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Ultrasphinx interview with Aaron Rogers

© Sara Sanger

Math-rock runs head long into some trippy punk and heady psychedelic influences in the form of Akron, Ohio’s Ultrasphinx.  Composed of veterans of the local scene, Ultrasphinx just recently released their debut full-length and are busy proving they have what it takes to turn your brain into jelly upon the moment of consumption.  Thundering basslines and machine gun drums batter your ears while the guitar and vocals float listlessly above the punkish din and the noisy psychedelic row.  There’s an element of hardcore and some definitely shoegaze going on, but at the root of it all is this relentless psychedelic punk beast which keeps rearing its head before exploding full out on tracks like “Left Objects” and “Username_Assword” before literally imploding the universe of the destructive power of “Ruling Planets”, most definitely the eight-minute standout on an album of mostly two and three minute tracks.  The farther you head into the album the more you hear some killer stoner rock and metal riffage emerging from the darkness and begin to lose yourself in the immersive soundscape of Ultrasphinx.  Songs like “Garden Slugs”, soft and acoustic pierce the dark clouds of ominous noise and pave the way for dead-on psych slayers such as “Stoned Hearts”, all the while crushing expectations and leaping between boundaries and barriers.  It’s few and far between that you see a band capable of seamlessly drifting between Soundgarden and Alice In Chains-esque riffs into Neil Young meets Wo Fat territory, while not only holding it together but making it seem like a logical journey the whole time.  A journey’s actually a very good way of describing how the thirty-four minute album kind of whisks you away into this nihilistic, jaded atavistic universe of subverted punk and metal influences espoused by veterans of the Akron scene that has been setting the benchmark for a lot of the stuff out there for a long time, all pushed through the pinpoint of psychedelic punk.  I’ve heard a few bands over the past couple of years that have certainly mastered the loud-quiet-loud dynamic within a song, bringing unbelievable rave-ups and crescendos to these seemingly timid riffs that build and grow, but I’ve not heard a band with an album that successfully carries the idea out on a larger scale since before I can remember.  Most of the albums I can recall that feel this well put together and sequenced are classics from my childhood and adolescences during the early to late 90’s; hell when was the last time you heard someone mention the sequencing of an album?  But it’s not only worth mentioning here, much like the process itself, it’s essential.  The mastery with which the album is constructed is illusive and challenging, abrasive even at points but man, oh, man is it a hell of a ride!  I can’t recommend that you check out Ultrasphinx enough if you like expanding your horizons a little, you’re in for one hell of an album in the form of their self-titled debut album, Ultrasphinx.  Take a trip with bass player extraordinaire Aaron Rogers as he walks us through the ins and outs of a band I hope to hear a hell of a lot more from – Ultrasphinx!
Listen while you read:

What’s the lineup in Ultrasphinx right now?  I know you all just released your first album not awfully long ago but I’m not sure quite how long the band’s been around.  Is this your original lineup or have there been any changes made since you all started playing?

Ultrasphinx is Joe Dennis (vocals, guitar), Ian Cummins (drums), and myself (bass).  We've been a band since March 2012, and we played our first show on June 1st, 2012.

Are any of you in any other bands or side-projects at this point?  Have you ever released any music with anyone before in the past?  If so can you tell us a little bit about that?

Joe toured extensively with the Party of Helicopters in the 90’s/2000’s, and has been in a few other bands, like The Man I Fell In Love With, Teen Tighteners and Company Picnic.  Those bands aren't active anymore, but besides our band, he plays traditional Irish/olde-timey blues music in the Good Moan'n String Band with our good friend Josh Weiss from the band Stems, and Josh's dad, Ken.  Ian plays drums in just about every band in Akron; obviously Ultrasphinx, in addition to the Hobs, Hatchet Job, David Bay Leaf and a ton of bands I can't even remember right now.  He's one of three non-death metal drummers in town.  I briefly played the drums in a noise/metal band called Octiger, which only played five or six shows.  The first time Ian and I played together was in a one-off recording project called Blockades, which was kind of a Hot Snakes/Murder City Devils/Melvins rip-off; on purpose.

Where are you originally from?  What was the local music scene like there?  Do you feel like the local scene there played a large role in shaping your social tastes or forming the way that you perform today?

I'm originally from Randolph, Ohio, which is a rural township about thirty miles east of Akron.  I got lucky when I was fifteen and made some older friends who were able to convince the owner of the Lime Spider (RIP) to let me into shows even though I was way underage.  So, I guess the bulk of my musical/social tastes came as a result of that experience.  Being allowed in a bar at that age and seeing so many great bands without any hype or preconceived notions opened me up to a lot of music I wouldn't have heard otherwise.

What was your household like when you were a child?  Were either your parents or any of your relatives musicians or extremely involved/interested in music?

My parents always played music in the car.  Mostly late 80’s/early 90’s country radio which, believe it or not, wasn't all that bad, because they played older stuff, too.  I seem to remember that at one point when I was maybe five or six, my dad decided that my brother and I needed not one, but two different Ray Stevens “Greatest Hits” cassettes.  That was probably the first music I obsessed over, flipping the tape over, rewinding again and again, to hear the same song over and over again.  My dad's from West Virginia, see, so I guess I got the hillbilly humor.  It's too bad Ray Stevens is a Tea Partier now, because I still think “The Streak” is hilarious.  He probably paved the way for the “Weird” Al phase I had in sixth grade.  They played a lot of classic country, too, George Jones, Conway Twitty, etcetera, and I love that stuff.  Besides that, they played a lot of 70’s soft-rock/songwriter-y stuff like Jackson Browne, Bob Seger & The Coors Light Band, and Hall & Oates.  The first LP I owned was my dad's copy of AC/DC's Back In Black, which he gave me some time in high school, a record every fourteen year old boy should own.  Nobody in my immediate family plays an instrument, though.  My brother, Nathan, and I were the first kids in the family to start playing music and really stick with it.  He has an 8-string guitar and can do eight-finger, two-handed tapping, and sweep pick arpeggios and all that stuff.  He actually shreds.  I like playing the root note with the kick drum.

What was your first real exposure to music?

The Batman Forever soundtrack.  I didn't realize it until ten years later, but I heard punk rock, or at least an approximation of it, for the first time in 1995, when I was seven years old.  The Offspring did a cover of The Damned's “Smash It Up” for the movie and that was my favorite song.  Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds also had a song on it, and I remember being terrified at the sound of Nick Cave's voice.  “Bad Days” by The Flaming Lips made me feel like I was getting away with something awful because it had a lyric about going to work and blowing your boss' head off.  I loved it.  That movie is terrible, but those were the first songs I ever heard that felt “serious”, to a seven-year-old anyway, like they weren't just silly entertainment.

If you were to pick a moment, a moment when everything seemed to change, a moment that opened your eyes to the infinite possibilities of music, what would it be?

The first time I ever saw live music was at the Robin Hood in Kent.  Farsight whose singer/guitarist, Ben, went on to be in Annabel, and Starcrossed whose drummer, Ahmed, now performs as Sinkane, were on the bill.  I was about fourteen and had no idea anything like that existed so close to where I lived.

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

I started performing music in the school band when I was in 5th grade.  I played trumpet.  I just thought of it as a subject in school.  I didn't think about writing music until I got into skateboarding in 8th grade and re-discovered punk rock via The Dead Kennedys and The Ramones.

© Matt Stansberry

What was your first instrument?  When and how did you get it?

A Bach coronet.  5th grade.  It was a rental from Lentine's Music in Akron.

How did you all originally meet?

We all met when I was the sound guy at Annabell's in Akron.  I met Joe and Ian on quite a few occasions, just mixing their other bands.  It turns out that we all have pretty similar taste in music, so I think they both noticed that I had a tendency to play stuff like Unwound or The Jesus Lizard during changeovers; not typical bar music.

What led to the formation of Ultrasphinx and when would that have been?

Ian called me one day and said, “Hey, Joe Dennis wants to start a band with us.  It's called Ultrapshinx.  Practice is Tuesday.”

I seriously love your name.  I’m an enormous comic book nerd and while I’m almost entirely sure it has nothing to do with your name, there’s a really cool villain in the DC universe called The Ultrasphinx.  What does the name Ultrasphinx mean in the context of your all’s name?  Who came up with the name and how did you all go about choosing it?

Joe had the name from the beginning.  We've been really lucky to have a name and a drummer from day one.

Where’s the band located at these days?  How would you describe the local music scene where you’re at?

Ian and I live in Akron, and Joe lives in Kent.  The music scene in Northeast Ohio is definitely small, and kind of inbred.  There's a group of incredibly talented people who have been in consistently great bands going on for decades now, but not a lot of new blood.  Most of the bands I like are comprised of “veteran” dudes.

Are you all very involved in the local music scene at all?  Do you book or attend a lot of local shows?

When I was doing sound, I attended every single show for four or five years!  Now that I'm working a day job and going to college, I mainly see my friends' bands, or the rare Cleveland show.  I saw Dead Meadow at The Grog Shop about a month ago.  Ultrasphinx plays a lot of local shows, so I'm always watching the other bands.

Are you involved in recording or releasing any local music at all?  If you are can you talk briefly about that for us now?

© Jeff C Klemm

I do some recording.  Most recently, I mixed the Ultrasphinx record, and engineered Super Predator's side for their split 7” with ALBUM that just came out on FONE Records.

Do you feel like the local scene has played an integral part in forming your sound or played an important role in the history of Ultrasphinx, or do you all think you could be doing what you are and sound like you do despite where you might be located or the scene you’re surrounded by?

I guess we have a certain “Ohioness” about us, whatever that means.  We're all Devo fans.  Joe goes back to the early 90’s Donut Friends/Kent scene, which got some attention.  I spent a lot of time at the Lime Spider.  As far as those things being influences is concerned, it's not something we've ever discussed.

Inevitably when I do these interviews I have to describe how a band sounds to people who may or may not have ever heard them before.  Problem is, I feel like I’m putting way too much of my own perceptions and preconceived notions.  It’s becoming a neurosis for me worrying about it the more I work, rather than keeping me up late and night, breaking out in cold sweats, how would you describe Ultrasphinx’s sound in your own words?

We write songs and figure out what we're supposed to do with them later.  The way we sound now isn't necessarily the way we'll sound in the future.  That said, our initial concept was something like Neil Young & Crazy Horse playing math-rock.  We've been told we sound like the following things: Craw, Soundgarden, Helmet, Unwound, Drive Like Jehu, Blue Öyster Cult, and Incubus.  I hope we don't actually sound like Incubus.

While we’re talking so much about the genetic makeup of the band I’m curious to hear who some of your major musical influences would be?  You all have an interesting sound that seems to combine a lot of different elements for a unique delivery.  What about influences on the band as a whole rather than individually?

My favorite band is Fugazi.  My favorite record is The Stooges' Fun House.  I'm not sure if either of those have really crept into the band all that much.  As a whole, our tastes vary pretty widely.  Besides the Neil Young comment above, we don't talk about who or what we sound like.  We spent a lot of time on tour listening to Hot Snakes, Pissed Jeans, The Rapture, Goat and The Breeders.

What’s the songwriting process with Ultrasphinx like?  Is there someone who comes to the rest of the band with a riff or more finished idea to work out with the rest of the band?  Or do you all get together and jam, exchange ideas and let a song grow out of the back and forth amongst the band?

For this album, most of the songs sprung up around stuff Joe brought to band practice.  “Left Objects” and “Stoned Hearts” were totally complete, except for the bridge/middle sections, which we worked out as a band, and everything else had at least one or two riffs to get us started.  In the beginning, the way we worked was that Joe would show up with a whole bunch of riffs and we'd try to play them without ever hearing them before.  If we picked up on something right away, it became a song.  If not, we moved on to the next riff.  The first two songs, “Bark at” and “the Moon”, were written around basslines I had, and “Ruling Planets” was a group project all the way.

What about recording?  I mean, I’m a musician myself and I think that most of us can certain appreciate the end result of all the time and hard work, but getting to that point where you’re holding an album in your hands, not only can it take some serious time it can be a little nerve-wracking to say the least.  What’s it like recording for you all?

Recording was easy!  We blew through the basic tracks for fourteen songs in about two and a half hours.  All first or second takes, we didn't do a third take of anything.  The hard part was doing the overdubs, recording vocals, mixing, mastering and getting the finished product out there.  That took nearly a year.

Do you all take a DIY approach to recording where you all handle stuff on your own, or do you head into a studio environment where you can let someone else helm the equipment and concentrate more on just performing the music?

Everything we've done so far has been recorded at STUDIO TIME or Tangerine Studios in Akron.  They're in the same building and I engineer, mix and assist at both.  I prefer to have somebody else handle the full-band sessions so I can concentrate on playing, then I can step in to work on overdubs and mix.

Is there a lot of prep work that goes into a recording session for Ultrasphinx where you spend a ton of time tightening everything down and figuring out exactly how you want everything to sound?  Or do you get a good ideas of what you want a song to sound like in your heads but allow for some change and variation during the recording process if need be?

We did this record ASAP after we got home from our last tour.  So we were pretty tight and knew exactly what the arrangements would be. Typically, we'll write a song, play it out for a while, sometimes as an instrumental, and figure out where we need to trim the fat, where the vocals are going to go, etcetera.  Lyrics and melodies tend to change quite a bit, but Joe usually has an idea of where he's going to sing, and what the guitar will do while he's singing, even if what he actually sings goes through a few revisions before the song is considered finished.

You released your first material that I know of in 2013 in the form of a split 7” with Bad Trouble limited to only 300 copies on the FONE Records label.  Your side of the split featured two tracks, “Left Objects” and “Stoned Hearts” both of which would also later to go on to appear on your self-titled album a year later.  Can you tell us a little bit about the recording of the material for the Bad Trouble split?  Was that a fun, pleasurable experience for you?  Who recorded that material?  When and where would that have been?  What kind of equipment was used?

Recoding the material for the split was a lot of fun.  We knew going into the studio that all we had to do was play those two songs.  That didn't take long, so we had lots of time to layer a ridiculous amount of guitars and vocals. Joe came up with a really great harmonized guitar part for the middle section of “Left Objects,” more or less through on the spot trial and error.  We did the 7” with Kevin Coral at STUDIO TIME.  It was a blast.  Kevin has a great ear for arrangement and production, and he's willing to go down into the rabbit hole for a few hours to chase sounds.  If I recall correctly, we used the mic pres from an OpAmp Labs TV-802 for drums.  The drum mics were an Audix D6 and Heil something-or-another for the kick drum, SM-57 on snare, Sennheiser 421s on toms, and a Neumann U47 as a mono overhead.  I think we used a Shure ribbon mic on the guitar, whatever the re-branded Cowley & Tripp mic is called...  Shure bought them out a while ago.  And a big EV dynamic on the bass cabinet.  Not an RE-20 or 666, but something similar.  Vocals were a Shure SM-7.  The album was mixed on the Sony MPX 2900 console at STUDIO TIME.

You dropped your first full-length album this year in the form of a self-released, self-titled CD limited to 225 copies.  What was the recording of your first full-length album like?  When was that recorded and where was that at?  Who recorded it?  What kind of equipment was used? 

We did the basic tracks for the full-length with Jason Tarulli at STUDIO TIME.  Most of the gear was the same, except we switched the Heil kick drum mic for an AKG D12, the Shure ribbon mic on the guitar got swapped with an RCA 74-JR, and Jason used a Cascade Fathead on the bass cabinet.  After we tracked basics, I went in with Joe to record the vocals, and we used a Mojave Audio FET condenser up close, with a PZM mounted on the opposite wall of the vocal room.  Jason mixed “Tight Leafs,” Ben Vehorn recorded and mixed “Left Objects” and “Ruling Planets” at Tangerine Studios, and I mixed everything else at STUDIO TIME.  I think I used every bit of outboard gear we have, plus some plug-ins.  It's way too much to list here, but I will say that I leaned pretty heavily on the Allison Research Gain Brain compressors for the drum sound, and I used the Dynacord DRP 20, Ibanez AD230, Yamaha E1010, and Roland Space Echo for reverbs/delays, along with a few in the box FX.  The SoundToys Decapitator and EchoBoy plug-ins got a lot of use, as did the Avid 1-band EQs.  I'm a sucker for hi/low pass filters.  We used a lot of EarthQuaker Devices pedals.  I used the EQD Monarch, White Light, and Hoof on bass; Joe used the EQD Speaker Cranker, Dispatch Master, and Royal Drive on guitar.

As I mentioned before both of the tracks from your earlier 7”, “Stoned Hearts” and “Left Objects” were featured on the self-titled album as well.  Were those the same recordings that previously appeared on the split or were those tracks re-recorded and or remixed?

The LP and 7” versions are totally different; different performances, different mixes, everything.  We had a lot of time to really pile on the 7” versions, which are spacier, and dreamier sounding, I guess.  For the LP, our goal was to bang out as many songs as we could in the shortest time possible.  I like both versions, but we practiced and played shows for over a year between doing the 7” and the LP, and I think we sound tighter and more confident on the LP, so that's why they're included.  They also worked really well with the proposed sequencing for the album.

Does Ultrasphinx have any music that we haven’t talked about yet, maybe a single or a song on a compilation that I might not know about?

We don't have any concrete details yet, but we have tentative plans to release a song called “Kill Me With Fire” on a split 7”.  I can't say with whom yet, because it's not one hundred percent, but we're working on it.  We also have a cover of Neil Young's “Cinnamon Girl” we did for a tribute album that got scrapped, so I'm sure it'll eventually see the light of day.  There's probably a Sepultura cover song in our future.  We also contributed some music to an Akron Film+Pixel scoring project for the silent 1924 Russian Sci-Fi movie AELITA: Sonic Offerings to the Queen of Mars at the Akron Public Library.

With the release of the self-titled album not long ago at all, are there any other releases in the works or on the horizon for Ultrasphinx?

Just the 7” I mentioned earlier.  We're hoping to get it out later this year, but it's hard to say exactly when it'll come out.  It's been mastered and it's ready to go, we just need to iron out the release details.

Where’s the best place for US readers to pick up copies of your stuff?

The best place to get our records directly from us at shows, but otherwise Bandcamp.

With the completely insane international postage rate increases over the last few years I try and give our readers as many possible options for picking up imports as I can.  Where’s the best place for our international and overseas readers to score your music?

Strictly no capital letters distro in the UK has a few copies of the 7”, and I'm hoping they'll carry the full-length soon, too.  International readers can always get digital copies from our Bandcamp site, or wait for the European tour...  2015, we hope.  2016?  Or maybe I'm dreaming.

And where would the best place for fans to keep up on the latest news like upcoming shows and album releases from Ultrasphinx at?

We post everything to our Facebook page and there's a list of shows on Bandcamp.  Oh, and we're on Twitter - @ultrasphinxxx.  We'll get some kind of “official” website going later this year.

Are there any major plans or goals that you’re looking to accomplish in 2014?

Besides playing shows, promoting the new record, and (hopefully) releasing another split 7”, we're really looking forward to holing up in the practice room for about six months later this summer, or in the fall to write new songs.  We were supposed to take this past winter off, but we got offered too many shows that were too good to turn down.

Do you all spend a lot of time out on the road touring?  Do you like touring?  What’s life like out on the road for Ultrasphinx?

We've done one tour so far, and that was just a nine day run, so, no.  We don't spend a lot of time on the road.  We'd like to, though!  Life on the road for Ultrasphinx is fairly unglamorous.  We drink lots of water, eat fruits and vegetables, and take our vitamins.  We spend most of our downtime looking for record stores, or at the beach.

© Chadd Beverlin

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

We're in the process of booking a sixteen show east coast run for June/July, and maybe some one-off regional shows later in the summer and into the fall.

Do you remember what the first song that Ultrasphinx ever played live was?  Where and when was that?

© Sara Sanger

The first song we ever played live was “Garden Slugs I,” as an intro to “Left Objects”.  It was June 1st, 2012 at Annabell's in Akron, Ohio.  We quit playing that song because it's our only “quiet” song, and people just talk over it.

 © Sara Sanger

Who are some of your favorite artists that you’ve had a chance to play with so far?

Relaxer, EYE, Knife The Symphony, This Moment in Black History, Kill the Hippies, KINSKI, Whores., Mr. Clit & the Pink Cigarettes and Obnox.

In your dreams, who are you on tour with?

The Minutemen and The Stooges.

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

© Alex Jamerson

We played the upstairs of the Southgate House Revival in Newport, Kentucky, and they open around 4pm, so we got there early and had plenty of time to restring the guitars, tune the drums, etcetera.  Then I decided to bring my sleeping bag in and take a nap.  No sooner do I lie down, then I hear this rumbling downstairs, and it's the bassline to “Cannonball,” by The Breeders.  I'm thinking, “Why is this band practicing their Breeders cover right now?”  It turns out The Breeders were rehearsing for the Last Splash 20th Anniversary Tour in the Sanctuary at the Southgate House, so we got to stick our heads in for a while and watch them rehearse.  The first “real” show I ever saw was the Pixies reunion at the JAR in the University of Akron, and some of the first songs I learned how to play on bass were Pixies songs, so that was a huge moment for me.

© Jeff C Klemm

With all of the various mediums of release that are available to musicians today I’m always curious why they choose and prefer the various methods that they do.  Do you have a preferred medium of release for your own music?  What about when you’re listening to and or purchasing music?  If you do have a preference can you talk a little bit about why?

Vinyl, I like to sit down on the couch and actually listen to records.  I think vinyl with a download code is the ideal format.

Do you all give a lot of thought to the visual aspects that represent the band like artwork for flyers, posters, shirts, covers, logos and that kind of thing?  Is there any kind of message or meaning that you’re trying to impart with your artwork?  Do you have anyone that you usually turn to in your times of need when it comes to those kinds of things?  If you do, who is it and how did you originally get hooked up with them?

Not really.  All of our artwork so far has been done by friends.  We give them free reign to do whatever they want.  I think as we figure out just exactly who we are as a band, we'll probably refine the imagery a little bit, but we're still finding out what works and what doesn't work right now.

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

Yeah, I buy a decent number of records.  Dave at Square Records is my dealer.  I think I have something like 200 or 300 LPs, and somewhere around 1200 digital albums.  I buy a lot of used CDs just to play in the car.  Lately I've been buying a lot of synth soundtrack LPs, like Tangerine Dream, Steve Moore and a lot of the Death Waltz reissues like John Carpenter soundtracks, compilations of obscure Spaghetti Western soundtracks, and stuff.  I just got the Unwound box sets on Numero, which are incredible.  I was playing the first Killing Joke LP a lot for a while.

I grew up around a large collection of my dad’s music and was encouraged to enjoy it from a pretty young age.  As a result I came to appreciate physical music product from an extremely young age.  There’s something about having a physical object in my hands that makes for a more complete listening experience for me in a lot of ways.  Do you have any such connection with physically released music?

Yeah.  I like the possibility for cool packaging you have with a physical product.  I always read liner notes.

As much as I love my music collection there’s no denying that I also enjoy my digital music collection as well.  It’s allowed me to take my collection on the go with me like never before and when you team it with the internet you pretty much have a revolution on your hands.  Together they’ve changed everything.  They’ve eradicated locational boundaries almost overnight and have allowed for unprecedented communication between bands and their fans all over the globe.  It isn’t all fun and games though and digital music has really changed the game to say the least.  Digital piracy is running rampant and attempting to even get noticed in the insane digital jungle out there’s becoming increasingly difficult.  As an artist during the reign of the digital era, what’s your opinion on digital music and distribution?

This is a cop-out answer, but it's a double-edged sword.  On one hand, it's great that somebody in Germany can find our band and listen to our album immediately, for free.  I can do the same thing with bands in Germany.  For people who actively seek out and listen to new music, it's great.  Those people tend to go to shows and buy music, anyway.  On the other hand, there's now the expectation that music is free, and that it's acceptable to pay bands with “exposure”.  It isn't.  It takes money to buy instruments.  It takes money to buy gas.  It takes money to record.  It takes money to tour.  When a band is starting out, playing out is the only revenue stream they have.  Yeah, there's Kickstarter and crowd-funding now, but I think it's pathetic.  Which would you rather see?  A band that funds their album by going out and playing as many shows as they can, becoming a better, more experienced, tighter band in the process?  Or, a band that kinda writes some songs in their basement and asks their friends and family to chip in twenty bucks so they can record some half-hearted, untested, and under-rehearsed material?  What's the endgame there?  I think it's more so a couple dudes can scratch “make an album” off their bucket list without putting any serious skin in the game than it is funding a legitimate creative endeavor.  Not that we're high art or anything, because we aren't.  I think it's also contributed to the increasing number of amateur bands, labels, promoters, engineers, etcetera.  Any idiot can create a Facebook page saying they own a production company and run a pay-to-play scheme from their dorm room, and that sucks.  I've encountered freelance engineers that don't know basic gain staging or signal flow, people who put entire venues at risk because they can't keep the PA out of the red.  Is my cranky sound guy showing?

I try to keep up with as much good music as I possibly can but I swear there just aren’t enough hours in the day to keep up with even one percent of the amazing stuff that’s happening right now.  Is there anyone from your local scene or area that I might not have heard of that I should be listening to?

Like I said earlier, there are a lot of people in the area that have been in awesome bands for decades now.  Kill the Hippies have been at it since 1993 (the year I started Kindergarten) and they rule.  Relaxer is a new-ish prog band with guys from Houseguest, Sofa King Killer, and the Party of Helicopters.  The Rubber City Noise (RCN) label puts out a lot of good synth/noise records.  I think Mount Ratz is the best new band I've seen that actually has people under the age of thirty in it.  They're kind of a prog/jazz-fusion band that somehow manages to escape all the nerdy, music school, muso trappings that I don't like about prog rock and jazz fusion.  The first time I saw them, the guitar player, Corey, played a solo that actually made me laugh out loud.  It's like he was telling jokes with his guitar.  He's really creative with his pedalboard, too.  They're not afraid to be weird.  There's a solid metal scene around here, too.  I really like Mockingbird, who are a semi-psychedelic prog/doom band.  There's a lot of good Cleveland bands, too, MURDEREDMAN (Interview here), Megachurch, This Moment In Black History, Obnox, Fuck You Pay Me, and more.

What about nationally and internationally?

Nationally, I like The New Trust from Santa Rosa, California, who we've played with a few times, and Knife The Symphony from Cincinnati.  Recently, I've liked the new records by Carcass, Owls, Whores., The Shanks, and Big Business.

Thanks so much for doing this interview, I know it wasn’t short and it had to take some time to get done, I know I threw everything but the kitchen sink at you here, ha-ha!  Before we call it a day thought I’d like to open the floor up to you for a moment, is there anything that I might have missed or that you’d like to take this opportunity to talk to me or my readers about?

Thanks for letting me rant for ten pages!

© Sara Sanger

(2013)  Ultrasphinx/Bad Trouble – Ultrasphinx/Bad Trouble split – digital, 7” – FONE Records (Limited to 300 copies, Ultrasphinx contribute the tracks “Left Objects” and “Stoned Hearts”)
(2014)  Ultrasphinx – Ultrasphinx – digital, CD – Self-Released (Limited to 225 copies)

Interview made by Roman Rathert/2014
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