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Walking Bicycles interview with Julius Moriarty, Jocelyn Summers and Jason Leather

© Cassandra Bialek at HeyBob Photography 

There aren’t a lot of bands kicking around these days that have been decimating the landscape for more than a decade like Walking Bicycles has.  There’re no lost edges here, no canned rage or pretensions going on, the clamoring walls of thundering bass and gnarled guitar wash over the listener in waves of euphoria that will leave you in a one-man mosh pit within minutes!  The bass is so heavy on this stuff it really stands out as its own instrument, allowing the maw of the beast that is Julius Moriarty’s guitar to open up and literally consume the mind of anyone in earshot.  Crooning dissonant vocals echo in the back of the rising and ebbing energy of the tightly woven rock that makes up the bands newest offering to the unholy lord of rock’n’roll, To Him That Wills The Way.  Jocelyn Summers always tight and hauntingly beautiful voice is what really locks everything in place, along with some of the tightest, most precise drumming I’ve been privy to in some time.  Song’s like “War Paint” and “Faster Than Light” perfectly illustrate the beautiful dichotomy of sound and fury, calm and insanity that exists in Walking Bicycles at any given moment.  An energy bubbling just beneath the surface of things, an itching heat begging to tear through the thin veil of restraint that holds it tenuously in place, an energy that leaks into you after a while, like a radioactive poison that coursing through your veins, burning and searing it’s way to your very core where it changes you, where it will transform you into something, something else, something different than you were before, something better than you were before.  Baptize yourself in the sounds of Walking Bicycles, join the anointed at the altar and make sure to check out every one of their albums.  After all things may have gotten slightly wider in scope and a bit more refined, but the essence of Walking Bicycles has never really changed and this isn’t the kind of music you want to be in the dark about.  Enough of my meaningless prattle though, Walking Bicycles don’t need me to explain, define, defend or sell their sound, for that matter; they’re completely capable of doing that on their own.  Just click the link and read the words, I’ll see you on the other side…
Listen while you read:

© by Jonny Leather

What’s the lineup in Walking Bicycles at this point?  I just got into you all but I know you’ve been around for a while, so I don’t really know, have there been any changes to the lineup since you all started, or is this the original lineup?

Julius:  Walking Bicycles are Jocelyn (vocals), Jason (bass), Deric (drums) and me (guitar).  Jocelyn and I are original members.  Jason joined the band in 2005 when we moved from Humboldt County, California to Chicago, Illinois.  Our original bass player opted not to make the move, so Jason has been there from almost the beginning, writing and performing on everything after our first EP.  As for drummers…  We’ve had a different drummer on all of our releases.  Deric is the first who will be on multiple LPs.  Deric, unfortunately, will not be part of this interview.  His sense of humor, incredible taste in music and poignant observations will not be recorded.  Although he’s been writing with us for years now, he’s still the newbie and subject to serious hazing.  The other day at practice he didn’t perfectly execute a change, so we broke all his fingers rendering his abilities to type and/or write obsolete.

Are any of you in any other active bands or do you have any side projects going on at this point? 

Jason:  I’ve been playing upright bass in a bluegrass band called the Grasstronauts for a couple years now.  We play pretty regularly around Chicago.  I also have a free improv/experimental project called Spaced Out Disco Fever that just played its first show, and a jazz duo that will probably start gigging soon.

Have you released any music with anyone else in the past, if so can you tell us about that?

Julius:  I was in a band in High School called LSD.  I sang in that band.  We wrote about an EP’s worth of tracks which we performed live, but never had any plans of releasing properly.  It was pretty avant-garde and bizarre.  If I had to categorize the sound, I’d say we were no-wave.  Deric was in a great band called Aleks and The Drummer. 

How old are you and where are you originally from?

Jason:  Parts unknown.

What was the local music scene like where you grew up?  Were you very involved in the local scene?  Did you see a lot of shows or anything like that?  Do you feel like that scene played an important role in forming your musical tastes or shaping the way you perform at this point?

Julius:  I grew up on the local hardcore matinees, five or six bands playing all ages shows in a dive on the weekend.  I believe it shaped my taste in a number of ways.  Most importantly, it introduced me to the DIY/underground side of music. 

Jocelyn:  I grew up in the Chicago suburbs in the 80s and early 90s and all my friends were always in bands from about eight grade on.  I was always hanging out in someone’s basement or garage watching their band practice and then going to see them at the venues that used to cater to underage bands and their friends.  We used to see shows at Chicago area venues like the Gateway Theater and the Thirsty Whale.  Once in a while, one of the bands would get a spot at the Metro and that was a huge deal.  I always wanted to be in a band before we formed Walking Bicycles, but I just didn’t think it was possible at a younger age.  I’m not sure how influential any of those bands were on my music now, but the fact that they were all writing their own music and performing, despite the lack of interest from record labels or anything like that did stick with me.  They all just played because they couldn’t not play, and that’s the mindset I have for sure.

What about your home when you were a child?  Was there a lot of music around?  Were either of your parents or any of your close relatives musicians or extremely interested or involved in music?

Jocelyn:  Music was a huge part of my upbringing.  My dad was the singer in a garage band in the early 60s in Chicago called the Exides and they were pretty big, although they played only covers, which I guess was pretty typical at the time.  But they were really good and my dad has a phenomenal voice with tons of soul and grit.  Even after the band broke up and he went to school and married my mom and had kids, he was still consumed by music and we were always listening to the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Animals, Chuck Berry, Elvis, Little Richard, the Zombies, etcetera.

Jason:  My home wasn’t very musical, but my parents had all the Beatles records, some Motown and Sly and The Family Stone.  Those records got me obsessed with music.

What do you consider to be your first real exposure to music to be?

Julius:  I had an older brother who had great taste in music.  He didn’t dig too deep, but he knew what was good.  His collection had Hendrix, Ramones, Smiths, Pixie, Bowie, etcetera. It was a great jumping off point.

Jocelyn:  Definitely, my dad introduced me to the roots of rock and roll and the British invasion, but I dug to find music that I liked in the 80s and I’d buy records that sounded like they would be good through my subscription to NME.  I loved the Smiths, Depeche Mode, Hüsker Dü, Joy Division/New Order and other early alternative bands.  I’d read the liner notes and find out who produced or mixed a record and then go and find other bands that those people worked with.  You really had to be creative back then.  Later, 120 Minutes on MTV became a great resource to find bands.

If you were to pick a moment, a moment where your mind seemed to be blown and suddenly you became aware of all the amazing things that music is capable of and you by extension thereof, what would it be?

Julius:  As long as I can remember music has been my religion.  I can’t pinpoint when or why it took control.  It just did, and did early.

Jocelyn:  Jules summed it up and I feel the same way.

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

Jocelyn:  Before we started the band I always wanted to play, and I always wrote journals and poems.  I have journals dating back a couple decades.  So, when we first started the band it was easy to put words to the melodies.  In the early 2000s Jules and I lived in California and we used to travel nearly every weekend to see bands in San Francisco and Portland, Oregon.  We saw so many shows those first few years.  We were just like, fuck it.  Let’s start our own band.

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

Julius:  A guitar Jocelyn bought for me in 2004.

Jocelyn:  I grew up playing piano, but I sucked.  I sang in chorus and was in musical theater from a young age.  I wasn’t that great, but I really loved it and that went a long way as a child.  I’ve tried picking up other instruments, but I was always more interested in singing.

When did the members of Walking Bicycle originally meet and how was that?

Jocelyn:  Jules and I met at a Grateful Dead show in Atlanta in 1994.  We started living together in 1996 and have been together ever since.  We met Jason when we moved to Chicago in 2005 through a mutual friend when we needed a new bass player.  We’ve always felt really lucky that we met Jason because he’s the perfect bass player for us and a real musician.  The three of us met Deric when his old band Aleks and the Drummer played a show with us in 2007 and have always loved his drumming so again, we felt fortunate when he joined the band in 2011.

When and what led to the formation of Walking Bicycles?

Julius:  2004...  ‘Cause it had to be done!

Jocelyn:  I just didn’t want to watch bands anymore.  I still love going to shows and I’m still a total fan of music and bands, but I didn’t want to just watch, I wanted to play too. 

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

Jocelyn:  Love the struggle.

Jason:  Besides the music, I think we all pretty much hate the way the mainstream culture is geared towards keeping people dumb and submissive.

© Colleen Longo 

Okay, tell me about the name.  Now, when I originally heard it I didn’t really know how to take it and I admittedly like to analyze everything to death, but the more I thought about it and listened to your music, the more apt your name became for some odd reason I’m yet unable to put my finger on.  What does the name Walking Bicycles mean or refer to in the context of your band name?  Who came up with it and how did you all go about choosing it?  Are there any close seconds that you almost went with you can recall at this point?

Jocelyn:  One day in 2003 when we were living in California I was driving to work going up a steep hill.  We lived in a town in the middle of the redwoods and there was a real mystic sense about the area.  It was always raining and fog would hug the road in patches like ghosts.  I came through a fog patch and started driving slowly up this steep hill.  I came out of the fog and saw this really old man walking a bicycle up the hill.  The rain was really coming down and I slowed down further as I came up next to him and my heart just went out to him.  He was so old and had this rickety old bike and these really gnarled hands.  As I passed, I looked in my rear view mirror and he had a huge grin on his face.  I laughed out loud and thought, “Well he’s either bat shit crazy or…  Maybe he’s stoked; maybe he’s stoked because he’s out on a road and not stuck at home or feeble or something.  Maybe he’s happy because he knows that although he can’t ride his bike up this hill, that when he gets to the top he’ll hop on that bike and glide down the other side”.  And that idea left me with this feeling that I had just seen this huge metaphor in my life; that you have hard moments and times, but that when you get to the top of your hill you may have a bit of joy, or freedom, or escape before you have to climb the next one.  That’s why we love the struggle of life, because the hard times lead to the easy times, and so on.

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

Julius:  Chicago and the music scene contain a ton of talent.

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

Julius:  Well, I own a record label here in Chicago called Highwheel Records.  If I’m not working with a local artist on a release, I seem to be answering, a lot, of questions for my friend’s bands regarding touring, booking, press and duplication.  And, I would estimate I see three to five live shows a week!

Has the local scene played an integral role in the sound, history or evolution of Walking Bicycles or do you feel like you could be doing what you are regardless of where you were at and stuff?

Julius:  Our sound is not dependent upon the local scene.  What’s going on around us musically doesn’t enter into our minds during the writing process.

Jocelyn:  I love this about the Chicago music scene; no one really tries to sound like anyone but themselves.  We’ll play a show and it will have a doom band, and a Shoegaze band, and a punk band and us, and the combination will be perfect somehow.  I don’t see us in another city.

Are you involved in recording or releasing anyone else’s music?  If so, can you tell us a bit about that here briefly?

Julius:  As mentioned, I own and operate a record label, Highwheel Records.  It’s a labor of love and I’m proud of the albums I’ve put out over the last decade.

How would you describe your sound to our readers who might not have heard you all before?  You have a pretty luscious sound with a ton of stuff lurking just underneath the surface that might not pop out on the first listen.

Jocelyn:  We like saying Doom Pop because we’re heavy yet dancey.  We alternatively call our music Psych on 45, because when we put out our 7-inch in 2013 I accidentally left the record on 33rpm instead of 45rpm and it was the most perfect slow psych rock sound.  We’re almost like the opposite, what it would sound like if you played a psych band like the Black Angels on 45rpm setting instead of 33rpm.

As I mentioned before I can hear a lot of different stuff coming together in your music.   Who are some of your major musical influences?  What about major influences on the band as a whole rather than just individually?

Julius:  The bands influences are a sum of our individual influences.  They’re not mutually exclusive.
Jocelyn:  Influences for me are PIL and Clinic, and the obvious ones like Joy Division and early REM.  We all bring our own influences to make our sound, but at this point when we write, the main criteria is that it sounds like a Walking Bicycles song.  We wrote way over a hundred songs for this last album and the editing criteria was really, does this sound like us?

Jason:  Black Sabbath, Fugazi, Can, Devo, Jesus Lizard, the Residents, Wire, the Minutemen, Pink Floyd…

What’s the songwriting process for Walking Bicycles like?  Is there someone who usually comes in with an idea for a song or a riff to work out with the rest of you, or do you all just get together and kick ideas around until you find something that works and you’re interested in refining from there?

Jocelyn:  We all write our own parts.  We start with a guitar line, or a bass line, or drum beat and then we just sort of jump in and jam around until we like something, and then we start structuring the song.  We usually record our practices on my iPhone and then review what we like and edit from there.  Some songs though, like “The Messenger” from this last album [To Him That Wills The Way], we wrote on the fly and didn’t change anything.

Jason:  It’s very much a collaboration.

What’s recording like for Walking Bicycles?  Recording has been the death of many a great band, and while I think that most musicians can appreciate the end result of all the time and effort that goes into making an album when they’re finally holding that finished product in their hands, getting to that point, that’s a whole other story.  It can be extremely difficult translating what you’re playing live or hear in your head to a recording, especially as a band.  How is it recording for Walking Bicycles?

Julius:  If it were up to me, we would live in the studio.  It’s a lot of fun recording in this band.

Jocelyn:  I love the studio and I always feel like we just wish we had more time.  This past record we became really attached to our practice sessions, but yeah, it’s hard to duplicate the sound in the studio.  We try not to worry about it though; each is its own beast.

Do you all like to take a DIY approach to recording where you handle most of the technical aspects of stuff on your own, so that you don’t have to work with or compromise on the sound in anyway with someone else?  Or do you all like to head into a studio, let a technician handle that kind of thing, and simply concentrate on the music and getting it to sound the way you want it to?

Julius:  It’s not that black and white.  We trust the drum sounds that come out of the “Kentucky” drum room at Electrical Audio Studios, having recorded there for multiple albums.  We know the mics there, which are great for what we want to accomplish sonically, and have a solid formula for success working with a few of their engineers on this front.  We don’t need to really think about that stuff anymore and can leave it up to someone else to get it done after a small discussion.  The rest is a balance between us knowing our gear and knowing our goals and the engineer knowing their equipment.  We all need to work together at a point to get the job done the best way possible.

Julius Moriarty by Kriss Stress Art fro the Blank Expression Series

Is there a lot of time and effort that goes into working out exactly how a song’s going to work before you head into record it with every little aspect of a song’s arrangement and composition ironclad and worked out before hand?  Or, do you all get a get skeletal idea of what a song’s going to sound like, while allowing for some breathing room and space for evolution where necessary during the recording process?

Julius:  The songs are fully formulated as we go into the studio to track the initial session on 2” tape.  The breathing room comes as we overdub.  At this point, there can be a slight evolution as we layer textures.

Do psychoactive or hallucinogenic play a large or important role in the songwriting, recording or performance processes for Walking Bicycles?  People have been tapping into the altered mind states that drugs produce for the purposes of creating art for thousands of years and I’m always curious about its connection with the music and art that I personally consume and enjoy.

Jason:  I think we’ve all taken enough hallucinogens to be legally insane, so our past experiences inform our thought process.  There aren’t a lot of drugs being taken while we’re writing though.
Julius:  Not directly in the writing process.  We don’t alter states of mind through hallucinogens at all as we write our songs.  But, I’ve taken more hallucinogens than anyone I’ve ever met in my lifetime.  The mark these experiences have left on my DNA most likely shows itself in all aspects of my life.  That being said, it’s tough to even quantify the connection between hallucinogens and my art.  

Your first release that I know of was in 2005.  Highwheel Records, who have handles all of your releases that I’m aware of, released your self-titled debut full-length on CD and 12”.  Can you share some of your memories of recording that first album?  Was that a fun, pleasurable experience for you all, or more of a nerve wracking proposition at the time?  Where and when was that material recorded?  Who recorded it?  What kind of equipment was used?

Julius:  This session was recorded in Los Angeles at Cornerstone Studios at the end of 2004.  We weren’t from L.A. which helped us to block out the outside world.  The friends we have there didn’t know we were in town.  We didn’t have our own beds or familiar routines.  We submerged ourselves in the recording of the album and loved the process.  Lester Camacho was our engineer.  He’s Nick Mason from Pink Floyd’s personal drum engineer and was very easy to communicate with.  This release differs from all our others as it’s the only release which didn’t start out on 2” tape.  It was completely done on pro-tools, but the studio did have some amazing gear and a very solid console.

You followed the self-tilted album up a year later in 2006 with Disconnected which has also been released in both CD and 12” versions.  Was the recording of the material for Disconnected very different than the session(s) for Walking Bicycles?  Who recorded the Disconnected material?  When and where would that have been at?  What kind of equipment was used?

Julius:  Disconnected was recorded in two sessions which are divided by sides of the LP.  Side A was recorded with Brian Deck at Engine Studios in Chicago and Side B was recorded with Steve Albini at Electrical Audio Studios in Chicago.  This was in late 2005.  We wanted to play around with two great recording engineers/producers the city had to offer and see where the pieces landed.  But, we were a bit disconnected, moving from rural Humboldt County, California to a new home in Chicago.  The album was a bit disconnected, being recorded at two studios with two different engineer/producers.  The results were a bit disconnected.  Still, it’s a solid snapshot of where we were artistically at the time.  The sonic palette was laid out on our first release.  Our second release added a certain rawness to that palette.  That rawness has continued throughout our work in different incarnations.  For this release, it showed itself in its’ aggressive nature.  As for equipment, Engine Studios had a great Trident Console and an amazing microphone collection.  Electrical has a custom Neotek console and another great mic collection.  This release was the start of a process which continues to this day, we record our drums, bass and guitars on 2” tape.  We then drop the tape into pro-tools for vocals and overdubs.  After mixing we bounce the mix onto ½” to grab back the warmth of the tape for mastering.

You guys took a bit of a break from releases for almost three years before dropping the ¿GO? CD in 2009.  Why the long break from releases?  Did you all spend a lot of time working on that particular material or was there “real life” stuff going on?  When was the ¿GO? Material recorded?  Who recorded it and where was that at?  What kind of equipment was used this time around?

Julius:  The hiatus between releases was due to our goal of writing a more cohesive set of songs; a response to disconnected and its disconnected feel.  But, we also wanted the album to be a full-length with a variety of textures.  So, it took a bit to come up with a complete work that flowed nicely while showcasing a broad range of sound.  Knowing we loved the drum sound that comes from Electrical Audio we went back to the studio and recorded all the drums there.  We then went to another studio which was basically a cavernous warehouse to grab the rest through a vintage console which I can’t remember who built.

Jocelyn:  We actually recorded another record before ¿GO? but scrapped most of it because the direction was a bit all over the place.  The only song that we took from the recording was “Obvious Path”; the original recording is on a compilation for Project Guacamole.  We ended up re-recording that song and writing more in that vein for ¿GO?.  That’s the beauty of owning your own label and not having to answer to anyone.  You can go at your own pace and put out what you’re proud of.

¿GO? is your only full-length release that I know of which hasn’t been offered on vinyl yet.  Are there any plans to make that happen anytime in the future, or has that material’s time kind of come and gone at this point?

Julius:  I want it on vinyl and feel we should do that at some point.  When?  I’m not quite sure.

You all took three years to drop ¿GO? but it would be another four years before you released anything after that.  In 2013 you released your first 7-inch single, “So” b/w “Badada”.  You followed that up with a full-length album, To Him That Wills The Way a few months later, thankfully though.  Were either “So” or “Badada” recorded or written specifically for the single or were they songs from a previous recording session that were looking for somewhere they could call home?  If they were recorded specifically for the single can you tell us about that?

Julius:  As mentioned, it had been a while since we released ¿GO? and we were becoming anxious to get some new material out.  The hiatus between releases, this time, stemmed from my being incarcerated for three years on marijuana charges.  Once I was released from prison, we were all anxious to write a new full-length album and share more Walking Bicycles tracks.  So, we released the 7-inch as a teaser of the new LP, letting people know we were back at it again and to give them a heads up that the new full-length was coming really soon.

As I mentioned a few months after the release of the “So” b/w “Badada” 7-inch in 2014 you released To Him That Wills The Way.  Did you all try anything radically new or different when it came to the songwriting or recording of the material for To Him That Wills The Way?  Do you feel like you all have learned a lot as a band since that first self-titled release?  Who recorded that and when would that have been?  Where was it recorded and what kind of equipment was used?

Julius:  To Him That Wills The Way is a concept LP.  The songs on the album represent the challenges faced from being separated from my wife and band vocalist, Jocelyn, the stigma that’s attached to a loved one being in prison, and the thread of hope that we had to hold on to during that time.  The narrative is not a precautionary tale; it’s an acquiescent chronicle of redemption garnered through strength and experience.  It’s slightly darker and a bit heavier than our previous releases, but that’s a natural response considering the subject matter.  The new LP definitely makes sense, sonically, in our catalog though.  Again, each song was first recorded onto 2” tape at Electrical Audio studios.  We then bumped the tape into Pro-Tools and went to Soma studios to add any overdubs we thought were needed, and we also did a majority of the vocals on the record at Soma.  Then, we tirelessly went over the mix, working on it for a couple months with Sanford Parker.  Once we felt we had accomplished our goal, we had a long talk with our mastering engineer and lacquer cutter to make sure we maintained the dynamic and frequency range we worked so hard to capture.  We had to sacrifice some volume to achieve this but feel it’s worth it.

Does Walking Bicycles have any music that we haven’t talked about yet, maybe a song on a compilation or a demo that I don’t know about?

Julius:  We released the demo version of “Obvious Path” on an international comp in 2007.  The track can be found on our SoundCloud.  We also have well over a hundred sketches of unreleased material.  If, and when, they see the light of day is a subject of debate between us.

Jocelyn:  I love our private SoundCloud material; at some point I’d love to just make it public.

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

Julius:  Through the Highwheel Records website.

With international shipping the way it is I try and provide our readers with as many possible options for picking up imports as I can.  Where’s the best place for our poor international and overseas readers?

Julius:  Amazon for physical copies.  iTunes or our Bandcamp for digital.

And where’s the best place for our interested readers to keep up with the latest news from Walking Bicycles like upcoming shows, tour dates and releases at?

Julius:  Our Facebookpage or the Highwheel Records site.  Both are kept current.

Tour Poster by Chris Leather

Are there any major plans or goals that you’re looking to accomplish in the last of 2014 or 2015?

Julius:  We would like to get back into the studio relatively quickly to put out another 7-inch.  If not this year, then very early in 2015, we’ll be recording again.

Do you all spend a lot of time out on the road touring?  Do you enjoy being out on tour?  What’s life like on tour for Walking Bicycles?

Jocelyn:  We used to tour and it was our favorite thing.  I love being out there and I’d love to do it again, but at some point it just didn’t make sense anymore.  We’d travel across the country and literally play to a couple hundred people the whole time.  We do plan on playing in New York and other cities, but instead of going out for a couple months, we’ll just go for a week; unless there are some major changes in our status…  Again, you have to be happy with what you have and right now we’re happy to be a band, play great shows in Chicago and write more records.

© by Jonny Leather

What was the first song that Walking Bicycles ever played live?  When and where would that have been?

Julius:  “The Hater” at 330 Club in Arcata, California.  There’s a copy of that performance, our first song played live, on YouTube.  It was August 2004.

What, if anything, do you all have planned as far as touring goes at this point? 

Julius:  I’m still on parole.  I can’t officially leave the state until late December of this year.  We’re currently discussing our plan of attack.

Who are some of your personal favorite bands that you’ve had a chance to play with over the years?

Julius:  It’s been a decade of live shows.  Things tend to begin to blend together.

Jocelyn:  We played with Secret Machines for a Lollapalooza after party show in 2006.  That was pretty epic.

In your dreams, who are you on tour with?

Julius:  I believe Goat, Savages and Walking Bicycles would be a great tour.  All heavy, female fronted, post-punk/psych artists!

Jocelyn:  Opening for Clinic would be dope, Warlocks too, definitely.

Jason:  I’d like to take Charles Manson out on the road with us; great songwriter.

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

Julius:  Early on in a tour you have to just let yourself go, to submit to life on the road.  Once you do this, funny and interesting events happen all the time…  Too many to even begin to talk about, unless you want to do an entire interview on the subject.

Do you all give a lot of thought to those visual aspects that represent the band to a large extent, stuff like flyers, posters, shirt designs, album covers and that sort of thing?  Is there any kind of meaning or message that you’re attempting to convey or get across with your art?  Is there anyone that you usually turn to when it comes to the visual aspects of the band?  If so, who is that and how did you originally get hooked up with them?

Julius:  We believe there should be a great poster attached to each event we play; a keepsake, something worth saving as a reminder of the occasion.  So, a majority of our events have limited, handmade, silkscreen posters.  Early on Chris Leather would design and print them.  He did dozens.  We’ve been fortunate enough to collaborate with many of the great local poster artists recently.  Dan Grzeca has done a few lately and we love his aesthetic.  Last year, we spent months working on the first official Walking Bicycles video.  There’re a few older videos floating around, but they’re fan created videos which we were not a part of making.  The new video, for “Eyesore”, was done by Elliott Kaffee and is a good visual companion to that song.  It’s weird, dark, etcetera.

© Dan Grzeca

Jocelyn:  We have a lot of really great artists here in the city that we’ve been lucky to work with on our posters.  Dan Grzeca has done several of our posters recently and he’s always got a great aesthetic.  I designed the album covers for our first record, for the “So” b/w “Badada” 7-inch from last year, and for 2014’s To Him That Wills The Way.  I always seek to make something that’s disturbing.

© Dan Grzeca

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

Julius:  Vinyl.  For all the reasons vinyl lovers already know about, the packaging, smell, art, sound…

Jocelyn:  Vinyl is the main way that we listen to music.  I always say that Jules fell in love with me because I lived in a cabin in the woods with no running water and a composting toilet, but I had a couple hundred records and a turntable.

I grew up around an awesome collection of music and I would go out on the weekends and constantly pick stuff up from the local record shops.  I spent all of my money there or at the comic shop as a kid, ha-ha.  I would pick up a new album, rush home and stick on a set of headphones, read the liner notes over and over again and then just stare at the cover art and let the whole experience transport me off on this whole trip!  Having something physical I could hold in my hands that was concretely connected with the music always made for a more complete listening experience for me.  Do you have any such connection with physically released music?

Julius:  My vinyl collection takes up a lot of space containing thousands of albums…  We grew up with the same experiences Roman!

Like it or not, digital music is here in a big way for now.  I mean, there are always ups and downs to everything and with the good comes the bad.  The internet has exposed people to the literal world of music that they’re surrounded by and made it possible to reach out and communicate with bands on an unprecedented level at this point.  Even a few years ago there were geographic boundaries that would have crippled bands that aren’t even an issue any longer.  On the other hand though, while people are exposed to a lot more music they’re not really that interested in paying for much of it.  While I don’t think anyone was getting rich off of independent record sales or anything, I do think that internet piracy was becoming an issue at one point before collectors and dedicated listeners who want physical copies kind of put their foot down.  People’s interaction with and relationship with music is constantly changing and I don’t think that digital music has done anyone in big favors in either of those regards.  As an artist during the reign of the digital era, what’s your opinion on digital music and distribution?

Jocelyn:  As much as I love vinyl, I also love the digital age.  I don’t really listen to music outside of my house.  I don’t have music on my phone and I’m not one to walk around listening to music, so it’s not in that sense.  I love it because people have access to it if they want it.  And for bands, it’s so much easier to distribute now that you don’t have to have a distribution company to sell albums.  True, it’s harder to sell it, but I used to tape music off the radio, so really, what’s the difference?  I do wish that people bought more music, but I wish people went out and saw music more too.  Bands that are considered big now, sell maybe five thousand tickets for a show, when in the past they were selling twenty thousand.  I remember going to see this band Walt Mink in the early 90s at the Metro and they were just a tiny band from Minneapolis, but the place was still sold out.  The equation is fucked right now definitely.  But hopefully, music will find its way again.  And if you love playing and writing, there’s not much use complaining.

I try to keep up with as much good music as I possibly can but there’s so much stuff out there now that it’s hard to even know where to start sometimes.  Is there anyone from your local scene or area that I should be listening to I might not have heard of before?

Julius:  Yeah, there’s a solid music scene in Chicago.  Fans of psych music that aren’t already aware of how good Chicago’s scene is are missing out.  The list is pretty substantial, but as a solid introduction go buy all the music available from Verma and Unmanned Ship.

What about nationally and internationally?

Julius:  Greece: Bazooka, Sweden: Goat, Japan: Bo Ningen.

Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview.  I swear, I’m done, no more questions from this man!  As you were so generous with your time though, I’d like to open the floor up to you all for a moment.  Is there anything that I could have possibly missed or that you might just want to take this opportunity to talk to me or the readers about?

Julius:  To your readers…  Support local artists!

© Victoria Smith

(2005)  Walking Bicycles – Walking Bicycles – Digital, CD, 12” – High Wheels Records
(2006)  Walking Bicycles – Disconnected – Digital, CD, 12” – High Wheels Records
(2009)  Walking Bicycles - ¿GO? – Digital, CD – High Wheels Records
(2013)  Walking Bicycles – “So” b/w “Badada” – Digital, 7” – High Wheels Records
(2014)  Walking Bicycles – To Him That Wills The Way – Digital, 12” – High Wheels Records

Interview made by Roman Rathert/2014
© Copyright

1 comment:

Elizabeth J. Neal said...

I love the way you write and share your niche! Very interesting and different! Keep it coming! Michail