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Review + Q&A: Lay Llamas & JuJu- Flag Of Breeze (2023, Backwards)

In warm and humid Sicily, the deep, deep south of Italy, two men find each other again and again in waves of symbiotic creativity. The chemistry between Gioele Valenti (JuJu) and Nicola Giunta is strong. Together they are Lay Llamas, and Flag Of Breeze is their new EP of dreamy psychedelia. If one thing is clear, it is that their common electricity has not lost any of its power.

Flag Of Breeze is a short affair, consisting of four new songs, intermixed by short weird sounds, described by the duo as ” like a sort of radio tuning listening session among FM stations and misterious shortwaves transmissions”. The songs are very varied, from the dreamy post wave of Flag Of Breeze, to the tribal surf pop of Bury Me Tonight, the gothic witch dance of Mixtures And Potions, and the psychedelic dark cabaret of Underwater Jungle.

The result may be short, but it is a sweet little adventure. And it creates a hunger for more to come from this wonderful duo.

Gioele Valenti

I gladly took on the opportunity to do a second interview with Gioele and Nicola, this time together. We talked about the creation of Flag Of Breeze, why it took so long to physically release it, and what the future might bring…

Hi Gioele and Nicola! How have you been since we spoke last year?
Very well, thanks. Lost in magic.
NG. I’m fine, thanks.

What is the main reason you two keep on finding each other in Lay Llamas? In
what way do you complement each other?

NG. I think Gioele is among the best vocals composer out there… and I’m so lucky that
he’s a very good friend of mine at the same time. So, basically when it’s about Lay Llamas
I provide to send him instrumental tracks on which he writes and performs vocals, and I
mean melody, harmony and lyrics. There’s a kind of chemistry, something magic.
GV. I personally think it’s a matter of vibrations. We have a very long-lived friendship as
Nicola said. I think me and Nicola work together in a very strange and special alchemic
way. I have this “pop” attitude… and Nicola has this very incredible taste in exotic things,
music, art, he has a great sense for aestethic… I think that is the main reason we find each

The album is listed as Lay Llamas & Juju, what is the difference from a regular
Lay Llamas release? It’s always the two of you, right?

NG. Right. But anyway we liked to add on Juju name to underline how much strong was
his work as composer. For the rest it’s basically the same thing we did in the past… with a
different typing on the sleeve maybe.
GV. Yes, basically the same process.

Can you tell me about the conception of Flag Of Breeze? What made you start
these songs, what was your intention?

NG. We recorded these tracks during the same sessions for GOUD LP (Black Sweat
Records, 2022). But too much tracks for a single LP so we did an EP for this second
release. Nothing different about creative process: I compose and record the music, send it
to Gioele that compose and record vocals, lyrics and sometimes any overdub with guitars,
synth, etc., finally I do the mix.
GV. Yes, we had a lot of stuff coming this time.

Even more than before this album is very psychedelic, hazy, dreamy. Is there an
explanation for this? Can you tell me about the specific influences for this one?

NG. Hazy and dreamy, more than psychedelic in my opinion. As always when we meet to
make music together as Lay Llamas a kind of mind-travellers music comes out.
Other(inner)worldly music I call it!
GV. I would call these songs “lazy” rather than “hazy”. Haunted more than psychedelic.
There’s this universalistic afflatus underneath. Songs for globetrotting spirits. I like to put it
this way.

What can you tell me about the release process, I heard that some people had to
wait for a long while on their orders? Can you explain what happened? It seems that
in the mean while Juju and Lay Llamas both released another record, right?

NG. Oh man, that was a real mess! The label sent the master to the pressing plant in April
2021 and it had received the vinyls one month ago or something. The Covid delay was
huge, at the same time the label could have handled it better maybe. Mainwhile a Lay
LP titled GOUD It was released in March 2022 by italian label Black Sweat
. Anyway, here we are.
GV. Very long time. Friend, let’s take it as another “long covid symptom”.

What can you tell me about the background stories behind the lyrics? What was
your inspiration for the words this time?

NG. I wrote only one lyric; Underwater Jungle. It was strongly inspired by Jules Verne
GV.I used to read a lot of quantum physics stuff while writing the songs. The collapse of
the wave function. Of how reality is an interactive process between the observed object
and the observer. Reality, basically, does not exist. Thought is everything.

Would you say that you are “typical Sicilians”? Why/why not?
Not a simple question. As I think Sicilian people are quite complex. For example,
Sicilians often use ‘maybe’ word rather than ‘yes’ or ‘no’. We talk using a layering language.
In this way I feel ‘typical’. But not if you consider ‘typical’ the sicilian guy with mustache and
shotgun on the back.
GV. I don’t like clichés, which immediately become a stigma. It depends on what you
mean by “typical”. If we mean a cultural trait, well, yes, then I feel I belong to a broad
culture, of great historical breadth, of great tradition. The other reflections on being
a typical Sicilian doesn’t make sense in my opinion. I’m no more typical than a
typical Englishman can be, these days.

What is the thing you look forward to most in 2023?
new music and art, still living with my dears, be a better human.
GV. Staying alive already seems like a great goal to me

What should the Weirdo Shrine readers do immediately after reading this

NG. go out and take a walk, breath deeply, elevate yourself.
GV. Take care of you loved ones. You will save the entire world.

Nicola Giunta

Review + Q&A: Les Big Byrd- Eternal Light Brigade (2022, Chimp Limbs)

Joakim Åhlund is a producer and songwriter from Sweden who has done some pretty impressive things in his career. He fronted garage pop band The Caesars, as well as electro pop band Teddybears STHLM, and wrote hit songs for famous artists like Cheryl Cole, Robyn, Sia, and collabs with Brian Jonestown Massacre, and Iggy Pop. You can imagine he is a musician with some freedom to roll the way he likes. Les Big Byrd is how he likes to roll. Together with Frans Johansson of Fireside, drummer Nino Keller, and keyboardist Crille he explores cosmic space krautrock style. Eternal Light Brigade is their best album to date.

Eternal Light Brigade is so incredibly cool because it oozes hazy relaxation while throbbing up fierce urgency at the same time. Stereolab-esque drum repetitions, super spaced up keys, and Jocke’s characteristic sleazy “Caesars” vocals make it a unique kraut pop experience. And there are songs! Whether they last seven minutes, two, or five, they are all laced with that Swedish earwurm quality that will make you hum along in the shower whether you want to or not. To me personally it is the warmth the album radiates that is most appealing. It is the perfect morning record, a ray of relaxing sunshine to the face that is so much needed in these days of darkness and cold.

And finally, Eternal Light Brigade is a fun record. These four guys had a good time making it, and it shows. Good music does not need to be overtly complicated at all, as long as it takes you the right places. Les Big Byrd spreads their enormous wings, and takes you to space. What more do you need?

I had the good fortune to reach Joakim “Jocke” Åhlund through the interwebs. He was friendly enough to introduce us to the rest of the band, their plans, and how they generally roll. I got the feeling that life in general is good to these birds.

How are you? How has the pandemic period been for you as a musician?

I feel good, thanks. The pandemic was awful of course for the world and for a lot of people and it’s not like I can’t feel empathy with that but I have to say that for me personally, it was kind of not entirely unpleasant. If you could avoid the whole apocalyptic feeling of it all. 

I liked that the ever spinning wheels of capitalism sort of got a spoke in them and I liked the calmness and even to some extent, the isolation. 

Can you introduce yourselves?

We are four guys from Stockholm Sweden that like to make and play music together. We have been around for a long time although you have not heard about us. We play some sort of space rock I guess one might say, sometimes reminiscent of krautrock from the seventies, sometimes with psychedelic elements and sounds. Nino, our drummer has a day job as a mailman and Crille, our keyboard player is really good at cooking. Frans our bass-player works in a bar and he was previously in a band called Fireside, who were signed to Rick Rubin’s Def American label in the US. I have a recording studio in a little 400 year old cabin right in the middle of Stockholm. 

What can you tell me about your musical backgrounds?

Nino, the drummer is classically trained, but all three other of us have learned by failure. 

I have been in hundreds of bands over the years, some have had some little limited commercial success and others have been quite good artistically I think. Frans, our bassist, was in Fireside as I mentioned above and also played in a bunch of different other projects, Crille, our keyboardist used to be the percussionist and composer in a avant garde string-quintet.  

What does a regular day in your lives look like?

I wake up super early mostly, especially if I have had a drink or more the night before. I like those quiet hours before the rest of the family wakes up. That’s when I write stuff mostly, I usually make a pot of coffee and then I sit by the kitchen table and play my electric guitar really quietly without plugging it in, and with the morning news rolling on my laptop. 

Then I usually go to the studio and work on some music. I make music for films and stuff, and sometimes I produce other artists when I’m not making my own music.

Then I will go and have some beers at the bar where Frans works and maybe see some friend or my girlfriend. And then I go home to my apartment, wich I am so grateful to have, and go to sleep, if I can, in my nice warm bed, while the icy winter wind howls in the street outside my window.  

What is the best thing about Eternal Light Brigade?

I like the songs and I like the sounds. And we had fun making it, it was probably the least hard and painful record we’ve made so far. We all stayed friends during the process and the fighting was absolutely minimal. I have to say that I’m real happy with the way it turned out also. I like the spontaneous parts of it the most.

Where do you live and what is the environment like for musicians like you?

I was born in Stockholm and have lived here ever since. It’s like a quite small town at the edge of the world, but that can also have its advantages. When I was was younger I used to be bothered and frustrated over the fact that I lived sort of like outside of where the real world was taking place. I used to always dream about moving to NYC or LA or someplace more vibrant and happening. But as time has passed and I can appreciate the calmness here more. Nino, our drummer and Crille are also born and raised in Stockholm. Frans originally comes from further up north in Sweden from an even smaller town, or more like a village even. But he moved down to Stockholm pretty much as soon as he could, when he was something like 19 or so. 

What is your main aim with your music, is it complete artistic expression, or an escape from the every day world? (or something else ;))

We do this because we find some kind of satisfaction in making music together that we groove to. But the better we get an d the better we think the music gets, the more fun we think it is.

We do have a lot of freedom of expression with this band, that’s the best part of being a small indie band with very limited ”success”. 

There’s no one who can or even wants to try and tell us what to do. I guess that makes whatever comes out of this project, if it’s great or shit, at least it comes from ourselves and it’s kind of real and honest. I grew up with that whole DIY aesthetic from punk and hardcore and underground rock and I guess I still believe in that part of it. It comes down to the artwork record covers and everything. It’s homegrown. 

Of course there’s still a lot of limitations for our artistic expression and possibilities but at least those limitations don’t come from outside the group. And they’re something that we can work on overcoming.  

Can you tell me about how you go about composing and recording songs? And what is the main difference from last time around?

We recorded most of this album in an island in the baltic called Gotland. I loved the isolated and calm feeling of Gotland in the off season. Gotland gets invaded by tourists during the summer months, but if you’re there pretty much any time except june to august, it feels like a calm and secluded place, the nature is very special and Visby town is a super special and very beautiful town. We spent most of the time in the studio, but we also found time to go for long walks, we met up with friends of ours that live on the island, and I even swam in the sea one morning. It was in october and really refreshing haha. But mostly we were in the studio of course, since we had a limited amount of time that we could stay away from home because of other duties and we wanted to concentrate on the album. 

I love the sounds we got in that studio and the seclusion also worked in our favour, it was so much easier to concentrate and stay in the bubble of making the album. 

I love it when sounds in music are not too familiar to me, when you can’t really understand where they derive from, that’s why we love love experimenting with weird electronics and pedals and stuff. I suppose that’s where the psychedelic element in our music comes in. 

What are your immediate and long term future plans?

We are in the middle of a tour of Sweden right now, we have a couple of shows left before christmas, and then next year we will continue touring in Europe and also hopefully other parts of the world. 

At the same time we are also working on scoring a documentary about a big industry poison scandal, so I’ making a lot of ominous and foreboding music for that in my studio on the days off from touring. 

What should the Weirdo Shrine reader do after reading this interview?

Take a listen to the album that John Cale and Terry Riley made together in 1971 that’s called Church Of Anthrax, that’s a really good one. 

Review + Q&A: Thee UFO- Ponderous Fug (2022, Fuzzed Up & Astromoon Records

Thee UFO are a band that brings a piece of the fuzzy ultraviolence to your living room. Fifty something years after Stanley Kubrick launched his celluloid masterpiece A Clockwork Orange, this Irish band channels exactly the kind of snotty, botched up psycho punk energy that would have been its perfect soundtrack….

Lending their ears to American examples like Thee Oh Sees (duh!), and 60s garage rock, Thee UFO clearly is not afraid to wander weirder pathways still. Channeling Neu!‘s krautrock sound on album interlude Structure Collapse for instance, or stretching their usual short attention spanned song writing to the impressive seven minutes of underwater noise rocker Transparent Seed.

Album closer Ponderous Fug is another slow burner, with a hair raising impression of The Velvet Underground at their druggiest and most broken. It is a thoughtful and deep ending of an album that started off with loud and raucous banter and violence. A bit like the way Kubrick created different layers into his movie, making A Clockwork Orange such a wild and interesting watch.

I asked the band ten questions, and rebels as they are, they only answered six. The things they did say definitely give us a good idea of who we are dealing with here though…

What is the best thing about Ponderous Fug?

The best thing is the fact that vinyl is out now. We’re officially done with it, we’re moving on. 

Where do you live and what is the environment like for musicians like you?

We live in Dublin, Ireland. The musical environment is good if you plan on making somewhat commercial music or if you’re big on marketing. There is a small psych scene, however we’re not completely married to that genre we’re very much interested in making anything and everything we can. Overall we’re not involved in the Irish music scene, we fall into every other subset. 

What is your main aim with your music, is it complete artistic expression, or an escape from the everyday world? (or something else ;))

We want to create, that’s the most important thing about doing this, just being able to create. Artistic expression will never be eased, we have material ready for at least the next 10 years.  It’s really easy to find yourself lost in a song, an instrument or a piece of equipment, that is a really fulfilling, comfortable, calming thing, to be so interested in something as simple as two notes and getting completely lost in that for hours. 

Can you tell me about how you go about composing and recording songs?

It can be quite similar to getting lost in something for a while and building a song out of two notes, however songs do often come about generically. We do tend to jam on some songs that maybe aren’t of interest initially; eventually by trial and error we make songs worth recording. Other times we record, then cut up and combine songs. 

What is “the dream” when it comes to being an artist?

To create as much as possible. 

What should the Weirdo Shrine reader do after reading this interview?

Listen to some music, read a book, watch a movie, go for a walk, tell someone you love them. Live. 

Review + Q&A: Solitär- Bus Driver Immigrant Mechanic (2022, Tonzonen Records)

Listeners that tune into Solitär‘s album Bus Driver Immigrant Mechanic need a short disclaimer perhaps: this album does not sound anything like Mikael Tuominen’s main band Kungens Män, or his other band Automatism. Not even close. Like his moniker may give away, Solitär is Tuominen’s solo project. And all by himself he made a beautiful dreamy indie pop album with a crystal clear production and a collection of great, moody songs.

It seems a bit counter intuitive for a master jammer and improviser as Tuominen, but Bus Driver Immigrant Mechanic is an immaculately plannend and orchestrated affair. With a melancholic pop sound that reminds of the melodic progressive indie of Midlake, or the arty pop of The Notwist, Solitär in fact nestles itself quite high in the ranks of the international indie scene. The compositions are tastefully layered, dynamic, and constantly keep the listener wondering what the next move might be.

It is refreshing to hear Tuominen take a break from psychedelic jamming and fully expanding his personal horizons on this solo album. If you shake off before risen expectations on what you might expect, you might well be positively surprised what you will find here…

I talked to Mikael Tuominen about his new outlet, and his many other musical projects. Who knew this Stockholm librarian had so many sonic tricks up his sleeve…?

How are you? How has the pandemic period been for you as a musician?

I’m doing fine, thanks! The pandemic was a weird time for sure, but I wasn’t affected too hard since I’m not a full-time musician. I have a day job as well. But of course it was strange to not be able to play live and tour and not knowing whether it would be possible to do it again. Actually this Solitär record was made during the pandemic, maybe even thanks to it in a way – I’m not sure if I would have had the focus to make it if it would have been normal circumstances.

Can you introduce yourself and your musical enterprises?

I am Mikael Tuominen and I was born in 1973. Solitär is my solo project where I do everything and Bus Driver Immigrant Mechanic is my new album. I have previously released the album ‘1989’ under the Solitär moniker. I’m also in a bunch of bands – I play guitar in the psychedelic improv rock band Kungens Män, as well as in the free rock/no wave/free jazz group Eye Make The Horizon. And I play bass in the instrumental rock/jazz rock band Automatism, the psych/classic rock band Fanatism and the avant garde doom metal act Maulén. I also play bass regularly with Per Wiberg’s band (Kamchatka, ex-Opeth etc). I sing as well to a various degree in the different bands.

What can you tell me about your musical background?

I began playing bass in 1985 after I had fallen in love with heavy metal. Then I started my first band in 1986 with Hans Hjelm who I still play with today in Kungens Män and Automatism. My dedication was all consuming from the first moment and shaped a one track mind in many ways, and years and years of musical struggle and occasional insights have followed. I have played a lot of rock, punk and metal, but also jazz, free improvisation, funk, cover bands and whatnot. However I always gravitated towards the outskirts of popular music for some reason. I have always been extremely eclectic and have found different pleasures from different kinds of music, but never took the easiest way out. I guess it has been a way to keep the music fresh to myself.

What does a regular day in your life look like?

I wish I could say every day was an outburst of free spirited creativity, but unfortunately it’s not. On the contrary I have to be really disciplined and heavily structured to be able to do everything I do. So much for the rock myth… A regular day means going to work, which is that I am a coordinator for all matters regarding the premises of Stockholm Public Library. After work I spend time with my family, rehearse, record or mix music or work out to keep sane and in decent shape. Then there’s all the admin for the bands – booking gigs, managing social media, PR, talking to business partners and such. I also try to consume as much culture as possible, going to concerts, cinema and theater. 

What is the best thing about Bus Driver Immigrant Mechanic?

Probably that I stepped out of my comfort zone. I have never written this personal or even private lyrics before, and I have never pushed my vocals up in the mix the way I did with this record. I don’t know if it was a good decision, but it is what it is, and the process of making this album was very important to me. It came from a deeply honest place and is all about connecting with things that matter for real – emotions, politics, death, family. No posing or fancy rock moves. It’s basically a diary of what was going on inside of me during the time I made the record. It also includes what I feel is the best song I have ever written – ‘Ship of Excitement’. I found something in that song that I would like to explore more in the future. 

There’s something about the combination of the flow, vibe and melancholy of that song that feels very special to me. I think I would like to do more of that, but go deeper into shoegaze and dream rock land. 

Where do you live and what is the environment like for musicians like you?

I live in Stockholm, Sweden. There certainly is a need for improvement here. A lot of venues have closed down over the last years and it’s always a struggle for alternative culture. It is generally very neo liberal and money driven, plus the fact that a lot of people that live in the middle of the city expect it to be quiet, which means they have rock clubs closing down after complaints. That’s how you create a dead city folks! We’re also geographically quite far from the continent, so touring is costly for us – just driving down to Hamburg takes 12 hours. However, it’s not all black and gloomy. It is the biggest city and capital of Sweden after all and that means there’s a lot of creative people here and you can always find a way to do interesting stuff even if it sometimes is unnecessarily hard. What I’m saying is that it takes dedication and energy to keep on doing this.

What is your main aim with your music, is it complete artistic expression, or an escape from the every day world? (or something else ;))

It is definitely not an escape, it IS my everyday world. I have been playing music for almost ⅘ of my life and it’s so deeply integrated with my neural and emotional system that I can’t imagine what life would be like without it. I think about music or music related stuff every day. Artistically it’s basically a constant ongoing process, a patchwork of things that happen. I don’t have a clear vision of where I am heading – it often presents itself through improvisation and circumstances. A great example is Maulén where I play bass – I’m so happy to be a part of that band which I consider to do great art – it wasn’t something I could have imagined would happen. I mean, this last summer we were in Morocco recording a desert doom version of Oum Kalthoum’s Enta Omri, meeting and playing with fantastic Moroccan musicians and sleeping under the stars in the Sahara desert. The same goes for Kungens Män. That shit wasn’t planned! We were just hanging out and suddenly our primitively recorded jams took off. Now we are already ten years into that band. It’s like being presented with new lumps of clay non-stop – you just have to understand what you can make out of it in the given situation. And everything you create leads to something else, often unexpected. The conclusion is that I want to keep on following this path that keeps unfolding in front of me. As a matter of fact that’s what the song Spegel Spegel on the Solitär album is about. 

Can you tell me about how you go about composing and recording songs? And what is the main difference from when you are in a band?

I almost always start with the drums and bass. That’s where I come from musically, from the rhythm section. I build a skeleton from there and actually assemble the parts with those instruments first. Then there’s generally a rhythm guitar and then everything else, in various order depending on where the song leads me. For Solitär I compose and record at the same time – I use the studio as a composition tool, so composition and recording are completely integrated. I sometimes wish I could be more “professional” and make demos, but I don’t. When a song is finished, it is what it is. I don’t paint the same painting twice. As for lyrics they almost always come last. Usually I start off with a phrase or something I might have stolen and then write pretty abstract things around that, but with this record I was very methodical and decided beforehand what I wanted to write about for every song. I made an outline for the lyrics and then worked pretty hard on finding the right phrases and to say things that actually meant something.

When I’m in a band it is different from band to band. Kungens Män and Eye Make The Horizon are doing completely improvised music. Automatism is part improvised. We only use “themes” in a jazz way with a harmonic framework, so it’s not as heavy on the composition side either. For Fanatism I sometimes compose in a way that’s quite close to Solitär, but I always leave it open for the other members to change things around and add new stuff. We also compose together a lot of the time, often using the studio as a tool as well. So the main difference when doing Solitär is that it is more structured and there is no musical compromise or dialogue involved. And that’s not entirely a good thing since it’s easy to get lost in your own stuff. But I do enjoy it.

What are your immediate and long term future plans?

Right now I’m just happy if someone listens to the album and finds a way to connect with the music. It’s not very easy to reach out with a solo project like this. I am often a bit skeptical about solo projects myself, don’t know why really. It seems like the brain is programmed to like rock bands more than just a random dude. However, I hope that a few people will listen and would like to hear this music live. I promise I will have an awesome live band in tow, I would even dare to say some of the finest musicians in Sweden. Apart from that I’m starting to feel the urge to compose and record more music, I’m beginning to hear a sound ringing in my head. What happens after that is too early to say.

What should the Weirdo Shrine reader do after reading this interview?

Have an orange, they are really delicious right now.

Review + Q&A: Modern Stars- Space Trips For The Masses (2022, Little Cloud Records)

Space Trips For The Masses by Italy’s Modern Stars is a total headphone album. The slow majestic pace of it, the deeply layered fatness of the sound, and the male/female double vocal approach make the production value a trip in its own right. And then we haven’t even talked about the stellar Spiritualized-minded compositions yet

Putting on your black shells, closing your eyes, you are immediately immersed in a different dimension. You can picture the astronaut on the album cover floating around in a sea of green, while gravitational forces are pulling like a maniac, and in the distance you hear an angel singing. It is a lot, and in the wrong hands it could have turned out bloated and pompous, but Modern Stars steers this space ship far from of those murky waters.

The best compliment for Space Trips For The Masses is probably that while seemingly little happens, and the tempo hardly changes, it keeps your attention with its stifling atmosphere, in such a way that the 40 minutes pass before you know it, and you are forced to press the ignition button again. So let’s float some more in deep, green space…they dare you.

I traveled at warp speed through a bunch of black holes to contact the band, and found them chilling on one of Saturn’s rings. In a joined effort they fired back my questions at me. This is what Andrea Merolle (AM), Andrea Sperduti (AS), and Barbara Margani do things:

How are you? How has the pandemic period and its aftermath been for Modern Stars?Here in Italy the pandemic period has been hard in terms of social distancing. We could not rehearse and go live as a band, so we concentrated on studio work. We entirely recorded Psych-Industrial and Space Trips for the Masses in the period between 2020-2021. Anyway, despite the more time you may dedicate to music, composition is negatively affected by the lockdown period because limitations to real life inevitably limit your sensations.

Can you introduce the band, and how did you meet?

Andrea Merolle and Andrea Sperduti began playing Spacemen 3 and The Brian Jonestown Massacre covers. Andrea Merolle and Barbara were already a couple before he asked her to sing the choir on our Hey Man cover. They are friends and enjoy spending time together.

What can you tell me about your musical backgrounds?

Barbara is a graduated soprano and her main influences are Maria Callas and classical music. Andrea Merolle is influenced by delta blues and experimental music. For me (Andrea Sperduti): there isn’t a musical genre that has particularly influenced me, I had my preferences when I was younger but I never knew how to answer the question: what’s your favorite music? In music I have always really appreciated rhythmic parts and not too sophisticated arrangements.

What does a regular day in your life look like?

AM: Wake up, prepare kids for school, work, produce, consume, play with kids, go to bed. Then you need to play something to be yourself. 

AS: I work, always trying to be more creative than the previous day and I must say that I don’t always succeed. During our time together I try to teach my little girl how to try to be free and make conscious choices. I listen to new and old records and watch old movies. I have an extreme admiration for Anglo-Saxon literature and for some classic Italian authors: Moravia, Pavese, Calvino, to name just a few. In the time I have left I try to take care of the sound of my drums.

What is the best thing about Space Trips For The Masses?

The fact that it sounds like a sort of concept album, there is a continuity between tracks and it’s so hard for us to think about them out of that context as single. Even if we extracted two for videos. It also sounds similar but different compared to Silver Needles and Psych-Industrial.

Where do you live and what is the environment like for musicians like you?

We and the other new members of the band (Mario Bruni, Berry Margani and Simone Viscogliosi) all live between the big city (Rome) where we work and the small provincial towns where we were born and raised. It is not a great environment for our kind of music, people prefer Italian easy listening indie pop, but maybe this is positive because it helps to be original and to spread it worldwide. If you listen to our records maybe you may feel that they are composed and recorded in other nations and places and this is great because it means that we can travel with our cosmic music.

AS: The city where I live, Rome, doesn’t have a proper underground music scene. And if there is, I don’t know it enough, perhaps also due to the fact that there are no places where live music is played that deviates a bit from the mid or mainstream. In the province where I was a teenager, however, the attention for music was much more lively, it is in the province that I trained musically. What I can add is that those who listen to English-speaking rock or psychedelic music in Italy do so by appropriating a culture that has never really been theirs, and I’m part of it too. But that’s what I’ve always liked and that’s what I like to play.

What are your favorite contemporary bands and albums right now?

AM:  In the middle there is Andrea Merolle, who does not listen so much to new published music, with few exceptions, but tries to find new music going back to the past and thanks God for the internet.

BM: On the other hand Barbara Margani is immersed in her classical musical influences and does not listen to new records.

AS: I admit that I no longer have the time I wish I had to devote myself to listening to music. However, I don’t want to fall into the commonplace saying that new music releases are worse than the old ones. I happen to hear very interesting ideas on records dated 2022 and boring stuff that came out 20 or 30 years ago and vice versa. Probably what disorients today’s listener is the great overproduction of music, which makes it practically impossible to judge without investigating.

Andrea Merolle: OCHPö Om Pö

Andrea Sperduti: Oren Ambarchi/ Johan Berthling/ Andreas Werliin – Ghosted – 2022

Can you tell me about how you go about composing and recording songs?

Our songs mainly derive from ordinary world noises, which may be birds singing, a fridge humming or water creating a drone and flanger sound while going down the sink. This inspiration is translated into guitar riffs and melodies and so we may say that is how we write down tracks. Then the process is building electronic parts, that are a sort of auto-sufficient song in themselves, adding stringed instruments, voices and acoustic drums on top. A personal method that works fine for us.

What is “the dream” when it comes to being an artist?

AM: To do something that may survive us. In this capitalistic and consumer society, we aim at releasing music that we hope will be appreciated by future generations. Something in between Back to the Future when Michael J Fox plays Chuck Berry and Horace Non Omnis Moriar concept. That’s why it is crucial for us also to physically print our music. One day after an apocalyptic disaster maybe someone will find a vinyl and put it on a still functioning stereo to rebuild the world.

AS: I’ve always been fascinated more by the creative process behind a music album than by the results in terms of listening or sales or, even worse, fame or notoriety that can derive from it. I have always participated in the creative process trying to have fun, always doing something different than the previous time. To answer your question, I have never considered myself an artist, in the most literal sense of the word. I consider myself quite a music listener.

What should the Weirdo Shrine reader do after reading this interview?

Go listen to our albums and get some of the coolest colored gatefold vinyls of the world from our Bandcamp page or Little Cloud Records website.

Review + Q&A: Pili Coït – Love Everywhere (2022, SKiN GRAFT/Dur et Doux)

And now for something completely different…

No seriously, this is something else. You better either sit down, or put on your stretchy pants, because this French combo will shake your rumpa, or at the very least your fundamental beliefs in music.

So what the actual heck is going on? Well, after countless listenings I am still not a 100% sure, but the most accurate answer would be: a lot! For only two people Pili Coït makes a lot of noise, taking cues from any genre they deem to like at the moment of composing a song, making Love Everywhere shoot back and forth from indie pop, to acoustic campfire songs, ethno dance music or heavy pogo punk. Ever present are the lovely voices of Jessica Martin and Guilhem Meier, who switch vocal duties constantly, making Love Everywhere a super energetic and bumpy ride.

Both artists earned their stripes in French weirdo collective Le Grand Sbam who I think of highly, and share a very similar “anything goes” artistic freedom that is highly contagious. With Plini Coït they answer to no one but themselves, that makes the music even more free and boundless. To live and love freely like this truly is a gift. Let’s cherish it.

Pili Coït live

I talked to Guilhem Meier about Pili Coït, his life with Jessica and their baby, and their many other musical projects. If one thing becomes clear it is that their lives are never ever dull…

How are you? How has the pandemic period been for Pili Coït?
 We feel good, lucky, and excited about the future. We are also tired, because we just finished a very beautiful musical/theatrical creation with Le Grand Sbam, for 6 weeks. We were a team of 30 people making music and unexpected stories. When the pandemic began, we were very happy to take a break from all of our activities, because we had just had a baby! So we enjoyed our time together very much. Then we decided to complete the second Pili Coït album, so we worked on it for a month and recorded it right after, without any paying gigs. It was very strange to record music without playing it in front of an audience first! In France, some people were lucky enough to have financial support during covid, and it was a very nice surprise to learn that musicians received this support as well!

Can you introduce the band, and how did you meet?
 Jessica and I met in a jazz festival in the south of France, jamming, partying… We fell in love
and decided to play together, so we formed the band Icsis, initially as a sextet. Later Icsis
became a trio and soon after that, it didn’t feel right to continue. We then formed Pili Coït and decided to play as a duo, but this time with Jessica playing some kind of percussion (she was not a drummer at all), and me playing the guitar (I am a drummer, but I played guitar when I was a teenager). Hopefully we won’t lose any more members!

What can you tell me about your musical backgrounds?
 I grew up with a father who was a composer of contemporary music, and a mother who was a singer. I decided not to make music until I became a teenager and discovered Nirvana. Five years later, I discovered Stravinsky, John Coltrane, Ravel, Ligeti, Sonic Youth and so much more music, and I decided to make music my life, so I learned jazz and contemporary composition. Jessica loved jazz and classical music, studied in a youth opera as a child, and became a crazy rock singer, with a contemporary language, I don’t understand how she does it!

What does a regular day in your life look like?
 We don’t have regular days! We have two daughters, so we play a lot with them. And each of us has other bands. Jessica plays in Saddam Webcam, Ez3kiel and l’Attracteur Etrange, I play in Poil, LFant, Piniol, and participate in many projects with Le Grand Sbam (also with Jessica)…But I really love going to junk shops and practice Kung Fu.

What is the story behind the album? Is there a political as well as a personal
background to it?

 If you’re talking about the cover. We were on a vacation with our daughter in China. And every time Jessica climbs a big mountain, she needs to give her breasts some air. In our writing, we talk about a lot of things… We often talk about the lack of control we have over most things, and why it’s best to take that lack of control as a good thing.

Where do you live and what is the environment like for musicians like you?
 We have in France a statute for musicians, actors, sound engineers… If you work enough (like 43 gigs per year and earn a certain amount of money), you can get social assistance, like unemployed people. It’s very cool, because we earn the same money every month, and we make enough to do only music. We’re very lucky and grateful for this!

What are your favorite contemporary bands and albums right now?
 It’s always difficult to answer to this kind of questions because I’m not searching specially brand new stuff, I often discover old stuff! But let’s say this; Mamaki Boys (“Patriot”), Rian Treanor (File Under UK Metaplasm), Gérard Grisey (“tempus ex machina”), Laurent Bigot


 Can you tell me about how you go about composing and recording songs?
 With Pili Coït, we try to compose songs in the most spontaneous way possible. Most of the
songs are composed with my guitar, looking for chords while singing fake lyrics…  But I often write music for different ensembles or bands, so I sometimes resort to “composer” tricks, with sheet music, or a keyboard. For example, while I was composing the Pili album, I also wrote the song Kumo for Poil Ueda (about a Japanese story) it will be released next spring, and I used the same rhythm and the same elements in both bands, but in a different way. And I composed it on a score. And for the recording, it’s mostly in the studio. I sometimes mixed albums (like my solo LFant, or Icsis stuff…)

What is “the dream” when it comes to being an artist?
 Well! To be able to express what you really want to (not easy), change people and the world
(not really easy), and never die (very easy)!

What should the Weirdo Shrine reader do after reading this interview?
 Drink a calvados and listen carefully as you swallow!

Review + Q&A: Shirley and the Pyramids- Maid Of Time (2022, Fuzzed Up & Astromoon Records)

I dabble in hazy music, I must admit that I like to get disoriented and perhaps even inebriated by music. When the music is the drug, I feel like it is a safe thing to get hooked on. Some music can be mind altering and trippy, other music is more of a downer or upper to the listener’s head. Shirley And The Pyramids definitely falls in the “downer” category; slow paced, purple hazed smoke trickling up…Their brand of fuzzed up shoegaze takes you by the lapels and sits you down in a very, very comfortable chair that starts to eat you when you sink down into it. Blissfully, a sloth-like smile on your face, you fall away into nothingness.

Heavily influenced by shoegazers’ greats Jesus And The Marychain, Ride, and Swervedriver, these Canadians take that typical unhasty 90s feel and run with it. With two vocalists that interchange an almost goth-era Nick Cave like baritone, and a more 60s Liverpool psychedelia tenor, Shirley and the Pyramids finds a nice balance between darkness and light. The darker side makes the record more interesting and ups the playability, while the lighter side keeps you far away from a dreaded bad trip.

Maid of Time was supposed to be a double album, but I find the trip lasts just long enough right now at its 42 minute mark. Like pretty much everything on this record, it is well balanced and thought through. Music addict “heads” like me can safely enjoy it when it’s packed as neatly dosed as this…

I talked to main songwriter, singer, guitarist and lyricist Aron Zacharias about his band, their passions, and the future. Once again, life seems pretty ok for musicians in Canada…

How are you? How has the pandemic period been for Shirley and the Pyramids??
We’re doing pretty good, excited for our new album to finally come out and play some shows again! The pandemic has had its ups and downs, as I’m sure many people out there can relate to. At first it was honestly kind of nice. Most of us live together and we just did a bunch of puzzles and watched dumb movies, made soup, that kind of thing…Then we got evicted from our house in the spring of 2020 and had to relocate ourselves and all of our gear, which was a huge hassle. To make matters worse, our old bass player left the band around that time, and I was also going through a breakup with my, at the time, long-term partner. It got pretty depressing for a while. We got through it though and eventually managed to find a new place to live that had enough space for everyone and all our gear. We found a new bass player. We managed to finish the album. Things are looking up now!

Can you introduce the band, and how did you meet?
Dave (guitar) is one of my oldest friends and I’ve been in many different bands with him since we were teenagers. We’re old now.

I met Duncan (keys/synths) through an old roommate of mine who was going to the same audio engineering course as him. We found out pretty quickly that our taste and philosophy towards music and art was pretty aligned. Duncan recorded my old band’s debut EP and then later joined that band. I asked him to join us when I started Shirley & The Pyramids.

Matthew (drums) has been playing with us for the majority of the band’s tenure.
Dave originally drummed for us, but he is a very good guitar player, so we figured we’d see if we could find someone else to drum. I’d seen Matthew drumming with a few different groups in town and talked to him a few times, thought he seemed cool. I asked him if he’d be down to play with us and he was.

Finally, Peter (bass) is the newest member of the band, having been playing with us for the last year or so. I’ve known Peter for a long time through the experimental music scene in Saskatoon, and through his old (and fantastic) band Caves. He also makes cool videos!

I’m Aron. I started the band and write most of the songs, play whatever instruments need playing, record whatever needs recording. I sing and play guitar live.

What can you tell me about your musical backgrounds?
My background is mostly in electronic and experimental music, as is Peter’s.
I also spent a large portion of my 20s studying blues and American folk music, traveling around Canada and Europe playing banjo badly. I have released a lot of music and played in a lot of groups over the years.

Peter makes experimental ambient music under the name Open Window and, for many years, fronted a very good indie band called Caves.

Dave is a very, very good musician that knows a lot about country music and old rock n roll.
I have to work to play music well, but it seems effortless to him. Dave was a producer for a big radio station once upon a time. He plays in another band that may or not actually be a cult.

Duncan is an avid music lover and listener of every genre. His background is in event planning and audio engineering. He co-founded and helps run the local label, Grey Records.

Matthew is kind of a mystery to me because I’ve only really known him for a few years. I do know that he’s a great drummer that’s played (and continues to play) with many bands. He has an encyclopedic knowledge of 60s pop and garage rock. He’s probably the best driver in the band (I am the worst).

What does a regular day in your life look like?
I can only speak for myself, but usually I get up around 9 or 10 and spend an hour or two reading the news and checking emails. Then I’ll make lunch and get to work, which mostly consists of whatever music shit, band admin work, etc. I don’t have a regular day job so I make extra money recording local rappers and singer-songwriters, as well as doing mixing and mastering work. I’ll usually call it a day anywhere from 8-11pm and unwind a bit before bed.

What is the best thing about Maid Of Time?
That it’s finally done! Just kidding.. kind of 🙂 Seriously though, I really like playing these songs live and can’t wait to show them to more people. Usually it’s a bit awkward trying to figure out how to play our songs live (in the past I wrote and recorded all the parts by myself, piling on synths and weird shakers and shit onto songs) but these ones were written with the band arrangement in mind. It’s the first album we’ve made in collaboration with each other. It’s more “live” than our other albums. I also like that we recorded a whole bunch of songs for this album, like 20. It’s nice to be able to pick and choose what to use. I’m glad we were able to make a somewhat cohesive album after everything! Those other songs will be released at some point too. Maid of Time was originally supposed to be a double-album, but the logistics and price were too prohibitive and scary. Stay Tuned!

Where do you live and what is the environment like for musicians like you?
We are from Saskatoon, which is a mid-sized city in the Canadian prairies. Like any city, there are cliques and certain groups that hang together, but Saskatoon is cool because it’s so small (~250,000 people) that most everyone still supports each other, plays shows with each other. There’s a surprisingly supportive scene here, not always, but for the most part. There are some cool festivals throughout the year, summer is nice. Winter is a good time to hide away and make art because it’s so damn cold. Everything was a bit slow after things opened up again, but shows seem to be picking up again.

What is your main aim with your music, is it complete artistic expression, or an escape from the every day world? (or something else ;))
I don’t know. Some kind of peace of mind in this fucked up world? I really don’t like to think about it too much because it’s not really a question or choice as much as it’s a compulsion. It can and has been unhealthy at times. I’ve never done anything else other than music, I don’t know anything else. In the end, I just hope I can support myself through art and music, maybe travel a bit you know, see some more of the world… In a less personal sense, I just hope people are into what we’re doing. Maybe we can make someone’s day better with music, that’s good shit.

Can you tell me about how you go about composing and recording songs?
Traditionally, I would write and record everything by myself but I’ve been trying to get away from that with our last couple releases. Starting with our 2019 EP, A New American Classic, the other members started writing and playing their own parts on recordings. On Maid of Time, about half of it is recorded live and about half of it is overdubs. Dave and Duncan even wrote a few songs for the sessions.

What is “the dream” when it comes to being an artist
Being able to live off of doing what I love, being able to support my family from making art.  Meeting like-minded people, feeling like we’re not alone in this world.

What should the Weirdo Shrine reader do after reading this interview?
Grab a drink and check out the new music video for our song Infinity Blues!
It’s the first single from our upcoming album Maid of Time, it’s on YouTube.

Review + Q&A: Anona- Anona EP (2022, Sound Effect Records)

Welcome to another episode of music-book pairing. In this chapter I will try to link Anona’s free thinking Canterbury indie rock with the bestselling young adult novel series Mrs Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children. The novel is full of mystery, (time) travels, children with weird powers, and an altogether idea that it is ok to be strange. I can’t shake of the feeling that Anona has embraced that same idea as well.

This self-titled EP by Anona is all kinds of strange, but beautiful as well. There is a mysterious edge to it, but a childlike naivete and lightless as well. There is some time traveling going on, past 60s Canterbury folk for example (the flute plays an important role), and dark smokey jazz combos from the 30s. And then there is the band that consists of all kinds of weird kids with special powers of their own, nine of them in total.

Both the novelist Ransom Riggs and the singer songwriter Ella Russel are story tellers. They take you, the spectator, by the hand and lead you just around the corner to a place that you would have never imagined on your own. Whether it is the story of The Boy And The Lion, or the story of Jacob Portman finding out his secret heritage, you will be sucked in and hanging on to every word…

So I had to dive into this Anona phenomenon. Who are they? Or who is she? Let’s find out. Bristol, UK resident Ella Russel takes us by the hand while she leads us on a tour through here life…

How are you? How has the pandemic period and its aftermath been for you as a musician?

Ah the big questions. Well, the cold has finally arrived here which brings mixed feelings. I love the winter storms and island weather, the winter skies are really crazy over the sea here, but the damp and darkness affects me after a while. The pandemic brought an end to some projects and a beginning to new ones. It definitely felt like life bookmarked a new era when it began, there was no choice. We finished recording the bulk of Anona two weeks before the first lockdown and then I worked on it throughout, so the EP kind of feels like a time capsule now. The pandemic of course has been a challenge, but I can also be a bit of a hermit and having so much time to work on my own things was kind of incredible. I only got back into playing shows this year, with my other band The New Eves. It has felt really powerful and we don’t take anything for granted. I love them. 

Can you introduce yourself, is it just you or are there more people in Anona?

I’m Ella Russell, a musician and a painter living in Brighton, UK. Anona is my first solo project, but it features 9 of my friends & incredible musicians. Their names are Lau Zanin, Toma Sapir, Adam Campbell, George Lloyd-Owen, Todd Cowell, Freddie Willat, Isobel Jones and Hugo Ellis. Anona’s lineup will be constantly evolving around the music I write, but I’m hoping lot’s of these guys stick around. 

What can you tell me about your musical background(s)?

I’ve always been very affected by music, and if you had asked me what I wanted to do when I was a child I would have said “an artist and a singer”, which is pretty much what I do now, except I have learnt some instruments along the way. I play the flute, guitar, drums and a little piano, all a bit unconventionally. I recently had my trombone debut! It was funny, I had painted myself green for halloween and looked like this tiny goblin playing the trombone.

I’m completely self taught and started playing in bands when I was about 19, learning everything as I went along. I started composing this EP when I was 21 and it was my first time writing music in full, doing everything myself. It began as a challenge to myself to see what I was capable of and ended up opening a whole inner world. 

The most recent projects I have been involved with are The New Eves, Wax Machine and I did some recording with The Ancient Infinity Orchestra this summer, who are about to drop an incredible album.

What does a regular day in your life look like?

At the moment it’s different everyday! Which is how I like it, I strangely find lack of routine very inspiring. Like today I was sewing someone’s curtains and last week I was recording poetry for the BBC – though it’s definitely not always as exciting as that. Often I will be rehearsing and playing music with people in the evenings and when I have spare time I will be painting in my little studio. It’s quite a turbulent way to live, to be patching things together week by week, but I’m only 24 and just about have the energy to deal with the uncertainty my lifestyle brings. For now the adventures outweigh it all, I get to travel around a lot.

What is the best thing about your new EP?

That’s a hard question. Everything? That it’s finally being released? That it was so fun to make? That someone took the time to turn it into vinyl?

For me it was especially a pleasure to meet cellist George Lloyd-Owen. They were the only person that I didn’t know before making Anona, and we had such an instant creative connection. I can’t read music so I would just sing to them and they would translate it and make it a thousand times better. They blow my mind everytime we play together. I have long had the ambition to make music for strings and meeting them has made it feel possible.

Where do you live and what is the environment like for musicians like you?

I live in Brighton UK, which is where I was born and also where some of my ancestors are from. It’s by the sea which I love and is only a 45 minute train ride to London. It’s a small city but it’s got a big music scene and is ideal for meeting musicians, they are literally everywhere… though I have been spectacularly shit at going to shows recently. I’m lucky to have a life full of musicians, artists and like minded people, it feels abundant in that way and our community is strong, we are always collaborating and everyone helps each other out. A downside to Brighton is you don’t really get paid much for shows, or anything creative. Rents are going up and soon it will be too expensive to live here.

I have actually been waiting for the time to leave Brighton and city life for a while now, but things keep happening. The times i’ve felt most alive have always been outside of cities, probably on a mountain somewhere. But my family are still nearby and it will always be a home for me.

What are your favorite contemporary bands and albums right now?

Some of the best shows I’ve seen this year were by Abel Selaocoe, Modern Woman, Junior Brother, Bingo Fury and Broadside Hacks. Last year I saw Johnny Greenwood perform some of his soundtracks at a festival and it was probably one of the best hours of my life. My friend Ozzy is secretly a genius composer and his group Ancient Infinity Orchestra are going to be releasing an incredible album with Gondwana next year. I have a lot of friends releasing beautiful things at the moment; Daisy Rickman, Wax Machine and Platypus Complex are definitely ones to watch. 

Can you tell me about how you go about composing and recording songs?

For me it’s a very private process, it can take a long time and often feels like I’m unveiling something, like helping a flower to bloom. The music really has it’s own spirit. When I was writing this EP I was living in a garden cabin and would lock myself in there for hours at a time experimenting with different instruments and building a relationship with the sounds that wanted to come through. I had to muster a lot of faith to actually show it to people and conduct them, it was a great learning process. This whole project was created in gardens, for recording I found another garden cabin that had a piano and Lau (producer) and I built a little studio in there. Everyone learnt the material whilst we were recording, so what you hear on the record was incredibly fresh, it has a youthful spirit to it. It was really fun 

What is “the dream” when it comes to being an artist?

I think having enough to eat, a roof over your head and time to create. The pleasures are very simple really, but quite hard to sustain in this world.  

Tell me something nobody would have guessed about you?

Hmm… I’m really into Star Wars? And I’m terrible at reading clocks.

What should the Weirdo Shrine reader do after reading this interview?

Go outside and look at the sky, then listen to Anona.

The single ‘Ruby Mountain’ is out on Thursday 24th and the vinyl is being released the next day on the 25th. The only way for people to listen to the full EP is by getting the vinyl, until the whole thing is released online in January. A bit unusual, but it’s the way it’s happened 🙂

Review + Q&A: King Isxan- Gishra L’anani (2022, Sound Effect Records)

These days I’m against traveling by plane, unless it is absolutely necessary. It is therefore all the more pleasurable to be able to visit all kinds of different countries and cultures by music, and flying there by ear. It makes me able to visit a country like Canada quite often, even though I was never actually there. Only last week I flew past Greece, the USA, Italy, and Hungary in this fashion. And today I am visiting Israel.

Gishra L’anani is the new album by Tel Aviv’s King Isxan, and their sound transports the mind to the mediterranean, warm breezes, desert sands, and lots of hip shaking middle Eastern melodies. With a sound that holds a middle ground between the weirdo repetitions of King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, the fast forward psychedelic swirl of forgotten heroes Verma, and the lazy city groove of a band like Wooden Shjips it is safe to say that King Isxan will appeal to fans of modern psychedelic music. And while there is not that much new to find here underneath the desert sun, the band does their repetitive sultan swing incredibly infectiously, and will make you hop on one leg across your room wishing of warmer days.

Their focus on repetition, drive, and atmosphere make King Isxan great mind traveling music. It is a perfect soundtrack to close your eyes to and drift to the distant shores of Gishra L’anani

Time for a proper introduction then! I talked to Dor Yadlin, who handles vocals and guitar.

How are you? How has the pandemic period been for King Isxan?

We are just thrilled to have our debut album Gishra L’anani out and to be able to perform music from it, now that live shows  are back. The past two years have been complex in many aspects of our lives, but for the band they were truly creative times. We’ve completed the work on our album, wrote and composed new material that we’ve recorded just a couple of weeks ago, and we even had an amazing and intimate concert just when we missed people the most.

Can you introduce the band, and how did you meet?

King Isxan is a trio consisting of two electric guitars and drums. About five years ago, as we were working together trying to make a living, Eyal, our drummer, and I introduced each other to our music. Back then, I wanted to learn how to record some demos on my computer and he was this talented Trap producer. At the same time, Yuval which I knew from when we were little, just came back from India on the King’s caravan and with a beautiful Sitar, and it was clear that this is a match.

What can you tell me about your musical backgrounds?

We’re all raised in musical environments, beginning like many others with jazz, rock and some electronic, long before we were into psychedelic and krautrock. Also, Yuval is a brilliant oud player, and as such he’s responsible for bringing in the Mideastern sounds to our music.

What does a regular day in your life look like?

Dreaming, waking up, learning, teaching, fighting fascists, making music and so on.

What is the story about the band name?

Back in the day, I was studying ancient cultures and since playing together felt absolutely ritualistic, we looked for a local, ancient kingdom to celebrate. Thank gods, The king revealed himself.

Where do you live and what is the environment like for musicians like you?

Yuval and I live in Tel Aviv and Eyal is living the country dream twenty minutes away from us. Tel Aviv is a cool place to create in, there’s a lot of different scenes, but as the city is pretty small all the scenes get mixed up and there’s a chance to experience and collaborate with very different musicians. There’s a lot of DIY going on in the city which is always a fertile ground for new things.

What is your main aim with your music, is it complete artistic expression, or an escape from the every day world? (or something else ;))

I can only speak on my behalf, but for me King Isxan is, first of all, sincere connection and communication. We leave outside all arbitrary conventions and background noises, having fun and co-create.

Can you tell me about how you go about composing and recording songs?

Usually, we get carried away with long jammings that get a bit shorter and into some structure and order with time.

What is “the dream” when it comes to being an artist?

Selling out as an NFT QR code, obviously; or alternatively, to continually explore together our roots, values and sound.

What should the Weirdo Shrine reader do after reading this interview?

You should be proud of yourself. Also, listen to the first 3 tracks on our album without any stops between them. Then, look inside you and ask “again?”.

Review + Q&A: Bazooka- Κ​ά​π​ο​υ Α​λ​λ​ο​ύ (2022, Inner Ear Records)

Ok I’ll be honest here my fellow weirdos, I am not sure if I would have written about Bazooka if they hadn’t sung all their songs in Greek. The fact that they do, a language that is completely “Greek” to me (pun intended), gives their alternative psych power pop rock an outlandish twist that makes it just weird enough to twist my knobs.

Because as it stands right now, the songs on Κ​ά​π​ο​υ Α​λ​λ​ο​ύ (Kapou Allou) have a mystical element to them, ephemeral even, putting them in the same ranks as Kikagaku Moyo (Japan), Upupayama (Italy), or Circle (Finland). Meaning; I do not understand a single word they are singing, and so I am left with the sounds of the words and their meanings or mine completely to imagine. There is an element of folklore in there as well, with Bazooka transporting you straight into their country, their culture, and the listener being instantly completely emerged.

The music is fine too you know; a pinch of Queens Of The Stone Age, a spoonful of Foo Fighters, a dash of The Red Hot Chili Peppers, all topped with a spicy Greek Tzatziki sauce. I just can’t help thinking what I would have thought of it had they sung in English. It does not matter anyways, because Bazooka does not. And Κ​ά​π​ο​υ Α​λ​λ​ο​ύ is a very interesting album for people like me that like to go on holiday in their own heads very now and again.

I hit the band up for a chat, and was happy to find out they were perfectly willing and able to do so in English! Here’s their story:

Hey Bazooka! How is everything on your side of the globe?

Hi there! Things are pretty rough on our side of the globe. There’s a war going on that affects us all. Everyday life is getting harder and harder with prices in essential goods skyrocketing day by day. Immigrants drοwning in the sea has become an everyday reality. There’s a threat of war hovering in the air. Far right wing parties are threatening democracy all over Europe.

For us and our everyday life the way out of this misery is to remain focused on what we love, be creative and support one another. And there are many people in Greece doing exactly that. Generally speaking a change needs to be done worldwide before its too late. For once more the interests of a few greedy people are imposed violently to nations and because of this, things are looking ready to explode at any moment.

So for a start we could stop voting for parties which are a threat to humanity.    

Can you kindly introduce your band to the Weirdo Shrine audience?

Bazooka consists of:

Xanthos Papanikolaou: Vocals, lead guitar, synth, organ

Aris Rammos: Bass

John Vulgaris: Drums, percussion, backing vocals

Vassilis Tzelepis: Guitar, backing vocals

Penny Liaromati: The fifth member of the band who helps us artistically and organisationally.

Dimitris Kyriakopoulos: Live member of the band who plays synth, organ, percussion and does backing vocals.

What are your musical backgrounds?

Most of us started playing music as teenagers. We got inspired to start a band and grab an instrument from bands like Rolling Stones, Nirvana, Sex Pistols, Pink Floyd, Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Captain Beefheart, Sonic Youth, Mudhoney, Wipers, Melvins and many other classic rock stuff. Some of us had parents that listened a lot to rock music and other genres also like jazz, blues and classical music and that was a huge influence too. In those years, when we started playing music and formed our first school bands we were living in our hometown Volos. Volos, a nice and quiet coastal town in central Greece played a big role in our young minds and hearts with its few options and little to offer to a teenager. That made us dream of a different life. It wasn’t only that we wanted to play music. We took it seriously and we wanted to make records and tour around the world like the bands we liked to listen.

Generally our main influences are derived from rock music and it’s sub genres throughout it’s history. From 50s rock and roll and 60s psychedelic rock and British Invasion to 70s krautrock and progressive bands throughout punk and post punk. Of course we listen to other genres of music also but these are the main influences of the band.

Where do you live, and how would you say that influences your music?

We live in Athens, Greece. Athens has all the positives and negatives of a big city. It never gets dull really but it can drive you crazy some times with all it’s traffic and noise. Athens it’s the city we live so it effect us in a profound way with its scenery, its people and its sometimes hard every day life. The city life though is something mostly reflected in our lyrics and less in our music.

What does an average day look like for a Bazooka member?

Aside of the band we are doing other stuff also. So when are not touring, rehearsing or recording some of us are DJing, others are working as sound engineers or play music with other projects and one of us works at a coffee/bar place.

What does it look like when you are writing music?

Most of the times I write the songs in a form of a demo and then all together we labor on them and refine them in the studio. The end result is a team work where each member of Bazooka gives their own character to the songs. There have also been a few times that songs started from jamming together. The writing process for the tracks on our new album took place during the pandemic in the bedroom studio I have in my house. When I had around 25 songs done, Penny Liaromati who also helped us with the production and arrangements in many of those songs, and who was responsible for the new album’s concept sonically and visually, chose 10 songs out of the 25 aiming for a cohesive and pleasant listening experience from start to finish. At the same time we started rehearsing those songs in the studio in order to perfect them where it was needed and get them ready for the actual recording of the album.

Where do you gather your inspiration?

From everyday life, from hopes and disappointments, from literature, poetry, painting and art forms in general, from history, from nature, from emotions and thoughts and from music of course.

What is “the dream” for Bazooka as a band?

The dream is to continue to make records, play live shows and convert as many people as possible to our music. Amen.

What are you most looking forward to in the immediate future?

We are looking forward to touring in Europe again next spring. Our last scheduled tour in Europe was cancelled due to the pandemic so we are pretty thirsty for our next one. We also hope to do a US tour again.

What should the Weirdo Shrine reader do immediately after reading this interview?

Go and listen to our new album ΚΑΠΟΥ ΑΛΛΟΥ (Kapou Allou) which literally means somewhere elsewhere or somewhere else.

It’s available in all physical and digital forms via Inner Ear Records and of course you can stream it on the usual platforms.