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Review + Q&A: Harvey Rushmore & The Octopus- Freedomspacecake (2022 Taxi Gauche Records)

For a psych head, Switzerland’s Harvey Rushmore & The Octopus are a big box of chocolates. From the elusive band name, to the weird fishes artwork, right up to the music in which they effortlessly reference every cool band you have been listening to for the past five years. And they write songs! With jiggly earworm chorusses that will enter your hearing organ and never leave.

Opener Plastiq channels The Black Angels doing their best King Gizzard impression, while Speedmaster brings that eerie weirdo surf vibe that washes salt water over your head the way The Horrors could in their early days, but with a super stoned subdued Wooden Shjips motorik beat. It’s only an impression of what this band has in store for your head, because even when a trained psych ear can trace these tunes back to their roots without too much trouble, that never bothers as these psycho chocolates all contain a nice and balanced mixtures of delicious substances and in that way stay fresh and crispy every time you spin them.

The songs mostly range around the four/five minute mark, never overstaying their welcome and all displaying an experienced songwriting skill, except maybe title track and album closer Freedomspacecake, which is a kaleidoscopic stoned mountain climber of almost nine minutes that sees Harvey Rushmore & The Octopus letting go, surrendering to the beat the way Can could, and creating their own genuine Godzilla…

So I guess we have found another good reason to visit Switzerland. Next time you enter that beautiful Alp country add some Swiss chocolate to your space cake, find this band playing some smoke filled liquid light den, and fill your lungs with total psych indulgement.

I talked to singer/guitarist Massimo Tondini, who I already met some time ago when our bands played together in a rather terribly organized gig in the belly of Germany. This time we conversed over more joyous circumstances: a new album, and the apparent end of the pandemic, which allows his touring machine Harvey Rushmore & The Octopus to finally do what they do best once again: to blow minds on a live stage.

Hi guys! How have you been the past pandemic period?

It was not an easy time. We missed definitely going on Tour and having shows. It was quite depressing sometimes. But it also gave space to use the additional time to go to the studio and work on some new material. In the end we have been lucky, that the album release was not planned during the lockdown period.

Can you introduce the band to the Weirdo Shrine audience?

Of course, we are Harvey Rushmore & the Octopus and we play a mixture of psychedelic, garage and kraut rock. We like that certain atmosphere and a live experience – dark and crowded concert rooms, loud repetitive music with a psychedelic approach and lot of fuzz guitars. We use visuals, drum machines and lots of synths, samples and effects and we love reverb on guitars.

Can you tell me about the new album? What is the best thing about it do you think?

I think the new album is a step further in our musical development and the result of many shows and lots of playing together. We improved musically, in terms of song structure and sound design, but it also offers a variety of songs with different moods that go well together.

In what ways did you approach the writing and recording differently than previously?

The guitar parts are more mature and precise than in the previous albums. We also did a lot of jamming and recorded mostly everything, that lead later to those songs we have here. The whole album was also self-recorded at our own studio in Basel, which gave us more space and time to figure out specific things without having to much pressure.

What is the biggest force that drives the band? Why do you do it?

We really love to play in front of an audience and going on tour, with everything thats involved in it. I think HRO is not so much a “studio” band. I think our qualities stay within our performances and that is certainly our biggest motivation. 

Just doing music together is probably the easiest way to describe our motivation – with all the involved ups and downs. It’s maybe just that.

Can you tell me about your home town? In what way did/does it influence your sound?

Hmm, yes we are all living in different cities, so it makes it difficult to answer the question. I guess we are more influenced by the music we like and listen to or weird movies and art in general. I’m not so much aware about the influences of our hometowns. Maybe more in terms of an anti-posture. The core values of our hometown or country in general are heavily performance or economically oriented. They’re all doing their thing, trying to distinguish themselves. Of course you cannot say that in general and its much more complex, however with our band or the approach to a kind of music that is outside the mainstream, we find a way to get away of that. It gives us a certain satisfaction and a kind of bond to stick together. The madness of current political, environmental and social issues is something that has a big influence on our sound and the lyrics.

Choose: touring with The Black Angels or King Gizzard? (and why)

I think The Black Angels: it was one of the bands that opened a new world for me, when I was starting to get into music more seriously. I like their albums more and the sound has a deeper effect on me then King Gizzard’s sound, although I think their an amazing live band.

Can you tell me about your future plans?

Playing live shows: We are currently up to organise a small tour in Europe and working on new material. It would be nice to have another new album soon.

What is a bucketlist achievement you still want to do with Harvey Rushmore?

Touring through the balkan states, going further and record a live album in Istanbul.

What should the Weirdo Shrine readers do after this interview?

I think you should listen to our new song “Speedmaster” and watch the official clip after a weird night of party – with earphones and while walking home late.

Review + Q&A: 23 And Beyond The Infinite- Lumen Del Mundo (2022, Dirty Beach/Stand Alone Complex Records)

Somewhere in a scorching desert outback three men in black walk the thin line between surf and postpunk. They smoke heavily and psychedelically, purple clouds permanently emanate from underneath their black rimmed cowboy hats. Among them they share a love for old bands like Joy Division, Dick Dale, and The Gun Club. And currently they are entranced by outfits like A Place To Bury Strangers, The Horrors, and King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard. Mostly they just want to rock out though, and they want their audience to dance like there’s no tomorrow.

Like their fellow Italian countrymen A/lpaca they know exactly how to make crowds sweat, and how to write the ear worm tunes that could potentially entrance the masses. Lumen Del Mundo is not easy listening though, and it is still rough and heavy enough to scare most dancing little girls back to their respective mamas. It is doubtful then that this album will bring 23 And Beyond The Infinite any popstar fame, but just might bring them to enough dark and smelly basements across Europe to achieve a steady underground status.

I for one can’t wait to join them in their dusty desert trip, as they surf the waves of sand from dystopian post punk bomb shelters to other borderline shady rock ‘n roll communities where they will reap new souls for their quest of bringing their Lumen Del Mundo to the world…

I had to have a chat with drummer Gianluca from the band, we talked about pandemics, influences, and new hopes and dreams…

Hi guys, how is 23 And Beyond The Infinite doing? And how have you managed the
past few years?

Now we’re fine, we’re playing as much shows as we can. We released our previous
record during the pandemic and had to cancel a 15-shows European Tour and all
the upcoming dates and it’s been frustrating… But luckily things seems to be going
definitely better. We hope so.

Can you introduce the band? That band name definitely screams for an explanation :))
The band was born on May 23rd 2012 and that’s the reason for the number 23 in the
name. Beyond the Infinite because we don’t want to have any kind of limit and also
because it’s a nice quote from 2001: a Space Odyssey. We started as a 4-piece band
but now we’re the 3 of us. Our music is influenced by a lot of different things like
post-punk, shoegaze, psychedelia, surf rock and we never thought about playing a
specific music genre. We just meet and play as it comes.

Can you describe your hometown/regional scene in Italy? Are there many bands you
feel connected with?

Here in Italy, probably more than anywhere else, there’s a truly shitty mainstream
scene but also a lot of cool bands and artists moving in the underground and we
love this kind of a strong contrast. There are also many independent spaces, radios
and webzines and we hope we’ll be able to create a strong independent net in the
underground one day. In some ways we feel connected with many artists. Here are
some random names you should listen to: Forever Alien, Unruly Girls, Faintin’
, Clustersun, Hate Moss, God Of The Basement, Lame, Movie Star Junkies,
Maria Violenza, Iosonouncane, Violent Scenes, The Jackson Pollock.

What can you tell me about the making of Lumen Del Mundo? What was your goal at
the start, and how did the process go?

Lumen Del Mundo is our first record as a 3-piece band. It started as an experiment
but easily became our roughest work until now. We put a lot of energies in it and we
hope we’re also able to transfer them to the listeners. The composing process has
been very natural and the live recording and the post-production (made by a
magician called James Aparicio) truly emphasize our live impact and energy and
our natural way of playing this strange mix between post-punk, garage, shoegaze
and surf rock.

What other bands in the world do you feel a connection with? Are there certain bands or
types of music that all band members agree on?

Sure there are. Spacemen 3, The Black Angels or Messerchups for an example are
bands all of us have been listening to a lot and they probably influenced our way of
playing. But we all listen to a lot of different Italian and International stuff. Recently
we’ve often been listening to King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard while on tour,
they’re crazy.

There is a certain Western/surf vibe throughout the record that gives it a warm vibe,
even though it is quite a dark record at times too…can you explain where that comes from?

It’s not easy to explain it, but for us has been really easy to mix this deep dark post-
punk sacredness with some warm desert-surf-psych waves. We really didn’t think
about how the record should play before composing it, we just met and started
playing and we wrote all the songs in a few months. Lumen Del Mundo contains all these vibes and it’s kind of a sum of our art. We feel it like a strong ray of light
coming from the deep space to rip the darkness.

What can you tell me about your upcoming tour? Any other future plans?
We’re playing many shows around Italy during this Spring-Summer and we’re also
working hard to tour Europe again during next Autumn. Stay tuned, beautiful news
are coming soon.

What should the Weirdo Shrine reader do immediately after this interview?
Obviously he has to listen to our last album and then to all the other interesting
music that is coming around.

Review + Q&A: Dust Mothers- The Gates Of Horn And Ivory (2022, self-released)

When we say “90s feel”what do we really mean? I for one think of an era where rock bands were still an exciting thing, there was still plenty of mystique and genuine darkness and danger surrounding them. Alternative music was literally something much less available, it was something you had to go out and hunt for, browsing magazines, or digging crates at obscure record stores. When you found something cool and new it was like discovering a pirate’s treasure, and your friends would only hear it through you taping it for them. It was the golden age for music nerds and elitists like me.

So you can imagine my shriek of joy when I discovered Dust Mothers. Not only did they remind me of the 90s musically in more than one way, they also felt like a strange and unexposed exotic gem. Having not been picked up by a record label or any of the bigger music zines I felt like that nerdy kid I was more twenty years ago, and if Dust Mothers hadn’t been on Spotify or Bandcamp, I would definitely have taped them for you so you could hear how awesome they were too.

Dust Mothers starts off with a big whiff of that smelly 90s noisy indie rock in the vein of bands like Barkmarket or a heavier Pavement, but then add weirdness and fun to keep it fresh and exciting. For some odd reason they totally sound Belgian to me too, reminding of the laziness of Balthazar in the vocals, the adventurousness of early dEUS, and the energetic songwritership of Soulwax too. They are not afraid to derail or to discover what lurks around the corners of their designated “sound” and should be applauded for that explorative spirit, even when it sometimes does skid of the rails and leaves you puzzled.

I love the care and creativity they put into their work, the way they created separate art for each of the songs for instance, and they way carefully wrote their songs, filling each of them to the brim with weird and sometimes psychedelic druggy ideas so they that they shoot up in all different kinds of directions like fireworks. It’s a feast for the senses and an incredible ride to take.

I was lucky enough to find Dust Mother willing to -thoroughly- answer all of my questions. They gave me a profound insight into being in this band, and what they are all about…

Hi guys, can you introduce Dust Mothers to the Weirdo Shrine audience? Where do you come from, what do you sound like, your influences, and most importantly: why???

BLAOWW is a pretty apt way to introduce our sound. We’re a noisy, progressive, psych punk outfit out of the lil d of Denton, TX. Roger sings and guitars, Adrian also sings and guitars, Noé fishes bass, and Nathan drums AND records/produces our music. Each of us are chronic fiddlers so we like writing music that not only keeps the listener’s but also our own ears on the edge of their little ear seats. Between all of us we’ve got influences ranging from Ovlov, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, and King Gizz, to Viagra Boys, Mars Volta, and Death Grips. I could rattle off bands all day BUT THAT’S NOT WHY WE’RE HERE we’re here for DUST MOTHERS BABY. *ahem* but to cycle back around to your question of “why???” I say: the serotonin rush of hugging our sweaty band of bliss after a good show. Also the million big bucks of promised funding that Spotify has yet to follow up on.

How has the corona period been treating you? What did it mean for the band?

Big oof. We actually debuted the band with our first album about two months before covid hit, so we got about as much as “HEYO WE’RE DU-” before the world and the entire music industry went under.

As with everything, covid did actually help push us into our current lineup. The lack of shows and motivation had us scoop up Noé and Adrian into our Dusty ranks to fill in the gaps, and we subsequently started to write and rehearse this big ol freshly unearthed brisket of a record. Covid might’ve killed the local house show scene, but it gave us time to iron out allll the little kinks we needed to let this album flourish.

Can you tell me about the makings of The Gates Of Horn And Ivory? What makes it stand out from anything you did before?

The Gates is our first jaunt at an album recorded by all four of us, the brightest and most different light between the albums has to be this one’s collaborative effort. Yeah, the lyrics and concepts are from Rog, BUT all the textures, riffs, and the connecting lines and transitions were flushed out over probably 7-8 months of rehearsing. The bombastic energy never could’ve existed without having four best buds all locked in the same room, getting sweaty and heady for 40 hours over 4 days.

This album is a lot more focused on its immersion and storytelling, each song reflecting its inspiring dream symbolically through the structure, themes, and harmonies. Think we really hit the nail on the expressionist head with this one.

I did not see any label, vinyl, or other physical release of the album yet, surely there must be labels that were interested in Dust Mothers? And I for one would love a physical release! Are there plans or things cooking?

If there are any out there that are interested then maybe we could get in touch! But for now we’re just trying to make music that satisfies our itch to express our kookiest thoughts while having fun. If there are any fun labels looking for a good time, hmu 😉

Since The Gates was entirely DIY we only did a little CD run of discs we burned ourselves featuring art from a bunch of our favorite local artists. More physical copies would be pretty got dang cool in the future though!

Can you tell me where the “French” influences on the album come from?

I love that someone finally pointed this out, this was actually just an accidental part of the process. The only real French influence would be on Buttafoot, a song whose inspiration was a nightmare that took place somewhere that felt like Paris. Which, I think is pretty funny, given that the only inclination towards that is the one “mademoiselle” lyric in the chorus.

Jamais Vu came to be because of the phenomenon of its nature. Whereas Deja Vu is experiencing something that you are familiar with, Jamais Vu is being familiar with something you have never experienced before. The song isn’t meant to be French, just about the silly nature of destiny, calling out fate, and all that jazz.

As for Statique, I just like how it looks like that.

What does the album title stand for? And how does the -great looking- artwork relate to it?

The Gates of Horn and Ivory are actually a literary reference coined by Homer, which is used distinguish true dreams from false. Our album as a whole is about the silver lining between dreams and reality, about various dreams and nightmares that I (Rog) have had that felt more real to me than everyday life, and moments in life that feel more surreal than true. 

Because of its ambiguous nature, we thought it’d be cool to have a bunch of local artists depict their own idea of what each song would look like. For the album as a whole, we had the pleasure of working with Sajan Rai (@oh_hai_ku on Instagram) for the cover art, which felt like a no brainer given Sajan’s surrealist style. I gave him the music and the concept, and he churned out a perfect representation of the duality of the album’s themes. Bodied/disembodied faces connected to the one self, the calendar on the wall of the room that’s… outside with all the trees and plants, the literal gates in the person’s core that are connecting them with a part of themselves they can’t see. To this day I can’t stop looking at it, it’s so gorgeous.

Dust Mothers are from Denton, Texas, right? Do you think it’s a good place for a band to start out? I noticed some cool bands from there, among which Midlake, Neon Indian, Parquet Courts…and now Dust Mothers? Is it an inspiring town?

Yes yes, we are indeed! Personally think it’s a fantastic place for bands to start out, Denton’s a big petri dish of burgeoning artists looking for an outlet. With two colleges in the one town, there’s a lot of fresh creative energy in the air. You’re pretty much always a stone’s throw away from a really cool connection too, like Nathan and Noé getting to have worked in the studio with a dude from Bowling For Soup a couple years ago, and Roger having been in the same mariachi the bassist from Snarky Puppy used to be in. Plus, we all share the honor of getting to know Adrian Radons, let alone having him be our lead guitarist.

What is your biggest dream? And what are your immediate future plans?

My biggest dream involved hurtling through space, but as far as the band, probably getting to tour outside the U.S. Getting the opportunity to play in Australia and cry as I breathe the same air as my heroes sounds pretty neat.

Now that we just wrapped up our first tour up to NYC, think our next goal is to throw ourselves back into the sound sauce to see what new spices we can discover. Maybe a hint of psychedelia? Perhaps a dash more of punk? The drawing board is calling our name, a new flavor of jambalaya is beckoning.

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

Okay so inhale, blink in morse code the letters D-U-S-T-M-O-T-H-E-R-S, cusp your hands to your mouth, exhale, open your hands, watch the baby blue jay fly away, give yourself a second to enjoy the beautiful moment, and then go listen to our new album on full blast.