A few weeks ago, garage punk outfit NOBUNNY ventured down to McAllen to absolutely tear Simon Sez apart. It truly was a night to remember for all parties involved that could still recollect the night before the following morning. As luck would have it, prior to their performance, my good friend Natalia was able to interview the band’s frontman and namesake, NOBUNNY. This will be her first contribution to The Photon God. We are excited to present to you her interview with NOBUNNY below.
I, Natalia Rocafuerte, did not know what NOBUNNY looked like. :( I walked up to who I thought NOBUNNY was, and asked him if I could “interview NOBUNNY” or if he could point me to someone I could talk to. I’m sure he picked up on me not knowing what NOBUNNY really looked like and after a few “I don’t know”s, I said “thank you” and walked away. Only to find the “I don’t know” guy coming after me and saying “I’m sorry, I’m messing with you. Okay, I’ll do the interview. I’m ‘NOBUNNY’.” After misleading me and confirming his identity, I attempted to interview him, only the interview kept getting delayed; he needed a lighter, a car alarm went off, and people kept passing by. So, we moved toward the parking lot, away from the dark alley. There, smoking a cigarrete with NOBUNNY, I began the interview.
Natalia: When is your birthday?
NOBUNNY: NOBUNNY was born, uh it was…it was Easter 2001, in the desert of—45 minutes outside of Tucson, Arizona.
Natalia: What’s your favorite Elvis song?
NOBUNNY: Oh boy…off the top of my head, “Teddy Bear”, but I reserve the right to change that answer later.
Natalia: Why “Teddy Bear”?
NOBUNNY: ‘Cause I like sweet and salty snacks. But I reserve the right to change that answer later maybe, but for now, “Teddy Bear”.
Natalia: How do you choose your album artwork?
NOBUNNY: The first one just kinda happened, I suppose. Raw Romance was found off a fireworks package, the artwork for that. Then it was altered by the guys in Burger Records then, First Blood, my friend Shannon had painted a portrait of NOBUNNY and I really liked it and decided it was going to be a poster for the second, like, tape I guess but I liked it so much I decided to save it for an album cover.
Natalia: What’s your favorite home-cooked meal and can you cook it?
NOBUNNY: Hmm, my favorite home-cooked meal. Ahh, I like grilled cheese a lot and yes I make a pretty tip-top, greasy grilled cheese if I do say so myself. (laughs)
Natalia: Any mustard or mayonnaise?
NOBUNNY: I love mustard, I’m a mustard fanatic. It’s the only thing I’ll spend money on sort of. I have a lot—well when I had a refrigerator. I don’t have a refrigerator right now—but when I had one I had a lot of different mustards in there.
Natalia: Thumper, Roger Rabbit, Bugs Bunny or female Bugs Bunny (Lola Bunny), which one would you dress up as or be?
NOBUNNY: Wahhhhh…hmm once again these are good questions. I’ll go with the lady Bugs for now just cause why not? I like…I like Bugs a lot but lady Bugs is cute. You know? So…I wanna be cute.
Natalia: Who’s your favorite Ramone or which one do you like the best?
NOBUNNY: Hmm, I use to always say Dee Dee but my official new answer is Joey. Just cause he was uh, the messiest. And he’s messy like me. I’m a mess. (laughs)
Natalia: What are your beauty secrets on tour and off tour?
NOBUNNY: Just water. Nothing but water all the time. And not too much sun. Try not to get too much sun.
Natalia: What do you pick as your pizza toppings?
NOBUNNY: I like pepperoni…kinda keep it simple you know? [I’m a] pepperoni kinda gal-guy.
Natalia: Three things everyone should know about NOBUNNY but don’t.
NOBUNNY: Hmmm…nothing, everything, and something.
Natalia: What do you do before you perform? Do you request French Onion soup, smoke a cigarette outside or get to know the place? Is there any routine you have?
NOBUNNY: Honestly no, not so much. Not reaaaally. A lot of water is good. Stay hydrated. I’m trying to think, honestly, if there’s any answer. I don’t think so. Uh, just kinda go with the flow. [I’m a] take it one day at a time kinda bunny, you know? No ritual, just keep it loose, keep it loose.
Natalia: When you perform, you’re famous for taking off your clothes. Why don’t you just take off all your clothes?
NOBUNNY: Um, I don’t know. I don’t have many clothes so I guess I just get hot up there when I’m—you know, it starts getting sweaty, rock n roll. [I’ve gotta] keep going without overheating.
Natalia: Tell us about your tattoos. How many do you have and which means the most to you?
NOBUNNY: I…I don’t know how many I have. Not that many. Probably ten. And uh, which one do I like…I don’t like any of them. I got them all when I was really young and I kinda regret all of them. But not big regrets, just little regrets. I would’ve changed it if I could, I don’t know. I do have a Nazi nurse from Mars on my leg, though, that I’m kinda fond of, I suppose. That one’s alright.
Natalia: What turns you on/off?
NOBUNNY: How long we got here? (laughs) Um…………next question.
Natalia: It could be music…It doesn’t have to be…anything really…
NOBUNNY: Right. I like sweet stuff and puppies and kittens and fuzzy…fuzzy rusty things. And turn offs…I don’t like littering.
Natalia: What advice do you live your life by?
NOBUNNY: Besides the whole Carpe Diem thing…one step ahead from the law. And umm….stay high or die tryin’.
Natalia: Truth or dare?
Natalia: Can I dare you to kiss someone in the audience? Or should I dare you to try something you haven’t done before?
NOBUNNY: I want the world, I know that. If you can dare me to take over the world right now I would accept that Pepsi challenge. I might fail, but I’ve failed before, you know? [I’ll] just get back up and dust myself off. So yeah, I guess that’s the truth on that dare.
Natalia: Can we be friends?
NOBUNNY: Surely, why the hell not?
This was definitely the most fun interview I had at Fun Fun Fun Fest. I’m a huge fan of Keith Morris and most of the music he has helped create. I’ve even run into him a few times at SXSW but never had the chance to actually speak with him. Well, I get my chance, and it wasn’t exactly what I expected it to be. I hadn’t really prepared any questions for the guy; I just wanted to talk to him. So I did. Therefore, this isn’t really an interview so much as me talking to Keith Morris for six minutes. But they are a funny six minutes. Enjoy.
Note: I’m embedding the video now because I won’t be online later tonight to post it. I will be at a show in Mcallen. At this very moment, the video is processing. It should be done within the hour. So, check back around then for the video. I’ll make sure to post it on Facebook and stuff when I get back.
OFF! – Panic Attack
After my experiences at Fun Fun Fun Fest, I’ve realized that I really like talking with people. That is to possibly say that I’m a conversationalist. That being said, today’s interview is with Chaz Bundick of Toro y Moi. I had a chance to talk with him after his awesome set at the festival (the first time I had ever seen him with a rhythm section). Be forewarned, my audio is a bit lower than Chaz’s, so you might need to listen to this at a higher volume than usual. Maybe. We talked about everything from funk to movies to dancing like Michael Jackson. It was loads of fun. Check it out below.
While their set was really great, I was a little bummed that they didn’t play “Leave Everywhere”.
Toro y Moi – Leave Everywhere
Video shot by Trae Valdez of Sin Caras Fotografia.
One of the more underrated performances of Fun Fun Fun Fest was Deakin‘s. His set, which he played with the help of Gang Gang Dance‘s Tim Dewitt, was quite the aural experience and I’m glad I was able to catch it twice (once at the festival and once the night before at the Mohawk before the police shut the show down).
(Photo: Andy Pareti)
I sat down to talk with Josh Dibb (aka Deakin) early Sunday afternoon and had a pretty good conversation. I’m a fan of Animal Collective so I was pretty excited to be able to speak with him. Tim hung out on a nearby chair during the interview; texting away, I assume. I wish I had known who he was at the time because I really dig Gang Gang Dance. I’m pretty sure I would have tried to interview him as well about their new album. Oh, well. Maybe next time. Check out my interview with Josh below.
The Photon God: So how has your tour been?
Deakin: This tour’s been new, playing with Tim [Tim Dewitt of Gang Gang Dance]. We had to work stuff out that we both felt good about, you know? And we actually weren’t able to work out all of it, so sort of all we have is six songs.
TPG: You played by yourself originally, right?
Deakin: Yeah, mostly I would play by myself and the tour I did before this–in September–I toured with Prince Rama, and two of the people in Prince Rama, Taraka [Taraka Larson] and Nimai [Nimai Larson] both played with me. And they’re on tour right now in Europe, so.
TPG: That’s right. You helped them record the record, right?
Deakin: Yeah, I helped them finish recording it. They had already tracked a lot of it with a friend of theirs…this guy Kelzo in Philly. They just hadn’t been able to finish it or mix it so we just kinda did a little bit of retracking and added some stuff and mixed it. The mixing was mostly done with the help of my friend Rusty [Rusty Santos]. I’ve done other mixing this year, but that one we kind of let Rusty do cause I hadn’t–up until this year, I had never really mixed a record by myself…like, as kind of the main person doing it until, really, Dave’s [Dave Portner aka Avey Tare] record, Down There, so that was kind of my first foray into that and I think it was sort of because working with Prince Rama was sort of a warmer upper and I sort of realized I knew more than I thought I did. So that’s kinda why I even ended up doing it. ‘Cause Dave and I helped Prince Rama and it seemed like it went better than even we thought it would. So I think both of us felt a little bit more confidence about doing that than I think I would have without that experience. But doing it with Rusty was really helpful for that reason, too. Just seeing him…he’s been doing it for a long time.
TPG: Did he help with a lot of the Animal Collective stuff?
Deakin: Uh, he mixed Sung Tongs and he’s helped with a few other things over the years. He did live sound for us for a tour or two.
TPG: I know he helped on Person Pitch, Noah’s [Noah Lennox aka Panda Bear] record.
Deakin: Yeah, totally. He’s done a bunch of different stuff over the years but I think the only AC record that he really worked on was Sung Tongs.
TPG: Alright, how old are you?
Deakin: I am 32 years old.
TPG: 32? Wow, man. I thought you were, like, 28 or something.
Deakin: Nope. 1978.
TPG: 78. Do you remember your first experience with music?
Deakin: Um, I mean, my first–I mean, they go way, way, way back. My family–yeah, both my parents were definitely really into listening to music. My dad had a really awesome record collection and he played really, really good classical piano and he was like, good enough that I think that he–at a moment in his life, that could have been the way he could have gone. He never did, but in his prime, he could really play some amazing stuff. And we had a baby grand [piano] in the house, so, kind of as long as I can remember there was always a lot of music going on and I definitely have really early memories of just, like, hanging out at the piano and starting to, like, just play. I mean, I was never super classically-trained–I mean, I did do a bunch of classical training when I was younger but I feel like I remember more times when I would kinda just sorta jam out things. So it goes pretty far back I guess.
TPG: So you resembled Schroeder? From Peanuts?
Deakin: (grins) Yeah, maybe a little bit. Maybe that’s it.
TPG: That’s cool, man. So how was the trip to Mali? It was a ways back.
Deakin: Yeah, that was in January. I left on January 2nd of this year and I was there for like, eight or nine days. It was great. It was really amazing. It was definitely a really intense experience for me–both, just because that’s the first time I’d really extensively traveled in a developing country and Mali is an incredibly–I think it’s, like, literally the fourth or fifth poorest nation in the world.
Deakin: Yeah. So, just on that level I think traveling there and being as immersed as I could have been was just a really intense travel experience in a really great way. And the music, of course, was really incredible at the festival; I saw a lot of really amazing stuff there which was really great. But it was also just, I think more than even any of that, for me it was all just a personal thing. It was kind of, uh…getting the opportunity to go to that festival was sort of the thing that really pushed me over the edge to even, like, work up the nerve to try to play shows by myself. Previous to that I’d really be avoiding that sort of thing for a long time, so when that opportunity came up to do it, I sort of just felt like it was an opportunity I couldn’t really pass up, I guess, to do that. So, it sort of motivated me, in the month of December, to really get together a set of music and a lot of those songs are sort of still what I’m working on now. They’ve changed to me a fair amount since then, but, um, that was kind of the impetus. That was kind of like–essentially–I actually played one show on January 1st, but that was added a week before I left. That was just me being, like, “I should maybe do this once before I go there” but really, the Mali show was meant to be, and in a way it was, kinda like my first show ever, so.
TPG: Cool, that first one was in Baltimore?
TPG: I think I saw a video of that. Not bad.
TPG: You said you were avoiding playing live at first. Why?
Deakin: Um. I think I’ve just…um, I guess just like for most of my post-high school years, so much of my music energy has gone into what we do together, the four of us–or, the three or whatever. I think that even though I’ve always made music on my own, I’ve always kind of had sort of an issue about finishing things, you know? And I think that once we really started, you know–and yeah even through high school, when we work on stuff, the melodic sensibility of Noah and Dave was so strong, I didn’t feel like I needed to work on that, so–(Josh’s cell phone starts ringing)–um, yeah, so I just think that for me, it was a matter of, uh…I just didn’t feel like I needed to. It was something like, I worked on stuff on my own, but, not like the idea that I would like, want to or need to do that or something. (cell still ringing) Well, what I wanted to has always been there if, like, I needed to, I guess, so–(Josh picks up his phone and sets it to vibrate)
TPG: Yeah. I mean you have before, right? (phone vibrates)
Deakin: I mean, I’ve worked on music, like, by myself for years…(picks up phone)
TPG: I can wait if you–
Deakin: No, it’s okay. (puts phone away) Um, I’ve worked on music by myself for years and years and years, it’s just recording it or putting it out or something. It’s a scary thing, I guess, for me. To do it by yourself, you know? I think it’s a lot…a lot more fun and, in a way, easier to do it with the guys ’cause it just sort of feels like we’re all invested in it and I think if I do it by myself I feel like I’m more vulnerable so it’s just something I’ve just shied away from.
TPG: Yeah, I can relate to that. I write my own music and I’m hesitant on working on it anymore without a full band.
TPG: ‘Cause that way writing is more…organic, I guess?
Deakin: Yeah, yeah.
TPG: Did you see any local artists over there that you still listen to?
Deakin: Yeah! Um…(checks phone)…huh. (still looking at phone) Sorry…
TPG: It’s cool.
Deakin: Um…(puts phone down)…um, yeah. I had already known knew a few bands that were over there like Tinariwen I already knew pretty well.
TPG: Who is it?
Deakin: They’re like a North Malian, Saharan–they call it kind of like this–over here we’d call it Desert Blues, that’s sorta the name for what it is. They’re kind of, like, in the same lineage as, like, Ali Farka Touré in a way, but a little bit more…I don’t know how to describe it. But it’s really good. Just kinda really good grooves, basically. I’d already known them for a while. Um, but yeah I think the bands I was most excited about–there’s this woman singer named Khaira Arby and she has this really, really amazing young band and I got to see them two or three times while I was at the festival in a couple different bunch of environments and it was sort of like a main stage show, which was kind of just like seeing them here, basically. Even though it’s in the middle of, like, Timbuktu.
Deakin: I saw a rooftop show they did and a smaller town show. They were just a really, really amazing band. Just this past late summer/fall, they got taken over to the US and were playing a bunch of shows. Kind of all over, I mean, it wasn’t a consistent–like, a heavy tour. They did a lot of shows, like, especially in New York and kind of Eastern Canada. But they’re really, really amazing. I’ve been really psyched to see that they’re starting to break out a little bit. Everyone that I know that’s gotten a chance to see them has been as blown away by them as I have…
TPG: Are you gonna get them something on Paw Tracks?
Deakin: (grins) Uh, I don’t know! I mean, we’ve talked about putting out stuff that’s more in that kind of vein of music and I go back and forth whether I feel if it would really be helpful or not, you know? I think it’s really easy for people that have labels to get really excited and like “oh, I can put that out, I can put that out” but also, I feel like you kinda need to have the resources to back up the kind of releases that you’re doing.
TPG: Of course.
Deakin: Yeah, so a label like Sublime Frequencies, that’s their aim; to do that. And that’s where their connections are, whereas the stuff that we do, there’s some crossover but there’s also a different sort of a–just things that you’d pay attention to. But I go back and forth though. We’ve talked about a number of releases that we’re like “yeah”, but I dunno.
TPG: That’s cool. How long has Paw Tracks been around?
Deakin: Uh, I guess we started it in 200…2?
TPG: That’s about 8 years…
Deakin: 8 years, yeah. And it grew out of a label that we ran before that.
TPG: Catsup Plate?
Deakin: No, no. Catsup Plate is a friend of ours. He still runs that label. He put out the Danse Manatee release and Campfire Songs. We ran a label called Animal. That’s kind of how Animal Collective sort of started.
TPG: Like members of that label…
Deakin: Yeah we basically started a label where we had the idea that anything we did would come out on that label and people would always know it by that, you know?
TPG: Yeah and now it’s evolved into this whole…thing.
Deakin: Yeah, but so we couldn’t really keep that label going. It just was too hard for us to do and then right about the time that we were getting ready to do Here Comes The Indian, this dude Todd that runs Carpark Records asked us if we wanted to put anything out and we told him about Animal and our idea about that and he suggested that we start a new label that was basically that idea but also expanded to other bands and stuff so that’s kind of how that started.
TPG: That’s cool. It’s done a lot of great stuff. I mean, Ariel Pink’s kinda bigger now and he was one of the first artists on there.
Deakin: Yeah, he was one of the first non-AC artists on there. I feel like there might have been something before him but my sense of, uh…my time lines are kind of a little screwed sometimes.
TPG: I’m sure a lot’s happened in your life.
TPG: So, you were talking about original material earlier. How many songs do you have?
Deakin: Well, it’s kind of hard to say ’cause some of the songs are kind of fragments of songs. I’ve kind of moved things from one song to the other so “what is a song” is still pretty unclear. I think I have nine solid jams going right now.
TPG: Okay. Would you agree that beats are a big part of your music?
Deakin: Uh, yeah. I mean, for me, that’s probably in some ways one of the more challenging sides of it, I think. I like having beats and it’s definitely something that doesn’t necessarily come naturally for me to do so I’d say going to work trying to get stuff–that’s one of the reasons why I like playing more with Tim, ’cause that’s way more what he does. When I was working on the songs I felt like I sort of made backing tracks that would sort of inspire me to write the songs around them. That’s kinda where the core beats came from. But, uh, to me it feels very limited and yeah, it’s been cool to be able to play with like, Nimai and with Tim cause they’re able to kind of expand on the beats a lot more so I don’t have to like, focus on it, but yeah.
TPG: I was really excited to see you play last night. Mostly because…I’ve seen Noah play before, I haven’t seen Dave play…
Deakin: He doesn’t really do solo shows.
TPG: Dave? No?
TPG: Is he gonna tour at all for the new record?
Deakin: I don’t think so, no.
TPG: Oh, okay.
Deakin: Yeah, I think he felt it was more of a recording project than it was a live thing.
TPG: Well, if you ask me, I think you and Tim work really well together.
Deakin: Thanks, man.
TPG: You were really in sync and stuff; it was really cool.
TPG: Okay, this is a question you’re probably going to get a lot. Is Animal Collective doing anything else?
Deakin: Uh, yeah! We’re talking about getting together to start writing new stuff next year and starting a tour…
TPG: Cool, man.
Deakin: Yeah, we kind of all wanted to take this year off. I mean, those guys, after finishing the Merriweather tour, they wanted to take a break and we were all just kinda wanting to have a year that was sort of like, active, but in terms of other projects; helping people record and doing individual solo records and stuff but I think next year, everyone’s feeling pretty psyched about getting going again.
TPG: Cool, I’m looking forward to those shows.
Deakin: Yeah, thanks.
TPG: Are you going to put out a solo record at all?
Deakin: Yeah, I’d like to. I’m going to try and record hopefully this Winter and try to have something out in the Spring. We’ll see.
TPG: And is it gonna come out Paw Tracks or somewhere else?
Deakin: Yeah, most likely Paw Tracks, yeah.
TPG: Alright. I’m sure you probably get this a lot, but you know how people put that cult status on Animal Collective?
TPG: Okay, well I’m sure there’s a lot of speculation as to your record given that Noah’s put out a couple and Dave just put out his…a week ago?
Deakin: Yeah, yeah it came out at the end of October.
TPG: Yeah, so I think a lot of people are really excited for like, any news regarding your record.
TPG: What do you think of that position that you guys have been put in?
Deakin: Um, I mean, I have really–uh, I mean it’s…mostly it just is what it is. Meaning like…I dunno it’s a mixed thing, I guess, for me. I mean, of course, it’s an amazing thing. I mean, for years long before even this point, you know. Noah and I, especially, were just like, “can you imagine if we went back and told, like, a 15-year-old us that was like, making 4-track recordings in like, our bedroom that this is what we’d be doing”, so for sure, it’s amazing. It’s pretty mind-blowing to realize that you’ll get to that point. For sure. But I mean yeah, for me personally doing this, like you said, the comparison, anticipation and stuff. It’s cool. Like, it’s great that I get to come play shows that I wouldn’t get to play if I didn’t have that connection but there’s also a side to it where it’s like, I have to try really hard, like, not to think about that expectation, because to me it actually feels a lot more like how I felt when I was 18 or 19 in terms of making music. Like, to me, I feel very, uh, like I have a lot to figure out when I’m just doing it by myself. So I mean, to kinda be in that position and know that there’s people that have, like, the imprint of Feels or Merriweather versus like, “oh, and what’s this dude gonna do?” to me is like, I have to try and not think about that because it’s kind of a little bit…
TPG: ‘Cause it affects your process, your writing.
Deakin: Yeah, but I mean, it’s…you know, how it is.
TPG: Yeah. Thanks for the interview.
Deakin: Yeah, totally.
Keep an eye out for Deakin’s solo debut sometime in 2011 as well as for some possible Animal Collective activity.
Jeff the Brotherhood might be my new favorite band. Ever since I saw them kick ass on the first official day of Fun Fun Fun Fest and later that night at the Mohawk, I’ve become a convert of the Brotherhood. I’m not even kidding, to quote Henry Rollins’ thoughts on Iggy & The Stooges’ “Down On The Street”, this band’s music makes me want to “fight and fuck at the same time”. Ahem. What I mean to say is that their music appeals to my ‘puny’ male mind on some of the most basic, primitive levels in ways that only good rock music can. I won’t even bother continuing to try and explain it.
(Photo: Jamin & Jake Orrall, Credit: Kahan)
This interview was one of the more memorable experiences I had at Fun Fun Fun Fest. For starters, it happened on the floor. When I met up with the band backstage for the interview, they walked over to a nearby tree next to the media tent and just sat down on the ground. I had never done that before in an interview, but I figured, “fuck it”. So, I dropped my bag, sat my ass on the ground, and started the interview. I really enjoyed talking with these guys. They’re both around my age, so it felt more like a casual conversation than an interview. I think that’s enough out of me. Check out the interview below.
The Photon God: So you are?
Jamin Orrall: Jamin Orrall.
Jake Orrall: I’m Jake Orrall.
TPG: Alright, first question. How was your Halloween?
Jamin: Our Halloween…was a bit of a–it was–alright, it was a really nice night. We had a really nice nigh–
Jake: It was a nice night.
Jamin: –yeah, but it really didn’t have anything to do with Halloween. So, it was a bummer because we didn’t, like, go to a Halloween party or see any costumes. But, it was still a really nice night. It’s just the fact that it was on Halloween.
Jake: We just hung out. We played an instore…
Jamin: Yeah we played at our friend’s record store…
Jake: …in Richmond, Virginia which is where we hung out.
TPG: What’s it called?
Jamin: It’s called–um…
Jake: I have the card! (begins searching his pants for the card)
Jamin: Strange Sounds? No. Something Sounds.
Jake: It’s uh…it’s a really great record store.
Jamin: (still searching) It’s brand new, it’s really awesome. My friend Marty runs it.
Jake: Steady Sounds!
Jamin: Steady Sounds!
Jake: In Richmond, Virginia. It’s excellent, excellent, excellent.
Jamin: We played there–
Jake: –after we bought, like, a million records…
Jamin: Yeah, and then we hung out with our friend Marty and his Wife and–
Jake: –they had dinner…
Jamin: Yeah they had, like, a nice dinner and then went to bed at, like, 11 o’ clock.
TPG: That’s cool.
Jamin: ‘Cause Jake lost his voice so were kinda like (shrugs).
TPG: Oh, okay. Can’t sing or anything…
Jamin: Yeah, and we had a show the night before. The two nights before we had some Halloween-vibe shows.
TPG: Did you dress up?
Jamin: Yeah at one of the shows we just dressed up as trash.
TPG: As trash?
Jamin: We just had trash bags on; that’s it.
TPG: Haha, alright. That’s simple, clever. Okay, the obvious question: the band is called ‘Jeff the Brotherhood’, but neither of you are named Jeff.
Jake: Correct, yes.
TPG: Why Jeff?
Jake: It was really just a ‘name out of a hat’ kind of thing.
Jamin: Yeah, we pulled it out of a hat. We, like–
Jake: Well, we didn’t literally, but it was that kind of a thing. Just whatever. Name it a name.
Jamin: We don’t really know how to explain it.
TPG: You just picked it, like, “Jeff”.
Jake: Yeah. Well we had wanted to name it, like, a name. Instead of like a…word or something.
Jamin: We named it like a person.
Jake: Cause it’s kind of like the entity that we become when we play together.
TPG: Yeah, you guys are really in sync. And ‘Brotherhood’ because you’re brothers?
TPG: Does that make things difficult on tour? Or in general?
Jake: Being brothers?
Jamin: In some ways it does, but in most ways, it makes it much better.
Jake: It makes it better, yeah.
Jamin: Because we’re completely honest with each other, and can like…
Jake: We understand each other a lot more than most people.
Jamin: Yeah we get each other really well, and work together really well. We fight all the time but it’s fine, like, five minutes later.
Jake: We always have someone on tour with us to kinda break it up.
TPG: To mediate?
TPG: That’s cool. Is it another family member? Or a friend?
Jake: No, no it’s a different person every time. Right now, we have our friend Louisa who’s sitting right there. (turns and points to nearby bench) Louisa!
(Louisa turns around; startled)
Jake: (to Louisa) Whatsup?
Jamin: (to Louisa) Just saying hi.
Louisa: (still startled) …heyyy!
Jake: (turning back) Whoever wants to come.
Jamin: Yeah, whoever can get off work.
TPG: Okay, how long do you guys tour for at a time?
Jamin: Usually, four weeks.
Jake Yeah, three or four weeks.
TPG: Do you guys have day jobs and stuff?
Jamin: We tour too much.
Jake: We usually have like, a week or two off in between tours.
Jamin: Yeah we did like, over 250 shows in the past year, so we’re not home often enough to have jobs.
TPG: Wow. But it’s fun though, right?
Jamin: Yeah, it’s awesome.
Jake: It’s great. It’s the best thing ever.
Jamin: Yeah, it’s a lot of hard work, but it pays off.
TPG: Alright, you guys are a two piece, did you intend to be a two piece–just guitar and drums–or did you have trouble finding a bass player and stuff?
Jamin: I think it’s just easier, like, it’s better with just the two of us.
Jake: Yeah, I mean, we kinda grew up in the country when we first started playing together. So there wasn’t anyone else around in the first place. It kinda just worked out that way, I guess.
Jamin: It’s just easier.
Jake: Yeah, everything is easier being a two piece except for sounding big and full. That’s the only really hard part.
Jamin: Yeah, but we’ve figured out ways to cheat.
TPG: Yeah, I mean, you guys were mic’d really well. (to Jake) What’s your setup, man?
Jake: Well, there’s a couple, like, keys…a couple secrets…that I’m willing to disclose because I don’t really give a fuck. I mean, I spent the last 10 years trying to figure it out. But, basically I just play through bass amps, but I have separate amps for my low end sound and my high end sound so I can mix them accordingly to the room. ‘Cause that’s a big problem if you’re just playing through one amp; it’s just gonna sound one way and like, if the room is making it to like–well, I don’t need to go into detail, but anyways, I play through separate amps for my high end and my low end and…uh, I also only play the lower three strings because I feel–I don’t know if this is true ’cause I don’t know about sound and science and stuff but I feel like if I had all six strings, like…if you got six strings that are making sound, then it’s gonna be like, less sound. If you just have three, then it’s all gonna–like, three low ones…it makes sense in my head but I can’t really explain it.
TPG: I get it, though.
Jake: I don’t even remember what the question was now.
Jamin & I: What your gear was…
Jake: Oh, yeah I play through a bunch of bass amps…and a shitty guitar.
TPG: That’s cool, man. I want to get an old, 70s Fender Bassman. I want that low end.
TPG: I know Sunn O))) uses one of those. Those guys are fucking ridiculous.
Jake: Yeah, they have some crazy sounds.
TPG: Yeah, I want to emulate all of that.
Jake: I use all Acoustic amps right now.
Jamin: He used to use Sunns.
TPG: Oh, okay. They’ve been out haven’t they?
Jake: Oh yeah. They’ve been out for a while. Acoustic just started again. They’d been out for a while, too.
TPG: Okay. So would you guys call yourselves a ‘Garage’ band?
Jamin: I mean, if you listen to Garage music, we don’t really have much in common except that we’re loud.
Jake: We’re kinda like a rock band.
Jamin: More like a classic rock–like, 70s hard rock or something. Maybe something like grunge…I dunno.
TPG: You’ve got the riffs; definitely.
Jamin: Yeah, I feel like Garage bands are very Blues-based in a way.
Jake: We kind of, like, avoid blues.
TPG: Any reason?
Jamin: No, I mean, I like listening to it but I don’t want to try to play it. It seem like something that’s pretty difficult to get right.
Jake: It’s also like…there’s plenty of that going on. We’re trying to kinda do something that’s interesting to people…and fun is the main thing.
Jamin: Like a lot of 70s hard rock music–
Jake: –total party music. It’s total, like, ‘getting wasted with your friends’ music. That’s really what it is.
Jamin: But we’re not getting wasted, just having fun.
Jake: Or, you know, getting wasted doesn’t necessarily have to mean drinking.
Jamin: Yeah, it could mean, like, just having a good time.
TPG: Just wasted on fun.
Jake: Yeah, but for me, it’s usually beer…and whiskey. (laughs)
TPG: Would any of that influence have been in the show today?
Jake: A beer and whiskey influence?
Jamin: Not very much, cause we played at like–
Jake: –like, 1:30 in the afternoon. (laughs) But, a fair amount–come tonight.
Jamin: At the Mohawk.
TPG: I think I’m gonna be there!
Jake: Yeah, it’s gonna be wild! (he was right)
Jamin: It’s gonna be wild.
Jake: It’s probably gonna be completely packed. (It was)
Jake: –and…fuckin’ off the chaiiin. (It really, really was)
TPG: Cool, man. Hopefully I make it to the front. (I didn’t. :-( )
Jake: We’re playing inside! We made sure that we got to play inside because it’s always way crazier inside.
TPG: The sound is great too! It’s perfect for you guys.
Jake: So that’s gonna be cool.
TPG: Awesome. Alright, you have a blog, right? The Blogspot? jeffthebrotherhood.blogspot.com?
Jake: It’s just jeffbrotherhood.blogspot.com. Kind of confusing.
Jamin:You should check it out.
TPG: Oh, I got it on my RSS reader.
Jamin: Oh, I was just telling it to that (my audio recorder) to check it out.
TPG: Oh, right. I’ll edit that in.
TPG: Alright, do you think it’s important for a band to have a blog?
Jake: Yeah, absolutely.
TPG: Yeah? Why?
Jamin: I mean, if you’re trying to, like, have a–I dunno…
Jake: Yeah, it depends on what your goals as a band are.
Jamin: Yeah. I mean, I do it cause I want people to know what we’re doing.
Jake: Yeah, you want to be able to connect to the people who are into what you’re doing.
Jamin: Yeah, and it’s fun for me.
Jake: They go on there and are like “oh, look at that! They’re eating at this restaurant; I might check that out the next time I’m in town”!
Jamin: Well, it’s fun ’cause you get bored on tour and it’s something to do for me. It’s also a way for people that like our band to keep track of us. And I think we’re trying to like, do this for a living, so we want to connect with people that are going to support us in our music.
Jake: Right. The blog is also–if you go to the blog, you’ll notice that there’s not really any writing, it’s mostly just pictures and videos.
Jake: ‘Cause we’re trying to make it like, I dunno, reading can be kinda boring. It’s more fun to look at pictures and stuff.
TPG: Like Tumblr?
Jake: Yeah, and watch videos of us, like, doing stupid shit. That’s more fun than reading.
Jamin: …reading onscreen…
Jake: So, we just try and make it fun for people. Check it out.
TPG: So in one word, what would you describe your goal as a band? If you have one yet.
TPG: Japan? Budokan?
Jamin: Japan. We just wanna go there.
TPG: Have you played there yet?
Jamin: No, that’s our goal. That’s like number 1.
TPG: Cool, man. Well, I hope you make it.
Jamin: Thanks man.
TPG: Thanks for the interview.
Heavy Days is out now on Infinity Cat Records.
Just as a sidenote: they released a new track earlier this year that I didn’t get to cover but believe that you all must hear. It’s called “Diamond Way” and will be on their next album, We Are The Champions, which is out sometime early next year. Check it out below. It rooocks.
Jeff the Brotherhood – Diamond Way
I remember when I first listened to Valient Thorr. I was in high school, and some online playlist I was listening to at the time had “Man Behind The Curtain” on it. If memory serves, I was thrashing around like a blind animal to what was one of the hardest rockinest songs I had listened to in a long time. I’m getting pumped just thinking about it. With every coming second, the band exudes an even stronger flair of intensity and, well, ‘kick-assness’. I had the pleasure of speaking with the Venusian band’s frontman, Valient Himself, at Fun Fun Fun Fest last weekend and had one of the best conversations of my life with the guy.
Just coming off of a support tour for their new album, Stranger, the band paid a visit to the Austin, Texas music festival for their last show on the tour. I was originally going to type out this interview but I decided that I really wanted you all to hear this so I’ve uploaded the audio of our conversation. I might make this a usual thing, I might not. We shall see in the coming posts. Listen below and enjoy.
Stranger is out now on
Two Wednesdays ago, Israel’s Monotonix paid our little corner of the country a visit. It was an incredible show; arguably one of the more memorable shows I’ve been to in my neck of the woods.
(Photo: Gabriel Elizondo)
Before the show, I had the pleasure of pulling the band aside for a bit to talk about shows, songwriting, and getting older.
TPG: So, introduce yourselves.
Yonotan Gat: My name is Yonotan.
Haggai Fershtman: Haggai.
Ami Shalev: Ami.
TPG: What’s that?
Yonotan: Sacci. It’s his nickname.
TPG: Oh okay. How did that start?
Yonotan: When he was an activist, and he used to work at Whole Foods, he changed his name to Sacci for a few years. Then when he quit, he went back to being Ami.
TPG: Oh, (to Ami) when were you an activist?
(Ami turns around)
Ami: I am very activist; especially in bed. (they laugh)
TPG: Are you married?
Ami: Married. Buried.
TPG: (laughs) Alright, so you’ve been a band since 2005?
Yonotan: Yes. (to the others) He did research. He talked to me about Mono Addicted Acid Man.
Haggai: Good band.
TPG: Yeah, how did you all meet?
Haggai: In a club in Tel Aviv.
TPG: How long ago?
Yonotan: 10 years ago?
Haggai: 10 years ago.
TPG: How old are all of you?
Yonotan: I prefer not to say my age.
TPG: Okay, is it true that you were banned from all the venues in Tel Aviv?
Haggai: No, almost all of them.
TPG: Almost? Why?
Ami: They say that we [were] playing too loud.
TPG: Too loud?
TPG: But you’re a rock band…
Haggai: But this is Israel…
TPG: Oh, well yeah. Israel is more conservative?
Haggai: Ehh, yes and no.
Yonotan: When it comes to certain things.
Haggai: Like, if you do Eastern music, they go [thumbs up], but if you do rock [thumbs down].
Haggai: It’s a matter of culture.
TPG: Hm. And I guess rock isn’t a part of that culture?
Ami: For example–I can give you an example. A friend of mine; they play in a band called The Bee Gees, back in the 60s. And I said to them, “Guys, you playing too loud” and they listened to me, and look at what happened in the 70s; they became one of the biggest bands in the world.
TPG: That’s right.
Ami: So, it might be bad for us that we didn’t listen to the people in Tel Aviv that telled us that we play too loud.
Yonotan: They also tell us that we look like the Bee Gees.
Yonotan: In Tel Aviv, yes.
TPG: Haha, do you agree with that statement?
Yonotan: I wish.
TPG: Can you sing like The Bee Gees?
Haggai: I can!
Yonotan: Haggai has a really good falsetto.
(Haggai proceeds to sing into my mic)
Ami: But you can tell by the way they walk! He is the woman-man!
TPG: Yeah, with the hips! So, you were injured earlier this year, Ami.
TPG: How did that happen?
Ami: I dont’ know, because I didn’t do anything in particular that made it happen.
TPG: It just happened?
Ami: I just tear up the meniscus.
TPG: Are you better?
Ami: Right now, yeah.
TPG: How long did it take to recover?
Ami: (thinks) Two months.
TPG: So no walking or anything?
Ami: No, walking, lot of practicing, a lot of physical therapy. We played shows in Australia, but we had to cancel one show.
TPG: That’s cool. You guys play a lot of shows. You’ve played…
Ami: Thousands of shows!
(Photo: Gabriel Elizondo)
Haggai: We feel it, we feel it!
TPG: That’s really good. I’m really glad about that because there’s a lot of young bands nowadays that burn out, you know? They stop playing really young…
Yonotan: We wouldn’t know anything about burning out. That’s never happened to us.
TPG: That’s really cool. I really, really admire that. So you have your third album coming out next year. It’s called Not Yet.
TPG: Why did you call it Not Yet?
Ami: I dunno, it’s a long story. It happened in Tuscon, Arizona.
Haggai: Yes, Tuscon, Arizona.
Ami: Someone in an interview asked us “do you have a name for your last record”? So we say “Not Yet”. Then–“Oh! That’s a good name”! (laughs)
TPG: For your last record? So it’s your final album?
Ami: Ah! No. He asked us “what is the name of your next record” and we say “Not Yet”, then “Oh! That’s a good name”.
TPG: Yeah like a little light bulb appeared above your head.
TPG: I wanted to ask, I was looking at the track list and you have a song on there called “Before I Pass Away”.
Ami: That’s correct.
TPG: What inspired you to write a song like that? You have other songs like “Set Me Free”—very exciting songs, that seems very mature.
Haggai: Because we never died before. You mean like there is a ‘gloomy’ atmosphere to our [music]?
TPG: Maybe, something more contemplative, mature even. Would you say that there is something like that?
Ami: Well yeah, we’re getting older. You can’t say that we’re getting younger.
Haggai: And this is like, in the eye of the beholder.
TPG: And in your eye, you’re getting older?
Ami: You can’t ignore it. We’re getting older.
TPG: But I’m sure at shows you’re younger in spirit?
Ami: Uhh, yes, we try to but—I don’t know.
Haggai: Time will tell.
(Haggai and Ami say something in Hebrew)
TPG: Okay then. On the new record, you worked with Steve Albini.
TPG: That’s awesome. Are you fans of Shellac?
Ami: Of course!
TPG: What was it like working with him? I’ve always wondered…
Ami: It was really cool.
Haggai: Down to business.
TPG: Down to business? Is he very serious?
Haggai: No, you could joke with him but he’s very functional. Very simple, very straight forward. It’s very simple to work like that. You know what you see, you know what you want to get—very clear.
TPG: Did you do it digitally?
Haggai: No, never.
TPG: Oh okay, cause I know Steve only works with analog.
TPG: Okay, do you think that you represent Israel well?
Ami: I hope so!
TPG: Given that you don’t play there very much—I was talking to Yonotan earlier and he said you don’t play there any more.
Ami: No, we don’t any more.
TPG: Would you want to play there again?
Ami: Neh. I don’t think so.
Haggai: It’s more embarrassing.
Haggai: (bashful) Cause it’s home. Hehe.
Ami: You have to see these people tomorrow when you wake up. (laughs)
TPG: Well one last question. Why do you play on the ground?
Haggai: We are a band of the people. We want to play at the same level as them. That’s why we play on the ground.
TPG: No stages, no masters.
Haggai: (laughs) Yes! No stages, no masters!
TPG: Well, it sounds like next band [The Young Maths] is setting up. Whaddya say we go check ‘em out?
Haggai: Yeah let’s go!
Not Yet is out on Drag City Records January 25th of next year.