Podcast 2021.10 The Day Called X

Earlier this week I saw a playlist of songs that were inspired by the Doomsday Clock and I thought of The Day Called X, a 1957 documentary about Portland Oregon’s evacuation plan in the event of a nuclear attack. Not that the tracks in this episode have anything to do with nuclear war or Portland, but it just seemed to fit, although only one of the bands featured in this episode, Plankton Wat, is from Portland.

00:00 Turn Me On Dead Man – Intro
01:30 Raw Optics – Aqua Mundo
04:08 The Dharmas – 1000Miles
08:27 Acid Buzz – The Mind
13:22 Babe Ruthless – The Witch King (It’s Alright)
16:18 Blakdog – Lucifer Rising
20:21 Switch Ghost – St. Arrival
24:18 Massacre at Two Pines – 6 Months (Before The Breaking Of My Heart)
28:30 Spiral Wave Nomads – Radiant Drifter
33:10 Fog Lifter – V
35:15 Plankton Wat – Modern Ruins
41:25 Papir – 20.01.2020 #3


Raw Optics – Aqua Mundo [from Aqua Mundo, released April 30, 2021]

I corresponded with Joe from Raw Optics, from Leeds, UK
TMODM: What does your music writing and recording process look like?
RO: Quite all over the place. I usually try to build a riff/chord progression or whatever it may be around my guitar tone and go from there. For example this latest album is drenched in reverb, and I think playing with different effects on (I have far too many pedals) definitely influences what I come up with. Once I have a basic idea that I like the sound of, I record it and build from there, adding in other parts and structuring the song as I go, if that makes sense. Once I have a finished instrumental I then write and record lyrics to go with it.
TMODM: How does the place you live — your city, town, landscape — feed into the music you make?
RO: Very little if I’m honest. I live in a small town on the outskirts of Leeds. It’s pretty quiet round here and it’s a nice place to live but I wouldn’t say it’s exactly musically inspiring. This album was written and recorded with the idea somewhere warmer in mind, like on a beach somewhere. Preferably not Blackpool though. Not that it’s ever warm there anyway. I think I had a mix of sunny American coasts and tropical islands on my mind. I’m pretty sure it was also pissing it down outside during most of the recording sessions, so I had to keep watching slow mo videos of people surfing in Florida and California on Youtube to stay focused.
TMODM: Which musicians — living or dead — would you enjoy collaborating with?
RO: That’s a tough one. I reckon Beck would be fun to work with. Especially when he was in his Midnite Vultures era. Yeah. We’ll go with 1999 Beck.

The Dharmas – 1000Miles [from Epilepsia/1000Miles, released April 14, 2021]

The Dharmas are from Porto Alegre, Brazil
TMODM: What does your music writing & recording process look like?
TD: Music is always number 1. The lyrics come in second place.
We like homemade recordings in the style of “Do it yourself”
TMODM: How does the place you live – your city, town, landscape – feed into the music you make?
TD: We are from the south of Brazil. In the 1980s the city experienced a major musical boom that spread across the country. Today the city is still trying to relive some legacy from the rock and roll past. There are still some young bands here, we have Krisiun. But in general the city is dead. We are focusing, together with our label, 1001STONED to reach countries outside Latin America.
TMODM: Which musicians – living or dead – would you enjoy collaborating with?
TD: Kurt Cobain has always been a musical and cultural influence. Queen’s “News of thw world” is also a great record and being able to appreciate a little of the work of these musicians is a privilege.
But I never thought of collaborating musically with anyone, but I think a jam with Jimi Hendrix would be nice.

Acid Buzz – The Mind [from Lobe, released January 05, 2021]
Babe Ruthless – The Witch King (It’s Alright) [from Mountain Majesties, released April 20, 2021]

I corresponded with Mark of Babe Ruthless, from Los Angeles
TMODM: What does your music writing & recording process look like?
BR: My writing and recording process is pretty simple! Writing for me comes naturally and as soon as I have an outline I go to my 8-Track portastudio and lay it all down! No computers or anything just the 8-Track where I can mix and master as well so it’s a one stop shop!
TMODM: How does the place you live – your city, town, landscape – feed into the music you make?
BR: I live in Los Angeles and the sunshine really helps set the mood for my music! Also I live on a mountain that gives a secluded vibe that overlooks the city and that helps disconnect from the world to focus when I need to.
TMODM: Which musicians – living or dead – would you enjoy collaborating with?
BR: I would love to collaborate with John Dwyer of Thee Oh Sees cause that dude is non stop and doing so much! He seems like an endless source of inspiration. Also Christian Bland of The Black Angels would be awesome to work with cause whatever he touches is just gold!

Blakdog – Lucifer Rising [from Lucifer Rising, released March 06, 2021]
Switch Ghost – St. Arrival [from Staged Cage of Animals, released July 31, 2020]

Switch Ghost are from Denver
TMODM: What does your music writing & recording process look like?
SG: All three of us do the songwriting, so the process varies quite a bit from song to song. In general, we each tend to bring songs to the table in various stages of completion and we collaboratively turn them into the finished piece. At the minimum each of us is writing our own parts for the songs with some guidance from the main songwriter but there are some cases where all we have in the beginning is lyrics or an electronic sample or a bass line and the group fleshes it out from there.
The majority of our instrumental songs like St Arrival begin with a sample or an electronic loop that we improvise around. We never play these songs the exact same way twice and they evolve a lot over time, but certain passages are always there in every performance. When we are recording a studio album we usually like to include at least one such song to keep things fresh and surprise ourselves.
TMODM: How does the place you live — your city, town, landscape — feed into the music you make?
SG: The weather can change quite rapidly here in Colorado. There’s a common saying that we can experience all 4 seasons in one afternoon. There’s probably something similar in our music, we don’t stay in one genre or mood for too long. When we play outdoor shows, the whole environment finds a way to feed into our set as if it is another band member and we mingle our sound with changes in wind and cloud cover or passing ambulance sirens. We also seem to write a fair amount of weather themed songs (Rain, Clouds and Patterns, King Oak, Be Like Water).
In addition to the environment itself, the high cost of living around here finds its way into our music, as well. The theme of expensive rent has found its way into a couple songs directly and it certainly has influenced our overall anxiety and mood. How do we provide opportunities for our children when all our funds go directly to survival? Would it be better to live somewhere cheaper, where there is less work available, less venues and opportunities to showcase our music and less activities for our children to experience? Even if these are just thoughts in the back of our mind as we go through our individual struggles, these feelings have a way of creeping into the music both instrumentally and lyrically.
TMODM: Which musicians — living or dead — would you enjoy collaborating with?
SG: We all had different answers for this one:
Brandt (drums/vocals/EMU/samples/percussion): “Jimi Hendrix, Miles Davis and Louis Armstrong for their songwriting, Richard Wright for ambience and harmony, Buddy Rich and Thomas Lang on drums”
Jasper (guitar/bass/vocals): “I’d love to sing a duet with Sharon Van Etten or have an improv jam with the guys in All Them Witches, maybe both at the same time. As far as musicians of the past are concerned, I probably would have had a lot of fun with Captain Beefheart.”
Michael (guitar/bass/vocals): “I’m gonna go with Mozart because it would just be insane to bring him to the present and see what he does with synthesizer or Hammond organ. Also Trey Anastasio because he’s just a wealth of knowledge in terms of composition and guitar improv.”

Massacre at Two Pines – 6 Months (Before The Breaking Of My Heart) [from On the tip of my tongue, released November 20, 2020]

I corresponded with Simon of Massacre at Two Pines, based in Paris
TMODM: What does your music writing & recording process look like?
MATP: Usually I come up with an idea – either a piece of music or a few lines. I start working on them on my own and often come up with a whole song. We then work on the song in a rehearsing studio. We recorded our first album in a garage outside of Paris on a 8 track Tascam. We’re very fond of DIY recording techniques even though we do work with a producer who tends to magically improve our tracks. We try to compromise.
TMODM: How does the place you live — your city, town, landscape — feed into the music you make?
MATP: I don’t know if it feeds the music we make but perhaps the lyrics. When I wrote the lyrics for the first album, I wanted to portray myself in my 20s, to portray my single life – a moment of great melancholia. Therefore On the tip of my tongue, our first album, displays the life of a man in his twenties, living in Paris. He wonders at parties he feels he doesn’t fit in. He’s almost run over by a blonde woman on a bike (the story happening to Nick Cave in Another song about Nick Cave, actually happened to me when I came back from a bar in Paris). He takes acid and dreams. All the experiences I lived in Paris transpire through the songs.
TMODM: Which musicians — living or dead — would you enjoy collaborating with?
MATP: We’d love to collaborate with Anton Newcomb from the Brian Jonestown Massacre. I know he has a studio in Berlin and we’d love to go record an album there…

Spiral Wave Nomads – Radiant Drifter [from First Encounters, released January 01, 2021]

I corresponded with Michael, but Eric also chimed in
TMODM: Which musicians – living or dead – would you enjoy collaborating with?
SWN: As for fantasy collaborators, any member of CAN would be the ultimate dream…sad that only Irmin Schmidt is left. Other musicians that come to mind are Marisa Anderson, Steve Gunn, and Bill Orcutt. But I have to say, I feel like I’m already livin’ the dream by collaborating with the other half of Spiral Wave Nomads in Eric Hardiman and my good friends in More Klementines, Steubs and Jon Schlesinger. I just love communicating with them through music. Speaking of Eric, I asked him the same question, and if you’re interested in his answers here they are: Mark E. Smith, Sun Ra, CAN or Trad Gras Och Stenar. For current musicians, it’d be Mick Flower or Michael Morley/Dead C.

Fog Lifter – V [from Live From The Rehearsal Room, released March 08, 2021]

Fog Lifter are from San Francisco
TMODM: What does your music writing & recording process look like?
FL: Writing process usually just starts out with me (Peter, bass) noodling around at home and coming up with a riff I like and then bringing it to the band. Jamming is a huge part of the process. We’re revolving around some set riffs and changes, but calling them out on the fly so songs never sound the same twice, allowing the song to go to new places if they do. The trick is to get them to go to different places and keep it interesting so you’re not just playing the lick over and over for three minutes. Jamming makes it exciting but nerve wracking at the same time. I’d like to start adding lyrics and a bit more song structure eventually so it’s a bit easier to replicate every time but this is what we have so far.
For recording we’re super DIY/ aren’t established and don’t have a ton of gear so the recording process was really simple for the release. Tascam DR-05 field recorder in the middle of the room, three passes at each song and taking the best takes of each. Mixing and mastering was non-existent. I feel like with bands this small if you don’t act instinctively and quickly nothing ever gets done so finding someone who could help with recording wouldn’t have worked. Would have gotten bogged down in navigating work schedules, money, deadlines etc.
TMODM: How does the place you live — your city, town, landscape — feed into the music you make?
FL: We live in SF/ Berkeley California, but I don’t know how much that really impacts our music. Most of the local bands that I’m aware of and friends with aren’t as heavy as Fog Lifter. I guess there is a lineage of punk and metal out here though so maybe that subconsciously makes its way in. We’re instrumental so lyrics don’t have an attachment to the area either.
TMODM: Which musicians — living or dead — would you enjoy collaborating with?
FL: For inspiration in this band I love Sleep/ OM, Black Sabbath and Dead Meadow and would love to work with anyone involved in those bands. I also love neo-psych and in that context would love to work with Dave Fridmann or Kevin Parker.
Sam (drums) is a huge hip-hop head and can fer sure say he’d love to collaborate with Atmosphere or Tyler, The Creator.
I know Max (guitar) really digs Oh Sees, Ty Segall/ Fuzz, King Gizz, as well as funk like Vulfpeck.

Plankton Wat – Modern Ruins [from Future Times, released March 26, 2021]

Plankton Wat is based in Portland, Oregon. I corresponded with Dewey Mahood.
TMODM: What does your music writing & recording process look like?
DM: I typically improvise on acoustic guitar in my living room, coming up with new ideas that way. Once I have some melodies, or moods I’m exploring, and feeling creative, I record in my home studio on a cassette 4 track. I’ve been doing this for years, and have a lot of different instruments, and stuff to make noise on, so I’ll just let the original idea lead to the next part or sound. I try to just follow where the music is taking me mentally and emotionally.
TMODM: How does the place you live — your city, town, landscape — feed into the music you make?
DM: Nature and the environment is a huge inspiration for me. I love taking road trips, visiting the mountains and coast, exploring in the wild open spaces. I try to capture these feelings in sound. Living in Portland, Oregon there is so much spectacular natural beauty all around it would be hard to not get inspired! A lot of my music is an attempt to recreate nature into something resembling a song.
TMODM: Which musicians — living or dead — would you enjoy collaborating with?
DM: It would have been cool to play bass for Jimi Hendrix! or John Coltrane! As far as a current artist goes I think working with Madlib would be really interesting. Have him sample my playing and turn it into some really spaced out hip-hop. That would be cool!

Papir – 20.01.2020 #3 [from Jams, released April 09, 2021]

Papir is based in Copenhagen. I corresponded with Nicklas Sørensen.
TMODM: What does your music writing & recording process look like?
NS: Well, we do a lot of jamming and improvising in our rehearsal room. We record it with just one microphone and we spend time listening to these raw jam recordings and we talk about what does work and what doesn’t. There might be a theme, a riff, an atmosphere that we want to built upon and then we start working with sketches from those ideas and gradually we will start to compose with the different elements and ideas. About every second year we go and record in a pro recording studio, and we usually have a lot of material when we are finished – both improvised stuff and composed tracks. The “Jams” is a result of jamming in a pro studio and picking out the best parts of the jams.
TMODM: How does the place you live — your city, town, landscape — feed into the music you make?
NS: We haven’t really thought about that. Don’t think there is a conscious connection. Two of us live in the city of Copenhagen and the third has just moved out to the province close to nature. So if there is any connection it must be unconscious or at least unknown to us.
TMODM: Which musicians — living or dead — would you enjoy collaborating with?
NS: Holger Czukay? We could play with radios and samples. It would probably be weird and fun. Damo Suzuki? I actually played with him once with the Øresund Space Collective, but I think it could work with Papir too. He’s got the right energy for sure. That’s two members of Can…I guess we like Can.

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