Tag Archives: indie rock

Tango alpha tango and Pancho + the Factory

A hot mess of a band in every possible way. The Elvis like vocals, sexually charged lyrics and full lush sound (with three back up singers) make this a genuine and passionate party band.

This drawing is less cartoony and in the “rotoscope” style. With moody lighting!

This is one of the greatest living garage rock bands. Their heavy bluesy rock hits the spot every time. Listen here. Nathan trueb and co bring it every time.

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Secret Lover, with Interview!

secret lover 2

All the way from Massachusettes, Secret Lover played Wandering Goat last night. Their fun, nostalgic pop is reminiscent of Blondie and Be Your Own Pet. Sally danced around and encouraged the crowd to get into the groove. The boys all sang backup and demonstrated their hip East coast fashion sense.

secret lover3

She didn’t really have a blue wig, but, I call it artistic liberty. My favorites on their EP are “3D glasses” and “Perfect Wednesday” but all the songs were good.

Here is their interview, front woman and booking agent Sally answered the questions.

Do you get booked alongside other “girl bands” or bands with female members? What are advantages or disadvantages to that?

I think people do go out of there way to book us with other “girl bands.”  it’s always awesome playing with other girls,  and it’s not always something you see at shows. But still it’s more important to me just to play with good bands and good people than to play with strictly girl bands.

I assume you are traveling in a van? what is the make and model? Do you have any stories of it being less than reliable?

Yup, we have a van. very reliable. it’s a dodge caravan, ‘96 or ‘98. we really haven’t had any trouble with it. It’s Dave’s and he keeps it in tip top shape. he and the van have a special connection.

In my experience, traveling with men in vans results in a macho one upmanship of filthy jokes, is this the case for your band? Sally, do you keep the boys in check? or joke along with them?

They are filthy, vile little things. no, just kidding. apparently they hold back when I’m around, although there definitely are lots of jokes about butts. especially in Butte, Montana.

You’ve got a certain sound that is very retro, was this a conscious decision, or what organically result from your styles combined?

I’m not sure. we actually started out wanting to be a disco band, which is an older sound. but the retro psych/pop vibe that a lot of people pick up on wasn’t really a conscious decision. I was really into Broadway and cabaret when I was a kid, I’m sure that those early music experiences affect the way i write songs. the guys all grew up listening to the  music their dads liked. 60s stuff mostly. Besides the disco thing, which was always a bit of a joke, we never set out to sound like anything or to be a certain type of band. What came out was a pretty natural emotional response.


who does your album art? I like the look of masculine and feminine images mashed together.

John! He’s our guitarist. If you need anyone to make album art or flyers, ask him! Feminine and masculine mashed together, that’s an awesome way to describe it. In a way that’s how I feel when I’m performing.

All the  songs on The Lasso are really fun and sound great!  Perfect Wednesday, 3D Glasses, and Yesterdays Man, are fantastic! I appreciate backup vocals. Your lyrics and delivery are so sassy and spirited.  The guitars having chorus effects really give the record a “spooky” and late 70s, early 80s sound. what pedal do you use to get that sound?

Thanks! no pedals, but the amp has a built-in chorus.

What are the goals for the band? who do you want to play shows with? Definitely to keep improving  our sound and put out great albums.  That, of course, takes time. More short term, I would like to put out vinyl and tour overseas. We wanna play with all the freaky weird bands across the country.

Do you have an agent? Does a member of the band do that? If so, isn’t it exhausting? How do you fight burnout?

I (sally) do it! I like it actually. It’s interesting figuring out how to talk to people– what kinds of words get people’s attention, what tone to use,  and so on. It’s also fun to talk to people you never otherwise  would have met/had a reason to speak to.

What is a reliable cheap food source you turn to on the road?

GRUEL. We bring rice and lentils with us and cook it at people’s houses. it gets real mushy and we put it into a big bin and call it gruel.

There you have it folks- Thanks Sally and the whole band! Listen to their record; its awesome!

They shared the night with

100_2851 Bubba! zany instrumental punk

100_2849Dobis, Fuzzy, ramonsey punk with the occasional 60s pop reference.

and Paleons

100_2845A heavy loud instrumental band along the lines of Work, Tycho, Mogwai and Russian Circles. Lots of pedals and very technical playing. I would go see them again.

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Nubes En Mi Casa play beautiful pop music sung in Spanish. Here is our Email interview- for anyone interested in music from Argentina.

Their music is at nubesenmicasa.bandcamp.com

With Cat Power, in Buenos Ares. Photo by Alejandra Coco

With Cat Power, in Buenos Ares. Photo by Alejandra Coco

Nubes enmicasa

Hello Hernan, Hugo and Josephina!

It was so nice to hang out with you at Ester’s Follies. I told you I’d like to conduct an email interview. I think that is the best way, because then you are free to take your time on your responses. Also I know English isn’t your first language, if any of my questions confuse you, I can explain further.

It would be great if several members of the band could answer these questions, and then indicate who said what.  I wont edit your responses to correct them into americanized English. Don’t get too stressed about answering anything, especially If a question makes you feel uncomfortable, you can just say “pass.”

I may have gone overboard! One artist I wanted to interview said “too many questions!” and never answered any of them!

I thought this interview would be interesting to anyone who is looking into coming to America to play music. Many probably wonder if SXSW is the best avenue for exposure. My questions are in Italics.

I don’t understand any words on your album at all, but I love it for its melodies! its playful, sweet, compelling and very fun. Are you singing about love? My favorite song is Aceleremos. What is that song about?

Josephina: ‘Aceleremos’ is about…love?

Hernan: I don’t know exactly if we sing about love, maybe is about the situations caused by love or the lack of it; but we don’t focus on a specific theme intentionally.

Josefina: For me it’s complicated to write in 3rd person (or I have to think a lot), that’s why on the result of the song you can find that personal mishmash caused by the different situations of life, I guess that the ones represented by love are the most universals.

I enjoyed the music video for Cuerpo. Is there television opportunities for your music locally? Or is that video primarily for web access?  The video seemed to be about a girl looking for something. It was not plot driven, but her whimsical looks and curiosity was the focus of the film. 

Hernan: Not for now, we would like to find benefit on the TV platform, it’s a good spot for promotion; these days we are sending the video to several channels. Meanwhile, Youtube still being the most accessible media.

Josefina: I don’t use to search for information on TV, specially musical. I think it would be good to have your video rolling and maybe get to unexpected audiences but I don’t know how much that would help exactly. I trust more in Youtube, blogs, websites, etc…

Keyboards play a cool role in your album, adding flourishes and extra layers. Do you have a favorite synthesizer? Do you use vintage gear or modern? Computer programs or real hardware?

Hernan: We don’t know if it’s our favourite synth but we use a Moog Prodigy for recording cause we like that sound, there’s infinity of keyboards and synths we would like to have but we can’t haha. Anyway, there are some good emulations by software and the hand of our producer to make ’em sound as they should. For live shows we use a Crumar Performer, a Microkorg XL and a Meazzi combo organ. In the studio we use both hardware and software.

You said you weren’t familiar with the term “shoe gazer.” I’m no connoisseur, but I think the term is associated with combining loud and pretty- the guitars tend to be very loud, there tends to be lots of reverb on everything, drums and vocals included. 

Chimes, bells, glockenspiels and synths set to “pretty” tones often augment the loudness. It was said that earlier performers in the genre were less than dynamic and merely stared at their own shoes through their performances.

Sometimes your band sounds like Stereolab, especially “Los Gigantes.”

Have you heard of School of Seven Bells? You might like them. I listen to them all the time.

Significant contributors to the shoegaze subgenera are My Bloody Valentine, Asobi Seksu, Spiritualized, Lush, Cacteau Twins.

What are you listening to RIGHT now! What is the most recent cd in your cd player or song on your Spotify history. (or whatever you use)

Hernan: In my phone there are now a lot of albums but i always listen to no more than 5. These days i’m listening to The Terror by The Flaming Lips, Roy Orbison, Marc Bolan, Asha Puthli and Zafer Dilek.

Awesome, Great to hear that people listen to Asha Puthli.

Josefina: Right now? let me see…Melody’s Echo Chamber, Jason Lytle and the always beloved Nick Cave.

Hugo: These days: Francisca & Los Exploradores, El Mato a un Policía Motorizado, Menomena and Sigur Ros. Next week could be TOTALLY different.

Your album is so beautiful. Could you tell me a bit about the story of recording this album? where was it recorded? I can imagine it was recorded with large glass windows with jungles and wildlife on the other side, but maybe you just have the sunshine and verve of Argentina in your souls and it was actually recorded in a basement in a dense city! Who was your recording engineer and who mastered it? Were these expenses paid out of pocket or by a label? Were these songs “field” tested through years of live performance and then taken down as a documentation, or were they developed in the studio and then you had to teach yourself to make a live “version” to play at shows?

Hernan:The album was made in Daktari which is the studio owned by Josefina’s brother, Norman, who also recorded, mixed and mastered it. Daktari is a handmade home studio with no windows but extremely inspiring to focus on creation. The album was 100% our investment, and the songs were recorded in demos before going to the studio. Some of them are really old (Josefina has several songs lost in her subconscious) but they were never tested live except for Cuerpo which has been transformed exceptionally.

You said the band name was from a song by a metal band? 

I told you it made me think of the film “the Science of Sleep” by Michel Gondry. I think that movie had clouds inside someone’s house. Now I’m not sure.

Hernan: The name of the band refers to a song title from a canadian thrash metal band called Voivod. I was a fan during school days 🙂

You said you learned English from US TV shows. What shows do you like? What shows are out there spreading American Culture. I hope its quality stuff and not, Honey Boo Boo? Are there some aspects of US tv shows that confuse you or repulse you? I am always interested in other people’s impressions of us. We aren’t like what you see on TV! 

Hugo: Mostly Seinfeld or some random movies and documentaries on cable channels.

Hernan: Honestly, we don’t watch too much tv and when we do, we try to watch things that don’t “repulse” us but things for entertain or just kill time.

Josefina: I’ve learned English in elementary school and misslearned (sic) in high school. Of course americans are not like in TV, I’m sorry to tell you my dear Isaac that I didn’t find a lot of similaritaries between you and Mr. Homer Simpson. There are indeed some crazy stuff, really American, which would never work in Argentina, like dressing like The Hulk and get people to give their dollars for taking a picture together or the “voluntary payment” pedicabs, etc…

Hugo: I think one of the aspects that people here will find “repulsive” it’s the attitude of that guy that you probable don’t remember, but he called you “Hey! James Hetfield!” When we were seeing the last band playing that night. He was a bit drunk but he was talking to us and saying that he was going to visit Buenos Aires soon for a wedding …then he realized that he confused Buenos Aires with Sao Paulo (!?) and ended up wondering “Am I gonna get shot there?” (literally), and on the inside I thought “well, probably, if you keep saying those things.”

Have you noticed more US interest since your performances in SXSW? have there been reviews of your album? Mentions on blogs?

Have you been interviewed any US publications?

Were you treated well by the people at SXSW?

Did you personally submit to play a showcase? Were you encouraged to by a label? 


Hernan: (The) SXSW experience was highly gratifying, it was like vacations in a music world, we’ve been well treated by the people and the media and gave some interviews. We would like to go back next year to repeat the experience. We personally submit to play a showcase.

Hugo: Since we’ve confirmed our presence in the festival, and before we travel, there were some mentions about our music in blogs and websites from U.S. Even nowadays still are. Most of the interest came from Latin-American people living there, but we also could connect somehow with people who doesn’t know a single word of Spanish or barely know something about where we come from. Everybody in Austin treated us really well, they were super friendly and kind.


You said that the Argentina Government didn’t help at all in getting you there, but they were eager to “show you off” once you got here and waved the flag. I was under the impression that the governments of some countries helped pay for the travel of their artists out of the country to the state to increase tourism- but maybe I was being naive. I went to several parties- the Ireland party, the Japan day party, and a previous year I went to a New Zealand show. I think Canada’s government helps recording and touring musicians… I also think that musicians in Norway and Sweden get grants from the government. I should really research this more before I go publishing it as if I am a journalist, huh?

 Where have you played shows? I think you said these were the first shows in the states. Do you play in Brazil? Uruguay? Chile? Bolivia? 

Hugo: Yes, it was our first time in the US. We’ve just played once in Montevideo, Uruguay. We would like to travel much more than we actually do, but is always a matter of money. If everything turns out as we planned, we will visit Mexico for the first time, probably in November. I think that even though electronic music and DJs are VERY popular here, they are not more popular than live music, which is in certain cases, massive. Still, for underground live acts, here is the same as you say regarding club owners and their denial for paying musicians.

I really have no idea about what it is like there. I imagine like in the states there are highways connecting the major cities and that there are young people eager to see live music. Is electronica and DJ music more popular in Buenos Aires than live bands?

Here it seems the industry is cutthroat, with so many bands competing for attention, and the venue owners say, “we don’t do bands anymore… they all want to be paid, and we can’t afford it,” or “we make more with Karaoke or a jukebox than with live entertainment.” 

 I did a google search for Argentina festival and I found Quilmes.

 The lineup lists several of the acts that are most popular in the states right now

Pearl Jam  (these guys are kind of old fogies at this point. People I know liked them 12 years ago…)

The Black Keys  ( Of course, some would dismiss this group as old fogies, or claim “white people can’t play the blues,” but I love this band, I even played in a Black Keys cover band. I got to see them once at Bumbershoot in Seattle)

The Hives 

Hot Chip 

Alabama Shakes  (this band is really getting huge, in just the past year! Playing at the Grammys and playing in stadiums! Its pretty incredible, but a good example that uniquely talented people can get lucky and succeed in the music business.) 

Kaiser Chiefs 

Queens of the Stone Age 

Passion Pit (seems pretty boring disco to me but for some reason they are pretty popular).

And then about 40 bands with Spanish names, none of which I have heard of. I see Sepultura is playing a festival in October in your neighborhood.

Do you go to these big festivals? do you have friends in the bands playing? is this out of reach for most local Argentina bands? Do the bands playing at Quilmes  come from all over South America? Mexico? Spain? 

Hugo: We don’t usually go to those festivals. Tickets use to be very expensive and it’s management sometimes is awful. Yes, we have several friends in bands that play there. Yes, it’s quite difficult to get your band to play there if you don’t have a persistent manager. Most of international bands playing are from US or England. There are a few Latin American bands sometimes but usually they don’t play on main schedules or leading the night. Actually I don’t think you have to be a total ROCKSTAR to play here, I’ve heard of some shows of American (probably not SO) underground bands. I think most of those cases are self-managed tourings .

I bet underground or small acts from the states never tour to Argentina. It seems so far away! Does a band have to be rock stars before they start coming to play there, and only play in Arenas? Two of my favorite bands have played in Argentina in the past 10 years, The Bad Plus and Medeski Martin and Wood. Are audiences there hungry for US american music? 

Photo by Alejandra Coco

Photo by Alejandra Coco

Hugo: Well, United states is still homeland of most of the worldwide popular bands, so I can say that Yes, people here likes music from US as I think, most of countries from occident. (sic?)

I sought out your show merely because you were from Argentina- and then was impressed with it. I am a Francophile, Anglophile, Brazilophile (is that a term?) and just generally love the art and music of foreign cultures.  I said to myself “Well if they came all the way here they must be good!” 

Do you think Local Argentinians would think the same of a US American band on tour there?

 Hugo: Well that’s hard to answer. But I think it’s the same here. Just because a band comes from far away, it will at least catch your attention.

The music from your neck of the woods that most Americans are familiar with is Bosso Nova and Os Mutantes. (Both Brazil, I know) Stan Getz and Astrid Gilberto helped put the music of Antonio Calros Jobim on the map and in our elevators…  I personally love the music of Gilberto and think he was a genius. “Girl from Ipanema” has appeared in countless films, it has become a cliche and a joke. It is synonymous with elevator music.” Some people have the immediate reaction to turn the radio off the first familiar notes. Tom Waits said once that his fear was that he would be killed by a saxophonist in a case of being  “Girl from Ipanema-ed” to death .

I know that’s from Brazil, but do you have a similar tradition of jazz combined with local rhythms and percussion?  Does it have a name?

Hugo: Well, i think in our case that would be Astor  Piazzolla’s music, which you know and like!

  Os Mutantes still have a loyal following in the states. I adore a Brazilian band called Pato Fu. Once I was talking to some French kids and asked them if they liked Ye-ye music. They said no! it was tacky and old fashioned and said none of the youth culture like Ye-ye anymore. I was embarrassed. ( but I still think ye-ye music is cool.)

 Is your music considered “western” in your community, I mean is it considered an imitation of British or US American rock and roll? Do some snobs dismiss pop music like yours as not authentic or not Argentinian? 

 I think its great that you sing in your native language. Were there any pressures to record versions in English? Would you ever write songs in English?

Hernan: No, at least no one let us know about that, sometimes that happens with bands that doesn’t sing in spanish. Maybe Argentina it’s a little different from the rest of Latin America because of European immigration, but people here do feel the language (the lyrics) and sometimes they need to know what they ‘re saying as it might be understandable as an acting of that. No one ever ask us to sing in English, I think here it might work the other way around.

The Italian band that played the same night as you told me they felt that crowds would like an American Band singing in English, but because they sang in English, the audience were disappointed. As if they were poseurs or an imitation. The Beatles of course recorded German versions of some of their early hits. I like to hear bands from foreign countries sing in their native tongues. I’ve always wondered by Bjork doesn’t sing more songs in icelandic? Her album “Gling Glo” is really fun, but she did that early in her career.

Supposedly the playwright  Sam Beckett would write in French (not his native language) to force himself to write in simple sentences. I wonder how your music would sound if you sang in English. Japanese songs often have English phrases or words that the songwriter thought sounded cool- but they can be pronounced so strangely they don’t register as English in our ear. There was a Japanese Ska band called “Potshot,” who I am thinking of. There is a song by Bonnie Pink (Last Kiss) Where she says, “its bitter, like beer for kids.” which cracks me up, it sounds so awkward. 

Hugo: Although our music is clearly not authentically Argentinean, here we have an long rock/pop history sung in Spanish, from late 60s there were millions of very good rock bands, so one can talk about the existence of “argentinean rock” since those years. I think that’s why nobody ever dismisses ours or other Argentinean band’s music because it’s sung in Spanish, even it’s not native music.

My questions were rambling and long but you guys did a great job answering them. I fixed only a few little spelling things, and left grammar as it was to convey the authentic experience of speaking to these charming musicians. Their music is beautiful, experience it for yourself!

Thank you Hugo, Josephina and Hernan!

Photo: Claudia Ochoa @ SXSW 2013, Austin, Tx

Photo: Claudia Ochoa @ SXSW 2013, Esther’s Follies, Austin, Tx

Nubes En Mi Casa Interview

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Yakuza Heart Attack “If the world is a post apocalyptic wasteland, it won’t stop me from making music.”



Keith Rankin is currently releasing music under the name “Giant Klaw”

And its pretty 🙂


Yakuza Heart Attack is Keith Rankin: guitar/keys, Matt Emmons -on keys/Synth, Chris Mengerink on Drums  and Justin Baker on bass. They play otherworldly EPIC instrumental pop on synthesizers. They are embarking on a tour that includes Arkansas, Texas, Missouri, Kentucky, Illinois and Tennessee. Read more and hear their music at myspace.com/yakuzaheartattack

Yakuza Heart Attack!

Squids Eye Records

Do you mind if my adjectives JUMP out at you in attempt to quantify this music? Punchy! zippy! elaborate, presenting, fanfare- tadaaa! its Yakuza Heart Attack- Exploding Fireworks of LOVE!
Dayton’s Multi-instrumentalist Kieth Rankin presents this triumphant 2nd album from Yakuza Heart Attack. (Also behind such bizarre sonic experiments as the Crane Engine and Erasers Fantasy, under his moniker “Keith Kawaii”)
One obvious highlight is the epic “Tears of the Judge,” which contains portions that are plodding and intense like metal, but there are excursions into sillyness, quick synth blips appear out of nowhere to herald a new section, as if a space ship has blasted away an opponent, only to encounter another more terrifying one.
The blissed out “Goodbye Rainbow Road” has wacky synths in conversation that remind me of Jean Jaques-Perry. “Power Surge” is pure candy joy for fans of YMCK, and sometimes sounds like the music in old Capcom games like Megaman, and other times resembles the music in Super Mario RPG. Keith uses bright and sugary tones frequently, especially on ”Hyper Fun Zone.” The bass and drums are also excellent and multiple tempo changes and unexpected diversions keep things spontaneous. The multiple layers of sound remind me of the joyous circus extravagance of Belaire, or what it would sound like if Ratatat were to expand and commit itself.
This music is great for sledding or snowboarding, or any other busy activity full of excitement!

Isaac – Did you record this yourself? as a band? or are you playing everything yourself? do you have label support?
Keith- I recorded/produced the album myself… half using an old Fostex recorder, half in Logic on a mac (and a little bit on Acid Pro on PC)
I’m obviously a fan of ‘in the red’ style recordings, where the sound is very loud and bursting. The record is unmastered, mainly because the sound files are peaking so bad that not much can be done with the dynamics. I thought mixing a more “modern, heavily distorted” aesthetic with synthesizer music would be cool. I’ve been making recordings like that for years, and now it seems like a pretty trendy thing to do (even the Flaming Lips last album was pretty blown out)!  Our label head (at Squids Eye Records) actually became gravely ill right as the YHA II album came back from press. He thought he might die. So we were left a bit stranded, with tons of CDs but no immediate plans for distribution. Most of the attention we got in 2009 came from blog posts, from me emailing places with a free download of the album and putting it up on our myspace for free.

So you released the cd for free on the net first. Then you plan to release it in stores?
That’s the plan for now… Our first album is on Amazon, Itunes, all that. The second one will hopefully be out soon. People can contact me through our myspace right now if they want to buy a CD or get a download. I think the question of how music is sold and obtained is the most important and complicated issue for musicians and the broader industry right now. I would obviously love to make a living off of music, be able to live from selling albums and touring, but you know, how many musicians in America actually do that? I read some statistic where only like 25 artists sold more than 100 thousand albums last year or something. I can’t remember the exact numbers, but the point is that our cultural view of music has changed forever, and everyone has to adapt. Kids aren’t going to magically stop downloading torrents. And it’s not up to me to decide how someone else wants to consume things. If they want the physical album, its there, if they want mp3s that’s there too. Giving the album away has helped us out, just by getting some tiny internet recognition.
I guess the big question is if people will get so accustomed to downloading that physical products fall by the wayside. Or what happens if people stop buying music altogether? Speaking for myself, if the world is a post apocalyptic wasteland, it won’t stop me from making music. Maybe we should start weeding out the money hungry opportunists masquerading as “artists” right now?
Isaac- What do you say when you are trying to convince a club or bar that you are worth their time? How do you try to make yourselves stand out? Your music is unique, but when you have to describe yourself, what words do you use?
Keith- I think it’s fairly easy to “sell” ourselves to certain areas, because a lot of elements in our music cater to niche genres that people are passionate about. All you have to say is “This shit sounds like a 70s Cop Movie Soundtrack mixed with King Crimson” and the right people will have a strong reaction. “70s synthesizer music like Wendy Carlos, early electronic stuff like Raymond Scott and Edgard Varese…” there’s just a lot of reference points that are starting to bubble up in popular indie music at the moment. So when you say, “We are heavily inspired by Clara Rockmore,” if someone is down with that, they’ll get excited, because it’s been only a minute since that style was “cool.” Analog synths alone are a big drawing point. There’s also the whole chiptune angle. I’m fine with it all. I also love that 70s music like Cluster and Neu! are becoming so canonized now. Kraftwerk is already the bible to a lot of people.

Isaac- This sounds like compositions from an orchestra, rather than jams from an indie band. Did you record all the parts and then teach it to a band? Or were these written as collaborative efforts with a rhythm section?
Keith- Most of the foundations for the songs originated on piano with me or the other key player Matt, but when we bring in bass and drums, everything changes. It’s funny, our bass player, Justin, is always getting down on himself like a depressed motherfucker because he thinks he doesn’t contribute anything original to the band, but his bass lines add an extra line of counterpoint that really brings the compositions to life. We try thinking about music horizontally rather than vertically, but it can be a challenge because so much of modern music, particularly rock, is built around jamming block chords, not stretching separate melodies overtop one another. When people hear horizontal music in a rock setting, though, it can be somewhat startling and exciting. Even if its just intense arpeggiations and nothing else, the lack of symmetrical block chords lining up musical bars can sound fresh, even though simple counterpoint is, you know, OLD.
Isaac- Is there a “nerd music” scene in  your town? I have heard of the Protomen, and the Minibosses, There’s a band in Seattle called “Press Start to Rock.” Who do you play with, who is your scene? there is a fun band called YMCK that plays gameboys.
Keith- I love YMCK. We recently played with Anamanaguchi and Starscream who seem like big parts of the chiptune scene. Their energy is awesome. Our best friends in our hometown of Dayton, Ohio is this band Astro Fang who share a certain progginess with us.  I think in general “nerd culture” is becoming less and less taboo. Who doesn’t love Mario Bros? Both the game AND the music! That theme might as well be ‘happy birthday’. It’s here to stay.
Do you have an interest in the Yakuza? Do you find them fascinating or is it just a Japanese sounding word to you?? The Yakuza are responsible for human trafficking and sexual slavery. I have a hunch that “Al-Qaeda heart attack” or “Nazi heart attack” would send a different message.
Living in the states, the Yakuza almost seem quaint. I know they have cut peoples heads off, but from what I understand they are still heavily involved with local economies and communities — they’re not just terrorists. That might all be a bullshit westernized view of the Yakuza, but I guess it’s why we went with them instead of the Third Reich. Also, apparently when the Japanese police don’t want to deal with a Yakuza related death, they just report that the victim died of a heart attack. Now I guess the name sounds like some hipster nonsense, though. We’re stuck with it!
What keyboards are you playing?
Live we rely on two Casio MT-100 keyboards, which somehow cut through everything when the music is blaring. Also there’s the Jen SX-1000 which is a really streamlined, basic synth that’s easy to drag around. The real “star” of YHA II, though, is the Roland SH-02, which we got JUST before we started overdubbing key parts. It gives all those “whoooosh” and bubble sounds, and a lot of the sound-flavors that are floating around in the background. There’s something massively appealing about being able to turn knobs to affect a sound in real time, a feeling that’s completely lost in most digital keyboards I’ve played around on.
I love sound-world albums, where noises and notes are used out of the context of a melody to elicit different reactions — different from what you feel when you hear a heavily contrapuntal piece of music. Even though our album is filled with saccharine, dark, or triumphant melodies, that method of composition can be very straightforward in its relationship to certain emotions. We’re so culturally bound to, say, minor chord changes being sad, that it’s a bit of a trap when you go ahead and use one. It’s like, “Oh, heres the sad one. Now there’s a happy one.” I think the spread of noise and pure sound as a legitimate form of composition is making ambiguity easier, and hopefully there’s a bit of that on our records. It would be wonderful to get to a point where people were registering the pure sounds more prominently than the compositional techniques behind the music, but that’s a long ways away
Isaac- Naming instrumentals is always a prickly pear, names like “Untitled #4″ and “Composition in D# for four Cellos” are unsatisfying and banal.  Many of my favorite bands are instrumental, and they often have unsatisfying song titles. The Bad Plus, Medeski Martin and Wood, Do Make Say Think, Tortoise, and Man… or Astroman?, are all fantastic at composing, but their titles bore me.
I really mean no offense, but why did you name these songs these things? The terms “monster,” and “beast” are vague. “Tears of the Judge” and “Heart Pounding Prison” are more fun titles because they force us to make an image in our mind that is unusual or contradictory. Raymond Scott had very colorful titles,  “Dinner Music for a Pack of Hungry Cannibals” packs a lot more narrative punch than “Hello Dance,” or “Power Surge” It seems to me that these songs are so vibrant and exciting that naming them at all brings them down a little- ties them to reality in a way that dissatisfies me. again, I hope not to offend.

THIS INTERVIEW IS OVER!! Kidding. Titling is often difficult. On the records I make by myself, I sometimes leave the song titles blank, because part of me does like the old classical system of naming things — the idea that an album is all of a piece, or that someones entire musical career is of a piece: Piano Sonata #4 Op. 58… whatever. It’s tied to a more statistical way of thinking.
YHA II obviously has song titles though. I’ll give you the pretentious explanation for it all:
 I like to think of the record like you’re entering an alien world or going through epic levels in a video game. Each title is like a new level or segment of a larger ‘journey’, so in that light you could take Beast Attack literally if you wanted. You know, it just depends on how much nerd-energy you want to invest.

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