Charles Brownstein got to ask Nik Kozub from Shout Out Out Out Out via the wonderful world of technology about the band’s latest record and heaps of other interesting stuff.
CB: Your new album “Spanish Moss and Total Loss” has elements of sax, Rhodes piano, and baritone guitar, as well as disco, classic house, and krautrock. Tell me a bit about how all these sounds that influenced the recording sessions and where they came from.
NK: We really went in to the sessions for this album with an attitude that we would just do whatever felt best, and use whatever instruments would suit the songs as they materialized. A lot of the parts that wound up using bari guitar or saxophone were originally played, in early stages of the arrangements, on bass guitar (4 out of the 6 members in the band are bass players, after all). It was a matter of just going along with ideas as they came up, saying “y’know, this part would be way cooler on sax”, that kind of thing. The disco, house, and krautrock influences are definitely strong on this record. We listen to a lot of that stuff, and those are the kinds of things we play when we DJ. House-y piano, percussion, analog synths and drum machines, and the hypnotic pulse and repetition of a lot of krautrock material is endlessly appealing to me.
CB: You guys seem to take your time between records, it been three years since “Reintegration Time” came out and another three years between that and “Nobody Calls Unless They Want Something” Why so long?
NK: We never mean for it to take so long between records, and we always have the best intentions of knocking out new material faster, but it just seems to go this way. Our recording process takes a really long time, generally involving a long and slow demoing period, followed by a long and slow writing process that develops in the actual studio, a long and slow editing process, and a long and slow mixing process. Then we wind up touring for a couple years for the record, then spend a year talking about how we really need to start making the next record. Really though, I think that our own knowledge and tastes have developed so much between each record, that I think the time was a good thing, and that each record would not have developed the way they did if we had rushed into it. I don’t think we could have made ‘Spanish Moss and Total Loss’ if we had tried to do it two years ago, and I’m really happy with this album, so I’m glad we waited this long.
CB: Are you still into doing live Dj shows?
NK: Yeah, Jason and I DJ fairly regularly. I love DJing, it’s the best way for me to listen to a lot of the music I love, and it helps me keep on top of new records that are being released. We started DJing
mostly because we are music fans and record collectors, and a lot of the records we buy are meant to be played out!
CB: Tell us about the making of the video for“Now That I’ve Given Up Hope, I Feel Much Better”
NK: It was a long and fun day of falling off a chair, and getting a bunch of people we know to fall off a chair, onto an old mattress and a few sofa cushions. The video is a simple concept, and it was a really relaxed shoot. Lyle (from our band) had the initial concept, inspired loosely by the work of artist/ filmmaker Bas Jan Ader and his “Fall” and “Broken Fall” series. The video was co-directed and co-shot by Lyle and Aaron Munson, a local Edmonton filmmaker and friend of ours.
CB: I saw a picture of your effects pedals on your website, do you guys design your own? They look pretty sophisticated.
NT: We don’t design our own pedals, although Lyle has been dabbling in building synthesizer modules from kits, and I could see him designing his own some day (he’s a pretty smart dude). The photo you saw was probably of the 18 MoogerFooger modular synth that Lyle (again, smart guy) put together with our band’s collective collection of Moog effects pedals.
CB: Where did the name “Spanish Moss and Total Loss” come from?
NK: The title actually came before either of the songs on the record (there being a song titled ‘Spanish Moss’, and one titled ‘Total Loss’ on the album). I took a road trip a few years ago down to Savannah, Georgia, and seeing all the Spanish Moss in that area was very inspiring to me, both visually and conceptually. It is a beautiful plant, but I love that it is not actually Spanish, and it’s not actually moss. I find it interesting that it’s so beautiful and iconic, but also kind of a parasite leeching off the tress it hangs from. I kind of see that as a something of a metaphor for what we do with this band, we play “dance music” that I imagine is pretty fun on the surface, but pretty much always laced with an undercurrent of pretty dire lyrical content. The song ‘Spanish Moss’ has a lot to do with feeling like that leeching parasite, and a lot to do with that specific road trip, which was fantastic, and how much I didn’t want to return to “real life” while I was there. The ‘Total Loss’ part of the title, and the song of the same title, deals with me trying to determine how many things have to go wrong before one crosses the threshold of absolute, total loss, and whether or not I would be able to handle that. The song is probably the most serious (and possibly depressing) song I have written, oops. As a whole, I wanted the album title to reflect something beautiful, and something dark.
CB: How much fun was “Moogfest”? How much fun was it visiting the factory?
NK: Moogfest was a pretty incredible experience. I would love to do that again someday. Asheville is a really great city, they are doing it right there. Going to the Moog factory was really a dream come true for synth nerds like us. The Moog people have been very good to us over the years, and we love them
and their instruments very much.
CB: Which five records will always be in your collection?
Spacemen 3 – Playing With Fire
Arthur Russell – Calling Out Of Context
Steve Reich – Music For 18 Musicians
Dead Milkmen – Big Lizard In My Backyard
Archers Of Loaf – Icky Mettle