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The Allah-Las - Worship the Sun (2014) review

The Allah-Las "Worship the Sun" (Innovative Leisure, 2014)

The Allah-Las’ self-titled debut from 2012 is an instantly likable album with about a half dozen standout tracks. Between the exuberant “Catamaran,” the snarling “Long Journey” and the instrumental perfection of “Sacred Sands,” etc., it’s a flawless collection of garage-y surf rock. It only takes one listen for you to know it’s going to be in your heavy rotation for the foreseeable future. This follow-up is more of a sleeper. Stylistically there’s no great shift between the two albums. They still sound like The Leaves meet The Vistas. Well, there’s one song that has what sounds like pedal steel work and that could be a Chris Hillman composition from The Byrds’ Younger Than Yesterday. But really Worship the Sun is a lot like its predecessor in its approach; it’s surf rock that’s alternately punky, breezy, and jangly.  I’ve listened through five or six times now and there’s neither a song I don’t like nor one I would single out for inclusion on my next mix for friends. It’s got a great feel even if it doesn’t have any individual monster tracks. If I was Dj-ing tonight and could only take one of their albums, I wouldn’t think twice in grabbing the debut and would have a hard time picking just one track to pluck off for my set. But if my friends and I just came back inside from some hours on the beach and I wanted to play something for us all that sounded good as we grabbed beers and snacks and magazines to leaf through, I would throw in Worship the Sun and be assured I’d made a good choice.

Review made by Brian Greene/2014
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Psychedelic Attic #10

Other include:

John Wetton & Richard Palmer-James (
Neil Innes & Fatso (
Icarus Peel vs Mordecan Smyth (
Crystal Jacqueline (
The Greasy Slicks (
Josephine & The Arzitans (
The Roaring 420's (
The Projection Company & Fantastic Party (
V.A. Psychedelic States (

Some cassettes including:

RPS Surfers interview with Tal Oren, Gal Hai, Lior Romano and Shay Landa

Israeli surf seemed like a kind of contradiction in terms when I first heard about it but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense.  I mean, there’s plenty of sand at least, right?  After doing a piece on another Israeli surf rock outfit The Orions (Interview here), I got pretty interested in the incredibly diverse and radically underexplored scene that was unfurling before me.  Among the numerous bands I came across though, RPS Surfers stuck out like a sore thumb, and in the best way possible sense.  While there are a few other bands playing surf in the surrounding area of Tel Aviv, I had never heard a surf album quite like Danger Beach from anywhere on the planet, if a surf record is indeed what it is at all; I simply know it’s all killer, no filler from front to back and that I needed to learn more about the twisted DIY genius behind one of the best surf rock albums in the last decade.  From the moment the needle drops on Danger Beach it’s evident that while RPS Surfers are both incredibly talented and extremely interested in classical surf and it’s roots, they’re completely uninterested in being confined by the predetermined notions of what one of those songs should sound like, or even what instruments should be used on them, as evidenced by the saxophone on “Matador”, the zany organ on the title track “Danger Beach” which also carries a heavy horn section and bleeds Morricone-esque Western and rockabilly from every pore, not to mention the accordion on “Poseidon Mahalo” or the violin on “Paper”.  Don’t get me wrong though, “Silver Surfer” is just what it sounds like, an all out, balls to the walls surf extravaganza, and it’s not alone on Danger Beach, there’s plenty going on here for surf fanatics.  I’m just saying there’s a little more to this band than one might think.  On the verge of releasing several EPs and a sophomore album, RPS Surfers took a ton of time out of their extremely busy schedules to walk us through the ins and outs of one of the most innovative and original surf outfits going right now.  Hang five, hell hang ten or some brain why don’tcha?  And get some knowledge dropped on you Psychedelic Baby style!
Listen while you read:

What’s the current lineup for RPS Surfers and what does everyone play?  Is this the first lineup for the band or have you all made some changes since you started playing?

Tal:  The current lineup is: Gal Hai - drums, Tal Oren - guitar, Shay Landa - organ, and Lior Romano - bass keytar.  Initially the songs were written for a soundtrack of a surf film.  Shay and I played the songs mainly to ourselves, eventually the film didn’t happen and we moved to other projects.  Seven years later we decided to record those tunes.  That happened to be shortly after we built our own studio in a friend’s garage.  I played guitar, Gal played drums and Shay did the organ and bass tracks.  The feedback we got on the recordings was positive and we asked to play live in clubs.  After a while, Lior heard the songs and asked to join the band as a bass player.

Are any of you in any other bands or do you have any side-projects going on at this point?  Have you all released any music with anyone else in the past?  Can you tell us a little bit about that?  I seriously love playing musical connect the dots but when I’m trying to research a band that’s outside of the country I’m operating at a little bit of a disadvantage since I don’t speak the native language and so forth.

Tal:  Shay and mine’s first band as teenagers was called “Black Lord”.  It was something like 70’s prog-rock meets Iron Maiden with some Middle Eastern vibes.  We played live gigs and recorded an album, Black Lord in 2002, but as high school ended the band broke up.  At that time I was very influenced by The Ramones and The New York dolls, so I wanted to make a basic punk band that sang in Hebrew about our lives; the band was called MSD.  Shay played the bass, I played guitar, Gal drummed and two childhood friends, Avihai Zohar on guitar and Hanan Krispil on vocals, joined us.  We recorded a 14 track hebrew punk album and did a lot of shows.  The band broke up after five years and Gal, Shay and I went on to form RPS Surfers.  I’m also part of the band HEADON, in which Yizhar Goldstein from Black Lord plays bass guitar as well as Gal.  We just finished recording a four track demo with some stoner rock guitar riffs and Middle Eastern grooves.  The Israeli Kiss, a tribute band to Kiss we only do on Purim holiday - the Israeli Halloween, features all the guys we’ve played with over the years.  Every year we change the line up but I’m always Paul Stanley.

Lior:  I currently play keyboards for Ester Rada who just recently released the album Ester Rada in 2014, I’m in a reggae and dub band Zvuloon Dub System who’ve released three albums, Freedom Time in 2012, Weed Out in 2013 and, Love Is Stronger this year in 2014, as well as a dance group Sheketak.  I also started an Afrobeat band called Hoodna Afrobeat Orchestra with fourteen players.

Shay:  Tal mentioned the three bands that we’ve played in together through the years, Black Lord, MSD, and Israeli Kiss, but I also used to play bass in the Hebrew punk band The Liars and keyboards for a rockabilly band called Benedikt.  Recently, I’ve recorded for a lot of Israeli Indie/alternative rock bands.  My favorites so far have been the organ recordings for the Sweatshop Boys debut LP The Great Depression, and the soon to be released debut album by 1, 2 Many.

Gal:  Apart from all the projects with Tal and Shay mentioned above, I started out playing drums for two small jazz bands and a friend’s funk band in high school.  I also played a band whose name means Midnight Carpool.

Now where are you all originally from and what was the local music scene like there when you were growing up?  Did the local scene play an important role in shaping your musical tastes or in shaping the way that you perform at this stage?

Tal:  Born and raised in Tel Aviv Israel.  The music scene in Israel is all centered around Tel Aviv, so as soon as I got into rock music it was easy to go to gigs.  The local music scene had a big role in shaping my musical tastes, I was introduced to surf music by a band called The Astroglides who played hardcore surf and had a small underground club in the city.  Another band Boom Pam had a big impact on me when they blended surf guitar with gypsy Balkan music.

Shay:  We’ve all been friends since high school.  The local mainstream music in Israel is very bad, but the alternative/indie/DIY scene is extremely varied and interesting.  This small scene also had a great influence on me.  Another Israeli band who influenced me that Tal didn’t mention are Rockfour who made great psychedelic rock in the late 90’s and early 2000’s.

Gal:  I think that the local scene has really changed in the past decade or so.  Before the internet boom (Napster, Kazaa etc.) it was hard for bands in the Israeli underground scene to survive for long periods of time.  There are always exceptions, but in general the potential audience is very limited.  That also makes clubs close and change constantly.  As a band, you have to be very stubborn and consistent.  Right now, the scene looks a lot better.  You hear about Israeli alternative musicians touring and getting some attention, but locally it’s still hard in the sense of getting people to come to shows.  People are a bit too busy with Iran and economics, I guess.

What was your home like when you were younger?  Was there a lot of music around?  Were either your parents or any of your relatives musicians or extremely involved/interested in music?

Tal:  No one plays any instruments in my family, but they love music and they love to sing.  My father’s into Yiddish folk and Greek music, my older brother’s into trashy pop from Europe and I got my sister’s CDs, all classic rock and 90’s grunge.  From there, I got into heavy metal somewhere along the way.  I also had an aunt with a decent record collection, from which I heard the album In Search of Space by Hawkwind.  That album influenced on me a lot.

Gal:  Mom used to play piano and listen to a lot of Chopin, my dad played Flamenco guitar but was also a big fan of oldies music like classic jazz.  We had an old VHS tape of my sister being carried around by my dad with Pink Floyd playing in the background, but I think it’s safe to say I got into classic rock mostly myself.

What was your first real exposure to music?

Tal:  The tape in my father’s car and him singing along with the music.

Shay:  At the age of thirteen Tal let me hear Led Zeppelin’s first album.

Gal:  Listening to Metallica and Nirvana’s discographies at age fourteen.

Lior:  Going to art in high school and majoring in music.

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

Tal:  The first rehearsal I did with a drummer, it was great.  We jammed and played some of my riffs, the feeling of playing with a band was the moment that changed everything for me.

Lior:  Seeing a really funky street band playing in Tel Aviv.  I think their name is Funk Hapoalim.

When and why did you decide that you wanted to start writing and performing your own music?

Tal:  I was writing songs before I knew how to play an instrument.  I used to sing with my friends on the breaks between lessons in school and make up names for bands.  As soon as my first guitar lesson was over, I was writing a song with the two chords I’d learned that day.

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

Gal:  I think we all pretty much play our first instrument, as long as you don’t count my piano lessons when I was like seven.  It’s pretty straight forward for kids brought up by middle-class Israeli families in the mid-late 80’s to be sent to piano/keyboard lessons by their parents.  That goes for Shay, Lior and myself.  Tal wasn’t pushed by his parents and went to a guitar teacher when he wanted to.  I started playing drums at age fifteen because of Travis Barker.  I liked his fast, chaotic, powerful, smart drumming.

How did you all originally meet and when would that have been?

Gal:  It’s all sort of been covered in previous questions but here goes: Lior, Tal and Shay went to high school together.  At that time they played basketball with each other, not music.  Lior went on to play in jazz, funk and dub-reggae projects and Tal and Shay were more into the rock scene, in their prog-rock band.  During their army service they were looking for a drummer for a Kiss cover band on Purim, which’s Halloween for Jews, sort of.  My best friend’s brother was a very good friend of Shay and Tal and he recommended we meet.  The connection was instant.  I went and jammed at Tal’s house and was really surprised and excited to meet someone that had similar tastes to mine and knew how to play all the guitar licks I loved.  After a few permutations of glam, punk rock and eventually surf, Lior messaged Shay on the internet.  It made for an exciting high school reunion for them, so you could say.

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

Shay:  Tal and I used to play some original surf tunes together for fun in high school.  Later on, we wanted to record a soundtrack for a friend’s surf movie so we wrote some more tunes.  The film wasn’t shot in the end, but we still wanted to record the tunes and were looking for a drummer for the recordings.

Gal:  It was a natural choice for Tal and Shay to pick me as we were playing together for so long.  They were in fact auditioning/looking for a drummer who was more familiar with 60’s music or with surf a background, but gave up because they couldn't find anyone to their liking.  The chemistry between us at this point was great and we decided to give it a go.  After playing surf together for a while, Lior asked to join the band.  For us that was a compliment, as we think he’s a great musician.

Is there any kind of shared creed, code, ideal or mantra that the band shares or lives by?

Gal:  That’s a tricky question.  We come from different places, in both life and in music, in terms of ideology.  I think the only code we all live by is making music for the sake of art and enjoying it as much as we can.  A lot of bands have ego issues; we try to avoid that as much as we can.

Shay:  I would say that the mantra is, “Have fun all day, play fun music, make people happy in your own original way, don’t play encores”.

What does the name RPS Surfers mean or refer to?  I mean I can kind of guess at what the latter part of the name is in reference to but I haven’t been able to put the RPS together yet…  Who came up with the name and how did you go about choosing it?

Gal:  RPS stands for Rock Paper Scissors.  When Tal was a teenager, he read an article in the newspaper about a Rock Paper Scissors contest and thought it would be a cool name for a band.  That’s about it.

Where’s RPS Surfers located at these days?  How would you describe the local music scene?

Gal:  We’re all located in Tel Aviv. The mainstream music scene’s rather dry, but there’re a lot of interesting angles when it comes to alternative, indie, and electronic music.  The biggest events in the non-mainstream scenes are in front of an audience of several thousand, tops.

Are you very involved in the local music scene?  Do you feel like it’s played a large important role in shaping the history or RPS Surfers or the way you all sound?  Or do you think that you all would sound like you do regardless of where you were at or what you were surrounded by?

Gal:  Every band member has a very distinct style of playing, and the other members feed off that.  It definitely improves every one of us as a musician, and I strongly believe that playing with each other had really influenced us as artists in all aspects, as well as musical tastes.

Shay:  Playing in Israel has a great influence on our style in that our style differs from the regular known American surf as we’re exposed from a young age to oriental, Greek, Balkan and Arabic music which are more popular as well as western rock/garage/surf music.  It’s all combined in a unique way.
The local alternative scene in Israel’s very small, so everyone here knows each other...

Do you book or attend a lot of local shows?

Shay:  The scene in Tel-Aviv is small but intense.  Everyday there’s some great shows around.  So, I find myself at another show everyday.  We perform, on average, about once in a week in the Tel-Aviv area. 

Gal:  I would say so.  We’ve played almost all of the available venues for bands of our scale, and most of the big festivals in Israel.  Maybe we should try our luck overseas.  Surf revival events are popping up here and there, that could be something to look forward to for us.

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

Gal:  We’re on the verge of finishing the recordings for our second LP, which is fully funded by the Kol Hacampus radio station, as a part of their Harake project.  Our label, Audio Montage, supports us when it comes to mixing, PR abroad, and some distribution.  We were lucky enough to have one of our heroes as the producer of this album.  That would be Uri Kinrot of Boom Pam.  It was a pleasure working with him.  We also intend on releasing a special edition single exclusively for Japan, with a cover of a X-Japan and a surf interpretation of an old Israeli hit that became a Japanese sensation, Ani holem al naomi.  You can hear the original here.

Whenever I do these interviews I like to open the floor up to artists and let them describe their sound to our readers.  I feel like when I do it, I’m putting in way too much of my own ideas and perceptions of the music.  How would you describe your sound to our readers who might not have heard you before in your own words?

Shay:  I don’t like the over-descriptive genres, the music attitude in the world is divided in two: “Rock’N’Roll” and “Not-Rock’N’roll”, we play Rock'N'Roll.  But to be more specific, I would describe our genre as Mediterranean surf rock.

Gal:  When I first described it to my parents, I said it was like The Shadows on speed.  To be more accurate, it’s a dancing soundtrack to the Tel Aviv beaches, with some Middle-Eastern vibe and a dominant psychedelic analog organ sound, with roaming, wet reverb guitars.  I think that answer came out pretty well.  I might use that in the future.  Thanks for that question.

We’ve talked a lot about the history of the band, where you all came from and how you’ve gotten to where you’re at but I’m really curious to hear who some of your major musical influences are?  You all have an obvious surf influence but I can hear a lot of other stuff as well.  Who are some influences on the band as a whole rather than just individually?

Gal:  Our influences are all over the place, it’s really quite a mess.  It’s true that you can hear similarities between us and classic surf bands like The Ventures or more harsh surf like Dick Dale, with a small taste of Aris San and maybe other Balkan music somewhere in between.  The beauty is the individual taste each of us brings to the band, Lior bringing in the upbeat dance and sometimes dubbish feel, Shay the psychedelia and 60’s rock organ sound, Tal with semi-Greek, semi-metalish guitars, and myself with bits of 90’s rock or classic hard rock chops.  A real boost to our shows is Roey Bar Yehuda.  He plays real stylish rock’n’roll Saxophone, with classic garage power.  He’s an awesome player, plays in a lot of bands and is practically the fifth member of the band.  During shows it sometime seems like he brings the glue to stick everything together real tight.
Shay:  If I had to pick some names of people who influence us all I would choose Iron Maiden, Iron Butterfly and Aris San.  Up the Irons!

What’s the songwriting process with RPS Surfers like for the most part?  Is there someone who will come in to practice or rehearsal with a riff or more finished idea for a song and kind of work it out with the rest of you all, or do you get together and just kind of jam and toss ideas back and forth and work them into a song from there over time?

Gal:  For the most part - Tal writes the music, and plays it to Shay initially.  At rehearsal we start playing around with the ideas and really build the song into what it becomes.  Lior brought some songs to the band and the work process on them was similar.  When Uri Kinrot started working on the second album with us he would change things around from time to time and had some really good input and ideas, but I would say the core of the songs stayed the same.

What about recording for you all?  I mean, as a musician myself I think that at least most of us can really appreciate the end result of all the hard work, time and effort; holding your album in your hands and knowing that it’s yours is a hard feeling to beat.  Getting to that point though, getting everything recorded, and especially sounding the way that you want it to as a band can be extremely difficult and time consuming to say the least.  How is it for RPS Surfers recording?

Gal:  The recording process was fun.  It’s the time you have to spend waiting for the final product that exhausts you.  We were greatly honoured to have fine musicians playing on our albums, great partners making the art for it, mixing, mastering, distribution, every part of making the album was a great deal of fun thanks to all those people.  For me, the hardest parts are mainly the logistics and being so anxious to have something out, my lack of patience.

Shay:  I agree with Gal.  Recording the music’s always very short and fun, but the process of releasing the album is really annoying.  It can take years from the end of the recording until the finished product is out, as it has to be mixed, mastered, have cover artwork, liner notes, there’s the manufacturing of the LP, etcetera...


Do you all head into a studio environment to record and let someone else handle the recording aspect of things so that you can kind of relax a little more and concentrate on playing, or do you all prefer to take a more do-it-yourself approach to music and handle things on your own time and turf?

Gal:  Our first album, on Danger Beach was all DIY.  Tal and I did all the recording.  We even built the studio with our bare hands.  Being supported by the Audio Montage label and Kol Hacampus, our second album will have more of the latter approach.  I sincerely don’t know what our next release will be like, that’s really depends on time and money, but obviously the work process is going to be very different.  Personally, I think having an extra pair of ears around really helps the recording process.

Do you all spend a lot of time working stuff out before you set out to record, getting all the arrangements and compositions all worked out beforehand?  Or do you all get a good idea of how you want a song to sound, and then give it a little bit of room to change and evolve during the recording process where necessary?

Gal:  By the time we get to the studio the songs are pretty organized in their final versions on the band level.  All other instrumentations, strings, horns, effects, etcetera, are added later.  We leave some room for those to play around with, but the general idea is pretty solid and we know it pretty well.

Shay:  That’s true for the current recording process, but don’t forget that when we recorded Danger Beach LP most of the tunes were built during the recording process with only the melody and basic parts decided in advance.

You all have only released one album so far, but you’ve also been featured on a killer compilation Monsters Of Surf Guitar from Dingdong Records and have two singles and a follow up full-length scheduled for this year as well.  Let’s talk a little bit about your debut album Danger Beach which was released earlier this year (2014) by Audio Montage Entertainment.  Can you tell us a little bit about the recording of the material for that first release?  How was it for you all?  Was it a fun, pleasurable experience for you all?  When and where was that material recorded?  Who recorded it?  What kind of equipment was used?

Shay:  All the material for the Danger Beach LP was written in the years since high school.  The mood of the tunes tries to convey our experiences from surfing at the Danger Beach.  For that album each instrument/track was recorded separately.  It was a common effort by Tal, Gal and I, building the studio, recording the music, producing it and it was a lot of hard work but it was also a lot of fun.  For the musical equipment we used Fender guitars through a Fender Reverb amp, a Vox Continental organ (64’ English version) through bass amp, a Rickenbacker 4001 74’ Bass Guitar, and all the saxophones recorded were alto saxophones which are very rare on surf recordings.  Every track was once again recorded by Uri “Mixmonster” Wertheim with analogue effects like tape delay, spring reverb, Fender echo-reverb oil can, etcetera...

Gal:  It was all recorded by Tal and me in our friend Avihi’s garage.  We built a studio there on the second floor.  That meant construction, dry wall, acoustics, and recording equipment that we’ve collected over the years; used microphones, stands, cables and what not.  None of the equipment we used was high-end or even close to that, it was all basic amps and mics, a basic drum set and an awkwardly tuned snare drum.  Our intent was to make something that doesn’t sound like a generic record of our era.  The recordings took a few weeks, including all the guest musicians.  It was a great experience and we had no idea how far it would eventually go.  Uri “Mixmonster” Wertheim, of The Apples, heard the material and it really caught his ear.  He agreed to mix and master the material and put a lot of passion into it.  We’re super happy with the results.

Is Danger Beach a limited release at all or is that an open ended pressing?  If it’s limited, do you know how many LPs were pressed?

Tal:  For now it’s limited edition of 500 copies worldwide.  I hope we do a second pressing of the vinyl in the future.

Now when I was chatting with you all not too long ago, and as I mentioned above, you all have two singles that you’ve already recorded and are planning to release this year.  Can you tell us a little bit about the singles?  Who’s going to be putting them out?  Is there any slated release schedule for them at this point?  What material is going to be on there?

Shay:  Actually we’re planning to release three 7’’ records.  Two are from the upcoming album Harake Gang which will be distributed mainly in Israel, released by the Harake 106FM label, and one which will be distributed worldwide, but mainly in Japan which is going to be released by the Audio-Montage Label.

Tal:  As for the first single, we just celebrated its release during the Record Store Day events not too long ago.  There are two songs on it, “Hang 5” on side-A and “Morder” on the B-side.  Those two songs were written back in the days when I was writing the songs for Danger Beach.  Our producer, Uri, and Lior took them to another level with some new parts and massive bass.  The second single isn’t recorded yet.  I mean, the playback is recorded but it’s our first song with vocals.  It’s going to contain a version in Hebrew and a version in English.  We still haven’t decided who the singer will be, I want to sing, Shay wants to sing, and there’s also a thought that maybe Uri Kinrot should sing…  We’ve thought about some other guys from the Israeli scene as well.  You know what?  If you’re reading this and you can sing, love surfing and comics, call us...  The name of the song is “The Ballad of The Silver Surfer”.   

Can you tell us about recording the material for the singles?  Was it very different from the session(s) for Danger Beach?  Who recorded the material for the singles and when would that have been?  Where was it recorded?  What kind of equipment was used?

Tal:  Because the first album was so DIY, with the second one we wanted to care less about recording and focus on the playing.  We started rehearsing and Uri K. would come and change the parts a bit and help us put the songs together.  Later, we came up with some riffs and made songs out of them together with him one at a time.  We loved his suggestions and he didn’t add much, just made the songs cooler.  In the studio Uri K. teamed up with Uri W. as the engineer and created the sound together.  We brought tons of gear to the studio, old analog organs and guitar amps, and old reverb unit…  We were having a great time.

You also have another full-length album that’s coming out as well which I’m super stoked about!  You all have a really cool sound so I’m happy that you’re getting a chance to get so much stuff out there.  It seems like the more that a band’s able to work together in respect to making albums the more their sound gets refined and perfected in a lot of cases.  Did you all try anything radically new or different with the material for the new album when it comes to the songwriting or recording of that material?  What can our readers expect from the new album?  Do you all have a title or record label worked out for it yet?  Is there any scheduled, or planned, release date for the album at this point?

Shay:  Well, Danger Beach was really the effort only of the three of us.  We didn’t know what the album would be like be and which label would release it.  The new album, Harake Gang, is recorded and supported by the Harake label; 106FM radio label.  This is a more produced album with the old line-up together again with a new bass player, Lior.  It was also done with devoted producer and engineer and stuff.  This album will be more astro surf and biker rock than the traditional surf rock of the first album.  The album’s going to be released in October of 2014, till then we’re going to release two singles from it with different mixes and versions of the songs than will appear of Harake Gang.

Tal:  We added a keytar as the bass.  It changed the sound quite a bit.  Lior’s parts are different from what Shay played on the first album; Shay played the bass guitar on Danger Beach.  As for the songwriting, I wanted to be very free with the songs.  Most of them were just riffs, since I wanted everybody to get involved and make it more of a collaboration.

Does RPS Surfers have any music that we haven’t talked about yet, maybe a song on a compilation or a single that I might not know about?  I know the track that you all had featured on the Monsters Of Surf Guitar compilation was also on Danger Beach but is there any exclusive tracks out there or anything?

Tal:  We’re working on a score for a silent movie called The Unknown, as a part of a student film festival at Tel Aviv University.  We’re going to play live while the movie’s screening, which should be challenging but very cool.  That’s happening in June and we’re going to record it and release it on the web.

Other than the upcoming singles and full-length album are there any other releases in the works or planned for RPS Surfers at this point?  I know that seems like a silly question but with the insane pace that you all keep up it’s not out of the realm of possibility at all, ha-ha!

Tal:  We’re making a special single for Japan featuring Japanese and Israeli songs that we love and there’s that live score I just mentioned.  After that we’ll probably record more original songs, there’s tons of material to work on.

Where’s the best place for our US readers to pick up copies of your music?  With the recent insane international postage rate increases that just don’t seem to be letting up, or show any signs of going anywhere anytime soon, I try and provide people with as many possible options for picking up import releases as I can!

Shay:  We only issued 500 copies of the Danger Beach LP, which are being distributed in the US, UK and Europe so I guess a lot of the record stores around the US didn’t get it.  The best way is just to ask your local store to order the LP which is distributed by Kudos Records in the UK.  That way it also help us spread the music and get known in new places.  

What about our international and overseas readers?

Shay:  International readers who want to get the Danger Beach LP can do the same as the US readers and try to get their local store to order it from Kudos Records Distributor or order it from the net, Juno, Amazon, etcetera.  I’m guessing the shipping rates within Europe are cheaper.

And where’s the best place for interested fans to keep up with the latest news from RPS Surfers like upcoming shows and album releases at?

Gal:  We’re in the process of building our own website.  Until then, you can look us up on Facebook.

Does RPS Surfers have any major goals or plans that you’re looking to accomplish in 2014 or 2015?

Shay:  Our goals are to first finish and release the Harake Gang LP and some EP’s and then do a big European and American tour.  Next step is touring Japan.

What, if anything, do you all have planned as far as touring this year?

Shay:  We’re planning an Israeli Beaches tour as well as playing some festival in Israel and the regular local gigs, we hope to tour Europe and the US this summer and play some festivals, but it’s difficult to book as we work independently, all DIY.

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

Shay:  As of now, we’ve only toured Israel so we don’t really live on the road as Israel’s very small, though we do have at least one gig a week.  Touring’s really fun and we have some different sets, one is more Danger Beach oriented without Lior and the other is Harake Gang oriented with Lior, and we also have a new acoustic set with buzuki and accordion.

Do you remember what the first song that you ever played live as RPS Surfers was?  When and where would that have been at?

Tal:  It was in a record store called The 13th Floor in Tel Aviv.  I think Shay and I played most of the songs that later became Danger Beach.  I played guitar and Shay played the accordion.  That was as early as ten years ago, I guess.

Shay:  After that show we didn’t play live as RPS Surfers again until Gal joined at 2010.  Then it took two more years until we played at any big venues around Tel-Aviv.

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

Tal:  At one of our live shows Shay ate a banana between songs and made some girls lose their head.

Who are some of your favorite bands that you all have had a chance to share a bill with or perform with so far?

Tal:  We opened for the ten year anniversary of the band Boom Pam.  That was very much of a closure thing.  When they started the band, I heard them and it influenced me to write surf songs.  Ten years later we’re opening for them in front of a sold out club with around a thousand people in the crowd.

Shay:  On the international level we’ve had the chance to play with the world punk band Firewater.  As far as the local scene goes, we often play with The Orions (Interview here), the Meatballs, and Electric Zoo.  Anytime we share the stage with a great band we try to collaborate and bring one of the members up on stage to play something special with us.

Do you all give a lot of thought to the visual aspects that represent the band like artwork for flyers, posters and covers?  Is there any kind of message or idea that you’re trying to get across with your art?  Is there anyone that you usually turn to in your times of need when it comes to that kind of thing, and if so who is that and how did you get hooked up with them originally?

Tal:  We usually work with Dar Golan on graphics.  The cover of Danger Beach is the work of Kip from Ghost Town.  We try to fuse styles of graphics like we do with the music, i.e. an American 60’s poster with Communist Russian vibes that shows a beach in Israel.  I think the fusion is a very Israeli thing, as a young country our culture combines influences from all over the world along with Jewish folklore.  We can start a sentence in Hebrew, add a few English words to it, and then end it with an Arabic word, such things are very common here.

With all of the mediums that are available to musicians today I’m always curious why artists choose and prefer the various methods that they do.  Does RPS Surfers 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 tell us a little bit about why?

Tal:  We’re into vinyl.  That’s where we learned about music when we were young and the internet was just starting to pick up speed.  We went to record stores to learn about new music and to hear the classic artists.  Back then, you could buy the entire discography of a band for the price of one CD.  Nowadays, vinyl’s making a comeback and we prefer to release our album in that medium and over the web as digital files.

Do you have a music collection at all?  If so, can you tell us a little bit about it?
Tal:  I have a small collection of two hundred vinyl albums.  Most of them are 70’s classic rock and early 80’s heavy metal.

Shay:  I have a large vinyl collection, I have several thousand LPs and 7’’s.  Most of them are different rock genres from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s, with a lot of classic rock, surf/rockabilly, psychedelic, blues rock, glam originals from the USA and the UK as well as a big collection of old, obscure and rare Israeli music also.

I grew up around my father’s enormous collection of vintage psychedelia, garage rock and blues, and beyond that I was really encouraged to dig in and enjoy it from a very young age.  I remember pulling stuff off the shelf, sticking it into the player, kicking back with a set of headphones, staring at the cover artwork, reading the liner notes and letting the whole experience transport me off to another time and place.  Having something physical to hold in my hands, something to experience along with the music always made for a much more complete listening experience to me.  Do you have any such connection with physically released music?

Shay:  As teenagers we used to spend a lot of time in record stores.  In those days, the internet didn’t have the possibilities it has today, so that was our way of discovering music.  We just bought the records that looked cool to us after staring at the cover and then discovered the music at home during a listening ceremony and got attached to the format.  That’s why we insist on releasing all of our albums on the vinyl format even in small amounts, as well as getting the best artists to design the covers. 

Tal:  Yeah, the reissue releases usually have inner notes that I love, and I’ve learned a lot from them.  Of course the covers of Iron Maiden, as a teenager I would listen to an album and just look at Eddie and the cover the entire time. 

As much as I love my music collection having a digital backup of almost my entire collection has really changed things for me.  For the first time I’ve been able to really take my collection out on the road with me, it’s changed the way I experience and enjoy music a lot more than I thought it would to be honest.  That’s not even the crazy part though; when you combine digital music with the internet you’ve really got a game changer on your hands!  Together they’ve exposed people to an entire world of music that they otherwise would never have even heard of, myself included.  It seems to have leveled the playing field somewhat for independent bands, allowing them to interact with their fan bases like never before and somewhat leveled the playing field.  On the other hand illegal downloading is running rampant and it’s harder and harder to get noticed in the chocked digital jungle out there right now.  As an artist during the reign of the digital era, what’s your opinion on digital music and distribution?

Tal:  I love the digital world and what it gave to musicians and music lovers around the world.  The fact that someone can tell you the name of a band they like and you can just type their name in a search box to hear their music is pretty amazing.  In the past, you had to borrow the CD or vinyl from that friend/a record store.  The business part is complicated because no one wants their art to get stolen.  People want to get paid for their work.  This is why I’m so into vinyl.  For a new band the digital format is a must nowadays, you need your music online for the exposure.  Vinyl’s the next level for a band who wants their fans to psychically buy their music.

Shay:  Music lovers buy digital releases as well; it really helps the independent bands.  Illegal downloading is also acceptable, as long as you download great music and expose others to and encourage them to buy it.  Music fanatics will always prefer having the physical album as it’s more ritualistic.  In our case, we even did a different master for the vinyl, so it actually sounds even better.       

I try to keep up with as much good music as I possibly can but even with all of the amazing advantages that the internet and stuff provide, there’s just not enough time to keep up with even one percent of the awesome stuff that’s going on out there right now.  Is there anyone from your local scene or area that I should be listening to that I might not have heard of before?

Shay:  All of the Audio Montage releases are great.  My favorites are Boom Pam, Balkan surf, Uzi Ramirez a blues rocker, the master of the guitar and Monti-Fiori, rock’n’roll with Italian flavour.  Other independents worth notice are, Electric Zoo, a young blues rock band with the Israeli Jimi Hendrix Gal Davidson, Haxxan, killer garage band, and Aris San (R.I.P.) the man who first introduced the surf guitar sound into Israeli music in the 60’s.

(2014)  RPS Surfers – Danger Beach – digital, 12” – Audio Montage Entertainment

Interview made by Roman Rathert/2014
© Copyright

Buffalo Tooth interview with Greg Downing

© Ulysses Ortega

San Francisco’s had a number of breakout artists over the past few years that have kind of caused everyone to think that anything coming out of San Fran has to sound a certain way, Ty Segall and John Dwyer I’m looking in you direction here.  Buffalo Tooth however is having none of that nonsense.  Rather than attempting to do what everyone else is doing or “fit into the scene”, they’ve taken a decidedly unique and interesting path fusing elements of punk, math rock, garage, country, surf and psychedelia to create a potent stew of surprisingly intellectual and socially aware rock ‘n’ roll.  Every song that they drop has a personality and sound all its own, standing as an individual piece of art amongst a gallery of work that’s obviously from the same brush, but done on so many varied pallets and in so many mediums it makes your head spin.  One song will be completely dosed out on fuzz and distortion, while the next is drenched in reverb and echo, jangling guitars popping and screaming in the background; and that’s before things take a turn for the twangy and the country/surf vibe starts spilling out of the speakers like a whiskey bottle that’s been knocked on its side.  There’s an intertwining hard psychedelic edge to the music that’s consistent however, and it’s not like you feel like you’re listening to a different band on each track, it’s just that you find a band that’s even capable of penning such radically different songs with a seeming Jeckyll and Hyde song writing style going on, led a lone one that’s able to do it with style and finesse all the time.  Buffalo Tooth originally caught my ear with their debut Self-Titled 7” in 2012 when the insanely killer Permanent Records suggested I check it out, and I’ve been anxiously awaiting a full-length album since then.  After plans for a 2013 full-length didn’t quite pan out Buffalo Tooth are finally getting ready to drop their debut album, Gardeners of the Devil’s Lettuce later this year on the seriously sweet Captcha Records in conjunction with what’s quickly becoming one my favorite tape labels, Under the Gun Records.   From raved up psychedelic trips, to jangling East Coast melodies and thrashing punk rippers and everywhere in between Buffalo Tooth not only walk the walk, they talk the talk and seem to understand a few fundamental things about music most musicians are missing out on.  Not bound to any flagship style or sound, Buffalo Tooth is free to continue creating their own music with out the expectations or interference from the world around them, and that’s the way it should be.
Listen while you read:

What is Buffalo Tooth’s lineup right now?  Have you always had this lineup or have things changed at all since the band started?

The lineup right now is myself, Greg Downing, on guitar and lead vocals, Eric Kang on bass and vox and Sean Grange on drums and vox.  We had one other bassist before Eric, Jack San Filipo, who recorded and is credited on the first Self-Titled 7” we released, although Jack had left the band by the time we actually released it so Eric is pictured on the back of the 7”.

The more bands that I talk to the more that I love to play musical connect the dots.  There’s nothing more fun than following members from one band to another in this enormous family tree that spreads out infinitely, expect for maybe cheating ha-ha!  Are any of you involved in any other active bands at this point?  Have you released any music with anyone in the past?  If so, can you tell us a little bit about it?

Sean and I play in a band called Glitter Wizard.  We just got home from a three week European tour that included a performance at the coveted Roadburn Music Festival in Tillburg, Netherlands!  We’ve been playing in that band for about three years and have a couple of singles and full-lengths available on Captcha Records, our most recent being the Hunting Gatherers LP.  Sean and I have played in numerous bands before Buffalo Tooth but none of them ever made it to wax so we can skip over them.  Eric played in Poor Sons which released their Dyunes EP on Burger Records a couple years ago but have since disbanded.  He recently formed a new band with ex-Poor Sons drummer, Damon Lockaby, and guitarists Brandon Chester and Doug Stuckie called Banquet.  They’ll be playing their first show with Hot Lunch (Interview here) and Lecherous Gaze May 23rd, 2014 at Eli’s Mile High Club in Oakland, California.

Where are you originally from?

I’m from San Diego, Eric’s from Long Beach and Sean is from San Pedro.

What was the local music scene like where you grew up?  Did you see a lot of shows where you were younger?  Do you feel like the local scene played a large role in shaping your musical tastes or impacted the way that you play today in a large way?

I was in high school during the height of Three-One G Records and listened to a lot of the bands that came off of that label like The Locust, Arab On Radar, Upsilon Acrux, Holy Molar and Head Wound City just to name a few.  I really liked strange abrasive music at that time, something that has stuck with me.  I was also into hardcore and punk at the time, bands like Norma Jean, The Bled, Converge, Dropdead, Daughters, Blood Brothers (Burn Piano Island Burn is a great record) as well as local punk bands like The Foods and Underminded.  I also loved the classics like Black Flag, Bad Brains, Middles Class, The Ramones, Germs, MC5, Blue Cheer and Black Sabbath.  I think I was just beginning to break into my actual music taste when I was about sixteen or seventeen.  I’m the oldest child and everyone I grew up with listened to way too much reggae and adored Sublime; it took some hard work to find good music.  I tried to go to as many shows as I could but all the venues were about twenty five or thirty minutes away from my house, so it was a little difficult when I couldn’t drive.  I was young for my grade too and turned seventeen my senior year, but I did still manage to see a lot of shows.  I went to the Che Café, SOMA, The Scene (while it was open), Hot Monkey Love Café and Gelato Vera to see shows.  Most of the bands I mentioned I still appreciate and love listening to.  Buffalo Tooth is a cluster of different influences fighting for the upper hand.  I think as we progress, the hardcore and angular riffs are creeping their way into Buffalo Tooth’s sound more and more.  Sean’s drumming is definitely influenced by hardcore and power-violence, something very evident in the amount of blasts we have on our record.  Blast beats aren’t too common in most punk n’ roll bands, but we like that nasty shit baby.

What about your household when you were a kid?  Were either your parents or any of your relatives extremely involved or interested in music?

No one in my family plays music, except for my great uncle but I never met him.  Sean’s dad shreds at guitar and has released a couple records with the Michael Grange Band, I believe, and his grandma played in a bluegrass band up until she passed away.  I don’t think either of Eric’s parents play music.

What was your first real exposure to music?

Going to some concert at a military base in Oceanside or something like that, when I was six years old or so.  I think it might have been to see the Doobie Brothers.  That was probably the first time I saw a live band.  I don’t really remember much other than running around with a spring-release prank ice cream cone and trying to launch it into people’s faces; such a nice boy.

If you had to pick on defining moment of music, a moment that changed everything, opened your eyes to the infinite possibilities of music and altered the way you perceived reality, what would it be?

I don’t know about an exact moment, but an album/time period in my life that opened my eyes was Mars Volta’s De-Loused in the Comatorium.  I was sixteen, I think, when that record came out and it blew my mind.  I hadn’t really listened to any psychedelic music at that point in my life, and that record was psychedelic and abrasive as hell.  A lot of people hate on Mars Volta, and I will agree their later records are exhausting, but this record is amazing and definitely changed how I thought music could be made.  Other records like Captain Beyond’s Self-Titled LP, Gentle Giant’s Acquiring the Taste, Daughters’ Canada Songs, The Locust Plague Soundscapes also had a huge effect on me and changed my perspective on music.  De-Loused was the first, so it sticks out more.

When and why did you decide that you wanted to start writing your own music?

I never liked the idea of copying other people.  I always wanted to forge my own path.  As soon as I started teaching myself guitar through tabs and a little chord book I had, I started to write songs.  I’d say 95% of those songs were shitty, and all of them I wrote before I was sixteen were definitely shitty.  I think in the past three or four years I’ve finally come close to connecting the idea in my head to the notes on the fretboard without losing much in between.  The hardest part about writing music is it takes years, or at least for me it did, to be able to hear a melody, riff or a whole song in your head and translate it perfectly onto the musical scale.  If you can do that and it still sounds like shit, then you’ve got bigger problems.

What was your first instrument?  How did you get it and when was that?

First instrument was guitar.  There wasn’t really a specific reason.  I just wanted to play music, am white and from the suburbs, so I bought a guitar.

When did you all meet and how exactly was that?  What led to the formation of Buffalo Tooth and when was that?

I met Sean when he played a show at my house like seven years ago with a band called WPI.  Sean also played drums in a band called Botron and they would play with my punk band Swank all the time.  Jack, the original bassist in Buffalo Tooth, played guitar in Swank and I played bass.  Swank and Botron toured once together and did many shitty things, both bands broke up not too long after.  Four years ago Jack and I switched roles and started Buffalo Tooth.  Sean was looking for a band to play drums in and joined.  So, in a way, the two bands coalesced into one.  Around that time I played in a band called Moccretro who played a lot of shows with Eric’s band Poor Sons.  Coincidentally, Moccretro and Poor Sons went on tour together and subsequently broke up.  Eric only played guitar at the time, but after Jack left I was bitching to him about trying to find a new bassist and he said, “I’ll play bass for you, just chill out.”  Or something to that degree, and that was it.  He jammed with Sean and I one time and has been in the band ever since.

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

Shred, party and remember to get paid.

Your name’s extremely evocative of your sound, I don’t know precisely what it means but it certainly conjures some interesting images in my head.  What does Buffalo Tooth mean or refer to?  Who came up with it and how did you go about choosing it?

That’s good to know!  A buffalo tooth represents pride, strength and resilience to the native people of this country, something the white man tried to take away from natives when they killed millions of buffalo around the turn of the century.  So in a way, the name Buffalo Tooth represents resilience and keeping a tradition of music alive, or paying homage to it while moving forward.  I write the lyrics for all the songs I sing, Eric sings on “Snacktology”, and you may be surprised to find out that most of my lyrics are political or social observations.  Take for instance “Greenbacks”, which is told from the viewpoint of a Colombian cartel worker forcing indigenous Colombians to harvest and manufacture cocaine, focusing on how evil the process of making drugs is on a personal level.  Not all of our songs are like that though, some like “Space Polygamy” poke fun at society.  That song’s about a Mormon polygamist who hijacks a spaceship with his many wives and travels around the galaxy dropping his kids off on different planets.

Where is Buffalo Tooth located at these days? 

Eric and I live in Oakland and Sean lives in San Francisco.

How would you describe the local music scene where you all are at these days?

I don’t know what has happened to San Francisco, it seems like there’s a new garage-pop or psych-pop or some other pussy genre defined band sprouting up everyday.  There are a handful of shredding bands still left in San Francisco like, Hot Lunch (Interview here), Black Cobra, Mondo Drag, Hornss (Interview here), Pins of Light and Wild Eyes (Interview here) just to name a few.  Oakland has way less places to play and maybe less bands in general, but they’re of a higher caliber in my opinion.  There’s much more of an edge to Oakland’s music scene.  Bands I like from Oakland are Lecherous Gaze, Synthetic ID, Replica, OVVL, Wild Moth, Shannon and the Clams and, Meat Market.  Most of these bands are friends of ours and I feel blessed to have so much good new music around me all the time.

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

I entertained the idea of being a promoter but gave up on that after about a year, too much work and stress.  I have enough stress booking shit for my own band, I don’t need to spend a bunch of time sending emails for someone else.  It was fun, but too much work and not a lot of return.  I try to go to as many shows as I can, it helps to have friends that work at venues.

Do you help to record and or release any local music?  If so can you talk briefly about that?

Not really, we self-released our Self-Titled 7”, but other than that we keep strictly to shredding and looking super good.

Do you feel like the local scene has played an important role in the history or evolution of Buffalo Tooth or your sound?  Or do you think you all could be doing what you are regardless of your surroundings and stuff?

Living in San Francisco the past five years has made me never want to hear the term ‘garage rock’ ever again; so bored with that shit.  No more please.  Every band I’ve played in while living in the bay area has been a different style of music, so I think regardless of where I’m living, I’m gonna make the music that I wanna hear. 

Whenever I do these interviews I always have to describe how a band sounds to our readers most of whom haven’t ever heard the band in question before.  And no matter how good of a good I may or may not do I feel like I’m always putting way too much of myself into the descriptions, too much of my own opinions and perceptions projected onto stuff.  I feel like I’m selling a band short especially when I can give them a platform like this to do it themselves.  How would you describe Buffalo Tooth’s sound to our readers who might not have heard you before?

Everything badass, with all the fat cut off.  Or something like that.  I hate describing my own bands; nobody ever thinks it sounds how you think it does anyway.  It seems futile for some reason.  The songs are short, just give ‘em a listen.

What’s the songwriting like with Buffalo Tooth?  Is there someone who comes to the rest of the band with a more finished idea like a riff or even something more, to work out with the rest of the band?  Or is it there a lot of exchange of ideas in the form of jamming and messing around that you all kind of distill into a song and work on together from there?

One of us will come to the others with a riff or a couple riffs for a song.  We’ll have a rough idea of how the song will go, but keep it open ended.  You never really know how a song is going to feel until you play it with the rest of the band.  We usually go piece-by-piece until we get each part down.  Then we build on that skeleton frame, either adding or deleting parts until a song forms.  We’re not afraid of destroying traditional rock n’ roll song structures, they’re boring anyway.  The songs on our 7 inches don’t display that very well, but our full-length does.  If the song sounds good verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus then that can work too.  It all depends on the feel of the song, if we’re sick of hearing the intro riff we won’t repeat it the second time around and take the song in a whole new direction.  That’s one thing I love about this band is we can call out an idea for a song, discuss it briefly and try it instantly.  If it doesn’t work we scrap it and try something else.  We work very well together, we also yell at each other a lot but that’s what brothers do.  In the end we get shit done.  We write songs as a unit, all the songs are credited to Buffalo Tooth not one of us individually.  Hopefully it will lead to money squabbles when we make millions in thirty years.

Do you all enjoy recording?  I mean I know as a musician myself that the end result is totally awesome, at least for most of us.  Holding that album, or single whatever, in your hand knowing that it’s yours and that no one will ever be able to take that away from your, for better or worse, is seriously awesome.  Getting to that point though, getting stuff recorded and sounding the way that you want them, especially as a band, can be extremely stressful to say the very least.  What’s it like recording for Buffalo Tooth?

Recording is stressful for everybody and we’re broke, so time’s valuable and there’s no room for error.  We also smoke a lot of weed, so it balances us out.  The recording session for our split 7” and the upcoming full-length, Gardeners of the Devil’s Lettuce, a total of fourteen songs, took three days for tracking and one day for mixing.  We work pretty fast and get that shit done the first time.  We talk a lot of shit to each other and have this strange spite/reverse psychology thing going on between us.  It might be unhealthy but it motivates us to excel and perform the best we can, even if it is to prove the other dudes wrong.

Do you all do the recording stuff yourself on your own time and turf with your own equipment and personnel or do you prefer to use studio environments when you’re recording?

No, that’s not for me.  I like to be in one mindset when I’m recording.  I’m there to play and the sound engineer’s there to mic everything and run cable and all that other stuff.  The full-length and split were recorded with Patrick Haight at the Spot-On-Sound Compound.  It was below San Jose, but he’s now moved to Palm Desert.  Patrick also mastered the record and both 7 Inches.  We seem to prefer the home studio environment, or a studio that an individual engineer has built in a warehouse or something of that nature.  I think a lot of bigger studios are full of shit and charge way too much money.  In the end, they want to make money and not a piece of art.  If you have a friend, or a friend of a friend, who has good equipment, a solid space to record in and does great work than why not go with him?

Is there a lot of prep work that goes into the recording process with Buffalo Tooth where you spend a lot of time getting things to sound just so-so, or is it more of an organic thing where things have room to change and evolve a little during the process?

We get our tones dialed in and then we’re ready to rip.  We record all the basic instrumental tracks; guitar, bass and drums first.  After the bare essentials are tracked for each song we move on to vocals and then to second guitar/overdubs.  The overdubs are random things to sprinkle on top of the song to make it pop.  For the end of the LP there’s a wall of noise that has four guitar tracks and an oscillator going full blast for almost a minute before grinding to a halt.  Recording gives you a chance to do some extra things that aren’t necessary for a live performance, but give the recorded version more depth.

Your first release was 2012’s self-titled Buffalo Tooth 7” on Archer Guild Records.  What was the recording the material for Buffalo Tooth like?  If I understand correctly that’s sold out at this point?  Do you know how many copies that was limited to?  Where and when was that recorded at?  Who recorded it?  What kind of equipment was used?

Sean, Jack and I recorded that with Matthew Melton, of the band Warm Soda, at his practice spot on Turk and Taylor in the heart of the Tenderloin in San Francisco.  We recorded on a Tascam 388, which is a 1/2” tape machine.  We were going to release a 10” originally and recorded and mixed four songs in two days.  Jack left the band before we got the money together to press it, so we dropped the two songs he wrote and sang on and released it as a 7”.  We pressed 300 copies and have been sold out for quite some time.  There’s been some talk of repressing it through Under the Gun Records, but as of yet that is still up in the air.

2013 saw a couple of setbacks release wise for you but you’ve definitely started off 2014 strong already with the release of your split 7” with Creepers.  Now I know that Under The Gun Records was originally going to release the single but when I looked on their site I didn’t see anything about it.  Did they end up releasing the single or did someone else put it out?  I know that there’s a limited Red Vinyl edition that’s ultra-limited to only 20 copies but I didn’t see any mention of how many copies the regular black edition was limited to, if it’s even limited? 

The Creepers split 7” is out on Under the Gun Records with a limited run of 300.  The first 60 people to buy it got a limited edition red vinyl, but we sold out of those fairly quickly.  Our share of the pressing is almost sold out and I believe Evert’s, the owner of Under the Gun Records, is pretty low as well.  We don’t use real numbers; we just say high, low or medium.

You contributed the track “Shit Show” to the Creepers split.  Was that recorded and or written specifically for the single or was that something that you had from a previous session that has been kicking around for a while looking for a place to call home?  If it was recorded for this single can you tell us about the recording of “Shit Show”?

We recorded it with “Gardeners of the Devil’s Lettuce” but didn’t know whether or not it was going to make it onto the album.  It didn’t really fit with the rest of the album and we had discussed doing a split with Creepers before, they had recorded “Memory Fog” with Carlos Arredondo and that was that.  They were down and Evert was down and that was it.  Patrick Haight mastered both tracks.

I was recently chatting with the awesome folks out at Captcha Records who are finally getting situated after their hectic move from their disastrous old headquarters and they said they had copies of your debut album in hand which was music to my ears without ever having even heard a chord at this point!  I have been ravenously following you all since you released the self-titled single in 2012 and I know I read something on your Facebook page about how you had to scrap an entire series of sessions that were intended to be your debut album and forced to re-record it all?  What happened to the original version of the album if you don’t mind me asking?  Did you all just not like the way that the recordings came out, or were you unhappy with the songs themselves and decided to go in and work on the actual material that will comprise the album?  How frustrating was that, or was it something you all kind of agreed was a necessity and doesn’t seem like a huge deal at this point?

Around November 2012 we recorded nine songs with Matthew Melton at Fuzz City in Oakland.  We played really well on the recording and it sounded good in the studio, but the exported tracks were tinny and had very little low-end.  We had Patrick Haight master them a few different times to try and bring certain things out of the mix more, but realized we should just do the recordings again.  We had really wanted to put the record out, but after listening to it and showing it to some trusty consultants we realized those recordings weren’t the ones to release.  We were bummed, but shit happens.  Patrick told us he would have his recording equipment up and running in his house soon and we decided to give him a shot with the record.  It took us a minute to raise the money and schedule it, but we got down to his studio right outside San Jose in January of 2013 and recorded fourteen tracks with him.  In the end, we put four more songs on the album and made it a more solid first release, in my opinion at least.

Did you all try anything new or radically different when it came to the songwriting or recording of the material for the upcoming album?  What can our readers expect from the upcoming album?  Where did you record the originally material or the album and when was that?  Who recorded it?  What about the re-recording session(s)?

The one thing I think people will notice is how broad our sound/influences are.  I think guitar tone alone is evident of that, going from heavily fuzzed out and crunchy to twangy and reverb drenched.  We even have a country song on the album.  I think our approach to playing and writing has stayed the same, we just don’t wanna do the same thing twice and get boring.  The last track of the album “Greenbacks” is the newest track on the album and is a good example of where the band is headed.

Does Buffalo have any music that we haven’t talked about yet, maybe a single or a song on some compilation that I might have missed?

Nope, you’ve got it all covered.

Other than the upcoming 12” on Captcha and the recent split 7” with Creepers, does Buffalo Tooth have any other releases in the works or on the horizon at this point?  It’s only February and it’s already proven to be an extremely busy year for you all…  Is there an upcoming under the gun records release?  It says tba on their site with a catalog number and didn’t know if that was referring to the split or what as it also says, “cassette”.

Gardeners of the Devil’s Lettuce will be coming out on tape via Under the Gun Records at the end of the summer.  We’re writing the next album right now and are about five songs deep.  We hope to be in the studio by the end of the year with a full-length and a track or two for some splits or a 7”.

Artwork by Damon Lockaby

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

Probably on our Bandcamp page then you can order straight from us and I’ll pack it up for you all perty like.  We have shirts and pins on there too.  Other than that, you can get it on the Under the Gun Records website and the 7” is distributed by Cobraside so it might be at a record store near somebody.

Design by Roy G. Biv

With the completely nutty international postage hikes that just seem to be never ending at this point, I try and provide our readers who like to actually buy the music and hold it in their hands with as many possibly options for picking up import releases as I can.  Where’s the best place for our international and overseas readers to score your music?

The same place and if they know of a cheaper service than USPS to their country just write it in the notes and we’ll figure something out.

And where is the best place for our readers to keep up with the latest news from Buffalo Tooth like upcoming shows, album releases and that kind of thing at?

Follow us @buffalotooth on the inny gammer, and twatter if you want to but I don’t twat much.  Or you can lurk us on Facebook.

Are there any major goals that Buffalo Tooth is looking to accomplish in 2014?

1. Full Length.  2. Tour.  3. Party.  4. Record.

Do you remember what the first song that Buffalo Tooth ever played live was?  Where and when would that have been at?

I believe that would be “Only Son”, Side A off of our Self-Titled 7”, at Ghost Town Gallery with Dahga Bloom, Jeffertitti’s Nile and The Lotus Moons on October 19, 2010.  God damn that was a long time ago!  Took us a minute to get our shit together, I guess...  Fux.

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

We need to spend more time on the road.  We’ve done a good amount of weekend trips down south but only one trip up north to Oregon and Washington.  We tried to play in Mexico once, but they wouldn’t let us in.

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

I don’t know yet.  I broke my damn leg pretty bad so I’m gonna have to wait until that heals up before we tour.  Hopefully, we can get in at least a full west coast tour and if things work out more of the country as well.  Europe is also on the Horizon.

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

We recently played with Saint Vitus which was pretty cool.  I love playing with Lecherous Gaze ‘cause they fuckin’ shreddddd!!!  Black Cobra is also one of my favorite bands to play with cause they kill it every time.  Oh, and Artifact from San Diego, they’re part of the Under the Gun family and will have a release out sometime soon; absolutely ripping keys ridden hard rock, featuring members of JOY (Tee Pee Records) And Psicomagia (El Paraiso Records).  Keep your ears peeled.

In your dreams, who are you on tour with?

Captain Beyond and Bad Brains.

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

Nothing really crazy has happened during a show, other than a random wasted fan who knocks over my mic stand and then received a nice kick to the chest as a warning to back off.  We have more problems getting to the show, or getting paid, or timing our bowel movements correctly.  We were supposed to play in Tijuana, Mexico last time we were on tour.  We get to the border and are immediately moved over to secondary inspection.  I guess we look shitty.  Eric is driving Sean’s van because Sean has no license and mine was suspended at the time.  The border officials ask Eric if he’s the owner of the car, he says no and they look very confused.  Sean comes up to the front seat and shows them the registration.  The border agent looks it over and says “This is expired.”  Sean replies, “Oh, it is?  Huh, that’s weird.”  Sean had failed to tell us the van wasn’t registered properly, and at this point we knew things probably weren’t going to end well.  The border agent asks for proof of insurance and of course we have none.  He takes our passports and leaves us to think about how retarded we are.  He returns twenty minutes later and tells us to follow this border patrol car.  We follow the car and he takes us on a brief loop through Mexico before forcing us to leave through the US side.  We get through the line and tell the American border agent what happened, he tells us we should try to go to a different border crossing about ten miles away who deal more with cargo.  It’s getting close to show time and we’re stressing.  We call the band from Mexico to see if we could borrow their gear, of course they were planning on using ours and only brought their guitars.  Without us there is no show, so we try the second border crossing.  Once again, the Mexican border agents take us to secondary and loop us around through Mexico.  We reach the American border again and this time they decide to give us hell.  They repeatedly interrogate us about how long we were in Mexico.  We told them over and over again that we never made it in but they don’t seem to believe us.  They bring out the drug dogs and sniff the whole van, luckily we had nothing.  They inspect the gear and are amazed to find out it’s actually music gear.  Then they make us sit for about an hour while they scratch their dicks, or whatever the process is to let people leave.  We finally get the hell out of there and go to this bar Live Wire and play pool and party with our friends.  Of course, as soon as we get there the Mexican band calls and says they found a van they can use and ask if they should go get the gear or not.  It was almost midnight and we were an hour from the border, so we said fuck it.  Mexico remained out of our grasp that time, but we’ll be back, and we’ll be registered and we will shred!!!

Do you give a lot of thought to the visual aspect of the band, like artwork for players, posters and covers, that kind of thing?  If so, do you have any go-to people that you work with or approach for those kinds of needs and who are they and how did you originally get hooked up with them?

Art is definitely important, if it wasn’t we would have released Gardeners of the Devil’s Lettuce in the summer of 2013.  The cover artwork was a little behind, but it was well worth the wait.  Our buddy Damon Lockaby, the drummer of Banquet, absolutely killed it with the cover, center label and insert artwork.  The back cover was drawn by the great Roy G. Biv.  Roy has done a lot of our artwork, he’s a long time friend and a full time ripper.  Besides the back cover of Gardeners of the Devil’s Lettuce he drew both 7 Inches and our pin.  Our friend Danny Shimoda also drew the “Buffalo Wars” Tee for us.  We’re lucky to have a bunch of talented friends who are willing to collaborate with us.

With all the various mediums of release that are available to people today I’m always extremely curious why they choose and prefer the various methods that they do when it comes to releasing and listening to music.  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, can you talk briefly about why?

For me, I prefer to release vinyl with a free digital download of the record.  A CD’s ok but I can’t keep a CD for more than a year without destroying it.  An MP3 is the worst, reduced sound quality and it seems like it doesn’t exist.  I like to hold an album in my hand, unsheathe the record and play it on a turntable.  Plus artwork always looks better on a record jacket than on a computer or a CD jacket.  I’m down with tapes too because they’re super cheap.  They do have lower fidelity than vinyl but you can get albums for like three or five dollars, which is excellent.  I’m open to having our music available on all mediums; vinyl’s just the first requirement.

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

Yeah, I have a bunch of tapes and a growing vinyl collection.  It’s not much, but I do have some cool stuff.  Lately I’ve been listening to some records my lady and I picked up while in Germany, a psychedelic/noise band called Metabolismos and this ‘70s Prog band called Nucleus.  I have eclectic tastes and my collection ranges from The Locust to Loretta Lynn.  I like to mix it up.

When I was younger I was constantly surrounded by music at my dad’s house and wasn’t really allowed to listen to much out loud at my mom’s house.  She didn’t care what I had on my headphones really but she was a big fan of quiet in the house.  My dad encouraged me to listen to and enjoy his music from an early age though and I remember I would just pick stuff out at random from these enormous shelves of music that stretched on for what seemed like forever and I would kick back in a beanie bag with a pair of headphones and read the liner notes, stare at the artwork; let the whole experience transport me off to another place.  Having something physical and concrete to hold in my hands always served for this brief and illusive look into the minds of the artists that created it and just made for an all-around more complete listening experience, at least for me.  Do you have any such connection with physically released music?

Yeah, I’m very attached to the physical ceremony of playing a record.  Clicking a button on my computer doesn’t evoke the same feeling for me.  Although I do acknowledge a need to have digital options for your music, I don’t think digital forms of music should replace all physical forms.  They need to co-exist and when the internet and technology finally take a dump I’ll still have all my records.

As much as I love my music collection there was always a big problem with it for me, portability.  I just wasn’t able to ever take enough of it on the go with me to keep my psychotic pallet sated.  I always found myself looking for the one album or song that I would forget to bring along rushing out the door with my backpack stuff with tapes and CDs.  Digital music has all but eliminated that problem overnight and I can carry more music on my phone now that I could have with an entire backpack when I was in high school, not to mention I can actually keep it semi-organized ha-ha!  That’s not even the real kicker though, when you team digital music with the internet, that’s when things get really crazy!  Together they’ve exposed people to an entire world of music that they otherwise would never have been privy to and I think it’s leveled the playing field a lot for independent artists willing to create and promote a healthy online presence.  Nothing is ever black and white though, and while there’s all this good stuff illegal downloading is running rampant in the industry and now that there’s so much music out there online and in people’s grasps’ it’s harder and harder to get noticed these days.  As an artist during the reign of the digital era what’s your opinion on digital music and distribution?

The internet is a shit storm in every manner of speaking.  It’s much easier today for people to record and release their music which is good, but there are soooo many shitty bands out there clogging up the interweb.  Back in the day, if you were no good you couldn’t release your stuff unless you were really dedicated and hopefully got better along the way.  Now, anyone can have a SoundCloud, Bandcamp or release their stuff on Spotify or whatever else there is.  Hating aside, the internet is a great tool to research new music.  Granted, the file is usually a shitty quality mp3 version, especially if you stream an entire album from YouTube, but it will at least give you the opportunity to listen to a record.  I’m listening to Metal on Metal by Anvil via YouTube right now actually.  YouTube’s also a really good tool for finding rare bands’ albums from the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s.  Why do you think all these bands are randomly getting back together and touring again?  Without the internet who knows if that would happen.  If you have a record that isn’t even on YouTube, yes this still happens, and it rips – then you know you’ve got yourself a rare vinyl and it might be worth some dough and street cred.

I have a compulsion with music, I try to keep up with as much of the good stuff that is going on out there and I spend a lot of time doing it.  Aside from digging through bins, listening to random links and downloads I’m sent and talking to the record store employees I always make sure to ask musicians likes you who I should be listening to whenever I talk to them.  Is there anyone from your local scene or area that you should be listening to that I might not have heard of before?

I’ve mentioned some of these bands already but I’m gonna list off some of my faves: Lecherous Gaze, Hot Lunch (Interview here), Black Cobra, Scraper, Synthetic ID, Mondo Drag, Dahga Bloom, OVVL, Wild Eyes (Interview here), JOY, Artifact, Psicomagia, Brian Ellis Group, Harsh Toke, Wild Moth, Mr. Elevator and the Brain Hotel, Creepers, Hornss (Interview here), Replica, Billions and Billions and, Dirty Fences.  I might have left some bands out, and not all of them are local, but that’s a solid start at least.  You can check out me and Sean’s other band Glitter Wizard too if you would like.

What about nationally and internationally?

In Zaire from Italy are extremely badass.  Our European Booker Ricky plays drums in that band. Black Rainbows from Italy, GOAT from Sweden, Whitehorse from Australia; I need to listen to more European bands.

Thanks so much for doing this, I know my interviews aren’t short but I know that they’re thorough and that I love learning so much about awesome bands like Buffalo Tooth.  And hey, we’re done now so you can sigh a collective sigh of relief and kick back, before we sign off, is there anything that I might have missed that you’d like to take this opportunity to talk to me or my readers about?

Not really, thanks for reaching out to us and listening to the music.  I hope you like the record when it comes out.  We hope to be in Europe soon so we will keep you guys posted!

(2012)  Buffalo Tooth – Buffalo Tooth – 7” – Archer Guild Records (Limited to 300 copies)
(2014)  Buffalo Tooth/Creepers – Buffalo Tooth Creepers split – 7” – Under The Gun Records (Limited to 300 copies, 60 copies on Red Vinyl)
(2014)  Buffalo Tooth – Gardeners of the Devil’s Lettuce – Cassette Tape, 12” – Captcha Records/Under the Gun Records

Interview made by Roman Rathert/2014
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