It's been a busy 2007 for the quirky Austin outfit known as The Octopus Project. After making a splash with the cool kids at New York's McCarren pool this summer, rocking the industry stiffs at SXSW this spring, and finishing up work on their 4th album this winter in Seattle, the band is now ready to take on the rest of the country this fall with an extensive North American tour schedule that has them booked all the way through the middle of November.
This Friday, they'll be making their first stop of the season in Chicago at The Abbey with headliners Stereo Total. (local favs Aleks & the Drummer and All Things of the Sea also open...RSVP here to get in free!) RFC caught up with the band this week via email to find out how they're keeping up things, how they managed to also get on an underground hip-hop tour and, most importantly, whether Yvonne will be sporting any shiny new theremins on stage this time around.
We last spoke to you guys (well, Josh at least) back in November…how have things been? Since then you recorded a new album and also toured Europe for the first time, right? What can you tell us about the new record? Any interesting stories from your time in the studio? Any crazy stories from Europe?
Well, let’s see…since November we toured the west coast, made an album in Seattle, had a crazy SXSW, played in Taiwan, finished our record, brought on the fantastic Ryan Figg as a guitarist, played a crazy show at a pool in Brooklyn, and we’re currently a week and a half into a three-month stretch of touring North America. We’re very excited about the new record – we’ve decided to call it “Hello, Avalanche” – and can’t wait to share it with folks. The proper release will be October 16, but we hope to be selling it at shows before then. We spent three weeks at Bear Creek Studio working with Ryan Hadlock as engineer and co-producer recording, eating and sleeping at the studio (it’s a converted barn with very comfy bedrooms). Our time got a little short in Seattle so we took the tracks back to Austin to add some bits and continue working on the mix, so I think we ended up with a good blend of pro-studio sounds and our own home recording aesthetic.
Europe hasn’t quite come together, but we’re getting closer to making that happen – if anyone out there happens to run a European record label, give us a call! Our new record has a happy U.S. home but is looking for a European family. We did get to play a festival in Taiwan, and that was a fantastic experience! 32 hours of travel between Texas and Kaohshiung, 12 hour time shifts, a Taiwanese “Wild West” resort, thousands of kids…it was a very weird few days in a really wonderful way. Getting to take your band to another part of the world is a pretty amazing privilege, and we hope to see as many new places as possible as soon as we’re able!
It looks like you’ll be on the road almost non-stop this fall…what can we expect from the upcoming tour? Any new gadgets or props? Perhaps a shiny new theremin or two?
Actually yes, there is a new theremin! Yvonne got it just before the tour – an Etherwave Pro – and it sounds and looks really beautiful. Which coincides nicely with getting to play the theremin parts of the new record – we’ve got a whole batch of songs from the record that we’re really excited to play out. A lot of our songs take on new lives and unexpected directions as we start to play them at shows, so we’ll see where these tunes take us.
Also, I love your touring partners this fall…Stereo Total now and then later with Aesop Rock. Stereo Total seems like a perfect match, but I probably never would have thought to have paired you guys with Aesop Rock. How did that come about? Outside of Aesop, have you been digging any good underground hip-hop lately?
We’re fortunate to share a booking agent with both Stereo Total and Aesop Rock, and he (Christian Bernhardt) has been amazingly supportive in many ways, including playing our music for lots of folks he knows…Aesop invited us to open his shows after Christian passed our tunes on to him. The shows with Stereo Total have been wonderful – they’re great people to hang out with and their crowd comes ready to party. I’m curious to see exactly how the Aesop Rock shows go, as I imagine it’ll be a largely hip-hop crowd, but his music is so diverse that I think it’ll be a pretty open minded audience, looking to have a good time with the crazy sounds. Which is what I like to think we provide (crazy sounds, good times). So we’re really looking forward to those shows – a chance to make new friends. I heard a little of Aesop’s new album and really like it…I’ve been getting into MF Doom a lot lately, looking into his back catalog…also really excited to hear Madlb’s new instrumentals album.
Anything else inspiring you musically or artistically lately?
As a band we’ve been finding tremendous inspiration in Tim and Eric Awesome Show Great Job…the kind of totally fractured genius that makes more sense the longer you’re on the road.
Finally, we’ll be running this interview on both Radio Free Chicago and Radio Free Silver Lake…so, not to start any sort of rivalry or anything, but just curious, who do you think has the better music scene in your opinion, L.A. or Chicago? (be honest!)
We know a lot of righteous folks in both cities, but I couldn’t claim to know anything about a scene…although if anybody reading this wants to influence our decision we invite you to come out to a show and get down with us – our favorite towns are the ones where the people bring the dance party! And the baked goods…we are easily influenced by cookies.