June 12, 2010 | Brillobox | Pittsburgh, PA

Photos by Laila Elizabeth Archuleta

A couple days before New Years my friends and I were gathered in an upstairs room of a house we were renting.   The effects of the night’s consumption were just starting to over take our eyes and ears. The flower curtains were blooming, the table tops swirling, sounds splitting and then rejoining.  Each of us were taking turns on the stereo, curiously choosing songs or albums we thought would blow our minds while under the influence of what we had taken. I giggled to myself as I scrolled through my iPod and landed on Neon Indian.

Everyone stopped. “Who is this?!”

"What album is this?"

"This is so awesome!"

"This is exactly what I want to be listening to right now!"

Since that night, Psychic Chasms has been my go to album whenever I needed a smile plastered across my face.

I arrived at Brillobox in Pittsburgh with half my friends from that trippy winter evening in tow. Laila, the photographer met us outside and we introduced ourselves. A mutual friend had put us in touch when she learned I was in desperate need of a photographer for the interview.  We immediately hit it off.  As we entered, I could hear Neon Indian still sound-checking upstairs, so I ordered a beer to calm my shaking hands and thumping heart.  The restaurant of Brillobox was small and intimate with red booths lit warmly with yellow glass shaded sconces. My friends and I couldn’t resist the delicious smells that were emanating from the kitchen so we ordered a few appetizers while I waited for Alan Palomo to come downstairs.

I was mid-sip in my Dortmunder Gold when I saw him out of the corner of my eye.  Up shot my anxiety.  I always get a little bit worked up before an interview, but this is an artist I creatively admire and had a total geeky crush on.

Alan’s tour manager approached me and introduced himself then called Alan over.  He politely shook my hand and smiled shyly.  He was a bit shorter than me, about 5’6” with a mop of dark brown hair, and intense eyes shielded by large framed glasses.   We settled into a corner booth towards the back.  Alan was sipping a rather spicy looking Bloody Maria…

Alan Palomo :  It’s funny, I didn’t start drinking Bloody Marys until I moved to Brooklyn.  It’s kind of like a Sunday custom because everyone in Brooklyn has brunch.  Everybody wakes up, incredibly hung-over around eleven.

KP:  There’s a place in Columbus that has the best Bloody Marys I have ever had.  So, if you ever come through there you have to stop by.

AP :  What’s it called?

KP: Betty’s. So good.  You just came back from Bonnaroo, what, a day ago?

AP  :Yeah,  like 2 days ago.

KP: How was your Bonnaroo experience?

AP : It was unbelievable. It was definitely one of the most surreal experiences I’ve ever had. I mean, when you look at a crowd that big and you realize it’s like 10,000 people, I mean you stop seeing individual people and it just becomes this big undulating flesh toned mass and you’re just trying to process it. So, yeah, it was pretty incredible. The only thing, was during Deadbeat Summer, a group of questionably wasted chicks climbed on stage with like, Indian Feather headdresses, completely topless, with paint, and just ran on stage and just started dancing. I mean, you’re in the middle of a performance of that stature,  and you can’t really stop, you don’t know what to do. So we kind of like just soldiered through the song and it just felt kind of awkward. I think as far as they thought it through, it was like, “We’ll get on stage!!” and then once their up there they just kind of danced aimlessly. Yeah, people thought that we hired them.

KP: Yeah,  I saw that on Hipster Runoff.

AP : It was like, why would I compromise the biggest show we’ve ever played by hiring a bunch of drunk girls to dance on stage in a very tacky fashion.

KP: He tends to misinterpret a lot of stuff.

AP : Of course, that’s his whole deal, his whole sleaze.

KP: You just signed to  Fader Label a week ago?

AP : It’s actually more a collaboration with my own imprint, Static Tongues, So, I mean, I guess it’s going to be working with those guys because I mean, Static Tongues is a completely new endeavor.

KP: Are you going to re-release your album?

AP : Well, yeah, Psychic Chasms in all actuality never really has had a proper full release. I mean, the album was available online and …

My beer glass slides like phantom across the table.

AP : Wow, that was weird wasn’t it.  Just moved on its own!

KP: That was so weird…

AP : It was available in some stores, but if you really went to any record stores, like Amoeba, or Ear Wax in Brooklyn or something, you could never really find it. So this is finally the opportunity to put it out properly.  Aside from that, we have a re-mix album that’s coming out with it. It’s going to feature some stuff from Javelin, Yacht, DNTEL, Who else is on it? Why am I drawing blanks? I’ve been so lethargic today. This is going to kill me, it’s on the tip of my tongue, Here we Go Magic as well, a couple of bands.

KP: How was your experience working with Green Label Sound?

AP : It was good. I mean, like for what it was just putting out a song that was just a collaboration between me and Chris Taylor. I’d definitely say that the experiences were positive. It’s always funny though when you’re interacting with an entity that is in some way affiliated with a company and you kind of have to very distinctly clarify your motivations. You know, it’s like  you’re going to get a budget to make a really awesome music video and have the opportunity to really put your music out there then it eventually becomes about that, it’s not really about that, it’s not really about creating a certain beverage which is just kind of ridiculous.

KP: Yeah, I always thought that was weird that they were associated with Mountain Dew.

AP : Yeah, exactly, but, you know, you have like the Kia singles. Scion sponsors every party. I mean, at some point it becomes a little bit inevitable to flirt with commerce a little bit. You just have to maintain it or manage it in such a way that so that it doesn’t compromise your artistic integrity.

KP: Yeah, they’ve worked with so many artists already. Would you recommend it for bands starting out?

AP : Um, yeah, as long as you have a very distinct and finite vision of what your project’s about and how you want people to interpret it brand wise. Yeah, I’d totally recommend it. I mean, if you’re just someone who takes the road passively and just sort of let people do promotion for you then, I don’t know if I would. You have to take a very active role. Whenever you’re involved in anything like that, I mean, I’m always kind of a skeptic for companies. It seemed like a really great opportunity and the people who were working it were actually really phenomenal.

KP: The music video was really rad. I really enjoyed it. It seemed like you guys had fun shooting it too.

AP : Oh, totally. For me, right from the get go one of the primary motivations was Psychic Chasms didn’t get any proper music video before its release. We’re finally working on them now, which is more coming from the motivation of wanting to make something unusual but make it more centered on the video rather than the singles which have already been out. Sleep Paralysist was an opportunity to have a new song and then shortly thereafter have it come full circle. It was funny because I don’t think people really fully interpreted the song until they saw the video and for me that’s when it finally reached the end game of what I wanted to do with that. People could finally see what it was about. When they see the making of the video at some insane fucking house in Lexington, Kentucky… We just had a really amazing three or four days there.

KP: It seemed like a really cool process. I was reading your tweets about the horse with the LED lights and then I saw Green Label Sound updating the making of it. It was really cool to watch that unfold online.

AP: Awesome!

KP: What’s it like playing with a full band?

AP : Well, I mean…

Glass moves across the table again.

AP :  Wow! There’s some ghosts in the machine!

KP:  [Laughs] I’m just going to set this over there…

AP :  it’s interesting… because the record was written entirely on my own with the exception of Ronnie on guitar for Ephimeral Artery and Terminally Chill. So it was kind of this thing where I had this collection of songs and I knew that I wanted to work with my friends from Denton and I was already working with Ronnie and Jason and Vega. You’re putting yourself in a position in which you have to re-contextualize your own songs to make them enjoyable for a group of people is like kind of a feat.  It’s not something we did right off the bat. I think it took a good twenty shows to let it evolve in such a way that it could really feel like one long fluid set. I mean I think we had a couple of really awkward first runs. You know, each night you’re kind of culminating different ideas until you realize what works, what doesn’t work. You get to the point where you memorize the parts well enough so you can start deviating from them in fun and interesting ways. The best way you can describe it, I remember what James Murphy said about LCD Soundsystem, it’s like you become the best LCD Soundsystem cover band you can be! It feels true in that respect, coz when I was recording it, I never had any intention of putting it in a live format.

KP: So, What’s your recording process like, how do you start creating songs?

AP : Well, it’s kind of funny because with Vega its always been like this formalized pop esthetic where you write a song and it starts out with this verse and it leads into this bridge and chorus.
But with Neon Indian since I tend to work with sequencers so much, I have this simple drum rhythm or synth line that’s like looping, four bars become eight bars become 16 bars, its just like
a circle that keeps expanding, and eventually you hit this four minute mark where you think you have a song and then you start adding all kinds of weird auxiliary shit to kind of make it a little more spontaneous. It’s really weird coz it does feel kind of circular, coz I kind of just you know, space out on these really simple loops and it  becomes something else entirely.

KP: So, I’ve heard two things about “I Should Have Taken Acid With You”…I heard it started it started with an acid trip, or it started with a dream about an acid trip?

AP : It started with a dream about an acid trip.

KP: So, how was that translated into a song?

AP : Well, the full story is that I had a dream that I had taken acid with my ex-girlfriend Alicia, and um, I shot her a text about it. I was like, Ah man, I had this really bizarre dream She said, oh, is that something you’re interested in doing? So, a few months later sometime in December, we were supposed to get together and have this experience where we take acid, or at least some kind of potent hallucinogen, I think she had like Peyote or something. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to make it coz I was in Dallas and logistically I just couldn’t drive down fast enough.  I missed her by a few days. So, needless to say, I felt kind of bad, and a few weeks later I was just thinking about it. It almost started as some tongue in cheek apology. In like six hours I had this track that just kind of flowed out. It was weird coz I didn’t really know what to do with it at first. I tried to re write it as a Vega song, and it totally didn’t work. I realized that that incarnation was exactly what it needed to exist, and if anything, I should just start writing more songs like that. Then I just wrote an entire album.

KP: So, that was the start of Neon Indian. That’s really cool. So, are you still planning on doing Vega, or Ghost Hustler, or anything?

AP : Ghost Hustler is definitely done.

KP: Isn’t a member from Ghost Hustler in Miniature Tiger, or is that somebody else?

 AP : Yeah, that’s something else. Miniature Tiger is just some friends from New York. I’m trying to think, one of the Guys in Ghost Hustler is in Fur now. The other guy has his own project called Love Life. They are all out doing different things. I remember when Hipster Runoff wrote about Love Life, said, kind of sounds like Neon Indian. I was like, man, Noah is not going to like this. I felt kind of bad coz I mean, it sounded like its own thing.

KP: He really likes to start shit. It’s so funny.

AP : Yeah, he stirs the pot! I mean, I know him. He’s a guy from Texas. Yeah, some of the more audacious things that he likes to claim. I have a lot of ambivalence about it. The readership is divided into two kinds of people, right. It’s like the kind of people who understand it as like this jokey voice, his very self referential humor. There’s this kind of like satirical quality about it. Then you have this other fan base, it’s just people who take it completely literally and essentially, it shaped their sensibilities. Its really weird coz he has like this whole mock racist tone and says some really offensive stuff. Then you have like, tweens that are just completely eating it up and taking it without a grain of salt with complete sincerity. HRO is definitely a very ambivalent topic.

KP: Yes, and he likes to latch onto you a lot too.

AP : Yeah, maybe because we know each other. I think at the same time it’s also because he is obsessed with the notion of chill wave given that that was him who coined it.  It’s funny because the interview question that I get asked the most and I have nothing to do with the conception or the coining of chill wave. I mean, I didn’t find out about Washed Out, or Memory Tapes, or Toro Y Moi until much after the fact until we were all apparently part of some movement together.

KP: I actually interviewed Chaz two days ago.

AP : Oh, yeah, Chaz is awesome. Man, that kid is so incredibly talented. I am just incredibly impressed with some of his stuff he’s doing.

KP: Yeah, he’s a really gentle spirit which I liked.

AP : He’s a total sweetheart. He’s a really nice kid.

KP: So, my last question is, Fathers day is approaching, and I know your dad was…

AP : Wait, is that this Sunday?

KP: No, I think its next Sunday so you got a little time, gave you a fair warning. [Laughter] So, your dad was a musician, and he was pretty popular in Mexico, right?

AP : Yeah, yeah I mean, I wouldn’t call him a pop star necessarily coz its also just weird saying that about your dad, But he had a stint in the late 70’s and early 80’s where he had quite a bit of moderate success being a singer in Mexico and he put out two records. By the time I was born, by the time that my brother and I were born, he had already put out a whole discography.

KP: So what kind of influence did your dad have on you as a musician?

AP : Well, if anything, I’ve always really respected that he, especially living in a community and growing up around musicians that are just the most unreliable drugged out, or just the most incredibly drug addled crowd of people that I’ve ever run with. He’s also had this mentality about it that I also see in a lot of musicians that I really respect in general. Like Scott Walker, or Todd Rundegren where they are like these total formalists where they seem that being a musician is a discipline like any other that involves a lot of self sacrifice. He’s always kind of had that. I mean, obviously I’m way looser, because I mean we’re a pretty laid back crowd. You know, we don’t always make it to the hotel lobby on time in the morning, or make sound check. He helps me sort of see it as a vocation and it makes you feel like you’re really doing something and it’s something completely worth losing yourself in. He’s been doing it his whole life and he’s still doing it. I got to respect that.

KP: So he’s really supportive of what you’re doing right now?

AP : Yeah, totally. I think that when I first decided to take some time off school, to just pursue Neon Indian. It was definitely this thing where he  was like, “Oh yeah, you can take some time off. I mean it’s not like we didn’t come to this country so you could get a college education…” Immediately I was like, fuck! What do I say to that!? I got nothing!  I mean I think it took a little time to fully convince them that what I was doing was very much real, and wasn’t just an excuse to sit around and get high and play Guitar Hero  or something! It was like, I’m really doing something Dad!  But it’s funny because I don’t think it was really until Jimmy Fallon or something like that. You can tell your parents that you’re being written about in some blog like Pitchfork or Gorilla Vs Bear or something, but it’s not really going to translate until they see it on some medium that they completely identify with, you know.

KP: I find that that’s a really common theme when I ask people about their parents and how supportive they are. They say their parents didn’t believe it till they saw a write up in the New York Times, or some familiar press.

AP : Totally.

Psychic Chasms is available for purchase through InSound.  Any of you planning to go to Pitchfork Festival?  I’ll be at Neon Indian’s set on Sunday dancing my face off.  Make sure you say hello!

Thanks to Tracey for transcribing this interview for me!


Varsity Inn | June 15, 2010 | Columbus, OH

Photos by John Danner

As soon as the first few notes hit my ears, the sounds of Tame Impala made me wish I had a genie to grant me a grab bag of … “sound and sight enhancers.”  I listened and re-listened, each time was better than the one before. Their EP filled me up, took me on a psychedelic journey and left me breathless.

(Never did get that grab bag though.  Oh well.)

Never in a million years did I expect this underground Australian band to come State side within the first year of laying ears upon them. Then, one day, while making the best of company time, I was editing JitP’s Myspace and the news feed updated with a California concert date for Tame Impala.  I thought it was a fluke, or just another show I’d secretly hate all my west coast friends for.  Then, another date appeared…. then another… and another.  All with MGMT!  I watched as the announcements crawled across the country. When Colorado was posted and I decided I couldn’t wait any longer.  I headed over to Promowest’s website and checked out the opener for the MGMT show. There it was.  Like it was no big deal… Opener: Tame Impala.  I jumped up from my desk chair and threw my hands in the air!  Then smoothed my skirt, sat down, and went full force on getting an interview.

Day of the interview came. By the time I got out of work, the air was hot and heavy and threatening to pour rain and traffic was gnarly. I was so scared I wouldn’t make the interview in time.  John can attest to how on-edge I really was.  We arrived at The Varisty Inn, a small old hotel… with a drive-up check-in window on the southwest side of Ohio State’s campus. Yes. Not the greatest of places, such is the life of touring musicians.  Tame Impala’s tour manager Jodie Regan met me outside the room and we chatted for a bit about MGMT’s kidnapping of the boys the previous night.  ”Dom and Paisley are napping b/c they’re so tired and hungover,” she informed me. “But I can wake them up if you’d like!”  

“No, no its ok.” I chuckeled.  I had actually figured they were going to be tired.  I was at MGMT’s acoustic set at  CD101 earlier in the day.  Andrew VanWyngarden looked a bit hazed as he told the audience of their kidnapping of Tame Impala. 

I was introduced to Kevin Parker and Jay Watson.  Both looked exhausted, but enthusiastic, sitting barefoot on the double bed across from the one I sat on.  I set the iPhone recorder between the two of them…

Kevin: We were at the show last night, we were playing the gig, and we saw a guy hold up his iPhone with an animation of a lighter and a flame and he was holding it up and waving it. And he did it for MGMT –

Jay: When someone told me that afterwards, I was just like, here we are… in America.

Kevin: Here we are in 2010… in America.

Jodie: I’m pretty sure people have been making jokes about that happening for like years now.

Kevin: Really?

Jodie: ‘Cause you know people put their lighters up and do their thing.

Kevin: Yeah, I couldn’t believe it. He was doing it for like a substantial amount of the gig.

Jay: Dude, maybe he was doing it like tongue-in-cheek. Surely, he knew it was hilarious. Or you think he was just like, oh, sweet, I’ve got this lighter app on my iPhone. [laughter]

KP: He downloaded it specifically for your concert.

Jay: Yeah, he did it to MGMT as well.

KP: How long have you been on tour in America so far? Like two, three weeks?

Jay:  We can tell by this shirt! Kevin, what’s the first date?

Kevin:  The first date was the 28th of May. And… um, and we are in Columbus

KP: Oh, you’re almost done!

Kevin: Just over two weeks.

KP: But you guys are doing some headlining shows here and there, right?

Kevin: Oh yeah, yeah. We’ve got some stuff to do.

KP: So, how’s your American experience been so far?

Kevin: Cool. Amazing. It’s like a new experience around every corner.

KP: Have you guys ever been here before?

Jay: No, never.

Kevin: I was in New York for two weeks mixing the album, but that was about it.

Jay: I’m constantly surprised at people like yourself’s ability to look healthy living in this country. [laughter] The food is just outrageous. The stuff people eat here is just ludicrous. The cheese and stuff and the meat,

KP: What’s the weirdest food you’ve eaten here so far?

Jay: Nothing weird, it’s just like you get a sandwich and there’s that much meat on it and like orange cheese. And we have like kind of nice cheese and a tiny bit of meat.

KP: American cheese is not really cheese.

Jay: It was cool for awhile because I like junk food. But then after like a week or so, we were just like, wow, we can’t find anything. ‘Cause we were mostly eating in like diners and roadhouses and stuff.

KP: Yeah. Especially on the west coast. There’s a lot of diners out there.

Jay: At least they have Mexican food — I love Mexican food. But yeah, that’s my most interesting thing is your guys’ general… as an average nation, the levels of unhealthy food that is consumed. [Laughter]

KP: What’s been the weirdest thing about American culture except for the food for you guys? The biggest shocker?

Jay: How friendly everyone is. Everyone’s friendlier, generally, over here than at home. Um, I don’t know why I thought that Americans weren’t going to be super-friendly, but everyone seems… like, when you meet someone or you see someone in the street, they do something for you. Like everyone’s a lot nicer. I’m taken aback by how nice everyone is.

Kevin: I’m trying to think about what the most shocking about American culture is…

KP: Didn’t you guys come across some kind of cult in the middle of the desert or something.

Kevin: Oh, that’s Nick’s blog.

Jay: That’s wildly exaggerated for poetic effect. That’s just his way of writing. He was trying to go for some sort of On the Road, Kerouac-thing.

Kevin: I can’t put a finger on it, but it’s something to do with like everyone being really excessive and like you being allowed to eat as much of something as you want. Or, you know, if you want something, you should be allowed to have it. Like if you want a large Coke, you should be able to get a fucking gigantic Coke. Yeah. I think the general scale of everything is bigger than Australia.

Jay: The food portions are definitely bigger.

Kevin: Yeah. The size of the pick-up trucks — we call them utes in Australia. But like, some of them are just like gigantic – [Laughter]

Jay: And they never have anything in the back of them! Like in Australia, people have these small utes and they’re filled with workman’s gear or ladders or, you know, whatever people have got they bought, it’s the best place to carry (?) And then you just see dudes driving these massive pick-up trucks and they’re always empty in the back. It’s like, why didn’t you just buy a small truck? I guess it’s just like a big macho kind of massive car.

KP: Just wait until you guys drive through West Virginia. They get bigger and scarier.

Jay: We’ve been in some pretty like — what’s the word? We’ve been in a few quite redneck places. We’ve been pretty much everywhere on the west to middle of America so far.

KP: Yeah, you’ll get the other side of the Mississippi. Tell me the biggest challenge about international touring.

Kevin: Biggest challenge… staying healthy, I guess. Or staying in a bodily state. A bodily state where you don’t feel like you’re slowly withering away. [laughter]

KP: Especially being kidnapped and everything like that. By MGMT.[laughter]

Kevin: Yeah. That has something to do with it too.

Jay: Touring is a lot harder and less glamorous… ‘cause people, you know, you go to a show and you see the band that night and you’re getting a drink and there’s lights and stuff and then the band disappears. But you never think that the band’s been driving for ten hours just before they went on and they’re just going to leave after they play. But yeah. I don’t know, we’re pretty used to it now.

Kevin: At the same time though, when you’re a band that has enough money to pay for a tour manager and a stage techie and stuff, I think you start taking it for granted? Like, some guy setting up all your stuff every night. Suddenly, when you go home and you have to like play a gig for some reason and you don’t have a tour manager and a stage hand and everything, then it’s like, aww, I gotta set up my own amplifier, are you kidding? So you do get quite sort of like, um, what’s the word…??

KP: Spoiled?

Kevin: Yeah, I guess so, spoiled. And oh, fuck, I’m not going to remember the word. It’s a really simple word…

KP: You’ll think of it as soon as I walk out the door.

Kevin: Oh, I probably will, yeah.

Jay:  Accustomed?

Kevin: No…. it doesn’t matter.

Jay: These interviews are so funny, because you think of a concept and then spend the next 5 minutes thinking of what you should have said. [Laughter] Everyone’s just like uhhh!

Kevin: [Laughs] You get the general idea.

KP: How did you react when you found out you were doing the American tour with MGMT? I know you guys, you toured with them in Australia. So, when you found out they picked you up to come here…?

Jay: Awesome.

Kevin:  Yeah, pretty shocked. And it was hard to look forward to it because we were on another tour at the time in Australia; we had another tour to do. It’s hard to get into the mindset of going on another tour when you’re still on another on. You kind of just want to get through that one first. We were getting asked if we were excited about America. I had to say yes because I knew it was a good thing, but it’s so hard to —

Jay: We flew to L.A. straight after we played our last show in Perth.

Kevin:  Yeah, we did. We did a tour of Australia. We did our headline show of Australia. You know, quite decent venues, quite a few people. And yeah, an hour —or a couple of hours after the last show in Perth, we were driving to the airport to go to L.A.

KP: Well, it seems like, from what I’ve heard, it’s been going really well for you guys.

Kevin: Oh yeah! There hasn’t been a hiccup.

KP: Have you been surprised at the American fan base here?

Kevin: Yes! A few people have known us or wanted a picture or whatever, which is completely shocking. It reminds me of when that happened in Japan. There was someone who recognized us in the street in Japan and wanted a photo; we were like… ??? You know, it doesn’t compute in my brain

KP: Really? In the street? I have a hard time recognizing people on the street, so…

Kevin: Yeah, well, I think it would have been pretty easy for them, in Japan. [Laughter]

KP: Yeah, that’s true. [laughter]

Kevin: Complacent is the word I was looking for! [Laughter]

KP: There you go! InnerSpeaker is such a well-formed album in my opinion, it’s a really mature sound. I wanted to know who your main musical influences were when you were recording that or in general?

Kevin: Um, I generally just go for whatever sounds good, but it ends up sounding… Influence is like a subconscious thing. But I love they’re a Swedish kind-of psych rock band. They’re the band that I always accidentally end up sounding like because it’s hard to do something that’s not like what they would do. Anyway, Dungen. I always kind of liked dream-pop bands, like Beach House and stuff like that. Um, the Beatles, I guess, even though they’re not really like a conscious influence. Yeah, half the time it ends up sounding a particular way, it was unintended. You know, like, people say the album sounds like the Stone Roses, but I don’t even like the Stone Roses.

 KP: Yeah, a lot of people I’ve talked to seem to say Cream seems to be a big one.

Kevin: Yeah, that -

Jay: We had one song off that EP that we had for ages and threw it in the album that was particularly like Cream-sounding.

KP: You know, Eric Clapton lives like twenty minutes away from here.

Kevin: Oh, really?

KP: Yeah. My friend’s son goes to school with one of his kids or something like that? So I was like, call your friend’s mom and have Eric Clapton come out to the show.

Jay: So he lives in Ohio?

KP: Yeah, he lives in Dublin, OH?

Jay: It seems weird that he wouldn’t live in like New York or LA or something?

KP: Yeah, or London or something.

Jay: Or London, yeah.

KP: But apparently his wife’s from the area. He lives pretty close to here. So we were trying to get him to come out to your show —

Jay: Oh yeah?

KP: In some weird roundabout way, trying to get him to come out here.

Jay: Yeah, I don’t think as someone who’ a devout audio file, I don’t really hear Cream in that album.

Kevin: Yeah, I think it’s more of just an easy reference point for people. I’m pretty sure that everyone who says it sounds like Cream hasn’t actually heard that much of Cream.

KP: I pretty much brought up the Cream to bring up Eric Clapton. [Laughs]

Kevin: Oh, there was a time when I was obsessed with Eric Clapton. Not so much now.

Jay: I was never obsessed with Eric Clapton; I liked Cream…

KP: Well, if he shows up to the show tonight… you know that Tracey got him there…

Kevin: Whoooooaaaa. He’ll probably hate it.

KP: What’s your creative process like when you sit down and record songs?

Kevin: It’s usually, the first time a song gets recorded anyway, it’s a quick like 30-second demo that I’ve just got to get out into some sort of physical form so that it doesn’t evaporate in my brain. A lot of songs, I think, don’t end up getting pursued because I forget them. I don’t have time, I don’t get the chance to go and like record it in some way. Even if you write it down, it doesn’t work — I’m not good enough at note-taking music, so I have to get to like an 8-track or some sort of thing where I can demo it. And then that 30-second demo exists for a long time with me deciding whether or not it’s good enough to make into the rest of the song. And so the album is just taking a whole bunch of sound clips and stuff like that and figuring out which should be proceeded with. And yeah, it’s very much a sort of calculated, like pieced-together thing of making songs.  There’s very rarely any jamming, you know, as a band that turns into a song. It’s usually just aiming for one thing and then trying to get it.

KP: Does everybody write their own parts?

Kevin: Uh no, it’s like a recording project. It’s mainly mine. So I record most of the instruments. And these guys have their own bands. And we all have our own like things, and some of us are in each other’s things. In Perth, we’ve got a large musical circle of friends, where we all — it’s quite incestuous. There’s lots of music being made. And the fact that each one has a name is almost irrelevant, I guess.

KP: I know Peter Arko of Ears of the Beholder.  You recorded for Yours Truly out in California. How was that experience?

Kevin: Yeah, really fun.

KP: Yeah, it looks like you guys had a good time.

Jay: Yeah, it was cool. It got pretty hot in the end.

Kevin: Yeah, it was the most amazing thing at the start. And then like, by the end, we’re like, alright, let’s just do a good take. ‘Cause like everything was getting to be hot. My pedals were burning. And his cymbals…

Jay: I was really paranoid of my drum kit, which was fairly new, warping. Because that’s happened to me before, like the shell would warp in the sun.

KP: But it survived?

Jay: Yeah.

KP: You know the music blog over here, YVYNYL? From  what I noticed, he picked up on you guys six, seven months ago, and then it just seemed to explode from there. And he wanted to know if you guys surfed in Santa Cruz.

Kevin: Surfed? No, no. We can’t surf.

Jay: We’re not the Beach Boys. [Laughter] We go to the beach a lot and we like the beach a lot, but we can’t surf.

Kevin: I’ve been surfing a couple of times.

KP: I think he had his heart set on like the image of you guys surfing in California.

Kevin: No, well…  for the record: I love surfing and surf everyday. [Laughter]

Jay: Andrew, I think went for a surf. He surfs. From MGMT. But he taught himself in Australia.  He had like a few months off and he taught himself to surf. Now he surfs like pretty much every time he can, but we can’t surf. We haven’t got time to surf!

Kevin: Yeah, I’ve been meaning to get into surfing. My girlfriend surfs.

KP: Yeah, you should teach yourself.

Jay: I think it’s just because we’ve got somewhat brown skin and long hair and live on the beach and like the beach.

KP: I think Americans have this big assumption that Australians should just automatically know how to surf.

Kevin: Oh, we go to the beach like everyday in the summer.

Jay: But it is pretty weird that none of us know how to surf though, Kevin. Like a lot of people who like went to your school around your area would know how to surf, like a lot of guys and girls.

Kevin: Hmmm, not really. In the proper coastal inland.

Jay: I reckon most coastal suburbs, like most of the teenagers who live in coastal suburbs can surf to some extent.

Kevin: No.

Jay: No? 

Kevin: No. There was like a handful of guys at my school that surfed and they were called like the salty dogs

Jay: Well, I think it’s more popular on the east coast. Like my cousins lived in—-

Kevin: Yeah, that’s true.

KP: Do you guys have day jobs when you’re back in Australia, when you’re not on tour?

Kevin: Not anymore, no. Apparently we can stand on two feet now.

KP:That’s cool. That’s really cool. You know you’ve made it when you don’t have to work.

Jay: Yeah. Five hundred bucks a week. Each.

Kevin: Yeah, we’re not rich, though.

Jay: Yeah, we get — we’re kind of getting quite popular in Australia. Like commercially, like on commercial radio and stuff and like playing quite big shows ourselves. And get played by mainstream radio and stuff. And people in Australia think we’re a lot richer than we are because we do quite well there. Over here, you know, it’s the way it actually is, we’re like quietly staying in quite crappy hotels and stuff. In Australia, people think we’re pretty rich and we’re definitely not. Definitely not rich. I got Kevin to buy me my ice cream at the service station last night because I didn’t have any money left.

Kevin: Yeah, I didn’t remember. No, actually, I can remember, like tunnelvision.

KP: Soft-serve ice cream?

Jay: No, no, like those… drumsticks, sort-of?

KP: Was it a big one? Was it a huge one?

Jay: They’re big, yeah, like — those drumsticks in Australia are like *that* big.

Kevin: I remember it being really big, I was like, dude…

Jay: And your ones are like… *makes sound effects*  Takes about forty minutes to eat! [laughter]

Innerspeaker is available from Modular People.  But make sure you check out the album’s official TRIPPY website.  

Another big thank you to Kristi for transcribing this interview faster than I could have ever asked for! 


June 9, 2010 | The Grog Shop | Cleveland, OH

Photos by John Danner

John and I had been pumping ourselves up for this show for weeks.  I picked him up behind his apartment and looked at him with an eager grin as he climbed into the passenger seat. “Are you ready?!” I asked.  “I’m ready!” he repiled.  We drove the 2.5 hours to Cleveland excitedly chatting about music, past and future interviews, and life.  When we arrived at The Grog Shop in Cleveland, the line for the show was already out the door and wrapping around the block.  Eventually we made it into the dark, red, wide venue where I hunted down Toro y Moi’s tour manager and introduced myself. He informed me Chaz was going on stage in 15 minutes.

"Oh okay, would it be ok if we say hi before they go on? That way they’re not surprised when we walk into the green room after the set?" I asked. 

"Sure thing!" He agreed and we were led into the small graffiti-ed bright red green room.  I was introduced to Chaz who immediately struck me as lamb-like, timid and kind. He shorter than I first imagined, and gently shook my hand as I greeted him.

"I’ll see you after the set!" I exclaimed as I dorkily waved and stepped back out into the sea of people awaiting the show.  John and I excused our way into a semi decent position, much to the disdain of the young short girls behind me who kept making rude remarks about how tall I was. 

After the set, John and I worked our way back to the green room and sat down with Chaz, Andy and Patrick…

Chaz: Sorry, I have a cold… my voice is going away.

KP: Well, five weeks on the road… [laughs] I mean…

Chaz: Yeah. I’m not — I’m not contagious or anything.

KP: I don’t know. You sound pretty contagious.

Chaz: I thought I had bronchitis or something. Almost back to feeling 100%. Yeah.

KP: How many weeks do you have left on this tour?

Chaz: This is the second to last day. Third to — well, the second to last day’s over.

KP: Do you get to go home after the next show?

Chaz: Tomorrow’s Knoxville, then Columbia. Yeah, home.

KP: So, how’s it been touring with Caribou for five weeks?

Chaz: It’s been really great. We learned a lot. As a full band.

KP: This is your first tour as a full band, right?

Chaz: Yeah. And this is [the band’s] first tour.

KP: [To Andy & Patrick] This the first time on the road for you guys?

Andy: For me. Besides from just like playing here and there, this is the first, like, real tour.

Chaz: So yeah. I mean. We learned a lot. Like how to, uh, work the band as a business and as entertainment… as entertainers or whatever.

KP: Why the switch to full band? ‘Cause I know you were touring solo for awhile.

Chaz:  Playing out with a laptop is sort of like the only thing left to do. I’ve always wanted to, even before like all this started happening, to try to get like a full band together. But I never had the time and there was really no main motivation to get it done. But the tour was pretty much was a good motivator.

KP: I know when you were touring solo, you got everything stolen from at one point. So how did you handle that… did you cancel shows after that?

Chaz: Yeah, I canceled like four shows.

KP: How did you get everything back together?

Chaz: Um, I took loans from my parents.

KP: What about the sounds that you had on that laptop? Did you have to recreate them or did you have them all backed up?

Chaz: I lost some sounds. Some songs like Blessa were sort of messed up for awhile. But I happened to have sent the sample out to someone for a remix, but they never did it, so I asked them back for it.

KP: Touring with a full band, how did you get everything to work so fluidly?  I noticed when you [Andy] were drumming; you were always looking at Chaz, keeping up. It seems like it has be hard.

Andy: We use a lot of, like, eye contact. A lot of it’s like not structured exactly. It’s structured, but not like, you know, we don’t do things for a certain amount of time.

KP: What about the live video? Do you sync that up, or is that all randomized?

Chaz: Yeah, it’s just — it’s not really synced up, but… there are like several different animations for it.

Patrick:  It was created by a friend of ours. He listened to the set and created it to sort of compliment the music.

KP: A lot of people put you in the genre of chill wave, low-fi, gorilla vs bear-core Do you like  being classified in a genre, or do you like creating your own thing?

Chaz: It’s not that I like it or dislike it, I just don’t mind.I mean, I classify bands, so. People just do it to relate to the music. It’s like, Dan… of Caribou? They don’t talk about it anymore, but his first few years they kept calling him folk-tronic. And he’s been around for like two years and eventually that just kind of went away.

Andy: Yeah. The whole chill wave seems to be like everybody’s classified everybody as chill wave.

KP: It’s kind of funny.

Chaz: Yeah, it is.

KP: How old were you when you first started creating music? Did you pick up an instrument or were you always —?

Chaz: Yep. I was about 15 or 16., I got a recorder for my 15th birthday. 15ish.Took me like awhile to sort of get the guts to start recording with it. I mean, like it’s a really simple machine, it’s like a tape… what’s that thing called? I didn’t know where to start.

KP: You just evolved from there?

Chaz: Yeah.

KP: So, what was the whole concept behind Toro y Moi?

Chaz: There wasn’t really a concept. My thing was I definitely wanted to make sure I didn’t pigeonhole myself. That’s really hard. It’s kind of weird and confusing to some people.

KP: Is your next album going to sound anything like the first?

Chaz: Well, I mean, there’s going to be like similar attributes like melodies… it’s not going to be electronic at all.

KP: So, you going to keep these guys around?

Chaz: [Smiles] Yeah.

Andy: I mean for the recording process, that’s Chaz’s deal.

KP: This the first time I have ever seen you live. I never saw you play solo. There’s a really big difference from the transition from your stereo to the stage, and I kind of like it. It is a whole different experience live than it is when you listen to it.

Chaz: Yeah, that’s what I like. It’s hard to try to play songs exactly like the record. ‘Cause either the live show doesn’t live up to the record, or the record doesn’t live up to the live show. So it’s better to have them as two separate entities.

Patrick: I always think it’s kind of boring when you go to see bands and it’s kind of like they’re karaoke-ing their record.

Suddenly a hand popped thru a hole in the door.  I thought it was the 16 year old girl in hot pants I saw giggling and trying into the green room earlier. Chaz, John, the band and I just looked at this pale arm grappling for the knob.  Finally, it succeeded and the door opened to reveal Dan and the other two members of Caribou. I geeked out for a hot second and lost my train of thought.

KP: How are you feeling concluding this tour Caribou?

Chaz: Satisfied. I mean, I was talking to a kid about it and he said that we sound a lot better than we did when we first started on tour. And it’s like, inevitable, you know? It’s going to happen. It’s like practicing everyday.

Dan [Caribou]: We can all come up and do it.

Chaz: We what?

Dan: All grab a microphone.

KP: Big party on stage? That’d be a good way to end the tour.

Chaz: You guys playing the state fair song? What’s the secret song today?

KP: No! I don’t want to ruin the surprise! [Laughs] 

"Causers of This" is available now through Insound. Chaz and the band are about to take off on a grand European tour.  Check out the upcoming shows on Toro y Moi’s Myspace.  Also, Chaz has a really cool photoblog.

Thanks to Kristi for transcribing this interview for me!  It was a hard one to do! 


May 18, 2010 | The Newport | Columbus, OH

photos by Ed Luna

The Newport.  Legendary venue, not only in Columbus, but in the USA. It is the longest running rock club to date.  I had been there many times. Upstairs, downstairs, out front, out back, but never backstage until now. Aaron, Bear in Heaven’s tour manager, met Ed and I out front with a smile. Then led us around the left side of the stage, down some stairs, through a narrow hall behind the heavy musty black stage curtain.  I had to shimmy sideways to get through.  Then, we cautiously climbed up a tightly wound metal staircase to the second level.  Aaron opened the door to a black room, with a black couch, table, and a mirror with a bright white light shining above.  Joe Stickney, a gentle spirit donning spectacles was relaxing inside and Aaron introduced us.  Adam Wills, clean cut and sharply dressed entered a few minutes later followed by Jon Philpot.  Jon was sporting flannel and an epic moustache.

KP:  You guys just came back from Europe a couple days ago. 

Jon: Yes, we just got back.

KP:  Didn’t you get stuck because of the volcano? 

Jon: We were stuck momentarily.

Joe: Yeah we got stuck in between Spain and the UK

KP: What did you do while you were stuck? 

Adam: Drove around [Laughs]

Jon:  Didn’t sleep, enough.

KP: How long were you in Europe for? 

Jon: 5 Weeks?

Adam: No, 4 weeks…

Joe:  We were 5 weeks in the states and then 4 weeks in Europe.

KP: How do you think European audiences differ from American audiences? 

Jon: Uh.  They speak a different language. [laughs]  The thing that’s odd is, a lot of the times, you just play by yourself.  No opener.  I think expectations were high.

Joe: You get really good hospitality in Europe.  I mean, the UK is pretty much just like the States. But, in the rest of Europe they put you up in nice hotels, cook you dinner. People seem genuinely happy to have your band playing there, you know?

Jon: Yeah they’re glad to have us in the States.   But they just don’t have the behind the scenes so much.

KP:  Your latest LP was released late last year.  But your first record came out in ‘07? How has your recording process or creative process changed?

Jon:  The creative process was… really, just about the same, but I think it was more effective because we were playing live. In the process of writing we were playing shows and working stuff out. Live.

KP: So you perfected your live show? 

Jon: We did perfect it!

Adam: No. It’s totally perfect!

KP: What do you guys do when you’re not recording or touring? 

Adam:  I don’t remember… [Laughter]

Jon: I could tell you what I want to do…

Joe:  I serve people drinks.

Jon: I want to watch movies… make movies…

Joe:  I’d like to go waterskiing. But I don’t think it’s going to happen.

Jon: We could make that happen.

Joe:  I’m going to have to go back down south.

KP:  You could go waterskiing on Lake Erie tomorrow… in Cleveland. 

Joe:  I don’t know anyone with a boat.

KP:  Boats should be in the water by now. I’m sure you could find someone. They’ll take you skiing.

Adam:  Wassup! I’m in Bear in Heaven! Take me skiin’!

KP:  Just post it on twitter!

Joe: Actually, that’s a good idea! Yeah! [laughter]

KP: So day jobs… Joe works as a bartender.  And Jon, you’re a videographer?

Jon: Yeah, I like to shoot and do editing. All that kind of stuff.  I’ve worked with some great people.

KP: Who has been your favorite person to work with?

Jon: Let me think here. Who was the best person I’ve worked with. Hmmm…

Adam: Me!

Jon: Yes! Actually, Adam Wills has been my favorite person to work with. He does video stuff too.

KP: Do you guys collaborate a lot? Make videos on the road?

Jon:  We haven’t been able to do so many videos lately.  We would like to do more.  We are always thinking about that stuff.

KP: Have you thought about making a music video yourselves?

Jon: We’ve thought about it… [laughs]

Joe: They’ve done music videos. Jon did one and Adam did one for the last record.

Jon: We haven’t had time really, because we’re touring.

KP: Yeah.  It’s a lot. Traveling that much.

Jon:  Don’t get me wrong.  It’s a lot of fun, a good excuse for not making a music video.

KP: I’ve seen a lot of interviews with you guys online lately.  Have you ever had one that was really bad or uncomfortable?

Adam:  There was one I didn’t participate in, but I heard about.  The guy was like, “So! Let me just tell you I haven’t heard your band.”  And that’s the type of thing where you’d rather be spending your time with a friend who is at the show, you know?

Jon: Ohhh yeaaah! I remember him.

Joe:  He was just like, “ Yeah, this is just gonna go on my blog.  I haven’t posted anything on it in 6 months.”

Jon:  It was like a dissention!  [Laughter] Wasn’t he working for Wired? Yeah, we though Oh cool! Wired Magazine! And then it just got shittier and shittier as it went on!

Joe:  He was like, “Yeah I don’t know you band.  I really came here to interview Freelance Whales and Cymbals Eat Guitars, but people just told me I should interview you guys too so…”  That’s when our answers started getting completely nonsensical. 

KP: Have you had any misadventures on tour? Here or in the states?

Jon:  I think all of our adventures have been completely intentional. No mis-.

Adam:  I think the greatest misadventure was our last day in Europe.  We had a day off in Gent, Belgium.  Our tour manager took us to this street that had a bunch of bars on it. We’d go in one bar and have a couple beers and then go to another bar… Then we were like, “What the hell is going on here?”  Didier, our tour manager was like, “Oh yeah. The legal drinking age is 16.”

Jon: It was CRAZY!

Adam: It was insane!! I don’t think they were carding either because there were definitely kids that looked like they were 12.  And Jon’s 36, [Joe] 32, [I’m] 31. We could have been all these kids dads!

Jon:  I looked like a fucking loser. I mean… [Laughter]

Joe: We were on the dance floor…

Adam:  So it was like 5 dudes, all just dancing with ourselves. Probably the most fun night of tour.

Jon: We went crazy.  We got a shit ton of high fives too.

Joe: We high fived close to 100 people that night.

Adam:  That’s another thing we noticed in Europe.  People think high fiving isn’t cool over there.  But getting drunk with a bunch of 13 year olds….

Jon: Someone actually asked me, “Do you really high five?! Is this a real thing?”  And I was like, “YES!! An actual thing that we enjoy doing.” [Laughter]

KP:  On this tour you’re opening for Metric.  That’s pretty huge!

Jon: Yes!

KP:  How many shows have you done with them?

Jon: Just one, this is number two.

KP: How was the first show?

Jon:  It was awesome. Nerve-racking a little bit, I’m not gonna lie.  I think I feel better now.

KP: Do you have a set goal before you go on stage, like to pump the audience up?

Adam:  No, its kind of weird b/c we’re so different than them.  I think we’re gonna make new fans, but its obvious that we’re gonna weird people out and turn them off. So I fully embrace that.  I’m just like lets scare so people tonight!

Joe:  That’s entirely true.  Last night it seemed like everyone was generally digging it. People were moving, you know? I think if you can get that response from people who are probably hearing your music for the first time, then I don’t think there’s that much of a disconnect.

Adam: I read a review on some website from someone who was at the NYC show who was like, “It seemed like they were makin’ noise rather than makin’ songs.” Or something like that.

KP: Really?

Adam: Well… its true… [Laughs] we do make a lot of noise. Which is cool for Metric because their taste is pretty wide, it seems. For them to bring us out is pretty ballsy I think.

Jon:  It’s not the easy bet, you know? So, they’re taking a chance and it’s really, really cool.

Joe:  I think they’re doing it b/c they like our music and they’re in a position where they don’t need a support act that’s gonna help fill out the room. They’re gonna fill the room regardless. They’re in the spot that all bands want to be in where you just get to pick whoever you want to open up for you.

Jon: When we get big, we’re going to get Marshall Cantrell and Tony Conrad to open up for us. Or a rappin’ bum. [Laughter] (The rapping bum is local Columbus celeb.)

Bear in Heaven’s Beast Rest Forth Mouth is available now through Hometapes and it is sooo good.  Make sure you wear quality headphones and open a window when you listen to it.  Perhaps a slice of pizza will accompany it well too? 

The interview continues here:

KP: Well thanks guys! Actually, if you guys are looking for a place to eat afterwards… if you want the landmark place in Columbus, you gotta go to Hounddogs Pizza.

Adam: Oh we already know about it!  Aaron (tour manager) was like, “I know this place dude!”

KP:  You have to get it with the Smokin’ Joes crust. 

Adam: Are you coming with us?

Aaron:  I was offered falatio in order to trade one of my extra pieces of pie that had walking out in the parking lot there…

The rest is too good to type, I leave you with the first JitP Audio clip from an interview.

 visit to access audio file. 


 MAY 10, 2010 | The Summit | Columbus, OH

Photo by John Danner

Some people say you should never meet your heroes. I most certainly didn’t consider Harlem to be one of mine. However, I had been digging on their album “Hippies” for weeks before I found out they were coming through Columbus. After following them on twitter, I assumed they were going to be laid back, somewhat wacky, engaging guys. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

When I turned on my television a few nights before this interview, I was met with a pleasant surprise. One of my favorite rock and roll movies was on. “Almost Famous”. As silly as it seems, since I first saw that film, I knew I wanted be some form of a music journalist. Now I’m starting to think that movie was on specifically to prepare me for the events of this particular evening. When I posted the description of JackinthePocket to say “socially awkward interviews” I never expected it pertain to the painful interaction I had with Harlem. I may be screwing myself over for being so straightforward. But, I truly believe in giving you the entire absolute story, no matter how damaging it may be to my attempt to make a career as a music journalist through the often vilified blog medium. I’ve NEVER been so fired up after an interview where I’ve felt the need to immediately write down my response. The need to convey the disrespect I felt was overwhelming me. As soon as I returned home I immediately flipped open my laptop and began to furiously type.

When I went over the audio footage today, I could hardly understand anything. Coomers, Jose, and Curtis were talking over each other and going off on tangents that didn’t make any sense. Sometimes Coomers would break in after being silent and make an inappropriate remark. Jose would try to redeem his response while shooting him a scolding look. I asked what it had been like transitioning from being independent to working with Matador Records.

Coomers: I don’t know?? It’s like weird people in an office building.

Jose: They’re pretty nice. I mean, I don’t think these people would be working in an office building unless they could use their business expenses to go to shows and drink.

Coomers: They’ve got some weird sexual stuff going on there…

Jose: Coomers…!!! Delete! Delete! Delete…

It got worse as it went on. I felt I could have been asking the wrong questions. Coomers was sitting cross legged in a chair across from me and repeatedly rolling his eyes and running his hands through his hair in unabashed annoyance. Curtis and Jose seemed to feel the tension, but played along as their band mate tried hard to turn the interview back upon me. Jose volunteered some decent answers. We discussed their adventure in Bloomington, Indiana the night before. After I tried to get some more fun stories out of them.

KP: You guys seem to get into a lot of shenanigans. Who would you say is the biggest trouble maker?

Curtis: We all get into our own individual trouble.

Coomers: What kind of trouble do YOU get into?

KP: I try to stay out of trouble. [Laughs] But this is supposed to be all about you guys.

Coomers: About us?!

I decided to switch gears and asked a stereotypical interview question, “What has been your favorite gig so far?” Coomers groaned and started playing with his hands. I couldn’t tell if Coomers was aching to get the interview over and done with or add his own two cents to the whole ordeal. I uneasily ended the interview by asking them if they had anything to add, or any last words.

Coomers: I don’t know? You want us to give an epilogue to your own interview?!

When it came time for John take the photos, the tension was high. Coomers was visibly irritated, and wouln’t look into the camera. None of them followed John’s creative directions. Coomers even blurted out, “I’m not fuckin’ doin’ that!” when he asked them to stand back to back. Jose and Curtis just mumbled refusals in comradery. John’s photo above completely captures the whole ordeal.

I was steaming when I got home. A fellow blogger friend consoled my frustration by sending me examples of Coomer’s treatment of the press. It seems he thinks its a joke, a waste of time. He obviously considers himself to be one of the greatest musicians of all time, and no one can tear him down from his high horse who trots upon delusional clouds of grandeur. I guess I can’t take it personally.

Harlem’s “Hippies” is a damn good record. Make sure you pick up a copy here.