It's Psychedelic Baby Magazine

It's Psychedelic Baby is an independent music magazine. We are covering alternative, underground, non-commercial and non-mainstream artists in variety of shapes and genres. Exclusive interviews, reviews and articles. A place where musicians can express themselves. We serve an international readership.

Various Artists - Psychedelic States: Maryland In The 60s (2014) review

Various Artists "Psychedelic States: Maryland In The 60s" (Gear Fab Records, 2014)

For nearly twenty years, the Gear Fab label, located in Colorado, has been cranking out collections devoted to regional music scenes of the sixties. Patterned after the spirit of heralded compilation albums such as "Pebbles," "Back From The Grave," "Mindrocker," and "Psychedelic Unknowns," the series points the laser beam at folks that never had hit singles, but may have been as big as the Beatles in the eyes of local fans. Or in some cases, the bands were so obscure their resumes consisted of playing only a handful of neighborhood gigs. But that's what makes "Psychedelic States" so special. Along with the cool tunes these discs offer, information on the acts and photos seal the sets, leading to be historical documents.

A double album, "Psychedelic States: Maryland In The 60s" supplies a good look at an area that really hasn't been covered much. Despite the title of the package , the majority of stuff here leans towards the garage rock side of the fence rather than surrealistic sojourns. Because these bands weren't afforded the luxury of high-end production facilities and in certain circumstances, were still in the process of sharpening their chops, the recordings are raw and economical. But hey, that's rock and roll, not Emerson, Lake and Palmer or Mariah Carey. Passion over polish, and enthusiasm over elegance is the name of the game.

Splattered with a squawking harmonica and a killer hook, the bluesy pop of "I Need Love" by the Mad Hatters, the slippery roll of "I'm Gone Slide," from the Dagenites, the Henchmen's tough and taunting "Get Off My Back," the misty melancholy of "Letters Of Love" by the Creatures, the peppy punch of the Shoremen's "Dance USA!," and the breezy zip of "Psychedelic Ride" from the Ides are only a taste of treasures to be admired. Three basic chords, a catchy delivery, and a sincere dedication to the music drive these songs to be the nuggets they are. Propelled by a harsh groove and a threatening snarl, "Shadows" by Attic of Sounds serves to be another top-tier track, along with the edgy "I Can't Wait Till Friday Comes" from the Hard Times.

Further core cuts on "Psychedelic States: Maryland In The 60's" are the innovative reflexes of "Everything Would Be Fine" by the Fallen Angels, whose singles and two full-length albums are classics of the era and worth hunting down, the intense acid rock expressions of the Urch Perch's "Sweet Life," the swaggering soul of the fast and frantic "Love" from the Bad Boys, and the mesmerizing flower pop of "Tiny Little Seeds" by the Persuaders. Songs from Tomorrow's People, the Stratfords, Cherry Pink Reason, the Koffee Beans, and the New Diablos also burn brightly. And for those with a soft spot for dramatic ballads, there's Brandi Laine's "Haight Street Dream," which glimmers and glows to chillingly powerful vocals bristling with naked emotion. But the fact is, each tune on "Psychedelic States: Maryland In The 60s" has its own charm and personality. And what's even more inviting is most of the songs have never appeared on similarly-inclined anthologies before. The "Psychedelic States" series is known for discovering super rare relics, and I must say they've definitely unearthed a batch of fascinating fossils with this effort.

Review made by Beverly Paterson/2014
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Brown Spiders interview with “Weird Al” Jaco Wolmarans, Andrew Kapp and Andreas Schonfeldt

A while back I talked to one of South Africa’s leading garage rock outfits, The Make-Overs (Interview here) and they peeled back my skull cap, yanked out my brain and went completely loco on what was left of my decimated corpse.  Needless to say, while it’s not the easiest thing to keep tabs on or research, I was hooked like a dope fiend on some South African garage rock!  Luckily for me, Andreas from The Make-Overs is not only involved in that band and several others, but he’s also involved in running the KRNGY Logo who help release and offer what exposure they can to undiscovered or overlooked sick South African bands.  When Andreas sent me a copy of the Brown Spider’s sophomore album close bracket/star/bracket along with a few of the other KRNGY projects I was once again floored.  Brown Spiders are an absolutely devastatingly effective lo-fi, on the verge of no-fi, blistering garage rock band with a nasty psych-pop edge to them.  Songs like “Mouth” show off how The Brown Spiders can take what they want from Shoegaze and meld it like some sort of deranged genetic mutant with high octane garage psych almost effortlessly into unstoppable forces of nature encapsulated in three minute bursts.  Explosions of spasmodic action shudder and jolt through the lurching corpse of sound that jumps around like a frog in a dynamite pond.  Gnarled, fuzzy bass crashes like waves against a thunder cliff over the top of distorted and crackling guitar lines that erupt like Vesuvius amidst the trashcan thrashing caveman drummer brutally abusing his kit in the background of all the chaos and insanity.  When you listen to a lot of albums it’s hard to pinpoint what a band’s going to sound like when you hear them live, my guess is that close bracket/star/bracket is a near perfect representation of the razor’s edge that The Brown Spiders walk, teetering between madness and utter musical annihilation, on the verge of a high speed come apart, all the while channeling the bottled rage and aggression into perfectly honed packages of unbelievably well-constructed, catchy and intelligent songs.  All bathed in the brash punk DIY mentality of my beloved 80’s underground movement The Brown Spiders are destroying the competition in their sleep and paving a road to the center of my heart with little more than a single album under their belts!  But that’s enough talk, enough hype and bullshit, all I can say is that you should check out this ridiculous trio if you dig garage or lo-fi in the least; they will not disappoint.  Now let’s just hope that not only do they put out a ton of albums, but that we can start getting copies of their stuff here in the US soon as well…
Listen while you read:

What is Brown Spiders’ lineup?  Is this your original lineup or have there been any changes?

Andreas:  Weird Al Jacovich, Andrew Kapp Webber and Andreas Bocelli.

Jaco:  Brown Spiders is a three piece, consisting of Andreas on drums, Andrew on bass and backup vocals and me (Jaco) on vocals and guitar.  Brown Spiders was originally conceived of as a terrifying two piece, consisting of Andreas on drums and me on guitar and vocals in 2011 after the breakup of Sticky Antlers. Andrew joined the band on bass in 2012, to make people feel less sorry for us.

Andrew:  I was visiting Andreas and he played me a recording he and Jaco had made called Brown Spiders.  Prior to that night my current band had broken up, so I asked them if I could come and mess around with them, adding bass to the mix.  I borrowed the CD and went to play with them a few days later.

Are any of you in any other active bands at this point or have you released any music with anyone in the past?  If so can you tell us about that?  I love playing musical connect the dots but there’s nothing better than being able to cheat!

Andrew:  Bad Adam is my only other "mistress", aside from some non-live or incomplete projects.  Cheating is fun, ha-ha!

Jaco:  Yes, Andreas and I were in Sticky Antlers which released stuff on the KRNGY logo.  We also have a side project called Splinter Sect, which is an improv project.  Oooooh, almost forgot Vulva Underground; cut and paste, antagonistic sewer rap, fronted by three foul mouthed sock puppets having the time of their lives.

Andreas:  Make-Overs (Interview here), Splinter Sect, Poodle Piss and I played drums for Spambot.

Where are you original from? 

Andrew:  Pretoria.

Jaco:  Pretoria.

Andreas:  Kilnerpark, Pretoria.

Was the local music scene there were you grew up very influential on your musical tastes or the way you play?  Did it play a very large role in your childhood?

Jaco:  No.

Andreas:  We don’t get out much.

Andrew:  I think my friends and family were more influential than any supposed "scene", and that did shape me and really make me want to make music; interesting music at that.

Was your house very musical growing up?  Were either your parents or any of your relatives musicians or extremely involved/interested in music?

Andrew:  My uncle and my mother used to play for fun, but my uncle was really into rock music.  He played quite a few instruments, mainly guitar.  He gave me my first bass guitar, which I used to play in secret when he went out.  I still use that bass.  My cousin was the one who introduced me to a bulk of the music that got me interested in playing though.  He was in my first few bands too.

Jaco:  Yeah, my mom was a piano teacher and music was always a big part of my life.  There was very little dead air surrounding me when I was growing up.

Andreas:  You already know everything about me...

What was your first real exposure to music?

Andrew:  When I was around six years old, I was watching A Nightmare On Elm Street.  Totally terrified, I ran out the room and my uncle was listening to Hendrix in the living room and I remember the soothing feeling I experienced; no pun intended, ha-ha.

Jaco:  Probably my mom playing her LPs night and day.  There was everything from The Beach Boys and The Stones, to classical music.  Then Madonna sunk her claws into me.

If you had to pick on defining moment of music in your life, a moment that redefined all of the rules and opened the door to the infinite possibilities of music, what would it be?

Andrew:  I really dislike name dropping, but when my cousin showed me a tape of live performance by The Breeders and Nirvana; good laaaawd!  The rawness of their live performances was breathtaking.

Jaco:  Hearing Sonic Youth for the first time.  The room started spinning.  All the bands that they introduced me too when I was a teenager were amazing.  It opened up areas I never knew existed.

Andreas:  Every day I find music that redefines all the rules, but a big one was “Mother Sky”.  Jaco played me the uncut version and it was the first time I had ever heard Can…  That and getting into the Velvet Underground, that pretty much changed everything.

When did you decide that you wanted to start writing and performing your own music?  What brought about that decision?

Andrew:  I was playing a gig in my cousin’s band at this scout hall we had rented, I was twelve at the time and just the feeling of jamming with a group of people, and people enjoying it and having fun.  I was like, “Who wouldn't like to do this?”  Ha-ha.

Jaco:  I’ve wanted to play music since I was in school, but because I had no friends and didn’t know any interesting people I had to wait until I met Andreas to pursue the dream.

Andreas:  I used to record songs onto tapes way back, it was a compulsion.  It just stuck with me.  Then I ended up filling in on guitar for some band playing a Halloween show at the old Nile Crocodile, I was still in school and not even legally allowed in the club, but they let me sing and we ended up doing a couple of songs I wrote.  Some people got really angry since they liked the band and wanted them to play their songs…  But it all seemed to just make sense and I was back on the Nile's stage the next week and kept going to open mic nights until they closed down.

Where is the band currently located at?

Andrew:  We all live in a yellow submarine.

Jaco:  Fuck.

Andreas:  We’re normal people...  We live in garages behind people’s houses.

How would you describe the local music scene where you are at now?

Andreas:  I can't.

Andrew:  Non-existent. Ha-ha.

Jaco:  I won't.  Frankly, I'm embarrassed by a large amount of what we're surrounded by.

Are you very involved in the local music scene?  Do you book or attend a lot of shows or help to record/release any local music?

Andrew:  Besides playing and organizing gigs, not really.  Because of my demanding job, or should I say ex-job, the only time I had off work I was playing.  There's only a small handful of "worth it" bands to check out anyway.

Andreas:  I play the game, big time.

Jaco:  I attend as many shows of the bands I support as I can, but there are only a few bands I’m interested in.

Do you feel like the local music scene has played a large or pivotal role in Brown Spiders or do you think you could be doing what you’re doing and sound like you do regardless of your surroundings or location?

Andrew:  It’s played a role in the sense that it showed us what not to do, ha-ha!

Jaco:  No.  ‘Cause ninety-percent of what we have to deal with is utter bullshit.

Andreas:  Except that we wanted to sound exactly like Mango Groove.

When and how did you all originally meet?

Andrew:  I met Andreas through a friend of my cousin, but never really knew him.  Somehow we ended up doing a gig together in different bands at the same scout hall I played at when I was twelve.  Years later, as I was waiting for a bus to go to my girlfriend’s at the time Andreas and Martinique pulled up and gave me ride.  If memory serves me correctly, he was looking for a bass player at the time. In general my memory is hazy.  One thing I remember though is getting shitfaced with him a few days later, drinking shots of different left over liquors, while playing Tekken drinking games.  I met Jaco at Andreas place.  I always just heard from a friend that this Jaco guy had cool records and movies, ha-ha.  His collection did not disappoint.

Jaco:  I met Andreas through an illicit drug addict, when he brought him to my place to show him my Sonic Youth record collection.  The first record I ever loaned him was a Bikini Kill record and he brought it back, freaking out about it.  I knew this was someone I could get along with.  Uhmmmmmmmmm…  I met Andrew at Andreas's place, I think.

Andreas:  Andrew, at his cousin Neal's garage where they were recording their band on a cassette player…  Jaco, I met through this guy who used to steal my tapes.

What led to the formation of Brown Spiders and when was that exactly?

Andreas:  It's something to do.

Jaco:  As I previously stated, Brown Spiders was conceived after the brake up of Sticky Antlers in 2011, because I wanted a band!  I needed a band!!!  And Andreas and I just liked playing together and making music.

Is there a shared creed, mantra or ideal that Brown Spiders live by?

Andrew:  Meh, guess we all just like weird shit.  And the D.I.Y mentality.  We're just three guys stuck in hell that love improvising.

Jaco:  Keeping the band as independent and self-sufficient as possible.

Andreas:  Yes, we live by a strict code: never, under any circumstance, do anything...  To anyone.

What does the name Brown Spiders mean or refer to in the context of your band name?  Who came up with it and how did you go about choosing it?

Jaco:  The original band name was Pity Fucks, due to the fact we thought we were going to be big as fuck ha-ha.  I love everything to do with asses so it was the obvious choice.

Andrew:  I always thought it was just a polite way to say, "the assholes".

Andreas:  Yeah it's a stupid bunghole reference that no one seems to ever get…  We couldn't get any gigs as the Pity Fucks so we had to change the name.  But really it’s just because our music is shit.

There are a lot of things that I love to do when it comes to music.  I love to talk about music, I love sharing good music with people and most of all I love talking to talented musicians such as yourselves.  One thing that I do not love though is having to describe how a band sounds to people who have never heard them before.  I’m just awful at putting labels and descriptions on stuff as I’m just not convinced that music, as art, fits inside these tidy boxes and labels that we like to assign it.  So rather than me making some bizarre and utterly useless attempt at describing your sound to our readers, how would you describe Brown Spiders’ sound in your own words to our readers who might not have heard you before?

Jaco:  A sewage drain of inevitable disaster.  We never actually got together and decided what box we wanted to fit in.  We’ve never had a pre-conceived idea of what the music should sound like.

Andrew:  Bizarre and utterly useless gutter rock!!!  Or as Todd from HoZac describe us, "the sickos from South Africa", ha-ha!  But it sure as hell is rocky, punky, noisy and yet strangely melodic.

Andreas:  A spa of embarrassing illnesses for your ears.

While we’re speaking so much about the history of the band and how everything got started can we take just a little while to talk about who some of your major musical influences are?  You all have an extremely varied sound that while remaining noticeably from the same band can shift pretty drastically in mood and sound from song to song.  I’m curious to hear who you would cite as your major influences on the band a whole rather than individually?

Jaco:  Anything unusual, strange, odd, interesting, demented or indescribable is what we usually gravitate to.

Andrew:  I guess we just like the "alternative" to what's being shoved down our throats.  Obviously Nirvana was a mutual ground, because that opened us up to bands like The Melvins, Sonic Youth, Black Flag, Leadbelly, yada, yada, yada.  We have a large variety of musical tastes, and perhaps that makes our sound so unique.

What is Brown Spiders’ songwriting process like?  Does one of you approach the rest of the bad with a mostly finished riff or idea to work out with the rest of the band or is it more of a collective process with a  lot of jamming and exchange of ideas when you all get together to practice/play?

Andrew:  Elements of both really.  One of us might show up to practice with an idea/riff, then we fiddle with it until we like it.  On the other hand, we do a lot of improvisation and that also leads to quite a few of our songs.

Jaco:  "Come What May" was a live improv we recorded during the making of Closed Bracket Star Bracket and it became the opening track, so improvisation plays a major role.

What about recording?  How do you all handle the recording process?  Do you utilize a studio environment to record or is it more of a do-it-yourself, on your own time and turf, prospect?

Jaco:  We like recording on old analogue equipment.  Both our albums were recorded that way, that's the only way we know how; in my windy house.  I think we’d be uncomfortable in a studio.  We prefer our own time, space and doing it our way.

Andrew:  Live analogue recording just makes for a more natural and raw sound and I think we’re raw as fuck.

Do you all enjoy recording?  As a musician myself I think that most of us can really appreciate the end results.  There’s not a whole lot in the world that beats holding an album in your hands, knowing that it’s your and you made it.  Getting into the studio, or even recording stuff on your own, especially when it comes to dealing with an entire band, can be a little stressful to say the least.  How is it in the studio for you all?

Andrew:  We have a fucked up "tradition" of recording during some kind of heat wave, which is challenging.  Not sure if it brings out the best in us or the worse, but it's always fun.  Ha-ha!

Jaco:  Recording makes me physically ill, in a good way.  I need to throw at least one temper tantrum during each recording session.  I like the way it validates me, because it's my windy house and I can do as I please, damn it. 

Does Brown Spiders do a lot of prep work before you record getting things all worked out and arrangements just the way you want them?  Or is it more of an organic process when it comes to recording where you have room for a little bit of change and variation?

Andrew:  We just play the songs until they feel right and we’re comfortable with them.  But due to the nature of live recording, we’ve grown to expect some unexpected structure and or lyrical changes, ha-ha!

Jaco:  The songs for our new album were all pretty much worked out and pretty well-rehearsed.  We’d even already started performing them live in our sets.  Prior to the recording of our second album, Andreas went on tour with The Make-Overs (Interview here) and seeing as we couldn't rehearse, we taped our rehearsals before he left and rehearsed "mentally" while he was gone.

Let’s take a little bit of time and talk about your back-catalog some.  You released your debut album close bracket/star/bracket in 2013 on the KRNGY imprint.  Was the recording of that first album a fun, pleasurable experience for you all?  Can you share some of your memories of making close bracket/star/bracket with us?  Where and when was it recorded?  Who recorded it?  What kind of equipment was used?

Andrew:  Aside from the hellish heat wave we experienced, it was great fun.  It was recorded in two days at Jaco's windy house sometime in January 2013.

Jaco:  We released a limited addition of 20 copies of the first self-titled Brown Spider release, which was just me and Andreas.  But the first album with Andrew was Closed Bracket/Star/Bracket.  We have come to accept extreme suffering during our recordings.  It’s just the way we operate.  S&M and all that shit.

Andreas:  I’ve mentally checked out since sometime in January.

When we were chatting you mentioned that you all had an album planned for 2014.  Have you all started recording that material yet or is it still a work in progress?  If you’ve started recording can you tell us some details about that?  Do you know what the name of the album is going to be or a tentative release date at this point?

Jaco:  We have a tentative title for the album, either Stampede or Dickwad.  I think we’ve gotten better as a band since the last recordings.  We just had a batch of new songs that we couldn't wait to put it on tape and before we realized it, we had a whole album of new songs.

Andreas:  It should be Brown Spiders-Number Two.

Andrew:  Yeah, we recently finished the recording of the new album.  Think it sounds fabulous, very natural. We just have to finish mixing and mastering.  It was recorded in a similar fashion to the previous one, yet it's heavier and more melodic.  My idea for the title is Relaxative.

You also have an upcoming single for the inimitable Hozac Records sometime early in 2014.  Can you tell us anything about that release yet?  Do you know what tracks are going to be featured?  If you know what tracks you’re going to use are they already recorded or are you in the process of doing that now?  If they’ve already been recorded can you talk about the recording of that material?  I’m pretty sure the Hozac singles are strictly limited edition affairs.  Is your single doing to be limited or do you know at this point?  If so do you know how many copies it’s going to be limited to or when it’s scheduled for release?

Andrew:  The songs on the single are “It's Something To Do” and “That Was Then This Is Now”, a total flip-side description of who we are.

Jaco:  Both of the tracks on the HoZac single were taken from our album Close/Bracket/Star/Bracket.  Not sure about the release date yet, sometime 2014?  We're super excited about releasing something on HoZac records!

Other than the upcoming Hozac single and new album are there any other releases in the works or on the horizon at this point?

Andrew:  Not as of yet, but we’re still looking to release a new album in 2014.

Jaco:  We're always in the process of writing new songs.  So we've always got something we want to record before we forget it.

I know that you all are on the KRNGY imprint alongside The Make Overs who are simply incredible but I haven’t been able to find very much info on KRNGY or their releases outside of the people I’ve discovered that just happen to be on the label.  How did you get hooked up with KRNGY and do you know where the best place to keep up with the latest news and releases from them is at?

Andrew:  Geographical coincidence, ha-ha.  Currently theinterwebs are the best place.
Jaco:  KRNGY is a home-run label from our neck of the woods, operated by two of our friends with the right attitude.  I might have been involved in the madness as all my previous bands have been involved with the KRNGY label.

Andreas:  The KRNGY Logo isn’t obscure on purpose.  It's a label from way back that’s run by Martinique and I.  We have about a hundred releases on the label, but they’re mostly CD-Rs and stuff.  Some of them were limited to limited editions of ten or twenty copies, like the Hearingaids CD and some of the live IYAWYETICBYBT bootlegs on cassette.  It's just the two of us making all the merch at the moment, but we’re trying to get the label figured out so we can do some great releases from a bunch of new and old bands alike.  I'm currently excited about the Straight Suits.  I'm hoping to do a release ASAP with them.  I do encourage bands to send their music to other labels since I feel like I can't do that much to help them out in general.  We just want to document some of the radical music that's around and mostly not getting picked up on.

Where’s the best place for our US readers to pick up copies of your music?  With the insane international postage rate increases this last year I try to provide readers with as many options for purchasing physical music as I possibly can!

Andrew:  I think KRNGY is trying to set up an online store, but I can only imagine what a schlep that is and I know how busy they are. (*Author’s note:  Check out this link for details on the only way that I know of to get physical releases from KRNGY Logo)

Jaco:  The only place to get your filthy claws on KRNGY merch is at the glory hole at any KRNGY related gig.

Andreas:  The Hozac single will be the first thing available to the general public.  We do have two albums, but the first album is sold out and the second one isn’t out yet.  You can listen to our stuff on Bandcamp or just check our Facebook for now though.

What about our international readers?

Andrew:  We have international readers!?

Jaco:  It's hard to get hold of the Brown Spiders stuff.  It’s only available at shows at this point.  If you don't know us or come to a show, you can't really get anything.

And where’s the best place for fans to keep up with the latest like upcoming shows and album releases from Brows Spiders?

Andrew:  Currently, the interwebs, like Facebook and Bandcamp.

Jaco:  We've got a music video for “It's Something To Do” and a few video camera recordings on YouTube.  I'm sure we'll post something sometime in the distant future.  I hate social networks.

Are there any major goals that Brown Spiders’ are looking to accomplish in 2014?

Jaco:  World domination.  We want to start touring, make some enemies on the road and offend some innocent people.

Andrew:  Well, we want to finish the new album and send it to some labels, obviously gig as much as possible, get ready for Blackout Fest 2015 and if our schedules allow it, maybe even a bit of touring.

What, if anything, do you have planned as far as touring goes for 2014 so far?

Jaco:  Currently we're busy sorting out the new album and after that we can concentrate on organizing some touring.

Andrew:  Unfortunately we won't be able to play Blackout Fest this year, which is very sad.  Due to our busy schedules, touring’s difficult, but we’d love to organize something in Potchestroom, Cape Town and most of South Africa later the year.

Do you all enjoy touring?  Do you spend a lot of time on the road?  How is it on the road for Brown Spiders?

Jaco:  We'd love to tour.  We're willing to be booked.

Andrew:  Due to our busy schedules, with working and The Make-Overs (Interview here), we haven't been able to tour, but we’d love to find out how we are on the road a bit in 2014 if we can.

Do you remember what the first song that Brown Spiders ever played live was?  If so, where and when was that?

Jaco:  The first song we played live was “Killer Beard Of Killer Bees”, a new wave influenced mind fuck, at Schivas Rock in Pretoria somewhere in 2011.  That track was on the very first Brown Spiders record when we were still a two-piece band.

Who are some of your personal favorite acts that you’ve had a chance to share a bill with?

Andrew:  Uhmmmmmmmmm…  Black Lung, Sindrones, Eyes Like Mirrors, The Make-Overs (Interview here), Cortina Whiplash…

Jaco:  Us Kids Know...  Uhmmmmmmmmm...  I would like to say Black Lung again, ha-ha!

In your dreams, who are you on tour with?

Andrew:  Don't get me started...  The Melvins? Truckfighters?  Bob Log III?  Yeah, Bob Log III; imagine the party.

Jaco:  Sonic Youth, Teenage Jesus & The Jerks, The Ramones, Shocked Minds and The Velvet Underground.

Andreas:  Captain Beefheart or Cosmic Psychos.

Do you have any funny or interesting stories from live shows or performances that you’d like to share here with our readers?

Andrew:  We were playing a gig at The Bohemian in Johannesburg and during our set these two very attractive lesbian ladies started making out at the front of the stage.  I think they stole the show, ha-ha.  Lesbians just love Brown Spiders, ha-ha!

Jaco:  After a show at Kitcheners this lady assaulted my testicles with a mic stand.  She wanted her boyfriend to join in the fun...  Needless to say, I hid behind the drum kit.

Andreas:  I stay out of trouble.

Do you have a preferred medium of release for your music?  What about when you’re listening to and or purchasing music, if so, why?  With all of the various mediums available to artists today I’m always curious why musicians choose the methods that they do and why.

Jaco:  My preference is vinyl, but because vinyl is hard to find in South Africa, whatever I finds I keeps.

Andrew:  I think we all prefer vinyl, but I personally don't mind CDs.  I just love filling up my collection.  Although in South Africa it's hard to get hold of all the music I like, and in that case I'll take a download or a CD rip.

Andreas:  It's not the format, but what it contains that's important to me.  I’d take a Flipper CD before a Chris de Burgh LP and a James Brown 8-track before a Justin Bieber download.

I’m a second generation music collector.  I grew up around a pretty sizable collection and there was always something just amazing about being able to go over to the shelf band pull something off of it completely at random, stick it into the player, kick back with the liner notes and let the music transport me to another world.  There was something about having a physical object to hold in my hands, liner notes to read, artwork to look at, that provided a rare and brief glimpse inside of the mind of the artists that created it and made for a more complete listening experience, at least for me.  Do you have any such connection with physically released music?

Andrew:  Obviously I prefer something physical; it feels like some good music gets lost within a huge music library on a computer.  Something physical is more sentimental and special.

Jaco:  I take pride in that I don’t have any digital music.  The whole new digital music revolution sucks ass.

Do you have a music collection at all?  If so can you tell us a little bit about it?

Andrew:  We all have quite a large collection of vinyl, CDs, tapes and digital music on our computers, ranging from rock, pop, noise, punk, etcetera.

Jaco:  I have a large collection of vinyl, CDs, blah, blah, blah.  Some favourites include Pussy Galore, Babes In Toyland, Lubricated Goat, a beautiful, gatefold double LP compilation from the late 80's called The EndOf Music As We Know It featuring Jad Fair, Honeymoon Killers, Royal Trucks, Thurston Moore and a lot of other cool stuff.

As much as I love my music collection, and lord knows I love the hell out of every piece of music in my collection, there’s always been problems with taking it on the go and that just irked the hell out of me.  There’s not a whole lot out there that annoyed me more than paying for an album but not being able to take in on the go with me.  And even when it came to CDs and tapes I was never able to take enough with me on the go to satisfy my enormous hungers when driving and road-tripping.  Digital music has taken care of that problem all but overnight.  It still blows my mind I can carry most of my music collection around with me on the go on my phone at this point!  When you team digital music with the internet though, that’s when you get the real game changer.  The internet has exposed people to a whole universe of music that they otherwise would never have been privy to, but there’s always bad with the good and vice versa.  Illegal downloading is running rampant and it’s harder and harder to get noticed in the chocked digital arena.  As a musician during the reign of the digital era, what’s your opinion on digital music and distribution?

Andrew:  I think it’s helped us get our music out to other countries and reach people we wouldn't normally have, which would be impossible if digital music hadn't existed.  And as you said, you can take more music on the road.

Jaco:  I get that it makes music more "available", but I still prefer the old way, going out and rummaging through dirt and filtering out the diamonds.  Digital music makes it easier, but it also makes it less special.
I try to keep up with as much good music as I possibly can.  I spend more time than I would like to admit surging around online looking for something new and cool, I stop out at the local shop at least once a week and I’m always asking the store clerks for recommendations and suggestions.  A lot of the best tips that I get come from musicians such as yourselves though!  Is there anyone from your local scene or area that I might not have heard of I should be listening to?

Andrew:  I would recommend Black Lung, Sindrones, Jaco & Z-dog, uhmmmmm, etcetera ha-ha.  I think KRNGY will be releasing amixed tape containing these artists.

Jaco:  Us Kids Know and The Straight Suits.

Andreas:  The Straight Suits.

What about nationally and internationally?

Jaco:  All the "No Wave" bands from the 70's, lots of the underground 80's bands and a bunch of the "lo-fi" 90's slacker vomit rock.

Andrew:  I don't like name dropping.

Andreas:  Protomartyr, Androids of Mu, Nones, The Man, Feelings, The Rubs, Thing, Royal Baths...

Jaco:  Chicks With Dicks.

Andrew:  You sadistic bastard.

Thank you so much for taking the time to make it through this thing.  I know that this wasn’t short and it couldn’t have been a whole hell of a lot of fun to fill out but hopefully it didn’t suck too bad ha-ha!  While I’ve got you, is there anything that I might have missed or that you’d just like to take this opportunity to talk to me or our readers about?

Andrew:  You sadistic bastard.

(2012)  Brown Spiders – Brown Spiders – CD – Self-Released (Limited to ? copies)
(2013)  Brown Spiders – close bracket/star/bracket – digital, CD-R – KRNGY Records
(2014)  Brown Spiders – UNKNOWN SINGLE – 7” – Hozac Records
(2014)  Brown Spiders – UNTITLED ALBUM – ? – ?

Interview made by Roman Rathert/2014
© Copyright

Love - Da Capo (1966) review

Love - Da Capo (Music On Vinyl, 1966/2014)

Post-Byrds and pre-Doors, the toast of LA’s hipster scene was undoubtedly Love. With the songwriting power of main lead vocalist Arthur Lee and rhythm guitarist Bryan Maclean, Love created a fine mesh of tough, surly jangle-spike moves and, contrastingly, more than a few ultra-moody ballads to balance things out. Those qualities would run all the way through their incredible eponymous 1966 debut.
As they introduced a few new twists into their already heavy arsenal (losing and gaining some personnel along the way), the group were augmented by the sound of flutes, harpsichord and an the ongoing series of intricate acoustic guitar flourishes being played out courtesy of Johnny Echols, Lee and Maclean, the group now harnessing what could be claimed as the very beginnings of baroque'n'roll exotica.
This in turn formed the basis for many of the tracks you hear on this, their second, highly experimental jazz-inspired opus, Da Capo. It proved to be a truly great, if rather unusual move, yet one that all the time pointed forward to a more adventurous spirit, and sound that, in a relatively short time, would be heard much more frequently in a rock style setting. The exceptional arrangements we hear on 'Orange Skies' and 'She Comes In Colors' are perhaps the most successful realisations of the group’s newly-adopted emphasis and choice of direction. The album also contained two of their most celebrated, diamond hard punk style offerings in 'Stephanie Knows Who', and the runaway juggernaut-style beat-blast of '7 & 7 Is'; an amazing feat which – the 50 odd takes it took to get the astonishing drumming right or otherwise – also served them well on the US Billboard singles chart. Don't know about you but every time I hear this I always wanna follow it up by playing the great original 7" flipside, 'No. 14', but of course it wasn't ever present on the original Da Capo, and so neither is it present on this newly issued set. The overall sonic punch and super-kinetic energy created on '7 & 7 Is', however, remains nothing short of miraculous!
And then there’s the side-long 'Revelation' to consider. This radical, one-off,
dangerously experimental excursion never fails to surprise and amaze. It is still capable of arousing a high degree of controversy among many listeners too, even if some detractors remain wholly indifferent to its multi-faceted charms. Well, whichever way you look at it, ‘Revelation’ is a loose, thrusting, adrenaline-driven jam out whose devil-may-care punk spirit lies at its heart, yet audaciously it expounds on the similarly-extended nature (and then some ...) that the ‘Stones already laid down on their mammoth 'Goin' Home' cut (Aftermath)  –  undoubtedly a major source of inspiration. With its almost continuous momentum – despite a few naturally occurring ebbs and flows –  'Revelation' affords the space and allows the chance for everyone in the group to shine a little; including guitars, drums, wind and, not least, Lee’s double-whammy vocal and bracing harmonica outbursts.
Released at the tail end of '66 Da Capo would prove a pivotal piece of modern rock innovation, providing a strong guiding light for many of the important things to come; in particular the freeform patterns of such as ‘Revelation’ and its influence upon some of the more outrageous work by Syd Barrett's Pink Floyd in London, and others too who were then seeking to push all rock music boundaries farther out than ever!
Listen then, with heart, mind and soul as the heart-stirringly melodic content of such as 'The Castle', and 'Que Vida' washes into you; their potent lyrical and musical dexterity will have you in paroxysims of delight. The subtle nuances of Lee's tricky word manoeuvres, and the patterns of Echols' finely honed electric lines, seemingly complex can, at times, appear deceptively simple. Feed in the quizzicality of Ken Forssi and Alban “Snoopy” Pfisterer’s looping bass and drums groove, and the culture-crossing episodes emphasised by Tjay Cantrelli’s woodwind and keyboard-led passages, and there’s no denying that Love’s Da Capo has, in abundance, the kind of inherent musical magic few groups could ever come close to possessing.
Like many tend to do nowadays – and with the advantage of the instant click-a-button hindsight we have it’s so much easier – I’d say it’s pretty pointless for people to always be making comparisons with Da Capo’s far more revered follow-up, just accepting the “oh but it's not as good as 'Forever Changes” mentality that, especially, many industry insiders would have you believe. I get tired and irked at that type of lazy criticism, genuinely feeling that Da Capo is every bit as innovative, clever, insightful, deliciously dangerous and experimental (perhaps even more so ... ) especially as it was only the second LP by what (for the time anyway) was still a relatively new group. Perhaps I'm preaching to the converted, but I still feel the need to express the opinion that Da Capo is a singular total tour de force in the long-play world, and a full-blown trip that can easily stand its own ground in whichever and whoever's company anyone cares, or indeed dares to place it.

Review made by Lenny Helsing/2014
© Copyright

Atomic Simao interview with Jora Valchuk, Dima Dudko, Nikita Gavrilenko, Andriy Volkoff and Andriy Dvoryashin

Atomic Simao represent a freedom seldom scene in the music industry these days.  Harnessing powerfully psychedelic landscapes and melding them with rock and acid jazz, every song seems to be a journey.  Where that journey will take you though is open to interpretation in this writer’s opinion.  Some people are going to gravitate to the more tripped out guitar driven instrumental psychedelia of Nodo while other jazz and improv enthusiasts will instantly glom onto the undulating rhythms and melodies of Sphyro that coalesce and converge into powerful, funky explorations into the sounds that Atomic Simao are capable of summoning from the ether.  At once brash and impulsive and simultaneously harmonious and insanely catchy, from the moment you hit play it’s obvious that Atomic Simao are a tribe of young individuals out to explore the boundaries and limitations of what people expect from a song.  In short, they’re a group of people interested in doing their own thing and sounding the way that they want to sound, which is a hell of a refreshing thing in a time when so many things are just recycled reiterations of things we’ve all heard before; and quite often done better.  Atomic Simao summons trance like hypnotic altered states from the hazy soundscapes of their music, echo and reverb feeding back on themselves like the thunderous crash of waves against a cliff in the distance.  After a few lineup changes and some much needed reflection on their sound, a lot of things have and are changing with Atomic Simao but one thing that remains a constant is their doggedly unique and persistent musical voice.  It’s been months in the making but I’m absolutely stoked to finally give all you lucky Psychedelic Baby readers the skinny on one of the trippiest things I’ve come across in years; Atomic Simao.
Listen while you read:  

What is Atomic Simao’s lineup?  If I understand correctly you went through a little bit of a change as a band last year.  Can you talk a bit about that?

Jora Valchuk – drums
Dima Dudko – sax
Nikita Gavrilenko –bass
Andriy Volkoff – keys, fx
Andriy Dvoryashin- percussion, kaos, vocal
Zhenya Sophiychuk - guitar

Dima:  The last lineup changes started like this: there was a gig last summer where we agreed to participate.  We were really interested, but the band members from Kharkiv suddenly couldn’t arrive.  We didn’t want to cancel, so in order to take part in the show we invited our old and new friends that were in bands and came up with some songs for the show.  Among them were guitar player Jenya Sofiychuk who returned to the band after a long break and a bass player Nikita Gavrilenko.  This was after Sphyro had already been recorded.  Andrey Dvoryashin used to play percussion for us from time to time and he started playing keys at the gig that summer.  Keyboard player Andrey Volkov later joined the band with me on sax and our drummer Jora, and that’s what Atomic Simao is today.  Before those changes our colleagues from Kharkiv were playing with us: Artem Janovsky and Andrey Listratenko both on guitar, Vova Sitnik on keys, Oleg Kasianov on bass and Jenya Garbuzov on percussion.  This is in addition to such former band members as Vova Yakovenko and Vanya Volokita on bass.

Jora:  If we’re talking about the beginning there were four of us thinking of starting a band: Zhenya Sophiychuk guitar, Ivan Volokita bass, Lyosha Rogachov keyboard, guitar, and vocal, and me on drums.  Then we had a gig in Kharkov, but Zhenya and Lyosha can’t go with us.  That day we met two guys who were also were playing at that gig as members of the Janovsky Featuring Givotnoe band and their guitarist Artyom Janovsky agreed to play with us.  After that day we decided to play together in spite of living in different cities.  Our first album Nodo was recorded with Janovsky on guitar), Vova Sytnik on keys and pads, and Ray Listratenko on guitar.  After that we had a gig in Kiev, but our Kharkov colleagues couldn’t come…  So, we decided to find new members.  Nowadays Atomic Simao is:

Jora Valchuk – drums;
Dima Dudko – sax;
Nikita Gavrilenko – bass;
Zhenya Sophiychuk – guitar;
Andriy Volkoff – keys, pads, samples;
Andriy “Bart” Dvoryashin – percussion, kaos pad, vocal samples.

Nikita:  I’ve been in the band since the summer of 2013.  Our lineup now is the universe, passed through our mind and soul.

Volkoff:  The band's lineup went through a string of changes.  I, personally, entered the current lineup in September 2013.  Hooray for that!

Dvoryashin:  Nope, I just joined this spring; I was only featured before.  I can honestly say that I love all the guys and am very grateful for being with them.  Yes, meetings were occasional to say the least while half the band was in Kharkiv.

Are any of you in any other bands at this point?  Have you released any music with anyone else in the past?  If so can you tell us a little bit about that?  I love playing musical connect the dots; but as much as I love playing everyone knows there’s nothing more fun than getting to cheat ha-ha!

Dima:  There have been a lot of bands and projects, as well as local self-releases.  Among them, solo projects, Sonym, DoZa, Violet and Atomic Simao side-projects.

Jora:  I’ve been playing in different bands for fourteen years.  It was a good experience for me, I had a lot of good practice!  I should note one of them, called DoZa.

Nikita:  At the time I received the invitation to join Atomic Simao I was speding my time making home recordings and playing jamming with my friends at the house.

Volkoff:  Other bands?  Quite probably, yeah, I played the drums in a small formation with our bass player, Nikita, and this long-haired guy called Rodion.  Before that, I made some bedroom sounds by myself.

Dvoryashin:  Not much to tell about there.  My talent mostly finds a place on the streets, you know, while hangin’ out.

Where are you originally from?

Dima:  Chernihiv, Ukraine.

Jora:  Kiev, Ukraine.

Nikita:  Zaporozhue City, Ukraine.

Volkoff:  Kiev, Ukraine.

Dvoryashin:  Kiev/Crimea, Ukraine.  Earth.  Universe.

How would you describe the local music scene where you grew up?  Did you go to a lot of shows when you were growing up?  Do you feel like it played a large role in your musical tastes or the way that you play today?

Dima:  At that time in Chernihiv, traditionally we had classical music concerts and local metal shows.  That was quite a community, it was nice.  Sonym even played a few shows.  Then, there were a few jazz, funk, fusion and rock shows in other Ukrainian places.  Those things played a role, but most of the music that influenced me didn’t necessarily come from those shows.

Jora:  Our local scene is like one big depression for me.  Thank God, it hasn’t influenced me at all.  

Nikita:  I've been playing music in different bands for about ten years, which has had a great influence on my musical tastes as they are today.  My musical childhood in Zaporozhue was, in the spiritual sense, something like America in the 60's with their free-mindedness and rock'n'roll.  We all had long hair and there were less than forty of us in the whole city.

Volkoff:  Certainly, there were some notable musicians and shows here.  But, for sure, my musical tastes and my way of playing were mostly influenced by British and American music.

Dvoryashin:  I went to a lot of shows, but I still found more inspiration in records from abroad.  Alternative rock parties were very fun though!

Was your home very musical growing up?  Were your parents or any of your relatives musicians or extremely involved or interested music at that point?

Dima:  Yes to all of the above.

Jora:  My dad (rest in peace) introduced me to a lot of cool music from the 60’s, such as Led Zeppelin, The Doors and Grand Funk Railroad.  He also played bass guitar during his youth

Nikita:  My sister is a music teacher.

Volkoff:  My musical tastes growing up were affected by my dad's collection of LPs.  "Bicycle Race" by Queen was among the first tracks I ever heard.

Dvoryashin:  I didn’t have a parental music background but my mother has a good voice and so does my sister.  She even graduated music school.  I began buying tapes as soon as I started getting money for weekend apartment cleaning from my Mom; that’s their part of my musical endowment.

What was your first real exposure to music?

Dima:  The first music I listened to?  My parent’s vinyl of Bach, Vivaldi, The Beatles, ABBA, the Soviet jazz fusion band Arsenal, Paul Mauriat, Joe Dassin, Count Basie, some Polish jazz and Soviet musical tales for kids.

Jora:  It was a cassette tape where Queen was on the A-side and Michael Jackson was on side B.  I clearly remember Pink Floyd on vinyl.

Volkoff:  My primal scream right after birth...

Dvoryashin:  First I listened to and loved songs that my father sang with friends after a good evening.  Then, he gave me a tape with western themes.  I used it to pieces.

If you had to pick a single moment of music that redefined everything for you, changed all the rules and opened your eyes to the endless possibilities of music, what would it be?

Dima:  It wasn’t just a single moment.  Maybe it was something like an accordion in my hands when I was a child, or later on getting new instruments.  Or, discovering some bands that impressed me for a long time.

Jora:  Yeah, it was when I heard Red Snapper!  

Nikita:  I don’t like to describe music with words.  Words never say enough.

Volkoff:  Tough question...  It’s hard to pick one single moment.  Every time I play any musical instrument is that kind of moment, really.

Dvoryashin:  It’s about spontaneously born harmonies…  Like a quantum leap.

When did you decide that you wanted to start writing and performing your own music and what brought that decision about?

Dima:  Like I mentioned earlier, that happened when I was playing the accordion as a child.  I was about four years old and it’s caused an ingrained habit of having fun making, and playing, my own music.

Jora:  When I was a kid I was dreamt about a band, but wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to play or where I should find the other musicians at the time.  As I was growing up my musical taste changed and
I was playing in a band as a percussionist.  One day I decided to start my own band to play what we liked without any stylistic boundaries or limits.

Volkoff:  I started writing and performing my own music at school.  It was caused by The Beatles and my classmate who showed me some chords.  

When and how did you all meet originally?

Dima:  I met our drummer Jora when we were both working at the CD store in Kyiv.  That was about ten years ago.  Some of the others studied together at school or were good friends.  I was mostly acquainted with everybody before the last lineup change.

Jora:  The universe connects likeminded people.  

Volkoff:  Initially, I met our drummer Jora, a long time ago at school.

Dvoryashin:  I met Jora in 2002, I guess.  It was a time when my tastes were transforming and it’s been a big step in my evolution.

What led to the formation of Atomic Simao and when exactly was that?

Dvoryashin:  The time had come.

Jora:  My enormously optimistic view of things. As I said before, I played in different bands and one day, I think it was 2010, I decided to start my own.

Dima:  The main cause was Jora’s constant activism, obstinacy and his long search for colleagues and supporters with whom he could share his musical energy.  I think it was 2010 when he met them.

Is there a shared creed, ideal or mantra that the band lives by?

Dima:  Musically maybe it’s to relax, improvise and not to bother much, to have fun if you can.  I don’t think it’s just about the music in our band.

Jora:  Pure meditation.  The main idea is to improvise; I call it “catching a wave”.  We all enjoy what we do and we’re all having fun when we see each other.  If you’re surrounded by musical soulmates, you just need to push the record button!

Nikita:  Every one of us has his own powerful practices. 

Volkoff:  Our music is our mantra, our collective journey through beats and frequencies.

Dvoryashin:  We’re very different.  I think that’s a big advantage to our creativity, bringing in individual elements and collaborating.

I imagine this bizarre psychedelic bomb of some sort every time I hear your name, what does Atomic Simao mean or refer to?  Who came up with the name and how did you go about choosing it?

Volkoff:  Jora, the drummer, made up the name.  Simao Sabrosa is a famous football player from Portugal; I know that for sure!  

Dima:  I guess Jora will tell you.  He said it was just a random combination, but he’s also a football fan (Simao), a fan of a Portuguese speech and likes creative exaggerations and grotesque metaphors.  As for me, I mistakenly thought he meant some kind of a Basquiat character early on, with a slight allusion to Simeiz which is a popular hipster place in Ukraine.  Later we laughed at that assumption together, but we kind of consider it as an alternate meaning to the name.  The bomb version is also nice due to the initially unexpected, audience feedback to the music and the worldwide activity it’s caused.

Jora:  Once upon a time, I had a trip to Crimea by train.  I was staring through the window, admiring picturesque landscapes we were passing by, and then I decided to write some words in my notebook.  It was just a random list of different words written in two columns.  After that I began to connect one word with another, just for fun.  So, that’s it!  Just two words which sound nice together.  

Where’s the band currently located at these days?

Atomic Simao:  Kiev, Ukraine.

Are you very involved in the local music scene?  Do you book or attend a lot of local live shows?  Do you help record and or release and local music?

Dima:  Yes to all of the above.

Nikita:  It’s very hard to describe the “local” Ukrainian music scene.  I don't understand it.

Jora:  We’ve had a lot of shows over the last four month.  They were in the “underground local scene” mostly.  The typical, local, mainstream mind is afraid of Atomic Simao.

Dvoryashin:  I’m discovering a lot of interesting performers.  I think Ukraine is very rich in talent.

Do you think that the local scene has played a large role in the history or sound of Atomic Simao or do you feel like you all could be doing what you’re doing and sound like you do regardless of your location or surroundings?

Dima:  I think it played that role only partially, considering our major influences come from worldwide music.

Jora:  The local scene helped me understand what music I was never gonna play.  I don’t think that location plays such a large role in things if you have strong understanding of what you’re aiming for.

Nikita:  One-hundred percent regardless.

Volkoff:  We just are who we are.  Personally, I don't think the local scene had played a big role at all. 

I think that music is art and therefor I’m just not convinced that it belongs in these little boxes under these convenient labels that we like to assign it, which is usually okay but when it comes to having to describe a band to someone who’s never heard them though it makes things a little bit difficult. Rather than me making some strange and awkward attempt and describing your sound, how would you describe it to our readers who might not have heard you yet in your own words?

Dvoryashin:  It’s trippy, rocky and stormy.

Jora:  I call it “soundtrack music”.

Dima:  Traditionally we joke that, “this is pure meditation”.  

Nikita:  It’s an Eastern method applied to Western music.

Volkoff:  An Eastern approach to Western music...  Or soundtrack music; you can direct your own movie in your head using our sound!

You guys went a pretty radical shift in your musical tones between your two releases and while there’s definitely some middle ground to say the least it was a noticeable and drastic change. The main reason I bring this up is it kind of showcases how diverse the pallet of your influences has to be to draw from such varied musical styling’s and switch between them. Who are some of your major musical influences? What about influences on the band as a whole rather than individually?

Dima:  Considering said band creed, you’ll understand that relaxed playing brings out those influences more.  Jora and I always enjoyed music like for example Red Snapper, so now the new album is closer to that.  The whole influence thing is hard to talk about because we have an approach to songwriting like a free conversation rather than a thoughtful monologue.  It’s useful to mention 60’s and 70’s blues, rock, funk legends, some music from 90’s, also some electronic and some more contemporary stuff.  So, as a band as a whole influences may be something obvious like Hendrix, Red Snapper, Pink Floyd or Radiohead.  Individually though, that list sure would expand!

Jora:  Tough question.  There’s an ocean without a shore, if we’re talking about music that inspired or influenced me.  I would definitely mention Prodigy, The Chemical Brothers, Red Snapper, Massive Attack, Radiohead, Bjork, Amon Tobin, Jimi Hendrix and Future Sound of London though…  Oh, and Funk music of course!  We think of our music as a kind of “state of mind”, a closed-eye journey into unconsciousness.

Volkoff:  Lots of personal influences...  As a band, I would pick Pink Floyd as an influence, but I know that my band-mates will name Radiohead for sure!  

Can you talk about Atomic Simao’s songwriting process with us a little bit?  Is there just a lot of jamming and exchange of ideas between band members when you all get together to play music or is there someone who will bring a somewhat finished riff or idea to work out and compose with the rest of the band?

Dima:  Several songs with the current lineup are jams that we came up with easily and approximately repeated.  The rest are fully improvised at shows or during the recording of the record; this was the most common case for us with Kharkiv friends.  If the song is a jam that anybody can be an author.

Jora:  We’re all the authors.  I agree with Dima about the jamming.  Our first album Nodo is one-hundred percent spontaneous creation; we caught the wave!

Nikita:  It’s “catching the feeling” of the band.

Volkoff:  Our playing and songwriting is a communication between the band members.  Call it "jamming", or call it "meditation", but we can do it for hours and hours...  That's a hundred to one!

Dvoryashin:  Yes, waves boiling in a studio cauldron of jams give birth to our music.

Do you all enjoy recording?  I mean I know as a musician myself that most of us at least, can really appreciate the end result.  Holding an album in your hands knowing it’s yours, you made it and that no one can take that away from you is a pretty incredible feeling.  Getting to that point though, getting the material recorded and the release prepped, especially when it comes to working with an entire band can be a little bit stressful to say the least. How is it recording for Atomic Simao?

Dima:  During the process of recording with the band the idea is to relax.  So it flows.  Breaks are done for the relaxation, no because of stress.

Jora:  We have some smoking rituals before recording.  No stress my friend! 

Do you all utilize studio space to record or is it more of a do it yourself kind of thing you do with your own equipment in your own space?

Dima:  Mostly the studio.

Jora:  We found a great place for recording in Kharkov; Driben Indie Records.  Our own equipment in our own space sounds fantastic though!  Maybe one day we can afford it.

Does Atomic Simao do a lot of prep work before you record music or is it a lot of improvisation and you just kind of try and catch lighting in a bottle?

Dima:  Mostly the second option.  

Jora:  Nodo and Sphyro; 90% improvisation.  But we’ve prepared the material for a new EP, or maybe even an LP.

Volkoff:  As a new band member I believe that we'll record our new material very soon... Then I’ll tell you if you want.  

Your first release that I’m aware of was 2013’s digital self-release Nodo.  Can you share some of your memories of recording the material for that first album?  Was it a fun pleasurable experience for you all?  Where and when was that material recorded?  Who recorded it?  What kind of equipment was used?

Dima:  It was recorded in the end of 2012 at the same studio we sued for the second one, in Kharkiv.  Only two our present members took part: Jora, and our Kharkiv colleagues.  This was the lucky result of suddenly finding musical supporters in the city.  There was no bass player, so guitarist Artem Janovsky recorded the bass part at home on his own.  He also facelifted the material, mixed it and put it in order.  I was in the band when it was released, but didn’t take part in this album.  As for the equipment, it can partially be seen in our studio recording videos.

Jora:  I remember when Artyom called and said, “Dude, come to Kharkov for a record.  We want to do some jams, Hendrix style”.  After we finished talking I went right out to buy a ticket.  I can also remember when we came to the studio there wasn’t a bass player, which was shock for me!

You followed up the Nodo release with another digital only release Sphyro late last year (2013).  Was the recording of the material for Sphyro very different than the work you did for Nodo?  Where was that recorded?  Who recorded it?  When was that and what kind of equipment was used?

Dima:  Like I said, it was recorded at Dribben Indie Records studio in Kharkiv, the same as Nodo.  The differences in recording were that more people took part in it and that it was recorded during two different sessions on different days in March and April with slightly different lineups.  The bass player for the first session was Oleg Kasianov from Kharkiv who’s partially responsible for the sound of tracks like “13”, “Sun in Everyone” and “Bye” (check out a side-project featuring him at the Sailtale Dubhe Bandcamp page).  The second session of bass recordings belong to our Kyyiv friend Vova Yakovenko from In Red, Descending, Vacancy on Flight etcetera, who brought in some prepared ideas for the record as an exception.  Sax for the second session tracks was recorded in the studio and at home for the first session.  Almost all the editing, mixing and premastering was done by Artem Janovsky.  There’s also some unreleased material from those records we’ve kept for a possible later release.  In my humble opinion Sphyro contains more changes and variety when compared with Nodo’s more solid concept, which is nice.

Are there any plans for a physical release of either one of the albums or are they going to remain digital only for now?

Dima:  Yes, for now there are plans but no hurry.

Jora:  I agree with Dima, we’re going to release Nodo on vinyl near April or May of 2014, but we’re in no hurry.

Does Atomic Simao have any music that we haven’t talked about yet, maybe a single I missed or a song that appeared on a compilation or something?

Dima:  There’re a lot of drafts and older, plainer sounding material that came before Nodo which included the participation of our guitarists Jenya and Artem, some rehearsal drafts from different times featuring Vova Yakovenko on bass, our sitar player Roma and Simao’s first bass player Vanya Volokita, who also toured with us at different times.  Besides that, there’s recorded LQ audio and video from a lot of our gigs and recording process in the studio.  Moreover, some material recorded for Sphyro wasn’t released, and some of that was posted on YouTube and our Facebook or VK group pages.

Jora:  There’s a lot of unreleased material.   You can follow us on our VK page to find some new videos from our shows as well.

With the release of Sphyro not long ago in 2013 are there any other upcoming releases planned or in the works at this point?

Dima:  For now it’s only a plan.

Jora:  Spring.  

Where’s the best place for our readers to pick up your music?

Dima:  Bandcamp.

And where’s the best place for our readers to keep up on the latest news like upcoming shows and album releases from Atomic Simao at?

Dima:  VK or Facebook.

Are there any major goals that you all are looking to accomplish in 2014?

Dima:  For Atomic Simao I guess, it’s to go on.  Go forward.  

Nikita:  Making the music is a major goal.

Jora:  It’ll be great to take part in some local and or international festivals.

Volkoff:  To record our new material with the current lineup and release it, to play many shows across the Ukraine and outside of our country, to participate in foreign music festivals...

Dvoryashin:  To me, and I think to all of us, it’s necessary to record  material we’ve got at last, to fix it, and to start working on new stuff.  And I’m willing to be on Jazz Koktebel open stage this autumn.

What, if anything, do you have planned as far as touring goes for 2014 so far?

Dima:  Can’t tell for the whole year, but currently our schedule is about five shows a month.

Volkoff:  We have a few shows in Kiev this month (January).  Then we'll visit Lviv and Ternopil...  I hope there’s more to come!

Jora:  Like Volkoff mentioned, we’re going to visit Ternopil and Lviv, a picturesque pearl in Western Ukraine, and then we’ll go in to Sumy and return to some gigs in Kiev.

Have you all toured yet?  If so do you all enjoy touring and what’s life like on the road for you all?

Dima:  There have been no great worldwide tours for us yet.  We had a couple of shows across the country and have played abroad, but it isn’t like five gigs in a row, in different cities.  These trips were always fun, nice experience for us.  There’s something new to see, some interesting places to visit, people and colleagues to meet, funny stories, etcetera. 

Nikita:  It’s like having some kind of rest.

Volkoff:  Touring’s like an adventure!  We had a great show in Belarus last month.  We played in a very nice town called Gomel. 

Jora:  Touring is always fun.  New cities, new people, new atmosphere, new emotions!  I love it!
After this last trip, we’ve become a family.  

Dvoryashin:  Touring with Simao was really fun and really an adventurous time.  That was a great trip to Gomel.  It gave me a fresh and free feeling of life.  It was a really, damn good time!

Who are some of your favorite bands that you’ve had a chance to share a bill with so far?

Dima:  A lot of them are good.  For example, DoZa, Polska Radio 1, Penguinsmeat, Bomg, Curse of Vendigo, Johnny Be Gut, Keepleer 18...

Jora:  Polska Radio One, DoZa.

Volkoff:  Polska Radio One.

In your dreams, who are you on tour with?

Dima:  Don’t know.  I think for me, ‘how’ is more important than ‘who’, but I enjoyed touring with my good old friends Keepleer 18.  It was nice to meet them there after having not seen them for ages.  

Jora:  Amorphous Androgynous, Radiohead, Red Snapper, Massive Attack, Oscillation…

Nikita:  “Atoms for peace”?

Volkoff:  Iggy Pop and The Stooges, Todd Rundgren, Amorphous Androgynous, Air, Tame Impala and many-many more...

Do you have any funny or interesting stories from live shows or performances that you’d like to share here with our readers?

Dima:  Maybe these are small details rather than whole funny stories but, herons flying in front of our stage during a Simao show at daybreak, us coming out onto the stage right from our beds in our tent right next to it, or the stage falling to pieces during the performance and fans bathing in the mud.

Volkoff:  Every our performance is like a funny story.  I can share two funny moments; the one with a hat which can be seen here, and the drum fall episode which can be seen here.

Dvoryashin:  Well, it was Gogol Fest.  It rained a lot and rain was dripping on our stage through a bunch of holes in the roof.  So we played in puddles and I hid under an umbrella with a kaossilator, so people could only sometimes see my head on this dark stage.

With all of the various mediums of release available to artists today I’m always curious why they choose and prefer the various mediums that they do.  Are there any plans to release Sphyro physically in the future? If so do you have any idea on what medium?

Dima:  We were asked by the fans regarding CD and vinyl.  There are plans and some propositions.  It’s just a plan so far.  It seems that these mediums are in demand.

Jora:  Vinyl is a good one!  We’ll be looking for a label in the near future to release Sphyro.

Volkoff:  I’d like to see our records on vinyl and cassette tape.

Dvoryashin:  I can only be proud of owning Soviet vinyl.

Do you have a music collection at all?  If so can you tell us a little bit about it?
Dima:  Too big to go into details.  It all started with the conscious purchase of a Thriller cassette during my childhood.

Volkoff:  I have a lot of different music in various formats; LP's, CD's, tapes, digital.  The LP's are my dad's collection from the past.  The CD's, tapes and digital music have been collected by myself; a lot of different genres, really, too much!

Jora:  A lot of music on cassettes, CDs and a ton of digital stuff.  Sometimes it’s useful to hear the silence. 

I grew up around a fairly large collection of music and I was always allowed to listen to anything I wanted as long as I didn’t mess it up.  There was always something amazing about wandering over to the shelf, pulling something at random off, popping it into the player, looking at the artwork, reading the liner notes and letting it transport me away to another world.  As a result of this experience I developed an appreciation for physically released music from a fairly young age and don’t think I’ll ever fully kick the obsession.  Do you have any such connection with physically released music?

Dima:  Yeah, I remember creating something like self-made records with artwork when I was younger, it was really fun.

Nikita:  In my early years I listened to music on cassettes.  That wasn't anything special though, I love to feel the music inside never mind the format.

Volkoff:  I had the same kind of connection as a kid.  But now music is almost completely digital, the magic’s disappeared...

 As much as I love my music collection I can’t take it on the go with me, or at least I couldn’t.  Digital music has taken care of that problem almost overnight bit there’s no cure all’s and with the good comes the bad.  While digital music may be exposing people to a whole new world of music that they otherwise wouldn’t be privy to, and this interview is a prime example of that as we are separated by great lengths and a language gap but I still found your music and am able to instantaneously communicate with you, but illegal downloading is running rampant and music is being turned in to a more and more disposable commodity rather than a proper product even.  As musicians during the reign of the digital era what’s your opinion on digital music and distribution?

Dima:  My opinion is positive and you’ve described a lot of the advantages.  Everything’s good as long as the proper product still appears and finds its listener.  I don’t think that existence of some people who think of it as a disposable commodity cancels out good music.

Jora:  It’s a great chance for everyone to share their music all over the world!  I think it’s wonderful.

Nikita:  I think that music should be free for anyone who wants to hear it in digital format.

Volkoff:  Personally, I like the "name your price" approach, so ever listener can pay any price they’d like to pay.  There’s too much legal involvement by major labels and their bosses.  Like David Crosby sang, "Music Is Love"...  Digital music must be free to share and paid for voluntarily.

I try to keep up with as much good music as I possibly can but there just aren’t enough hours in the day to do it.  As a result I rely more and more on bands such as you for good reliable tips on who I should be listening to.  Is there anyone from your local scene or are that I should be listening to I might not have heard of before?

Dima:  Keeping in mind different styles, maybe something like Gadzzilla Project, Mazzafunka (ain’t sure they still exist), Coreadore, etcetera.

Jora:  Polska Radio One, Snakecharm, especially their last release Mandala, DoZa and Landmark.

Nikita:  Have you heard this band?

Volkoff:  Check out that Russian band I mentioned before, Polska Radio One.  I, personally, listen mostly to foreign, and frequently old, bands so I can’t give you much advice about the local scene.

What about nationally and internationally?

Dima:  If you like Atomic Simao, you should try RayJa Expedition from Kharkiv, which are both side projects of our guitarists from Nodo and Sphyro.  I’ve mentioned some of other interesting Ukrainian and Russian bands earlier.  I recently discovered an interesting and partially Ukrainian band Ummagama.  Additionally, Hedgehog In The Fog, The Toobes from Belarus and Cats Park from Russia. I won’t go any further internationally because I think there’s just too much music to talk about, for a short answer at least.

Volkoff:  Last year’s discoveries for me are two Australian bands, Tame Impala and Pond, and then there’s Lilacs & Champagne.  Also, I discovered the old DIY-band The Cleaners From Venus which is currently being reissued by Captured Tracks label.

Jora:  You should hear the new bomb from Amorphous Androgynous!  Their latest soundtrack album The Cartel is awesome!  Also, I discovered The Oscillation; great guys!

Thanks so much for doing the interview, it was a real pleasure to catch up with you and talk about where the band’s heading and everything you’ve already managed to accomplish.  Before we sign off is there anything that I might have missed or that you’d just like to take this opportunity to talk about with me or our readers?

Dima:  You know, for me it’s interesting and surprising to see how music can cross borders and can have a life of its own regardless of the author’s expectation or design, figuratively speaking.  It can find an audience that can appreciate and value it even more than the author and those people find something that the author didn’t even know was in the music.  The listeners can see it from another perspective and there’s always an audience for any kind of music.  That’s what I find interesting; it’s always surprising and nice.  For me, it’s like music has more power than I as the author can ever imagine.  That’s why I say to all the people who appreciate our music, thank you.

Volkoff:  I’d like to say thank you to every person who reads this material.  Stay tuned to Atomic Simao!

Nikita:  You didn't ask the question about the meaning of everything, but I’ll answer it anyway.  It’s love.

Jora:  We really didn’t expect that our music would go so far.  We appreciate the interview, Roman!
 Keep calm and listen to Atomic Simao!  Cheers!

(2013) Atomic Simao – Nodo – digital – Self-Released
(2013) Atomic Simao – Sphyro – digital – Self-Released

Interview made by Roman Rathert/2014
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