Ultrasphinx interview with Aaron Rogers

May 6, 2014

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: http://ultrasphinx.bandcamp.com/
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
© 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
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
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
© Copyright http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/2014
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