian

J. Hubner: Let’s talk about the upcoming EP Best Sleep is finishing up.

Sean Richardson: We have been writing for 3-4 months, I wrote the first song for this EP about a year ago.  We recorded the EP with a good friend of mine Matt Riefler in his house.  He has a great little set up and we set the instruments up in his living room and kind of burrowed away for a few days and got something that we are all really pleased with.  Matt is crazy talented and it is great that he has remained so available to me.  He is just so fucking enthusiastic about music and about whatever they fuck you are playing.  I had never recorded vocals, so before we got started Dan and I bought a bottle of Old Grandad and I poured a big old swig over some ice and walked in front of the mic.  Matt was super pumped the entire week to get to vocals and so was I.  I have always thought that once you get to vocals in the recording process the songs start to come together.  So I did a couple lines and I was on the fence about it, but as we would listen back to the tracks Matt was just constantly like, “Fuck yeah dude!”  “This shit sounds so fucking good!”  He is like a fucking coach during recording and that is what I needed.  So I just kept drinking whisky, getting loose, taking deep breaths, and singing the parts.

J. Hubner: You seem to be mining some painful stuff, lyrically anyways.

Sean Richardson: As far as the lyrics are concerned on this EP there aren’t really any new themes that haven’t been explored by thousands of song writers.  Themes such as death, sickness, aging, acceptance, discovery, and love.  I have always thought that the beauty of songwriting is that I am the one writing about these things.  Sure, maybe the concept of death and acceptance has been researched and gone over time after time after time, but if there is just a little bit of clarity that I can put on the subject, if not just for myself but maybe someone else than it is worth it.  After all, the lyrics are mine, so maybe writing about love is a bit cliche, but for the listener hearing what I have to say about these subjects they could be new and inspiring.

J. Hubner: I’m hearing a lot of talk about hospitals and sickness.

Sean Richardson: Most of the lyrics are about things that fucking bother me.  They are the things that I think about when I sit alone, with no distraction, with the ability to simply think.  I had a friend die some years ago and it really shocked me, then my dad got really sick and that kind of threw my family into a sort of chaos, and then I had to close down a business that I was very excited about and that forced me to think about the importance of certain things.  Everything just fucking bummed me out.  With the death and the sickness I really focused on how all the people around me were reacting and wondering if my reactions were appropriate.  When I closed down my business I couldn’t help but focus on how everything was constantly about money.  I thought I was doing something positive for a community and in the end it was just about money and the people who seemingly had the money were the ones mostly focused on the money while the rest of us were more focused on doing what was right, but that didn’t translate to financial success.  I often wonder if the whole of society really gives a fuck about anything anymore outside of social media and Netflix.  BUT, when I wrote about these things I would realize that of course people still give a fuck, how lucky I was to even have a family to criticize, and a friend who was so inspiring to me that I still tear up when I think about him.  I just think I needed to complain about it through these songs to realize that my problems are so fucking minuscule compared to problems and complications that others deal with.  I am hoping that something that I say can resonate with someone.

Poster art by Jared Andrews

J. Hubner: With the EP coming up, I’m sure there will be an album release show. What other shows are lined up?

Sean Richardson: I think that we will do a release show, probably in the early spring, but nothing set yet.  We are playing our first show February 16th at The Brass Rail.  We will have a physical CD and I am planning on getting it to Spotify and hopefully like iTunes.

J. Hubner: So what’s 2018 looking like for Best Sleep?

Sean Richardson: I would like to get back on the road and sleep on some fucking floors again.  My van has seen a few tours with The Dead Records and I have faith it has some miles left to be discovered.  I am hopeful we will continue to write and maybe focus on recording a full length later in the year.  I would like to get some sort of local interest stirred up and hopefully people like the songs and if not I am sure we will continue to get together, hang out, and play songs together.

Get out and see Best Sleep as they debut their EP(and themselves) at the Brass Rail on February 16th. It’ll be a great show. Keep up with Best Sleep at their Facebook page here.

Chemical Elements : March On, Comrade Ready New Album ‘Our Peaceful Atoms’

March On, Comrade are a hell of a band. They’ve been a band since 2015 when indie pop band Ordinary Van disbanded, but a few of the members decided to keep things going. Ryan Holquist, Charles P. Davis, and Chris Leonard started up March On, Comrade with John Ptak and Ben Robinson. They cut a great self-titled album in 2016, and then at the beginning of this year they played the Sums & Differences show with a 12 piece chamber orchestra. They recorded that concert and released it a month later.

In a relatively short amount of time they’ve achieved quite a lot.

But what do they sound like? They travel in post-rock terrain, but they embellish with crystalline pop hooks. Imagine This Will Destroy You, Sigur Ros, Auburn Lull, and the studio curiosity of Brian Wilson all rolled into one comfortable blanket of noise. It’s dense enough for the headiest of space cadets but there’s an air of romanticism that reels in even the casual channel surfer.

The guys took some time over the spring and summer and wrote and recorded their new album, titled Our Peaceful Atoms. They don’t retool their sound more than they hone it in on all the buzzing beauty and pop confections that they’ve created and culled over the last two years. March On, Comrade have made a lean and precise 6-song album that will go well with both existential pondering alone in the dark, and as a background score to conversations and beers.

I spoke to Charlie and Ryan about the Sums & Differences show, the new album, how it came together, and what we have to look forward to in 2018.

J. Hubner: The last time we spoke March On, Comrade were gearing up for the Sums & Differences show at Artslab. For those that don’t know, this was the March On, Comrade with a 12-piece chamber orchestra show. How did the performance end up? Were you all happy with how it turned out? Is it something March On, Comrade would consider doing again?

Charlie Davis: It turned out great! It actually surpassed my expectations. I expected us to have a good turnout but we were the only band on the bill and it was more expensive than a typical local show so for it to actually sell out in advance was amazing. We got terrific feedback on it. I think we’d like to do something like that again but we also don’t just want to do the same show twice so it is a matter of finding the time to come up with a way to do something similar but unique.

Ryan Holquist: It was very rewarding.  It came together really well, and it’s flattering how well-received it was.  We quietly snuck the audio onto Spotify and Bandcamp.  The only down side of the experience is that we set the bar pretty high for ourselves, and now every time we play we want to have an orchestra and video projection.  We didn’t want to record the exact same arrangements, but we were happy to have the same string quartet and percussionist on the new album.  Sums & Differences definitely changed our compositional style, and you can hear those elements a lot more on Our Peaceful Atoms.

J. Hubner: So with “performing live with a chamber orchestra” marked off the band’s bucket list, you guys headed back into writing mode and we are now getting ready for the brand new March On, Comrade album Our Peaceful Atoms. How did the album come together? Where did the band record the record?

Charlie Davis: We had started working on a lot of new song ideas around the time of the Sums and Differences show, and that show really gave us a lot of inspiration moving forward. We wrapped up songwriting in early summer and started recording around July and August. We recorded drums at the rehearsal space of our friend Jon Ross, which sadly just burnt down. The rest was done at our own home studios, primarily John Ptak’s and my own.

Ryan Holquist: A couple of the songs basically finished writing themselves as they were recorded.  We committed to leaving a certain amount of space and replaced some more standard guitar/drums/keyboard parts with other instruments and atmospheric sounds, such as accordion, kalimba, electronic percussion, and effected samples.  We also gave a lot of leeway and freedom to Robert Cheek, who mixed the album.  There’s a huge benefit to having outside ears involved in some capacity, and we knew we could trust Robert’s decisions based on his aesthetic and resume (Band of Horses, Tera Melos, Doombird, By Sunlight).

J. Hubner: Four of the six tracks on Our Peaceful Atoms were performed live for the Sums and Differences performance. Do they differ, if any, from those first live renditions? How long have those tracks been around? Do “Path” and “Lost” go back as well or are those newer songs?

Charlie Davis: Of the new songs we played at Sums and Differences, only one had been played at multiple shows before that so the others were definitely in infancy and have had some tweaks done to them since. Doing that show really showed us how well the orchestral arrangements filled them out, so doing them in a way that would leave room for those elements to be recorded was something we made a conscious decision about. “Path” is one we’ve been working on for awhile and has been played out a couple of times now, while “Lost” has never been played live and is the newest song.

Ryan Holquist: A recording puts things under a microscope, so there’s less need to fill things in with extra strums and drum fills.  A couple of the songs are pretty close to the live arrangements (“Westlake” and “Terra”), but even some of the others we’ve played live have an intentionally different vibe on the album.

Photo by Jen Hancock


J. Hubner: Stylistically you guys still balance nicely between post-rock and dream pop. I’m hearing a lot more Auburn Lull than say, This Will Destroy You, especially with the vocals. Maybe neither of them play into the sound (could just be my old dude ears), but you guys have done a great job on Our Peaceful Atoms of creating these expansive songs while still giving them a very modern and inviting lean. You seem to be having the cake and eating it too while offering a slice to everyone else.

Going into this record, what were you guys wanting to achieve this time around? What were some influences and inspirations?

Charlie Davis: I don’t know that we set out to achieve anything specifically but we all wanted to push on the boundaries of the last record and see if we could do something different. We weren’t looking for a genre shift or anything like that, but we didn’t want to make songs that would be confused for anything on the last album. I think we accomplished that. These new songs seem to fit into our live show perfectly but if you listen to the two albums they have some very clear differences.

Ryan Holquist:  I think we’ll always have a desire to keep certain post-rock elements, but we’re not so committed to that genre that we want to ignore appealing melodies or pop-oriented song structures.

J. Hubner:  If you can, could you dissect the creative process with the track “Path”? I’m hearing a lot of electronic flourishes in this tune. How did this track come together? What were some of the artistic inspirations behind the song?

Charlie Davis: Ben was doing some work with a new sampler and came up with this really ear-grabbing beat that sounded like something heavy trudging along. He made a demo that he sent to us that had that beat along with some keys and other electronic elements. We all loved it right away and were actually able to finish that song very quickly. Any band at some point can start to feel a little formulaic in their songwriting and having something that started from a more electronic standpoint was very inspiring and allowed everything else to come about very naturally.

Ryan Holquist: Ben came into the band after most of the songs on the first EP had been written, so he was largely trying to squeeze into the gaps and create atmosphere.  “Path” is a great example of how his contributions have morphed our sound, as is the presence of a lot more piano and prominenet synth parts.  Ben’s chord progression and electro twiddlies from the OP1 made us all think outside our usual boxes for ways to contribute, which bled into our parts and overall approach to some of the other songs.  It’s also pretty obvious that at least a couple of us really love the Valtari album by Sigur Rós…

J. Hubner: “Westlake” reminds me of The Beach Boys. To my ears, Smile is one of the most complex pop albums ever made. “Westlake” has moments that put me in mind of the song “Surf’s Up”. You guys pull off both progressive rock leanings while still making this a beautifully spaced-out pop song. Besnard Lakes do that very well, too. How does pop music play into the writing process in March On, Comrade?

Charlie Davis: We all listen to it in some form or another so I’m sure it finds it’s place in our music. There are a few parts of that song that Ryan would tell you are essentially Genesis tributes, so maybe we get some influence from the pop of other eras as well. Most pop music nowadays is very computer oriented in terms of the songwriting process as well as the instrumentation and arrangements. This album definitely has a larger emphasis on electronic elements that could be found in a lot of pop music while still sounding like a rock band.

Ryan Holquist: Beach Boys, interesting! I wrote most of “Westlake,” and I don’t know that I had any particular vibe in mind for it.  When Robert was mixing it, he warned me that he was going for full-on Fleetwood Mac.  I think I’m the only band member who would count himself as a particular fan of progressive rock, and as Charlie mentioned, I ended up with a subconscious nod to Steve Hackett (Genesis) in my guitar part.  I suppose it’s fair to say that on “Westlake” in particular, we played pop-oriented harmonic content and groove, in a progressive rock arc, with enough space and ambience to qualify as post-rock.

J. Hubner: On December 8th March On, Comrade will be having a CD release show at the Brass Rail. Can you give us some details on that show? Who’s playing with you guys? What sort of merch will be available? Will minds be expanded?

Charlie Davis: We just completed the line-up recently, and we’ll be playing with our friends in Trichotomous Hippopotamus and The Be Colony. We’ve played with both bands before and they’re both amazing bands with their own unique sounds. We’ll be selling whatever is left of our t-shirts, old EP, and of course we’ll have copies of the new album. Since most of the new songs have either not been played live much, or never, we’re hoping everyone will really enjoy them and maybe get some mind expansion from them.

Ryan Holquist: To give you an idea of how much minds will be expanded, Our Peaceful Atoms will be born on the same date as Diego Rivera, Nicki Minaj, Sinead O’Connor, and Ann Coulter.

J. Hubner: Are there any other shows on the books for March On, Comrade you can tell us about?

Charlie Davis: We have a couple other shows on the books at this point. We didn’t get to play out much this last year due to our own scheduling conflicts so I’m hoping we can be a bit more consistent in 2018. Our next show after this will be on January 20 and is a benefit show for a good friend of ours who is trying to raise money for her and her husband to adopt and we have some great bands in store for that one as well.

J. Hubner: We’ve almost put another year behind us. 2017 has been kind of a dumpster fire to say the least, with a few moments of beauty scattered here and there. What do we have to look forward to in 2018?

Ryan Holquist: If we would have known when we first started playing together in 2015 that there would be so much talk about ties to Russia, we might have reconsidered our name!  We are proud to have had no part in the dumpster fire of 2017.

Charlie Davis: It was a very intense year to say the least. I’m hoping it will be an exciting year for Fort Wayne music. I’m sure the veteran bands will continue to put out great music and there are always new bands getting started that amaze us with their creativity. As for March On, Comrade, we have no plans of stopping anytime soon so I’m looking forward to working on new songs, playing shows, and seeing what the five of us can continue to come up with going forward.

Don’t forget to get out to the Brass Rail on December 8th for March On, Comrade’s CD release show for Our Peaceful Atoms. They’ll be playing with Trichotomous Hippopotamus and The Be Colony. And be sure to grab a copy of the CD. If you can’t make it or you are weird about physical media, then just go to and download it on December 8th.

Psychotronic Love : The Neon Sounds of Laserblast

The 80s were a perplexing time, man. The 70s really screwed us up with its indifference, key parties, and Hal Ashby films that by the time we hit 1980 we wanted to somehow get to the future as quickly as we could. We plastered fake smiles on our faces, wore neon colors, sweetened our sitcoms with mountains of saccharine, and we began the process of taming electronic music. Those heady synths that were being used to melt minds and transcend how we view the world in albums by Tangerine Dream and Popol Vuh were being used to create more mainstream sounds.

Electronic music became a little more light-hearted and welcoming. It could be grating when laid on too thick, but when there was just the right amount of romantic sway and minor key melancholy the music was quite amazing. The synthwave scene is a musical planet where the synth is using its powers for good, not evil. These aren’t horror soundtrack nods, but a tip of the shiny hat to Mad Max b-movie rip offs and exploitation space flicks. Bright and colorful Saturday morning cartoons and video games.

Danish band Laserblast are giving props to the decade of Reagan and Thatcher by honing their own sequenced 80s soundtrack with lots of hardware and space age vibes. Their music puts me in mind of Le Matos and Com Truise, but with more of a softer edge. Not so heavy on the deep bass and more concentrating on the whimsical aspect of 80s synth. There’s a sci-fi vibe that is more along the lines of adventure and thrill seeking than those darker tones a lot of synth music as of late wants to capture.

I spoke to band members Kristoffer Ovesen and Mie Jakobsen about how the Danish band got started, their influences, and what direction they want to take the band.

J. Hubner: So who is in the band?

Kristoffer Ovesen: We started out as Mie Jakobsen, EmileLouise Nielsen and myself, but after finishing the tape Emilie unfortunately had to leave us, due to lack of time. Emilie and I have been playing together in various projects for more than ten years, and she has taught me almost anything I know about sound synthesis. I first saw Mie play at an art gallery where she and Jannik Juhl, (who produces under the name Giedo Primo, as well as runs the record-label Hamarplazt) were doing a couple of impro live shows.

J. Hubner: What other band s and projects are you two involved in? How did you get started in music?

Mie Jakobsen: For me everything started when I joined musician Ras Bolding on stage. Through him I met great friends including Kristoffer and Emilie. Emilie wrote me and asked if I wanted to be a part of an Italo Disco/synthwave/80’s music project, and since I’m a big fan of these genres, I couldn’t resist.

Kristoffer Ovesen: Besides Videodrones and Laserblast I’ve done two tapes of quite repetitive techno under the moniker Metis, as well as worked with Danish performance artist Tine Louise Kortermand on several projects and done chaotic industrial-acid-techno as a part of the duo Selvmordsskolen (The name being another movie reference, it’s the title of a weird Danish comedy from the 60’s and translates School of Suicide.)

J. Hubner:  Being quite familiar with Videodrones, Laserblast seems on a completely different music spectrum. Very 80s vibe. Has a synthwave feel, as opposed to the darker tones of your other work. Who are some of the influences on the new cassette release? At times I’m reminded a bit of contemporary artists like Com Truise, Nightsatan, and even Le Matos.

Kristoffer Ovesen: Yes, we definitely strived for a more romantic and uplifting feel, than what I’ve done earlier. For us to find some sort of common ground, I had to move into a (to me) new territory, a handful of early sketches I did for the project was actually turned down by Mie, as “sounding to much like a horror soundtrack” Ha! For me Tangerine Dreams 80’s soundtracks was a big influence while working on the tracks. Risky Business, Near Dark, Miracle Mile etc.

I really like a lot of new synthwave, the combination of modern software and production techniques together with the 80’s synth sound is very inspiring. When we got together for this project 6 months ago my initial plan was to tap into the more clubby sound of Kavinsky and Lifelike, inspired also by the italo-disco of Claudio Simonetti and likes (especially a lot of the soundtracks for Italian post-apocalypse and Mad max rip-offs. Great stuff!) Quite early the projected drifted into a dreamier territory, though. Probably due to the way I produce, more hardware, less software, a lot of the techniques to achieve the more modern aspect of the harder, pumping sound of Kavinsky for example acquires a lot of software use. Listening to the completed tape, French act College might be our closest reference on the contemporary synthwave scene.

Most importantly I think the artist mentioned helped pave the way for both Videodrones and Laserblast, in the sense, that had it not been for them (and Stranger Things and Refns Drive, of course), I’m not sure many would care about what we do. Right now, it seems like people have been “conditioned” to this sound, but I’ve got a chilling feeling, that 5-10 years from now, people will want some sort of glitched out digitally shit or uk-garagy chip-munk hell again. I’m just gonna jump the wagon while it lasts and exploit the fact that 20+ years of collecting and watching 70′ and 80’s exploitation/sci-fi/horror movies, finally has some sort of relevance outside of geeky collector circles and xeroxed fanzines (even though I love both!)

Mie Jakobsen: I’m probably the one who’s been dragging Kristoffer in a more funky direction. Besides the earlier mentioned bands an important influence for me is music I would enjoy listening to in an airplane, looking down at the clouds, or the great tunes that makes my bike ride just that more awesome.

J. Hubner: What’s the songwriting process like in Laserblast?

Kristoffer Ovesen: Most tracks started out as a very minimal sketch bye me. A beat, bass-line and maybe and arp or some chords. Mie and Emile would either make alterations or just play on top of that.

J. Hubner: Let’s talk gear. What hardware are you using in Laserblast?

Kristoffer Ovesen: We sequenced the synths from my PC in Reaper and recorded back and mixed in Reaper. All beats are sequenced and played from a Korg Electribe sampler. It’s kind of outdated, but it has been with me for a long time, and I sequence beats relatively fast using it. Most drum sounds were samples from the Akai XR10. Everything else is either the Roland HS-60 or my modular. I’m not into soft-synths, really. I dig the concept and the sounds, but the work process bores me. I like knobs, cables and sliders. Both Mie and Emilie used soft-synths while composing some of their parts, but those tracks were all re-recorded later using the before mentioned gear. I mixed the EP using a minimal of plugins. Just EQ, reverb and some delay. We were running a tight deadline, as Mie left for Australia in October, there was only 6 months between our first meeting and the finished tape, so things has been moving quite smoothly.

The guitar part on the last track of the tape, Videovold, was played and recorded by Jens Hollesen, guitarist of Danish heavy metal band Death Rides a Horse (yet another film reference) and was also the final track added to the mix. Jens knows his film history and is well into Jan Hammer and 80’s Tangerine Dream as well.

J. Hubner: I really dig the artwork on your new album. Was there a concept behind it? Who created it?

Mie Jakobsen: While Emilie and Kristoffer are the masterminds behind most of the sweet bass-lines and spacey leads, I’m the one who made the cover art. Using 80’s sci-fi cartoons, Blade Runner and of course the music vibe as inspiration, Kristoffer thought a robot/laser girl would do well on the cover. The original idea was to match the color of the tape and the cover, but since we couldn’t find a pink paper good enough, we tried out a few different other colors – which is also the reason why the tape comes with two covers (the lucky owner gets to choose for himself whatever is preferred.)

Kristoffer Ovesen: I’ve been into comics since I was a kid, especially what you would call “graphic novels”. Will Eisner, Richard Corben, Moebius, Milo Manara etc. Especially the more psychedelic, weird ones caught my attention from a very young age. We were well into recording the first tracks, when I first saw Mies drawings, but from that moment it was pretty clear to me, that she had to work out some sort of visual concept for the band. The girl on the cover, I imagine as some sort of intergalactic agent. She started out as a sketch, and since the completion of the tape Mie has been sending me more drawings of her, so we might end up developing some sort of concept/story around the character. It’s a great inspiration and I like to work with some sort of concept when producing, whether it be aesthetically, thematic or technical to give you some sort of direction or framework.

J. Hubner: Can you tell me about Interzone Tapes, the label you released the cassette on?

Kristoffer Ovesen: Interzone tapes is my own label. I started it in 2013, mainly as a vehicle for my techno stuff, but since then I’ve released a handful of other artists as well. It’s very DIY, I enjoy making everything myself, including xeroxing covers late at night at my girlfriend’s workplace or recording all the tapes myself on a Tascam double-deck. I do very limited runs (20-50 tapes) and have no professional distribution, as this was never intended to grow into a bigger label. I’d rather keep it small, and release whatever I want, whenever I want. I’m definitely not “label-boss material”, but running Interzone Tapes gives me a perpetual motivation for moving forward creatively.

J. Hubner: So do you record your albums to tape? Or do you record digitally then transfer to tape?

Kristoffer Ovesen: We record digitally. Working with a hardware only set-up for the sounds, the further addition of an analog stage didn’t seem necessary. I do drive the tape recorder into the red to add a bit of tape saturation/compression during the recording of the tapes on some releases. Mainly techno and harder material. The Laserblast tapes was recorded quite conservatively to preserve the dreamy qualities. I’m no tape expert, so all of this is also a bit of a trial and error process and might not all be according to the books….

J. Hubner:  I think the cassette is great. Much like listening to the darker synth stuff puts me back to watching late night horror as a kid, the Laserblast cassette is another nostalgic trip, albeit a much different one. More like Saturday morning cartoons and getting lost in the local arcade for hours. What is it about the neon 80s and synthwave that attracts you? Were either of you an 80s kids?

Mie Jakobsen: Actually, I wasn’t even born in the 80’s. To be honest I don’t know where my fascination of everything made before 2000 came from. Sometimes I believe I was born in the wrong time.

Kristoffer Ovesen: I was born in 78′, so I grew up on Robocop, Burton’s Batman, Terminator, Ghostbusters, Gremlins, Beverly Hills Cop etc. To me the music of Laserblast is very much about the future I was promised through eighties pop-culture. A very escapist trip, to be honest. My childhood in the 80’s were filled with fear of environmental disaster and nuclear war on one side, while there was also a very optimistic, futuristic vibe in pop-culture on the other side. I remember the eighties as a time were looking like an android were something to strive for, a time were Grace Jones, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Brigitte Nielsen were perceived as aesthetic role models for looking like machines. Things were cool in the eighties. It was cool to be cool. I was not a cool kid, though, I just liked cool stuff….

J. Hubner: How do you think the age difference helps the working relationship between you two?

Kristoffer Ovesen: I think the big age difference between Mie and I has been very important for the outcome of the project. Not having experienced 80’s pop-culture in the same way as I, gives her a different, fresh perspective. Emilie is a bit younger than me and is very much inspired by videogame music and the fact that she was a part of the Danish demo-scene, when she was younger, but we also share a love for 80’s synth-pop and EBM.

J. Hubner: Do you two want to take Laserblast on the road?

Kristoffer Ovesen: No, live shows yet, but when Mie returns from down under we’ll get right on it. Playing live was on our minds from the beginning.

J. Hubner: You’ve put out a great debut cassette which is also available digitally. Any plans for a full-length LP?

Kristoffer Ovesen: Most definitely. We aimed for an album length, but at some point, we realized, that if we were to release anything before Mie left for Australia, it had to be EP length. That also means, that we had to leave a handful of tracks unfinished, tracks that should hopefully be the foundation of a full-length vinyl, but probably not on Interzone Tapes, I want to keep that as a tape-only label, as vinyl would require bigger runs and thereby the need for professional distribution, and I’m afraid the extra amount of work going into running a vinyl-label would have a negative impact on the amount of time I spend producing music. I admire people like Jonas Munk (of El Paraiso/Causa Sui) who can keep it all together, while remaining chill as fuck…..

Mie Jakobsen: The plan is to get some lyrics and vocals recorded as well. I will be more musically active on our future releases. Our badass little front-cover character has just made her debut. Great adventure is awaiting her..

J. Hubner: What’s lined up for the rest of 2017?

Kristoffer Ovesen: Videodrones are getting ready for our first live show in December and I’ve got a release with Danish synth/space/kraut collective Mentat coming out on Interzone tapes. Otherwise I’ll be working on some of our leftovers and unfinished tracks from the tape, and see what might fit a coming full-length Laserblast release.

Head over to Laserblast’s Bandcamp page and pick this one up right away. I’ve been filling my head with it all week and it gets better each time. You should also check out Kristoffer’s Interzone Tapes. He’s putting out some really great music, and in a very DIY way. Go see what he’s got for you over at their Discogs page and take a listen at the heady tones right here.

Witches Brew : Water Witches Return To Fort Wayne September 29th

by EA Poorman

Cover Photo by Michelle Waters

So what are you supposed to do after something like Middle Waves? How can you go back to a normal existence when all of your senses have been electrified and your heart and mind filled with so much musical goodness? How can you go back to punching the clock, sitting at a desk, and staring blankly at a computer screen when memories of Headwaters Park linger in your brain? Well, you just keep moving. There will shows to see my friends. New rock and roll freak happenings to expand your psyche a bit. In fact, on September 29th there’s going to be one hell of a mind melter going down at CS3. This ones going to be a doozy.

Athens, Ohio’s Water Witches are making their way across the Indiana/Ohio line and are invading CS3 for what will surely be a full on rock and roll experience. They’re bringing along Columbus’ Bummers and are meeting up with the always delightfully freaky Heaven’s Gateway Drugs and post-punk titans Streetlamps For Spotlights. I feel like I don’t need to say you should go to this show, but you should go to this show. Like, get tickets right after you’re done reading this.

So you’re not familiar with our Ohio brethren? Well let me fill you in.

Bummers is a four-piece from Columbus, Ohio. The band consists of Chris Steris, Steven Sikes-Gilbert, Cody Smith and Jeff Pearl. On first listen to their newest release, 2017s Dolores, you’re treated to a fuzzy, psychedelic shot of noise and melody. Imagine Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Jesus and Mary Chain, and late 80s/early 90s indie bands like Dino Jr, Pixies, and Sebadoh. Opening track “Black Halo” comes out screaming with squealing guitars and lots of angst. Then “The One You Love” has an almost Elephant 6 vibe. Very Neutral Milk Hotel-ish. Basically, if you were into college radio in the 90s or Ty Segall’s garage rock renaissance then Bummers are gonna be your jam.

Water Witches are no strangers to Fort Wayne. There’s a good chance you caught them on one of their jaunts through the Fort already, but if you haven’t CS3 is a great place to catch ’em. Asked last year about how the band got together the Water Witches, which consist of Ethan Bartman, Charlie Touvell, and Matt Clouston, had this to say, “Our first Nelsonville Music Fest 2014. That summer we all continued to jam because we like to hang out together. We formed two bands that were different sides of the same coin. One was a freak folk project called Feathers, the other, a psych rock band by the name of Halcyon. We decided to fuse the two to make everything simpler. We felt  this new direction needed a new name, so we held a séance during a set we played at a house show. The spirits gave us the name Water Witches.” Their sound is a mix of psych folk, late 60s garage rock, and a whole lot of Midwest weird that makes it all the more special. When describing the band’s sound, the guys listed influences running the gamut from musicians to writers and the otherworldly, as the band pointed out last year, “Tarot Cards, Alejandro Jodorowsky, Wooden Indian Burial Ground (amazing psych surf from Portland), Robert Anton Wilson, David Lynch, the Source Family, Henry Miller, Dr. Dog, the D-Rays, Velvet Underground, Aphrodite’s Child, John Waters.”

The band are currently touring in support of their newest release, Halcyon, which was released this past July. Dropping the needle on this record you’re treated to fuzzed-out psych rock(“cut”), Ty Segall-like acid freakouts(“Totality”), Philly soul grooves(“Soul BDSM”), and Athens weird that only Water Witches can give(“devil”). Halcyon has a nice bit of grit on it, giving it an aged feel. Like some strange vinyl artifact you found at the bottom of some grizzled cedar chest that was located in an abandoned house in the middle of a desolate forest. It’s music that feels timeless, yet definitely has some ghostly vibes that you can only get when your music’s been blessed by spirits from the other side. Water Witches put on a great show, so you don’t want to miss them this time around.

So we’ve got Athens and Columbus, Ohio represented on the 29th. What about the Fort? Well we’ve got our home turf covered as well. Our resident freaks Heaven’s Gateway Drugs will be blowing minds that night, just coming off a pretty stellar set at the  Kaleidoscope Eye Festival in Chicago a couple weeks ago. These guys have come a hell of a long way in 4 years. They were one of my highlights last year at Middle Waves. If you haven’t seen them lately then you should get out and check ’em out.

Streetlamps For Spotlights will also be hitting the CS3 stage. Another staple of the Fort Wayne rock scene, Jason Davis’ flagship band are one of the best in town. I was able to see them a few years ago at NNN Records on RSD and they blew me away. A little post-punk, a little classic indie, and all three-piece magic, this band will blow you away live.

So you may be suffering from post-Middle Waves blues two weeks from now, so the best way to cure those blues is to get out there and see some more shows. CS3 has you covered for September 29th. Water Witches, Bummers, Heaven’s Gateway Drugs, and Streetlamps For Spotlights will be blowing minds promptly at 9pm. Don’t be late.



Sonic Terror : Inside The Heady Sounds of Videodrones

Videodrones is a synth duo from Denmark. What they create are the sounds of dread, doom, darkness, and those things that go bump in the night. They summon the spirits of Popol Vuh, Fabio Frizzi, Bobby Beausoleil; as well as countless soundtracks to late night horror films you watched growing up(especially if you grew up in the 80s and with local late night television at your disposal.) There’s a sickly sweet and queasy vibe to Videodrones. There’s the horror and Gothic vibe for sure, but they aren’t creating “spooky” sounds for the hell of it. There’s a purpose to their pulsating, modular madness. There’s also a serious improvisational spirit with the sound band members Jakob Skott and Kristoffer Ovesen create. It’s just the nature of synthesizers to make weird, “far out” sounds. But what these two do is take it to a new level. Obviously inspired by both synth artists and old VHS tapes filled with schlock horror films and exploitation trash(the best kind of trash), these two are taking Komisch and Berlin School noisemaking to new heights here.

For me personally, I listen to both last year’s excellent Mondo Ferox and their brand new(and equally excellent) record Nattens Hævn and I’m pulled into another place and time. I’m reminded of late night viewings with the lights off and everyone else sound asleep. But it’s not what I saw that stayed with me when I finally laid my head down to sleep, but what I heard. The music that accompanied the horror on screen. The synth-driven scores would echo in my head; square wave’s bashing on the walls of my skull as syncopated rhythms became in sync with my own bewildered heartbeat. Videodrones capture that spirit of music for me. They capture those childhood memories and add to them. They create their own sonic world of musical introspection and let you walk into these bubbly landscapes(at your own peril, of course.)

I sat down and talked with Jakob and Kristoffer about Videodrones, their influences, and their love of sonic mayhem.

J. Hubner: So tell me about the idea behind Videodrones. How did this project get started? Have you and Kristoffer Ovesen worked together prior to Videodrones?

Jakob Skott: We started simply by having a long overdue jam-session. Just a fun day of noodling with our synths. That’s where about 90% of the first album was recorded. The day we were working on it, the ideas just got better and better, and we recorded hours and hours, and it became more and more cinematic – which is probably no coincidence, because when we were younger we’d watch movies for hours from Ovesen’s vast VHS-collection. So we edited it in that style sort of reimagining the jams into something more cohesive – but it wasn’t something we’d really talked about ahead of it: “hey, let’s do a tribute album to all the movies we love” – it was way looser than that, without any real starting point and we didn’t figure out the name until we worked on the cover and titles. So the whole thing kind of just fell into place.

Kristoffer Ovesen: We’ve always had very similar film taste, so our friendship was always more about movies, than music. Although we had one or two jam-sessions about ten years ago, the day we got together to record the first album was the first time we ever got serious about making something coherent together. We’ve discussed films, and film-scores so many times before, that we didn’t really need to plan which direction to go. I think we both knew what kind of sound was common ground for us. I could elaborate some kind of grand idea, but it would all be something cooked up afterwards. It just kind of happened, really, without us ever discussing a greater concept. I think we might have discussed a bit more doing the second album, talking about which direction to go, referencing both the first album and other artists. But to say we had a plan beyond jamming might be stretching it….

J. Hubner: You two capture a very unique musical sound on both the debut album ‘Mondo Ferox’ and the newest record Nattens Hævn. Who or what are some key inspirations and influences going into the writing for Videodrones?

Jakob Skott: Like Ovesen says, I think we’ve pondered over these things for so many years that it’s embedded deeply into both of us – so to untangle it seems impossible. However I really do feel that the fascination of genre-movies from the 70s and 80s gets stronger and stronger. Directors like Jess Franco, Mario Bava, Dario Argento, Lucio Fulci & John Carpenter – the sheer WILL needed to create their works – under B-movie exploitation standards, they managed to make their movies soar. Furthermore they were all directors working in unison with a composer in a small cluttered home-studio – like Abel Ferrara & Joe Delia or John Carpenter & Alan Howarth. It was one of the things we talked about: Not killing the music in post-production, but rather letting it breathe – as some dude who’s been painstakingly arranging his music to the cues would: just leaving a single stringer note there for suspense…

Kristoffer Ovesen: I was always more into electronic, jazz or rock scores, than orchestral soundtracks. Goblin, Tangerine Dream, Fabio Frizzi, John Carpenter etc. The major influence of film-scores was allowing us to make small mood-pieces, instead of just full blown traditional compositions. The freedom to explore a single idea or mood, without the need of letting it go further. I enjoy listening to soundtracks because of those small pieces of psychedelic suspense-inducing freakouts, as much as the more elaborated “theme tracks”.

J. Hubner: Did you grow up gorging your brain on 70s and 80s horror movies? What was a trip to the video store like in Denmark growing up?

Kristoffer Ovesen: I grew up in small town where the local supermarket had a video rental section, just next to the newspapers and cigarettes. My mom used to drop me off in front of the shelves, and I would contemplate what was behind the strange artwork and punchline on the boxes while she was shopping. We never had a TV set during my childhood, so the rental stores were mostly just some weird display of inaccessible wonders for me. I became obsessed with videotapes during my childhood and i bought a television and a VCR and began collecting horror movies as soon as I could afford it. A lot of the classic Eurotrash and exploitation were available on Danish rental tapes in the 80’s and tapes could be rented not only in rental stores, but gas stations and supermarkets often had a small rental section too. You could find stuff like Cannibal Holocaust, Tenebre, City of the Living Dead, Texas Chainsaw Massacre etc. I guess it was the same as in the US or UK, but we did never have censorship like in UK or Germany. Although I did spend some time at university reading about more conventional stuff, I consider fanzine-reading and watching Dutch bootlegs of Jess Franco and Lucio Fulci movies as my real film-education….

J. Hubner: Can you tell me a little about how you two write in Videodrones? Do you get together and just start making sounds, or do you have motifs you work off of?

Jakob Skott: I have one secret weapon, which is a special way of doing live sequencing – I use the same figure at different speeds and in different variations for each voice in the track. So basically every figure is very similar to, say, the bass. It can be reversed or permuted, but it’s the same scale and basic figure that creates all the sounds. It also turns out very massive, and you can jam with 4 different polyphonic voices changing keys at the same time. It allows for vivid improvisation, but also creates a lot of great variation and motifs popping in and out of nowhere – as opposed to most other synth-jams where you usually just run an arpeggiator through chords. That’s one essential thing about this project: it’s born through improvisation – even when it doesn’t sound like it.

Kristoffer Ovesen: I used a two voice modular systems for both albums. Jakob would feed us different sequences, as described above, and the actual “writing” didn’t go much further on my behalf than “could you make that sequence faster” or “could you reverse/transpose that sequence”. I would have three or four sequences that I would feed to different voices, sometimes using a polyphonic sequence that I would split up into two or more monophonic voices. The approach was very minimalistic, allowing a maximum of freedom to improvise, without losing too much structure. The modular system also allows me to split gate and pitch signal, hence use the rhythm of one sequence together with the pitch of another sequence to create a third variation.

J. Hubner: How long does it take usually to build up enough material for an album? Is there an extensive editing process that goes with these records? The albums are so well sequenced, and everything seems to bleed perfectly into the next piece. I imagine the mixing/editing/sequencing is just as big a part of each record as creating the sounds.

Kristoffer Ovesen: Both albums were basically cut from a one-day jam, but on Nattens Hævn we recorded more tracks afterwards, than on the first album. The editing and mixing, all done by Jakob, is essential to the sound. He sends me tracks while he mixes and I sometimes record extra sequences, but all the hard work of listening through hours of endless noodling around is done by him. Both albums were actually completed quite fast, as we talked about not overdoing the post-production.

Jakob Skott: Yeah, I try to keep it fresh. The first one I think I spent no more than a few hours mixing each track. Just really cropping out huge parts and reassembling hours worth of jams – folding the layers on top of each other and immediately sending the highlights to Ovesen – trying to decipher whenever something interesting was happening. For the latest one, I spent a bit more time – and it has more depth simply because it’s mixed better – adding stuff and automating a lot of effects, pitching and tweaking as well. But still with a sketch-like mood in mind. I try to empathise the weird coincidences, sudden shifts and dropouts, rather than edit them out.

J. Hubner: With the albums, from the titles to the names given to the songs, it feels like there’s a definite theme on these albums. Do you go into these with a direction? Are you writing as if you’re composing for a film? Do you go so far as to come up with an idea for an imagined film and write around that idea?

Kristoffer Ovesen: Not really. There was never a real concept behind it, it was more an extension of watching and discussing movies. We did joke around with different fictive titles during coffee-breaks between jams, though. Some too offensive to mention…. Some track titles might be referencing a certain movie, some just a feeling, but as said before, there’s not much of a finished story  going on. It’s all just a product of our shared memory bank of psychotronic cinema, I guess.

Jakob Skott: I’m very happy that we didn’t settle on the “lost movie” theme – it’s just everywhere – it’s weird. I remembered we did the first album in May last year, and in June when Stranger Things popped up on Netflix, I watched it and thought “holy shit, this synthwave soundtrack-thing is going to explode – I need to hurry up and finish this album”. Well then it kind of happened ten-fold. But I think our inclination towards more weirded out stuff sets it apart enough to keep it fresh – at least I hope that’s how it works to the listener – maintaining a rougher edge through that whole improv-aspect. I’m as inspired by modern electronic music as by the grand synth-maestros – stuff like Autechre still sounds almost as fresh as when I first heard them 20 years ago, and I try to channel that ethos as well.

J. Hubner: Can you tell me what’s some of the go-to instruments Videodrones uses to make albums? It all has a bubbly analog warmth to it. Do you record to tape or is that aesthetic created in the engineering and mastering side of things?

Kristoffer Ovesen: I use a Eurorack modular system and a Roland HS-60, and some effect pedals. While jamming we record onto separate tracks on Jakobs computer, allowing him to mix and edit the tracks afterwards. I think the “warmth” is partly a result of Jakob not overdoing it in the mixing process, but the mastering Jonas did for us was definitely the final touch. Just like The Dude’s rug, it really ties it all together.

Jakob Skott: We use all kinds of stuff – there’s tons of digital stuff in there as well – we’re not purists, but use the best of all ages. Ovesen’s modular has a lot of really noisy and weird filters – for the stuff he puts out on Interzone Tapes – I used wavetable-synthesizer, as well as the analogues – there’s even an Ipad in there. But usually with some sort of analogue pre-amp or drive boost at the end of the chain to warm things up. I actually tend to make my mixes too dark, so Jonas actually adds some sizzle (which tape will absolutely not do) as well as ties the low-ends together – by using some hardware compressors, etc. So he adds definition to our blurriness – I’m always really happy with that, because in the end it has tons of murky vibe, but still packs a good punch.

J. Hubner: If you could only choose one, who’s a director that had the most influence on you growing up? Was there a film that affected you more than others?

Kristoffer Ovesen: That’s a tough question, different directors through the years, of course, but i think George Romero, David Lynch and Tim Burton were some of the first directors I were into in my early teens. I guess the film(s) that kicked of my interest in horror movies was the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. I watched most of them one summer night when I was 13 and it had a profound impact on me. I think being a horror-buff grew into some kind of identity for me, and to this day I like to see myself as a horror/exploitation collector/expert more than a musician, actually. The first time I remember noticing how different a film score could be done must have been watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre or Argento’s Profondo Rosso. Especially the pounding prog/synth scores of Goblin still resonates in my brain whenever I turn on my synths.

Jakob Skott: Right now, finishing Twin Peaks: The Return I feel inclined to say Lynch as well. I watched the first Twin Peaks series when I was about 11 or 12 – needless to say, Killer Bob has caused a fair share of night terrors for me. I also remember watching Lost Highway when I was about 17 – yet another crucial turning point: watching a world of cinema you thought you knew and understood just literally go up in smoke in front of your eyes. And of course the outer-worldly role of music in his films. The way they’re not bound to regular structures, but invents their own deeper and more emotional logic – that’s very inspiring. And this new 18 hour opus is just as heavy. I’m blown away – the old weathered faces – and also that he’s not keeping it very clean stylistically – just messing up with poor video-effects, style changes in every scene. Zero fucks given to his own legacy – that’s awesome!

J. Hubner: Can we count on more from Videodrones? If there was a once-a-year release I’d be perfectly happy with that.

Jakob Skott: The first session we had at my apartment – the 2nd was at the Studio where Causa Sui records, so I played all of Jonas Munk’s synth gear. We had a third session a few months ago, but I actually haven’t listened to it yet – that was at Ovesens place in the country side. So sure, we have to finish the trilogy just like any good movie-franchise…

Kristoffer Ovesen: What he said….

J. Hubner: So what’s on the horizon for El Paraiso Records? What musical tricks do you guys have up your sleeve for us? I’m asking so I know just how much money I need to start putting back.

Jakob Skott: Ha, sure – there’s a lot of stuff in the pipeline. I’ll give you the first 3: New Causa Sui studio album, New Mythic Sunship – and Nicklas from Papir is doing a follow-up to his first solo album. All moving up to a new level and all currently being printed. The X-mas LPs are already causing really long delays at the printers, so we’ll probably have to wait til next year. But will be worth the wait! Our best stuff yet to come!

A trilogy of Videodrones, new Causa Sui, Mythic Sunship, and Nicklas Sorensen. The future’s so bright I’ve gotta wear shades. You should wear shades, too. And grab Videodrones’ Nattens Hævn over at El Paraiso Records.

Spectral Electronica : The Ghostly Sounds of worriedaboutsatan

Somewhere over in Yorkshire, England you’ll find Gavin Miller and Thomas Ragsdale summoning electronic spirits in order to hypnotize you into a blissful state of musical euphoria. Miller and Ragsdale are the sole members of the electronic musical outfit known as worriedaboutsatan, and the sound they create is a mixture of ambient techno and atmospheric soundscapes. When I first heard them I instantly felt at ease. There’s a dramatic sweep in their music, and especially on their newest release, Blank Tape. It’s all very cinematic. Like, these guys seriously need to score something for Denis Villeneuve at some point. But besides that cinematic feel, worriedaboutsatan create moody soundscapes you can easily get lost in(with or without chemical help.) I was reminded of Boards of Canada, but there’s a lot going on.

Once I heard a few of their albums I knew I had to reach out and see if Gavin and Thomas would be up to the jhubner73 treatment. They were. We talked about fan forums, 70s string machines, harassing Spencer Hickman, and what “spectral eletronica” is. Enjoy.

J. Hubner: So tell me the story of worriedaboutsatan. How did you guys get together?

Tom:  We were both in a band called Johnny Poindexter around 2002-2003, which was kind of a post-rock/big riff/Tool/Sigur Ros kind of band! We were into extremely loud soundscapes and that kind of thing. It was Gavin’s band and they needed another guitarist, so I gladly accepted the challenge of an audition. We played a few gigs, but ultimately due to ‘drummer issues’ the band broke up (like most bands with drummers do!) and we ended up a duo making electronica.

J. Hubner: How did you end up with the name worriedaboutsatan? I like it. The whole “satanic panic” thing is a hobby of mine.

Gavin: Ah, this one! It was basically me trying to show off on an internet forum in the mid 00s. I was a massive fan of the Belgian band dEUS, and when I joined their forum I decided to be really pretentious and thought I needed a name that screamed ‘I know more about this band than you’, so raided my CD collection of theirs and found a really obscure b-side from 1996 or so called ‘Worried About Satan’. So just put it all as one word and called myself that. The forum were working on a covers CD at one point, and so I decided to submit a cover of one of their songs, and just kept on recording stuff, and the name stuck!

J. Hubner: If you had to narrow the list of bands and artists that had the biggest impact on your sound to just three, what would that list look like?

Tom: Tough one! I’d have to say Underworld, Boards Of Canada and Trentemoller. We stole quite a lot from these guys in the early stages of the band, and they taught us how to be a band in an electronic way.

J. Hubner: For the uninitiated, what is “spectral electronica”? 

Gavin: Ha! Ah, that was initially a nice sounding phrase to use on our biog, but I guess it evokes the ghostly kind of atmospheres we like, and the eerie sounds we tend to use a lot.

J. Hubner: Are you horror/sci fi fans as well? Does cinema help mold the sound and aesthetic of the band?

Gavin: Yeah, we certainly watch our fair share of horror and sci-fi, and our sound is fairly cinematic I guess too. We also tend to take a fair bit of inspiration from Philip K Dick books and stuff like that – I think we’re basically big geeks and love anything a bit weird!

J. Hubner: What’s one of the most influential films for you guys? And why?

Tom: ‘The Thing’ would be no. 1 for us in that respect. We love building tension and a minimal approach to writing to music, which is the highpoint of the film’s score. We seem to pick up on the creepy side of films and soundtracks, and this one’s been with us for a long time.

J. Hubner: Listening to your newest album ‘Blank Tape’, there’s both an atmospheric quality and a heavy dance vibe. What is the writing process like for worriedaboutsatan? Do you have a practice space where you can hash things out, or is it more of a file sharing thing?

Gavin: We kind of work both ways really – sometimes one of us will have a little idea that we’ll flesh out when we get together in the studio, or sometimes we’ll just get together and have a bit of a jam and see where it takes us – I suppose it keeps things pretty interesting when putting stuff together!

J. Hubner: Do you guys use much in the way of analog gear? If so, what are some of your go-to instruments?

Tom: Yes, we’re big fans. We like to use a lot of instruments in our music. Our go to instruments are definitely guitar and piano. Most people who hear our music probably don’t hear these instruments, but most of the textures we make are from loops drenched in reverb that we’ve played in live. We also have a decent collection of vintage kit from 70s string machines to Russian guitar pedals.

J. Hubner: Do you guys self-produce? Do you have your own studio where you can record?

Gavin: We do! it’s just easier (and cheaper!) for us to work like that. Tom has the main studio, and I have a little setup at mine too, but that’s mainly for little ideas or sketches.

J. Hubner: There seems to be an almost ambient vibe throughout your full-lengths and EPs. From Arrivals to Even Temper to Blank Tape there’s been this spatial feel throughout. How do you guys see your sound changing and evolving from 10 years ago to now? How has the creative process changed for you?

Tom: I think it’s mostly due to what we’re into musically and what we’re listening to. We take a lot of inspiration from our music collections and this obviously changes through the years! I think our style changes, but our ‘vibe’ definitely stays the same! There’s always an underlying element that instantly recognisable as ‘worriedaboutsatan’, whether that’s certain sounds or how the music is put together. We used to be quite focused on making ‘dance music’, but since we’ve mellowed out in our 30s we’re more interested in writing music you can light a blunt to.

Photo by Magda Wrzeszcz

J. Hubner: Can you tell me about your upcoming release with Death Waltz Originals? How did you get hooked up with Spencer Hickman? 

Tom: Basically, I’ve been harassing Spencer for about 4 years! I did a film score a while ago and sent it to him for a listen and he seemed to quite like it, so I kept sending him bits and pieces. Over the course of a few years we talked a little bit and eventually met up. We had some tracks finished with no home and I dropped them his way for a listen!

J. Hubner: Besides the EP, what else is in store for worriedaboutsatan?

Gavin: As always, it’s as much touring as possible, and as much recording as possible too. We never really sit still for more than 5 seconds, so we’re always working on something. We also run a little label called This Is It Forever, where we realise small runs of solo stuff alongside the satan stuff, and this keeps us pretty busy as well.

Okay, now that you’re done reading go over to worriedaboutsatan’s Bandcamp page and listen to their impressive body of work. And be on the lookout for their release with the excellent Death Waltz Originals. If you like their Facebook page you might get that info sooner rather than later.