When did Bipolaroid form, and what was the idea for the band’s sound?
Our first show was on Easter Sunday in 2002. Before then I was recording a lot of sound collages- I wanted to flip the script and try this idea with songs and traditional 3/4 and 4/4 timings. I gave our british guitar player Ben Sumner a disc of songs and he naturally preferred the tunes that were influenced by english 60s psychedelia. I wanted to take a template of what I liked about rock n roll and start from there, then break the rules as I see it. If that meant sounding like other bands too, that okay, I didn’t want that to be a rule either.
Whom are some of your influences in psychedelic music?
Everyone is going to say Syd Barrett. And that’s maybe unfair to the Kinks or the Who or the Pretty Things. I do like Syd Barrett. But I really also dig that mid 90s period of lo-fi 4 track stuff like Guided By Voices. I like the appeal of recording anything immediately when the idea is ripe.
Is there a resurgence of interest in psychedelic music-why is it so popular still?
It seems that way? I always liked it, there are definitely a lot more psychedelic bands right now- we had a really difficult time touring before, so I suppose it has it’s benefits. Everything has it’s cycles, it will pass again.
Will you be playing any live dates, Ben?
We will be at sxsw again this year at the Get Hip Recordings showcase and a two week East Coast/Mid West tour. Perhaps a West Coast in the fall.
How does the audience react to the music at psychedelic music performances?
I see a lot of arms crossed at some band’s shows, I don’t like that, so I add as much energy and dynamic as I can. This produces the response I’m looking for. I want to see kids dancing and having a good time. I limit the slow jams to the records, unless we get a special request.
Any Bipolaroid side projects that you wish to tell us about?
Well there are a number of songs from the last 2 records that were written for a one man band. I’ve only performed a few times this way in New Orleans. The band keeps me too busy I find it difficult to break away. Sometimes I play with King Louie & the Loose Diamonds, that’s King Louie who played drums on our last record, and some Memphis players like Jack Oblivian. Louie did a lot of co-writing on Exploding Hearts’ Guitar Romantic. So there’s always discussion we’ll do some bubblegum 45’s together called Louie & Ben. I have a few written for that, or another project I’ve been saving. It’s kind of secret I want it to remain anonymous. You hope the songs will stick out somehow. I don’t do it for self glory.
Why the name “Bipolaroid” for the band?
The name started the band, not the other way. It began a chain of events that made a band, that created an order, that makes it difficult to disassemble. I’m a bit at mercy to it and the process, and I haven’t been able to walk away from it. But the name is important because that’s where it all started. I could come up with a definition of what the name means for you but it would only be after the fact.
What lies in the future for Bipolaroid?
We’re going on a tour in support of Twin Language in April. And writing songs for another record. It might be either closed to finished or finished already. Since the very first album I make every record like it’s the last one we’ll do. I hope to work with an orchestra again though. I could see it bringing us full circle. I never try to plan farther than that.
Interview made by John Wisniewski/2014
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