The Alt Review got a chance to talk to William and Jonathan of hip-hop trio clipping.: Talking about the buzz surrounding their new record, joining Sub Pop, and more.
Gap Dream is the project of Gabe Fulvimar, a native of Ohio who recently moved to Fullerton, California to live at the headquarters of his record label, Burger Records. Playing a synth-driven style of rock that draws from Fulvimar’s myriad influences – from disco to psychedelic to ambient – Gap Dream is one of the major draws of both Burger’s catalog and the Southern California DIY scene.
Since your guitarist lives in Ohio and all, how does the band being spread out all over the country affect touring, recording, etc?
I record all the stuff myself, so that’s not a problem, and touring is just a matter of meeting up and going. He usually flies out here to Southern California, and we usually leave out of here, so it’s never a problem.
Were you the only one who moved out to California?
Yeah, I came by myself.
So, I saw you at Burgerama, and it seemed like the bigger crowd at the time was at the other stage watching Tomorrow’s Tulips, but I did see a lot of artists watching your set, like Rikky from White Fang, King Tuff, Lee from Burger was there – it seems like Gap Dream is a band for the artists, like Velvet Underground or something like that. Do you think that’s the case?
Yeah, I mean like, when the first tape came out, Sean and Lee were giving it to all the artists on Burger, all their friends, so like, right off the bat I had this fanbase of people in bands. Those are the kind of people you really want, you know what I mean? Like if you want anybody to listen to your music you want it to be the people who care about it the most.
Yeah, like that’s how I always introduce Gap Dream to people – “this is the band on Burger that other artists love and listen to!”
Yeah! I mean we’ve got fans everywhere, we’ve got fans in Europe, people are really crazy about us over there, more so than over here. And it was wild, because they were just like, regular people, not overt rocker type people like over here.
That’s really cool! I read a lot about indie bands from the 80s before alternative music got really big, and how it was always hard for indie bands to build a fanbase here, but in Europe people are really into more avant-garde stuff.
They just have better ears over there!
Speaking of Burgerama, what did you think of it this year? Was the crowd different from ones you’ve played before? Do you think it’s indicative of bigger and better things for you and Burger?
Yeah, it was really big this year, last year was really good too. It’s good to see something like that growing. It was a lot bigger this year because they had the outdoor stage and everything.
Have you played all three years?
No, just the last two.
As far as Gap Dream’s sound, would you describe it as retro, or do you think it’s more progressive? You use a lot of Moog and synthesizer, which are usually thought of as sounds of the past, but you’re also pretty forward-thinking.
Both! I think it sounds new and old, you know? It sounds like everything. I’d say it sounds current! Is that fair? I try to make songs I wanna hear, sounds I wanna hear. It’s a hard question to answer.
Generally, for example, I’ve heard a lot of conflicting things about Burger in this regard – the garage-rock revival thing, people namechecking The Sonics or whatever, but then there’s Curtis Harding, who’s more into classic soul and sounds more like Curtis Mayfield than Frank Ocean, or bands like Guantanamo Baywatch who sound like surf rock – do you think Burger is retro in general, or would you just say it’s current like you?
I think it’s current. It’s happening, it’s eclectic! If you think about the catalog, the different bands they have – it’s a lot of really different stuff. I mean, if you’re looking and you’re just seeing Cosmonauts or bands in that vein, then yeah you’re going to notice the garage rock thing. But if you look and you find things like Conspiracy of Owls, and you dig deep in the catalog, there’s a lot of really good records that came out on Burger that are really overlooked. If you look at it and see Burger as a whole, you’ll see that Burger isn’t just garage rock, it’s everything! It’s got hip hop, punk, country – there’s everything.
Yeah, I’ve been following Burger since maybe 2012 and back then I would read reviews of bands and records on the label, and they’d mention it like “this new release from Orange County garage rock label Burger.”
That’s just a buzz term to get the kids excited, that’s all that is.
Totally, but then as time goes on I read reviews that read like “new release from garage-surf-psych-etc label” until it just keeps growing and it’s not even useful to describe it by genre anymore, it’s just this big thing.
It’s lo-fi-bedroom-scuzz-punk whatever, you know what I mean? Ever since I’ve been listening to music and paying attention to music, and the way people write about music and stuff, the better the music sounds the stupider it’s going to sound when people try to describe it. It’s always the worst way to talk about something and it almost makes you embarrassed to talk about it. Rock journalism at its finest – miscategorizing, mislabeling, etc. Like people will make up some term for a genre, then ten years later it changes.
I get you. I did a review for Curtis Harding’s new album [Soul Power], and I said in there that if Burger was just a garage-rock label, it would probably be closed down by 2015, but since it’s so diverse and eclectic I think it’s going to be much more powerful and have way more longevity.
It’s literally the closest thing we’re going to have to anything like Sub Pop or Matador in our life time. You know, labels like this, moments like this in time, bands like these, this doesn’t really happen all that often. This is really something that’s happening.
Yeah! There are definitely similarities to be noticed between Burger and classic labels like Sub Pop, SST, K Records, all those indie labels.
Yeah, it’s so cool to see that. Even not being a part of it, just to see it happen, in our life time. Like, I’m 33 years old, I’ve seen labels and I’ve seen things, I’ve seen different time periods in music, and there hasn’t been anything like this in a really long time.
It’s pretty much a well-documented fact that you live at Burger Records – from the perspective of someone who’s not necessarily heavily involved in the business aspect of it, what’s life like there? Do you help Sean and Lee with the business aspects of it, or do you focus more on your own projects there?
They mostly just let me do what I want, as far as deciding how I spend my time, so I mostly spend my time trying to record and come up with tunes, and as long as I’m doing that I’m okay. I’m living rent-free and stuff. They wanted me to move out here because there’s more opportunity out here than where I’m from. From the beginning they’ve been nothing but supportive of me, and I kind of needed that because I’m kind of hard to get out of the house, especially putting my whole life on the line and moving to California – are you crazy?! I had a nice apartment, I was bussing tables, I had my dog, I was set. I wanted to make tunes, obviously, I’ve always wanted to do that, but it wasn’t realistic. But they made it realistic, they made it into a real thing, they said “no, you can do this, come out here!” So I came out here with like, $32 in my pocket, and they just said “don’t worry, we’ve got you a place to stay,” which was the warehouse out back behind the store – I’m out here right now actually – and it’s great. It gets a little hot out here in the summer, and I don’t have a shower so it’s kind of a drag, but I get around it.
But I’ll help out around the shop if they need me, like I’ll watch the floor if they’re gone and stuff. Like last night, Sean and Lee went out, and Sean was telling me we’ve got to get a schedule of our hours, which is crazy, because we’re all just hanging out here, it’s crowded. There’s no privacy. I get the most privacy out of anybody, because I get my own structure to be in, and Sean & Lee are in there with everybody. Lee has to get up, at least at 5 every day, to let everybody into the shop, because there’s people out here every day wanting into the shop, right in the morning, which is a drag. I mean it’s not a drag, it’s great because they’re making business, but it’s also kind lame, because he wants to sleep in. We went out to the desert last weekend to visit our friend Dave Scher, Farmer Dave, he plays in Beachwood Sparks, he plays in Kurt Vile’s band – real great musician – because it was his birthday. So we went up to Joshua Tree, and we stayed the night there, and when we got up in the morning, Lee woke up and was like, “what time is it?” And I said it was like 10:45, and he was like “Dammit! When am I gonna get to sleep in past 11?” He’s just trained to get up!
But we have a great time here, we’ve been living here for a year and a half almost, and I can’t think of a better position to be in. Shine Your Light came out last year, I’ve always got musicians coming in and out of here, so my creativity is always just at the top. Normally I’d have to work for 8 hours, then come home and try to record something real quick, but now that’s just part of my life, and allows me to just think about things. Instead of limiting myself to certain things, I can experiment with different instruments, different sounds.
I can relate! I’m always to write songs too, and there’s always this balance of trying to work a full time job or school or whatever, and when you’re done with that, you MAYBE have time to do what you actually love doing.
Yeah, it’s tough, you’ll get to the point where you ask yourself, well what should I do, should I go work in Urban Outfitters, or am I gonna make music? My advice is just be poor! You’ll get more inspired that way. I mean it’s definitely easier for me than it was. I used to really dwell on my negativity to inspire my creativity, but now there’s not too much negativity in my life, I don’t really have much to complain about and it’s going pretty good, so where’s the creative draw? I’ve gotta draw off the positive aspect, I have to think about people listening to my stuff and what they wanna hear. I gotta think about what they’re expecting next, or if they’re even expecting anything. I feel kinda like the frog in Looney Tunes sometimes, you know you’re singing your song, then everybody looks at you and you just kinda freeze. So that’s the thing. I made Shine Your Light, and I knew people were listening, so I was really stoked.
I thought that I was just gonna make a crazy record that makes people go “what the hell is this?” And I kinda did that, so for the third one the plan is this: this time I’ve got a budget, I’ve never had a record advance before, and I’m getting a Moog Voyager, and I’m going out in the desert, and I’m renting an Airstream trailer, and it’s fully furnished – it’s got a bed, a refrigerator, a nice deck, I’m getting a pool, it’s just this cool spot, me and Lee found it, it’s our friend Sasha’s place. So I’m gonna be out there for a month, all alone, I’m probably gonna get abducted by aliens, and I’m gonna make a record and I have no idea what it’s gonna sound like. Talk about a cosmic adventure for sure!
If you could collaborate with any Burger band on an album, who would you choose?
Well, I already got to collaborate with Bobby Harlow from The Go and Conspiracy of Owls on Shine Your Light, so that was pretty cool. I’ve always wanted to do something with Cosmonauts, stuff like that. God that’s a question with a long list of answers! Just everybody man, anybody that I need I can be like, yeah we should do something, but I never find the time, and my recording setup looks something that like, an army communications guy would have set up, it’s really just set up for one person. But I’m looking into getting more space, reaching out to people – I’ve got ideas. We’re going on tour with Part Time in August and September, and the dates are probably going to be announced soon. We’re gonna do a show in LA at probably Los Globos, so keep an eye out. Then we’re going back to Europe in October. We went there this past April and blew out three sound systems! They didn’t care, but I felt so bad.
Do you have any outstanding projects outside of Gap Dream?
Yes! I just recorded a record last week, called Pleiades, like the star cluster. It’s all instrumental synth, mostly droning, lots of rich frequencies, focusing less on the melody than on the sound itself. And that just came out of nowhere, I was just sitting around one day listening to more atmospheric synth music, and I got really inspired by it, so I decided to make some stuff. It’s actually getting mastered right now. It’s in the drone zone, so it’s more for just like, spacing out, or if you have people over and you wanna put on some music that you don’t have to pay attention to, or if you’re into yoga and you wanna meditate it’s perfect for that! [laughs]. It’s just weirdo shit. Burger’s gonna do the cassette for sure, they might do the vinyl but I’m not sure.
My friend Greg runs this label called Dangerous Age, which you should check out, and it only has 3 releases on it, but one of them is called Primitive Neural Pathways by Steve Moore, and Steve Moore is one-half of the New York Group Zombi, which if you’re into old George Romero movies like Night of the Living Dead, Day of the Dead, and the soundtracks of those movies, you’ll totally dig. But yeah Greg did that with him, and he’s done a record, but he said he liked my record but he’s being funny about it so I don’t know. But I go for a while without talking to him because I’ll be on tour in Europe or whatever. It’s pretty crazy being on tour.
What’s that like for you guys?
After a while you don’t even feel like a human being anymore. It’s not because you’re being mistreated or anything, it’s just because it’s such a whirlwind. SXSW is bad, depending on what level you are. Our first SXSW was great, it was like vacation, because we were living in Ohio still, and it was the first time we met everyone from Burger and everything, so it was like the first Harry Potter movie or something. But then the second one was, like, Platoon. It was bad, it was dark. It was because the second SXSW coincided with the Burger Caravan of Stars Tour, we were coming out of here, and it was our first coming out with Burger, going on tour with Lee. Lee had taken us on tour before for Gap Dream’s first west coast tour, when I was being backed by a band called Blue Jungle, who have stuff on Burger and have a band called Gateway Drug now, and their dad is in The Knack.
It was funny being out with them because I didn’t know them too well, but it was an emergency because I had this tour booked out here, and my Ohio friends bailed on me and stuff, so I called Sean about not having a band, and it’s hard recruiting people to go on tour and stuff, but we come out here and Lee takes me on tour with Blue Jungle, and that’s the easy one. But then SXSW is like, he takes us down there, a van full of tapes and full of people, so full that we couldn’t fit our gear in there almost. So we go there, play two shows a day. And it’s just a nightmare because we couldn’t take the van across town, and you don’t wanna have to carry all your merch around and everything. The biggest problem on tour though, especially in the States, is sleep deprivation. Poor Colleen Green saw me have a meltdown because of that. In the States, they don’t care about you.
In Europe they put you up in a place to stay with beds, it’s not like a spot of floor next to the litterbox. That can be cool, it’s punk-chic or whatever, but it starts to wear on your mind after mind. In Europe we ate every day, had a place to sleep, we were accommodated, but in the US, it’s just like, here’s your 6 PBRs, go away. But they’re starting to come around, Burger is blowing up but it’s still young.
Yeah, I mean you can take examples from earlier labels, but to a certain degree it’s also unmarked territory. Like with SST, they didn’t have the internet around, which is a new element.
Yeah, it was all cataloged back then. I remember being in high school and getting the Touch n Go catalog, and ordering stuff from K or Sub Pop or Matador, diving real deep into that and stuff.
Reading back on stuff like that I’ve always kind of wanted a scene like that to identify with, and it seems like Burger and bands like Gap Dream really personify that in a fresh way.
Yeah, Lolipop Records is starting up too, this is a whole thing! There’s not really much American music. I mean, there’s a lot of decent indie labels, and there’s one or two bands on it that are okay, but to have something that’s a whole big movement, you know, there’s nothing like Burger. We all know each other, we’re all family.
The Abigails are an outlaw country group from Los Angeles led by Warren Thomas. Thomas, an unusual guy with an amicable disposition and a leisurely approach to conversation, writes songs about love, heartache, despair, Jesus, the Devil, and everything in between. When he’s not playing country to the rock crowd, he works at a record store in Echo Park to pay the bills.
So Tundra came out almost a year ago now. Are you planning on sticking to the annual release schedule and have something out in 2014?
Well, the thing with Tundra is – I swear it’s cursed, but I don’t believe in that shit – the tape came out last june, and the LP was supposed to follow and come out last fall, but that got pushed back, and pushed back again, and again, and again. Now the LP is finally gonna see the light of day in late August, so that’s only been a cassette release with a limited run. So yeah, in August it’s gonna be the LP, the CD, and right now we’ve got both our albums on a two-for-one tape, but I imagine they’ll repress the tape as well.
Is the LP coming out through Burger?
Yeah, Burger’s gonna be doing it. Part of the reason for the delay is that they’re working with so many bands, and you’ve gotta have some space between releases.
Do you think you’ve kept the momentum going with the band despite the delays?
Yeah! I’ve kind of had an ever-changing cast of characters in the band. Since I started it in the summer of 2011 I’ve had over 20 people play with me. Right now, the band is at its best, the lineup is perfect, everyone’s good, everyone’s cool. They’re all excited for the record to come out, because that means we get to tour, and they know it means a lot to me.
I saw you play at Burgerama back in March. How do you think things have changed there in the 3 years that it’s been around?
We’ve played every year at Burgerama, and it’s awesome. I mean, Burger is so prolific and it’s really cool. What I’ve noticed this year is that as they grow, they help others in the community grow along with them. I didn’t realize this year that it was gonna be that big this year, because, you know, you see other tents with other people doing whatever it is they’re doing, clothing companies or whatever, so it’s not just Burger growing, it’s everybody around them and everybody connected to them in any sort of way, whether it’s a kid in high school who just bought a tape, or it’s me or anybody else on the label, it feels like we all grow. It’s kind of amazing. I guess most festivals start that way, you know? They start small, then they grow, and as they grow, as with anything that gets any kind of success, people are going to hate on it, but I didn’t pick that up from anybody with Burgerama. I feel like everybody was happy and had a good time.
Yeah! I know I had a lot of fun there, and I thought it was really cool that they had bands that aren’t even actually on Burger, like Mac Demarco hasn’t put out anything on Burger and he was there.
Yeah, I was just thinking of him, you know he said he wasn’t even all that familiar with Burger. I mean I’m sure he’s heard of it – maybe he just thought they put out garage bands, or maybe he was just being nonchalant about things. But anyway yeah I agree with you, I think it’s really cool that they can do that, that it’s just a few guys who can reach out to all these people, bands who are super young, bands who haven’t played in years, whatever. Like I don’t even know how you go about contacting people like that.
Totally, like it blew my mind that they were able to get Death to play, and the Muffs played there and now they’re signed to Burger.
Right! And you’ve gotta remember too – one person could just book that event, and that could take up all their time for months prior and it’ll wear them out for months after, but these guys are non-stop. Like, they work at a record store too, and I work at a record store, it’s called Mono Records, it’s just a small shop in Echo Park, and just running a shop takes everything you have to make it good. And they have a good record store too. It’s pretty cool to have a good label, a good record store, and be able to do weekly radio shows, Burger TV, festivals, and things people don’t even know about. They help me out with shows, and touring bands who aren’t even on their label. They’re pretty cool guys.
Do you remember what you were drinking on stage?
I was just having a Corona, I like Corona. Kind of a beer guy. I used to drink whiskey, and you know, there’s something about it. I’ll still drink it, but I’ve messed up too many relationships, too many regrets and things. I don’t have any rules, so I’ll still have some whiskey, but yeah, on stage I was just having a Corona because that’s what I like.
What was your best experience at Burgerama?
I really liked The Garden’s set, I thought it was awesome. Like, I think that with The Garden people either love them or hate them, and I love them. I was on the back side of the stage just hanging out, and I think that’s when I was like, “wow, this is really happening!” That’s when it hit me, because of that, that was my most memorable moment.
Did you hook up with your old bandmates in The Growlers while you were there?
Oh yeah! I mean, those are my dogs, that’s who I hang with. We spent the weekend together, their set was awesome
You used to play in The Growlers. Was it a big jump going from beach goth to country outlaw?
Oh, it was totally natural. It was never really thought about or planned out. When I started out with them I was just friends with them, and they were like “hey, do you wanna play percussion with us?” So I did, then they started touring and stuff, and I started touring too and became a member of the band, but my role in the band wasn’t anything that was necessary. It was more like, oh, we’re all really good friends, so Warren can cruise along. It worked, but after a while it was just time for me to do my own thing.
You can’t just play a tambourine or hit a bongo forever, unless you’re the guy in Brian Jonestown Massacre. I was never really a part of their songwriting process. We all have similar interests, we turn each other on to stuff, and all of us love country stuff, so with The Abigails, that’s just me starting a brand new thing. What you hear is just what came out. It wasn’t forced, there wasn’t a difficult transitional period or anything weird like that, It was just me writing songs.
Do you think your distinctly country-infused sound sets you apart from other bands on Burger? Are there any bands that you feel a particular affinity towards?
I mean, there’s some stuff that Burger puts out that I feel is pretty similar. I think Natural Child is a bit of a country band, and they’ve put out three LPs now with Burger. They’ve put out more LPs with Burger than any other band, so that’s kinda wild. Then also, I feel like I heard part of the new Denney & The Jets album, that felt pretty country-tinged. And you know, with Burger, it’s really just all over the place. They just put out my friend Curtis Harding’s album, which is a soul record. You have a little bit of everything. It’s a label that can’t really be pigeonholed or defined as a label that puts out one style of music.
Now, say like when I play the Caravan of Stars tour with all those bands that are on Burger, did I feel a little out of place? Yeah, but I think that’s fun. I think a lot of people like to hear diversity in a show. And sometimes some bands don’t necessarily work well with others, but then those end up being the best shows. So I feel like with Burger, it really just feels like a big family, and I’m just one family member doing the country thing, and there’s some brothers out there doing the same thing, and others doing stuff that’s worlds apart. I’m just excited for this LP to come out so more people can hear it, and hopefully people dig it.
The first time I heard Songs of Love & Despair, I was driving through the Mojave Desert out near Lancaster at sunset, and the experience was unlike any other. How would you recommend listeners experience your music for maximum enjoyment?
Man that’s awesome! I feel like situations like that seem really cool. My friend Wyatt plays in Mr. Elevator, and he used to play drums in Cosmonauts, anyway he hit me up a while back when he was driving through Virginia, and it was pretty cold, maybe a little snow, and he said he was listening to the album and it was the perfect setting for it. So maybe it’s a good driving record for when you’re by yourself. I think the terrain you’re in can enhance the music, definitely.
What’s the best place you’ve ever been on tour?
I mean I always have a great time in Portland. It’s the strip club capital of America, which is awesome. They’ve got this great place called Acropolis, you can get like, a steak, fries, a pitcher of beer, and it’s like 8 bucks or something like that. So Portland’s always fun. And one time we were in this weird place in Florida, and I was like, “dudes, we’re gonna see a manatee, I swear, we’ve gotta see a manatee.” So we went to this little swimming spot, and it had this 2-story platform to jump off of, and sure enough I got to see a manatee there. I’ve always wanted to see a manatee, I don’t know why, I just think they’re cool. I think I was the most stoked when I was in Florida and I saw this manatee. It was magical.
I read a story about you taking Hell’s Bells, which you definitely did not make out to be very appealing. Do you have any positive stories of psychedelic experiences?
Yeah, definitely! It’s weird, like, I don’t know if my memory is starting to go or what, but it’s hard for me to articulate psychedelic experiences. Like if you were to ask, “I’ve never done acid before, what’s it like?” I couldn’t tell you. Even though I’ve done it a million times, I don’t know why, I just can’t. It’s not that I can’t remember, I just don’t even know how to say it. As far as stories though, I’ve got a million of them. Positive fun times on psychedelics. One time when I was in The Growlers, we were playing this place called The Doug Fir, and Brooks and I had gotten this vial of acid, we were sitting outside, they’ve got this fire pit, and it’s connected to a hotel so the venue is kind of fancy.
We’re sitting around this fire and we remember we have this acid, so we each did a couple of drops from this liquid acid. After a while we were like “man this acid’s bunk,” so we started squirting each other with it, Brooks dropped it in his eye, just thinking like, whatever, we got ripped off, forget it. But after some time passed, maybe 30 minutes to an hour, suddenly the fire changed, and Brooks and I both looked at each other at the same time and we were both just like “oh my god.” From there, this was in Portland, so we went to strip clubs, and yeah, it was pretty wild. I mean if I elaborated on the story it would just go on forever, there’s so much detail, but leaving it at that you can imagine it was a good time.
The devil and Jesus have both been name-checked in your music. Are you a very religious guy?
Um, no, not necessarily. As far as that goes, it’s just a metaphor. The Bible is like, the biggest, best -selling book. It’s a crazy story, you know, I think everyone can kinda relate to pain, suffering, happiness, joy, so metaphorically speaking, using heaven and hell to kind of talk about those things, that’s something I tend to do. I’m not a super religious person, I don’t have any one sort of belief about it. It’s just a great story, and the use of the two concepts make for good stories, so that’s why I end up using them I my songs.
Would Jesus listen to The Abigails?
Yeah man! Jesus listens to everything! He’s the King of Kings, and if we’re all God’s children, then he’s gotta get down to The Abigails.
Johnny Cash or Hank Williams?
Oh man, so difficult… I’ll go with Hank Williams on that one.
Peyote or pizza?
Oh dude, have you ever tried Peyote? It’s disgusting, it’s the grossest thing ever. The Growlers have a song called “Drinkin’ The Juice Blues” – well, we made the juice. You have to cut up this specific cactus, do all the stuff, drain it, make it cold, make it hot, bottle it, and it’s just the most awful stuff in the world. You’re supposed to drink like, a wine bottle of it, and I took a sip of it and vomited. So pizza.
If you could have a burrito named after you, what would be in it?
It would be a carne asada burrito with bell peppers, a combo sauce that’s a red sauce mixed with Tapatio and some of that green bomb stuff, some avocado, some beans. I think that sounds pretty good!
Longest you’ve been without a shower?
I don’t even like taking showers, I really don’t. I usually just roll out of bed, and I don’t have to get ready for like, a job or something. But I do know that I’ve gone 3 weeks without a shower.
A bowl of cereal, but replace the milk with liquor – what cereal, what liquor?
Dude, alright, check this out. Cookie Crisp, with vodka and Kahlua, and if I could add some milk, I’d have a White Russian with Cookie Crisp! I think that’s the only way you could do that question and not have the whole thing be disgusting. I had a White Russian milkshake and it was really cool, so I don’t see why throwing Cookie Crisp into the mix wouldn’t make it even better.
Favorite Bill Murray movie?
Where The Buffalo Roam
I got the Misfits’ “Die, Die My Darling” design when I was 17 in my garage, that was cool. I got “fuck” on my ankle with a train motor when I was 15, and that was pretty cool.
Anything else you’d like to say?
Tundra comes out mid-late August, it’s on Burger Records, and Burger’s always coming out with cool stuff, so check it out at BurgerRecords.com. And we’re always playing, we’ve got a July tour of the West Coast, and a Fall tour in the works with King Tuff.
Melissa Brooks is the leading lady of The Aquadolls, LA’s own ragtag band of eternally teenage bubblegum punks. Ever ambitious, she’s got her own solo project in the works and works closely with garage-rock harbinger Burger Records. It’s clear to anyone who’s ever checked out their Tumblr page that The Aquadolls are all about the fans and make every opportunity to bridge the gap between performer and audience. I got in touch with Ms. Brooks to get an even closer look into the sugary-sweet psychedelic world of The Aquadolls.
Isaac Rother is an imposing figure. On stage, he commands a unique and mystifying attention from the audience as the Phantom and his band revive the sounds of rock n roll’s nativity in a majestic and awe-inspiring sonic assault. With all the intensity of punk rock and the heart and soul of what first made rock n roll such an exciting movement, Issac Rother & The Phantoms are here to frighten mere mortals with a formidable groove and terrifying ferocity, reminding us all that rock will never die – like the host of the undead, The Phantoms won’t stop until they’ve conquered the world.
I picked up a tape at one of your shows, Rockin’ With The Phantom, which was a recording of one of your playlists from Phantom Radio. What came first, the love of classic rock n roll which compelled you to spread it to the masses, or your interest in radio, which guided you towards the forgotten sounds of yesterday?
The love of rock n roll came first. The sound has always moved me. When i was a little kid, too young to be consciously listening to “old” music, my favorite songs were Wipeout, Chantilly Lace, Great Balls Of Fire, Johnny B. Goode and stuff like that. I thought that was what everyone was into.
Radio is cool but it’s hard to find radio stations that are consistently playing groovy stuff. In Olympia, there is an AM station called K-BIRD that only plays music from the 20′s, 30′s and 40′s. They play everything; jazz, pop, country, blues and anything else.
You see, that’s interesting. I wish there was more radio like that.
Apparently I was the first person to buy that particular tape. Have you moved any more of those since then?
I sold one to you and one online. As you can see it’s a pretty hot item…
Is your on-stage persona an extension of your on-air personality?
It’s one and the same. Both are The Phantom.
Why is it important to resurrect the sounds of rock n roll’s formative era? Are the Phantoms merely here to haunt us, or is there unfinished business they have here on Earth?
I’m not sure if it is important. To me, listening to a forgotten rock n roller like Screamin’ Joe Neal is infinitely more interesting and exciting than listening to anything I’ve seen or heard in modern music. Early rock n roll is a big influence on my life so thats why that sound is so strongly reflected in my music. The Phantoms are here to haunt the world with our music and live shows. The unfinished business is rising to the top. We’re just starting to get recognition and its a long way to the top if you wanna rock n roll. And I’ve got a whole lotta rockin to do before I’m through.
How have kids reacted to your particularly primal strain of rock music?
Kids dig it because it’s raw and fun and we don’t sound like anyone else around. We’ve gotten everything from dancing to slam-dancing.
Do you think Los Angeles is particularly susceptible to the sounds of The Phantoms?
Yeah LA is a good city because its a huge frustrating mess. You can let loose when we play.
You finished The Unspeakable Horror of… late last year and put it up on Bandcamp earlier this year, but so far it hasn’t seen an official release here in the States. Still shopping around for labels?
Yeah we’re waiting for a label that can do it justice.
You have a fondness for rock n roll’s past, but are there any current bands you think are carrying the torch alongside you?
I think any band playing rock n roll music in any form is carrying the torch. But nobody does what we do.
How do you think the band’s sound has evolved from The Wild Sounds of… to The Unspeakable Horror of…?
We had only been a band for a few months when we recorded The Wild Sounds (which has been released by Slop Bop records on cassette). Our sound wasn’t fully formed yet. I think of that as demo quality. The Unspeakable Horror is a much more thought out and deliberate statement. It’s more representative of what we’re about.
This being for Burger Radio U, who’s your favorite Burger band?
There’s a lot of cool stuff on Burger. So much that I haven’t had the time to check out a lot of it. Of the stuff I’ve heard I really like the first NoBunny album, Love Visions. I’ve been into that for awhile. Glitz from San Fransico has a cassette on burger called Itz Glitz. Thats amazing. I recently heard some stuff by Habibi and Gravy Drop that I liked. Is Shannon and The Clams on Burger? Their new album is pretty on point.
Is there any future collaboration with Burger in the works?
Not that I know of. Maybe you can put in a good word for us?
If there’s any one episode of Scooby Doo that you would say is most influential on your persona, what would it be? Follow-up: are you more Scooby, or Shaggy?
The original Scooby Doo Where Are You? series, which only aired from 1969-1970, is flawless. However, Don’t Fool With A Phantom is a standout episode.
Like zoinks I guess I’m more of a Shaggy.
Frankenberry, Boo-Berry, or Count Chocula?
All are impeccable ways to start a day. But nothing will ever beat Count Chocula.
For Fans Of:
Sam The Sham & The Pharoahs, ? & The Mysterians, Shannon & The Clams