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In the liner notes of The Revolutionary Hydra's latest album Knockout to Dispense, member Jay Chilcote laments, "Do you guys remember when we used to be, like, abrupt and cryptic and lo-fi and shit?", implicating of course, that to be cryptic and lo-fi and shit is somehow less mature than to be clear and definite and accessible. The question is then, why are better production and direct lyrics the hallmarks of maturity? I mean, I understand why it would seem like that on a visceral level. You hear nice shiny guitars, a couple "I love you"s here and there, "It's about adulthood, relationships"- somehow the sober retelling of a relationship gone wrong is the epitome of mature songwriting (for God's sake "Jenny and the Ess-Dog" the worst song that ever fell out of Malkmus's brain seemed to be the one most people connected with on his s/t album). Really, it's all malarkey. The only reason anyone thinks its more mature is because that's usually the natural progression of bands. You know, how many young kids can afford recording in 48-track studios or afford to buy super-nice guitars with the tone just right and that always stays in tune? Not many, so they're relegated to the bedroom 4-track, thrift store instrument corner for their early seminal works, and blah, blah, blah.
Then, as they mature physically and socially, they can afford better stuff, they don't have all the tape hiss and the limitations of 4-tracks and they begin to get sick of people questioning the obscure lyrics. "What did you mean when you said 'syllabic stabs at a coal store corner/cordial or winds filament hours'?" They want to connect with people in a less post-modern way, less private symbolism, less Wimsattian interpretation, and more candidness. Pavement, Guided by Voices, R.E.M., they all did that, and now, The Revolutionary Hydra too.
Not that the clarity is really leaps and bounds beyond their last album, The Antiphony. It mostly goes along the same lines musically, fewer linking instrumentals and such- that is, a tighter sequence, and also less abstruseness in the lyrics, maybe... there were a few relationship or story songs on the last one, but on Knockout to Dispense, it's much more pervasive, somewhat akin to Death Cab for Cutie's We Have the Facts and We're Voting Yes, in that vein of being a loose concept album about a/many relationship(s), the songs more connected in theme than in continuing storyline. Also, a theme of frustrated artistry comes into play, "I'm going to a party tonight, though I should write- I won't, maybe never will again. I haven't written for weeks," and, "I haven't painted in so long." Failure in art, failure in love, definitely mature themes, and pretty well-handled here, possibly a little too direct, but at least not heavy-handed. If one misses the recondite phrasings or the charming murkiness of a 4-track, then one can only say that it's made up for with interesting guitar lines and a cohesive motif.
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When I was younger, I eagerly awaited the next release in K Records' "International Pop Underground" series, the latest Slumberland 7"s and the bizarrely entitled Sarah Records compilations, for they seemed to bring together everything which was promising in independent music. Bespectacled intellect and shyness released in a groundswell of anxious feedback; pop so breathlessly catchy that dozens of tracks raced by so quickly that I needed to immediately replay the records in an attempt to digest; lyrics alternately scholarly and silly, sometimes drenched in muddy guitar, sometimes exposed as a scattered rhythm section and acoustic guitar provided little cover.
Listening to the Revolutionary Hydra's second LP, The Antiphony, I suspect this Northwest collective was caught in the same indie pop scene, as they make me feel so young and hopeful by offering a bounty of the diverse sounds which made the college radio of the early 1990s so essential. Which is not to say that the Revolutionary Hydra sounds dated - to the contrary, I'm sure many a critic has (somewhat aptly) compared them to contemporaries as stylish and diverse as Death Cab for Cutie (with whom the Hydra shares several members), Blonde Redhead, Jim O'Rourke, and yes, even Belle & Sebastian. It is just that the feeling the Revolutionary Hydra inspires is a throwback to an often better, more satisfying era of music when "alternative" did not refer to Matchbox 20 or Limp Bizkit.
From the opening bars of "There Is a Certain Shift", the Revolutionary Hydra's songwriting team, composed of brothers Jay (vocals) and Joe Chilcote (guitar and vocals), latches onto something special. Guitars that are oddly sunny yet dingy propel the song as the rhythm section's eccentricity easily overshadows its looseness. Chilcote's vocals are breezy, functional but not outstanding as little more is required within this pop bounce. Yet, on "Great Mumping Villains", he shows that the vocals will also provide a touchstone on these songs - his reproachful call "It's time to sail to sea, sailing so Mediterraneanly, on cheap wine" is also curiously inviting. The Revolutionary Hydra batter through two tracks, displaying a rawer live sound before introducing the absolutely splendid title track. "The Antiphony" works in two movements, the first is sparse and banjo heavy as Chilcote trades barbs with Allisyn Levy's breathy vocals. The second, clearly delineated by a pause after the vocals fade, begins with a hummable acoustic guitar melody as Chilcote's vocal adopts a more spacious quality as he pleads, "I would like to go to Virginia" like a dejected child stuck in the backseat. That song is just one of many examples of the Revolutionary Hydra's ability to break a song into many divergent pieces that reassemble to form a unique harmony as the track unfolds. On "Crazy Mike's Video", a seemingly conventional pop-punk track binds itself to a choir-like "bah bah bah" chorus reminiscent of many songs within the Sarah Records vein as well as the Spector-sound.
The only salient criticism of The Antiphony is that with 17 tracks it sometimes overstays its welcome. A few songs seem like throwaways, but even so, the LP never loses its audience. As after a minor annoyance like "Freemasons: Shinplaster or Shinsplints", the Revolutionary Hydra soon provides more golden tracks like "Inchoate Goes the Snow Route", "Dunkirk", or Levy's absurd but adorable "Bunny Parade". Amazingly, over the course of one band's LP, I've somehow recaptured the feelings which had been lost in the indie ether since those series of early 1990s 7"s and compilations.
The second full-length from the cast of characters that is the Revolutionary Hydra is a shifting indie rock masterpiece. There is a definite Death Cab For Cutie sound at times, sharing sometimes some of the same members, with Chris Walla playing the part of the man behind the recording and producing labels. Something about these sounds and songs make me think of the days long gone. I mean way long gone, like King Arthur days. What would happen if the Knights of the Round Table started an indie rock band? A little bit Old World, a little bit surreal, a little bit right now, shedding new light into the life of music. Some touches of the old poetic romantic era, bards and minstrels. Literary, intellectual, artistic, and above all, fun. The moods touch and tangle, leaving you energized and intrigued, and drifting on West Coast waves. The lyrics, while sung with great dedication and seriousness, touch on subjects that are sometimes a bit less so. "Ye of little faith, you will become an actor, a parody of grace or a paragon of laughter... or William Shatner..."
They use big words that don't make any sense in silly songs about lost youth and puberty-induced anxiety and boys and girls and TV shows. They use a lot of different instruments and manage to sound pretty and experimental and folky all at the same time. Usually a boy sings, but sometimes a girl does -- or maybe they sing together. They are not Belle & Sebastian; in fact, they're American...so they must be Camper Van Beethoven. But they're not Camper Van Beethoven. So they must be The Revolutionary Hydra.
I like B & S a lot. I like CVB a lot. I like The Revolutionary Hydra a lot. They all have three words in their names, one of which is a three letter throw-away. But that's just the beginning.
I'm sure that there's a master brain behind The Revolutionary Hydra, but the playful and strange liner notes and press materials don't make it clear whether it's an individual's mind or a group mind. Whichever, it has managed to crank out seventeen fine tunes on one CD. Seventeen out of seventeen is pretty impressive, especially considering the variety and complexity of material.
"The Antiphony" is my favorite track. It has that classic combination that marks many great pop songs -- cheap drum machine, banjo, boy/girl singing and fine, clever and literate lyrics. After that, it's really hard to choose; every song is good. "Freemasons: Shinplaster or Shinsplints" has fun, goofy lyrics and some good distorted screaming at the end:
With their velvet ties we call them freemasons
"Phalanx" shares the wide-eyed, jangly peculiarity that Camper Van Beethoven made famous, particularly in the slightly strained vocals during the verses. "Astoria Larking" has silly, touching lyrics:
Let's go driving in your Toyota.
"Egg Toss Frequency" has a strange title and also sounds a lot like CVB, but this time it's both the semi-stoner vocals and the slyly subtle guitar lines noodling their way around in the background. "Bunny Parade" is a cowboy tune, via Belle and Sebastian, about being stuck behind a bunny parade. What's not to like? Finally, the line
He thought he should be alone for awhile
turns up in "Foreign Academy", which pretty much seals the deal -- for me anyway.
I don't know much about The Revolutionary Hydra. They seem to be from the Northwest -- somewhere in Washington state, I think. There are eleven people listed as players on the CD, but no mention of who does what. They've got a couple other records out there that I haven't heard yet. Trs mystŽrieux, non? I like mysteries. And I like The Antiphony. This is poignant, humorous, ambitious music. Give it a shot.
As much as Belle and Sebastian are cited as an influence by everyone from indie rockers to a few more adventurous punks, there's never really been an American equivalent to the British indie sensation. It's probably a good thing, as well, as Belle and Sebastian hold a sound that's too idiosyncratic for anyone to try to rip off without looking really, really stupid.
There's not going to be another Belle to walk around any time soon, though the Revolutionary Hydra takes the inventive basis driving the Jeepster bunch and filters it through an American indie pop lens. The result is a sound slightly more straightforward than the Scottish band's with more traditional rock instrumentation, though the Revolutionary Hydra still finds the same sense of beauty and private insights as the Scots do.
While there isn't so much fiddling around with '60s pop or fey songs on The Antiphony, the Revolutionary Hydra finds the tender and subtle complexities of well-versed indie pop. Though the band frequently indulges a wan, acoustic guitar and hot-cocoa bass tone that gives this album a lonely and easygoing feel, though there's always more than just a drop of heartache that lies underneath its surface. From the desolate mandolin on the album's title track to the semi-upbeat pop of "Phalanx," to the dirgey "Astoria Larking," the Revolutionary Hyrda always seems as if it's on the verge of emotional breakdown. Though the band's songs are collected and calm, the quintet's arrangements have a delicate unease that makes even its most upbeat numbers sound as fragile as a tulip in an ice storm.
The Revolutionary Hydra's themes also are less self-consciously arty than that of Belle and Sebastian. While songs like "Freemasons: Shinplaster or Shinsplints" for example, that curiously looks at the secret society and arouses little interest even in its mystery, lurk in the corners of this album, The Antiphony deals best with more personal themes. Whether hoping to peacefully make amends ("The Antiphony") or the desire to sink into the ease that anonymity grants ("Egg Toss Frequency"), this album looks at the same themes of isolation and hope that unites indie rockers across the board, though it's taken with a fresh angle that makes The Antiphony an intriguing listen despite its at-times familiar haunts.
While Belle and Sebastian becomes more esoteric with each release, the Revolutionary Hydra sticks close to more commonplace issues. It's that fact, as well the band's lack of pretentious, freewheeling artistic arrangements that makes The Antiphony much, much more than the Belle's bastard son.
Indie-pop hasn't sounded this good to me for some time. The Revolutionary Hydra, so named for their three songwriters (I assume), hail from the same Northwest area that brings us Death Cab for Cutie, K Records, and Microsoft. Their songwriting gels together into a cohesive "band" feeling (unlike other three-headed acts as Sebadoh, which always felt more like a songwriter's guild than a unified band), and The Antiphony showcases their styles across 17 songs.
The most obvious comparison would be Death Cab for Cutie, though The Revolutionary Hydra are quirkier and somewhat calmer. Their palette is limited, but effective--they never bring anything new to the indie-pop genre (apart from some strange drum effects), instead working with the tools that they have. The liner notes are somewhat cryptic, listing 11 people including an "Allisyn Levy"--possibly the Allison Levy of the Loud Family? Unlike that other West Coast pop band, the Revolutionary Hydra are more influenced by 90s guitar pop than anything else (though they share a lyrical similarity with Scott Miller).
The title track is perhaps the highlight (standing apart on the lyrics sheet) as male and female vocals softly converse over banjo-accented casio beats. The song's coda is a shimmery guitar strum over which the singer dolefully sings "I would like to go to Virginia someday.' The song feels incomplete, and like the best Guided by Voices songs, it works better than if it were fully-realized, leaving lots of room for suggestion.
The album certainly contains fully developed songs, such as "Astoria Larking," an escapist tune rooted in Americana. The songs are mostly light-hearted and occasionally goofy as the rocker "Freemasons: Shinplaster of Shinsplints." "Co-Pilots of the LCD Screen" is a somewhat emotional, nostalgic tune to a childhood friend--the music is delicate, but determined. Nothing is overbearing about the Revolutionary Hydra--even the louder songs do not sound forceful, just fun.
Each song sketches a pleasant landscape that avoids the saturation of too-sweet twee pop while backing it up with decent musical chops. There's nothing mindblowing about The Antiphony, but each repeated listen brings out new highlights. I'll even say that there isn't a bad song on the album.
Merriment! Frivolity! Unbridled internal divergency and hoo-ha! The Revolutionary Hydra has created its Antiphony with gusto, mastery, wizardry and a healthy dose of carefully-engineered etcetera that is sure to prompt the craning of your neck, the raising of your eyebrow (just one, in pleased curiosity) and the perking of your ears. Unless, of course, you are dead, have very little taste, or both. The seeker finds a box-inside-box-inside-box of not surprisingly enchanting rockpop gems that wiggle and tickle, sprint and saunter. As the melodies run up that hill, so does the mesmerised follower, not unlike a tot behind a piper. A piper that looks an awful lot like that mixmaster of foot-tap, Mr. Chris Walla. He, along with Ben Gibbard, the rest of the Death Cab crew and a healthy entourage of other very talented players emerge from stages right and left, costumed in full, to present a slew of acts in the name of innocent sophistication. Tales are spun with the finest of threads and the chunkiest of yarns, and are given titles that left me punching the ceiling for effect-"Inchoate Goes the Snow Route"! "Great Mumping Villains"! "Pinball Blizzard"! Insert several exclamation points here to express my joy!!!
There's a reason that Walla and company have been gracing the covers and innards of what seems like every filthy music rag worth half its salt of late...I found myself in Dallas last month reading a four-page interview with the prodigial sir in Tape Op, only 1/4 of which I was actually able to digest seeing as how I don't know a Mackie LQD90 from a grapefruit. Walla though, as we should all know by now unless we're ignorant, and in which case I'm telling you now, so NOW YOU KNOW, is a freaking demon behind the mixer. That's right, a freaking demon. Though whimsical, diversified songcraft paints the Revolutionary Hydra's wagon with grade-a virgin brightwhiteness, it's the handling that really pins the tail on the donkey. It's the delicate touches that package simplicity and bring the rock-moments to backseat-fucking proportions. I really appreciate intention (not overproduction, but intention). What's clean is pristine and has been engineered to be so. What's muted and three feet away is garaged and padded with the specific INTENT that it come out and kick you swiftly in the ass before scampering back into the flower bushes, causing you to rub your stinging arse and dash into the foliage to find out what for. As soon as you think you've found the culprit, you realize you're completely mistaken; what once was is now something else equally mischieveous that is equally ready to kick ass and high-tail it.
Hide and Seek is only one of the games these Heavenly ingenues (and I'm being referential; one one track, at least) will play; like any bunch of schemers, the Revolutionary Hydra has many tricks and tools in the annals of their Mary Poppins bag grounding such mystically constructed artistry. If you're looking for concrete, I'm talking honeyed guitars both subdued and center stage, oaty banjos, Junos, Wurlitzers, dreamy boy and girl wordings, bop-bop, salt, pepper and there's your pie. And what a pie.
At a point in time when most indie rock trumps Tylenol PM as a sleep-aid, Antiphony, the brand-new album by the Revolutionary Hydra, is not only refreshing, it's downright exhilarating. The Hydra toss off deceptively simple gems the same way George W. Bush spews out gaffes--frequently, matter-of-factly, and brilliantly. Dreamier songs, like "Astoria Larking" and the title track, glimmer with the same unselfconscious genius as more upbeat, Pavementesque numbers like "Egg Toss Frequency" and "Pinball Blizzard." Death Cab for Cutie's Chris Walla outdoes himself production-wise, seamlessly stitching together fragments of songs, sounds, and an ever-changing collection of conspirators into a beautifully realized work of lo-fi art. If you'd written indie rock off as dead, prepare to have your faith restored. BARBARA MITCHELL
With excellent songs like "Astoria Larking" rooted in a very American sound, the Revolutionary Hydra is a local band that makes good on the promises of indie pop and '90s guitar rock. The Hydra is obscenely palatable in the manner that Death Cab for Cutie is obscenely palatable, with fine guitar sounds, pretty vocals, and an overall huggy, sleepy pop aesthetic that only the meanest and cruelest of persons can actually say they hate. Comparison to Death Cab is safe, as the Hydra has received its share of help and input from Ben Gibbard and Chris Walla. But the Revolutionary the Hydra is a solid trio in its own right, culling from the guitar craft of early-'90s "It" bands like Pavement and Spoon, and the soft emotional core of late-'90s "It" bands like Death Cab, for a rock that rocks softly, and very well.
Between the name of the band and the layout of the album, I expected the Revolutionary Hydra to be sort of whimsical, and mystical. Though they aren't quite a fantasy, I wasn't far off. The Revolutionary Hydra play some good off kilter pop music. Between 11 musicians, they really seem to be able to pull off their sound and express it in good poetic form. The lead singers voice is somewhat non-chalant and yet still really holds the music together. With the occassional addition of some excellent female vocals, this record really comes together, though I wish they had used her voice more often. At times this got me thinking of Built To Spill, probably mostly because of the smart lyrics, but also in the sound. (BGW)
This is one of the most difficult albums I've had to listen to all year. That's not because it's bad, because these songs are really quite good, and fans of slightly quirky indie-pop will rejoice at these songs. But taken as an album, there is almost no cohesion. The Revolutionary Hydra is, apparently, a collective of artists each putting in their two cents. There is an overall vote, apparently, from Chris Walla, but the varied influences and contributions makes for a disconcerting flow here.
That means it's difficult to label The Revolutionary Hydra, which might be exactly what this group was going for. One moment you are treated to a Guided By Voices-style rock song, complete with riffing guitars and vocals that seem straight out of your science fiction comic book, and the next you get a quirky, lilting Pavement-esque idiosyncratic rock song. There's something of a Belle & Sebastian pretty pop moment once, and then a Flaming Lips quirky, lofty pop moment.
Like a hydra, this group has many heads, and it appears that one head is seldom aware of what the next is doing. That's not saying the songs themselves are loose and confusing, because each song is tight and precise. But they vary so significantly from one to the next that it's hard to keep track. Couple that with lyrics that are alternatively serious, silly, and cryptic and sung with a kind of nasal feel that indie-pop kids should eat up, and you get a mighty strange album.
So things start off soundly, with "There is a Certain Shift" becoming an intriguing blend of a more melodic Sebadoh-style pop/rock hybrid. And it has a certain charm to this song, perhaps through the guitar picking. Then "Great Mumping Villains" is, assumedly, a totally different band, as the melodic guitar is replaced by a mellow, subtly pop playfulness. "Foreign Academies" is straight out of an early Guided By Voices album, complete with the vocal style and subtle guitar lines. "The Antiphony," one of the best tracks here, again is completely different, following a plucked banjo line and a poppy beat, incorporating piano as a pretty background, using male and female vocals to harmonize so lovely, and moving along slowly but surely, this song is one of the most unique and endearing on the album, even as it flows, at the end, into an entirely different acoustic guitar-driven song. "Freemasons: Shinplaster or Shinsplints" is as unusual as its name, a kind of lo-fi take on Pavement mixed with some frenzied guitar and outright screaming. Now where the hell did that come from? "Co-Pilots of the LSD Scene" is a slow and slightly bouncy pop song that is just slightly off in a rather inexplicable way (perhaps based on the title?). Another good song is the lovely rock song, complete with some sonic background guitar behind a pretty melody, "Inchoate Goes the Snow Route," even with its odd, backwards-talking interlude. "Semaphore Should be Sufficient" is a very nice pop song, a bit more upbeat and quite charming, except for the odd bangs that keep coming in. "Dunkirk" uses a lot of tambourine and organ and has a weird Belle & Sebastian vs. Pavement feel to it. And out of left field, "Bunny Parade" has a darker, Johnny Cash style feel to it, accompanied by some great female vocals and some groovy moogy keys. And the album finishes with a minute-plus acoustic song, "Where We Intersect is Collide" that is almost folkish.
Every time I listen to this album, I'm struck by how good some of these songs are. The title track, especially, is an excellent song. Fans of the bands mentioned throughout this review will no doubt enjoy these songs as well. But there's something wrong with this album. It's too long, with 17 tracks, and too varied. I get lost from one serious and subtle song to the next crazy pop ditty. I get what The Revolutionary Hydra are trying to do, but I just can't get into it. Perhaps if they cut off one or two heads, things might flow a little more consistently, and maybe just a hint less revolutionary.
The Antiphony is the Revolutionary Hydra's first release and the first I have heard of them, however the Antiphony is this talent show of a band's second offering. It is a collection of tracks that analogizes Europe as much if not more than North America.
The revolution of this hydra's mind in my opinion must be the Vocabulary Revolution, using the extensive lists of words they were never taught in junior high in the most cruel and progressive ways. They seem to throw sizeable words in just to confuse the listener or to make the rhyme or the right number of syllables, things that don't matter one bit to a true poet or wordsmithÉ In all honesty I am impressed with the lyrics as far as the usage of vocabulary though the songs would do well not to have words since for the most part the words are an arrangement of syllables and don't mean anything but the out of the ordinary to the average listener. I am also awed with the instrumentation and chord progressions put forth here - swirling guitars, bouncing keyboards and drums rhythmic yet not tedious, and, yes the occasional banjo. When the masses are forced to shade their ears, it is not because of the band's sol-like quality as referenced, it is for lack of good voices, at least one of the three discernable vocalists is hard up for pitches that match the music at various points. Not intending disrespect, I think it may be that of the group's chief collaborator Chris Walla, rather I am partial to the female vocals such as on the title song or "Bunny Parade," which are much more bearable.
"The latest full-length from this Northwest band featuring Death Cab For Cutie's shining star Ben Gibbard. A very nice walk through Death Cab/Pedro the Lion-type emo-indie-rock."-John Richards
I'm not so sure about this one. I can't figure it out. And it even has a Death Cab For Cutie member in it. But despite the occasional great moment over it's dragging 50 minutes, I am not a convert. It all starts off reasonably enough on ÒThere Is A Certain ShiftÓ, which I guess is kind of like Belle and Sebastien mixed with Superchunk in a strange way. Distorted vocals and bouncing riffs. The guys singing has a similar accent to some of those Scottish indie pop bands like B&S and Seafood, and their almost montonal nature tends to really get on my nerves after not very long at all.
Songs that I appreciated most included the title track, which smoothes out the guys vocals so that they sound much much better, adds a girl to sing with him, throws in some piano and a repetitive bit of banjo (!) playing before mutating into a wholly different song altogether to finish. Very nice. But I am brought back to earth once it finishes by the realization that there are still 36 minutes left on this record.
Negatively, we get the ultimately lacking drear of maudlin indie pop songs such as "Great Mumping Villains", where they nearly introduce me to the sleep I crave. Sure, I like slow, quiet music, but something about this band and me just doesn't click. Oh well. Other times it just sounds off key and irritating, such as with "Foreign Academies", which has nicely jangling guitar but on the whole just has me reaching for the skip button.
Hit and miss indie, probably be more appreciated by those who are willing to live with the quirks and oddities that completely failed to find favour with me. It's certainly not a bad record, just average. And every now and then the good bits make me think I am being harsh, but that's only because I am nodding off between them...
Jangle-y, lo-fi indie pop with plenty of hooks, The Revolutionary Hydra delivers an album true to its Bellingham, if not Northwest, upbringing. Spacious grooves lay upon rough rhythms and shiny guitars, while the moody vocals capture both the darkness of night and the glow of morning. Not the best, but definitely not the worst of its kind, The Revolutionary Hydra are spacious and warm, giving you jangle-y indie rock that will either quickly pass over your head or hit you straight on and become one of your favorite albums. I'll give it a B-.
The Revolutionary Hydra is one of those literary bands, educated and well read, with lyrics as entertaining and thought provoking as good poetry. For example from one song: "Ye of little faith, you will become an actor, a parody of grace or a paragon of laughter...or Will Shatner." And the songs themselves are as crafted and diverse in style as Thomas Mann short stories. For those of us who like our indie rock a little difficult, this is good stuff.
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I wasn't sure what to expect of this cd, what with the odd name and even odder song titles ("Oatmeal, Son Of Sopebocks" ???), but I really do like this. I know that if I listen to this a few more times, I'll like it even more. At times, they come off as Pavement or GBV, but not really lo-fi and with more pop influence. In fact, I bet this would fit really well on Merge Records... One of the first things I notice about the album is that it's got 19 tracks, and more than half are under 2:00 (with four around :45!), and that's great for me! Some people would say that this doesn't flow as an album, but that's never bothered me before. Also, there's an interesting novella on the cd, in Adobe PDF format. Warning: The first track on the cd is said novella - do not play it; unless you're a Merzbow fan or something. Ê MTQ=15/19
Second full length from this Bellingham band, and it's very different from the first! Oh, they still play very skewed indie rock like (early) Pavement or Swell Maps, but where the last disc seemed more like various songs thrown together, this time they've put together a very cohesive album where the whole thing flows smoothly. That's especially reflected in the music, which seems a lot more thought out this time, too. The melodies are much stronger, and the production is a lot cleaner, thanks to Death Cab For Cutie's Chris Walla. Actually, they kind of sound more like DCFC here, especially the way the instruments play off of each other. Still present are the bizarre stream of conscience lyrics and clever plays on words. There's even a song about our sorely-missed old video store, "Crazy Mike's Video"! Ê
Though this release is new, these songs were recorded back in 1998 with Phil of the Microphones, predating much of their first cd! Like their first cd, the songs on this are pretty short (5 songs in 12 mins!), and fit in the skewed early Pavement-esque indie rock vein. Actually, the first song sounds more like Eric's Trip. And all of these songs follow the usual Hydra caliber of excellence, though the lyrics to "20,000 Softball Leagues Under The Sea" are a bit dorky.
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The Revolutionary Hydra follows up its quirky, idiosyncratic if not longwinded opus, The Antiphony, with this slightly more straightforward and ear-catching EP. Catchy pop rarely comes cloaked in this much dissonance and nonchalance; but then again Pavement made a career out of such anti-pop-is-pop sentiment. The Revolutionary Hydra hails from the extreme Northwest and plays a self-deprecating brand of intellectualized indie rock. Loose and jangling guitar arrangements are coupled with strained, translucent vocals- the likes of which you'd hear on a Death Cab For Cutie album (coincidentally, Death Cab For Cutie's vocalist Ben Gibbard sings back-up on a few tracks).
"World's Phair" is somewhat of a nerdy inside joke for the thick glasses and v-neck sweater crowd. The butt of the play on words is indie rock princess Liz Phair, of course. It's a simple, two-chord verse with vocals that steal a page from Lou Barlow's book of tricks on how to get laid. The chorus is an oddly toe-tapping affair, particularly when Allisyn Levy's backing vocals kick in: "And all the kids who showed up/they came because of Liz Phair/but she's not my idea of fun." "Into Yr Thumb" is equally hummable. It sounds like a long lost They Might Be Giants demo not only because of the vocal inflection but also because of its geeky, polysyllabic lyrics. The clanging climax is unexpected but suits the song's laid back, anything goes attitude.
As far as The Revolutionary Hydra is concerned the second half of the 1990's needn't have passed; the band seems happily lost inside of a K Records compilation circa 1992, which, admittedly, isn't a bad place to be. "Multitrack Recording" is awash in noodling, diverging guitars that culminate in a noisy dose of chaotic pop. Ben Gibbard's backing vocals are instantly recognizable and can't help but lend an eerily serious tone to the otherwise jocular atmosphere. Mixing deliberate affectation with thinly veiled silliness, "Bomb Squad" steals the show. The looseness recalls a calmer Trumans Water, but The Revolutionary Hydra is certainly honing this type of haphazardry into a style all its own.
"20,000 Softball Leagues Under The Sea" kicks off with a half-sung/half-laughed wish "to be a cool indie rocker." After such a schizophrenic opening, the song merges into a beautiful verse led by a high-end guitar melody. The pre-chorus gives you chill bumps until you realize that he's talking about "joining 20,000 softball leagues under the sea." At which point you feel silly for falling into the trap. The lyrical silliness conflicts with such an earnest delivery, but that is, of course, the whole point evidenced when Ben Gibbard joins the chorus, singing "I'm in a big hurry/cause my girlfriend's making curry." The absurdity, I assure you, does not escape the band.
With The Swiss Admiral EP, The Revolutionary Hydra confirms its place among the new generation of ironic pop enthusiasts, who just happen to prefer a low fidelity sound. Melodies like these are not a dime a dozen, and five short catchy songs are all you need to drive the point home.
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Death Cab for Cutie's rapid rise to regional rock stardom all stemmed from what was essentially a solo project by (lead vocals/guitar) Ben Gibbard. After recording a full-length as a complete band, several tours, making critics alike swoon, and adding hundreds and hundreds of fans to their Death Cab for Cutie's name,Ê Ben Gibbard found himself with some spare time, a vision, and a few trinkets to play with.
Under the pseudonymn, All-Time Quarterback, Gibbard delivers five solid masterpieces - all well-textured, varied and strong enough to hold their own. Unlike You Can Play These Songs With Chords, Gibbard takes a more unconventional approach by using a variety of Casio Keyboards, drum loops from Rat Cat Hogan, a small toy piano, a Rockwood Terminator Guitar among others. However, this lo-fi, normally unthinkable production is able to capture the magic and presence that Chords boosted Death Cab into the spotlight.
The EP begins with "Plans Get Complex," a light playful tale of reckless, adolescent behavior with the Casio Keyboards in full effect. Progressively - song after song, the recording's tone slowly inches towards a more melancholy atmosphere. By nature, Gibbards smooth vocal range is intense and packed with emotion, so the steady incline to increase intensity and urgency on this recording was anything but intentional. "Why I Cry," a cover of a song written by Stephen Merrit has Gibbard singing in a falsetto, which I'm guessing was achieved with either a swift kick to the groin, his own talents, or by use of a computer. In any event, this is the turning point in the EP's metamorphisis. This song carries the attributes of of a more morose sound, but the spirits are kept up with the small toy piano which rings clearly in the background.
The final cuts, "Rules Broken" and "Send Packing" complete the final phases of the transition to a moodier status. "Rules Broken," which has received the most airplay on the show - is the most simple of all the tracks - with the Casio Keyboard popping in the background, aided by the help of a little guitar chiming in and out. "Send Packing," a stripped down song, like "Rules Broken" that can be paralleled to Death Cab's "Line of Best Fit." A simple tapping on the high-hat and a slow strumming of the guitar, fronted by the heartbroken lyrics of Gibbard is enough to make even the most callous of hearts tremble. "I do declare that you were all that I wanted..." he sings in a tone of hopelessness. This song alone is worth purchasing All-Time Quarterback.
With this recording, Gibbard proves himself a musical figure ready to create and break trends, as proven with the first Death Cab.
I first learned of Death Cab For Cutie guitarist Ben Gibbard's songwriting skills shortly after he sold me a $2 Death Cab For Cutie tape out of his backpack in 1997. Called You Can Play These Songs With Chords, the eight song tape was recorded when the embryonic Death Cab consisted of Gibbard playing every instrument. He got a little help with the songs on that tape from Chris Walla, who is now a Death Cab guitarist, and some vocal assistance from singer Abigail Hall.
Featuring eight songs that could rock and still say something, You Can Play These Songs With Chords, became the only thing in my stereo for the following two months and made me one of Death Cab's most ardent fans. When their glorious full-length, Something About Airplanes, was released in 1998, I picked up a copy within days of it's pressing.
Fun, poignant, and rockin' all at the same time, Something About Airplanes is pop music at it's finest. With tight instrumental performances, excellent vocals, and thoughtful lyrics, Death Cab takes pop past cutesiness and into something more substantial. It's a must for anyone who also enjoys Heavenly (now Marine Research), the Crabs, or Peter Parker. Marquee tracks include "President of What?" and well, all of the other ones. Really. You can't lose. I happen to like "Amputations" and "Pictures in an Exhibition" and judging by the response these songs receive during Death Cab live shows, so does everyone else.
So, after being a Death Cab for Cutie fan for so long, I was more than a little curious when I heard Gibbard had come out with a solo project, especially one with as unusual a title as this one, All-Time ÁQuarterback!. However, being the procrastinator that I am, I let friends tell me what a great little EP All-Time ÁQuarterback! was over and over before I heard something that made me take more notice: "Hey, like the entire recording is done on broken or toy instruments or somethin' like that, yeah".
Procrastinator no more (and dwindling finances be damned); I sent my check to Elsinor (www.elsinorpop.com) and waited for my reward. This I had to hear.
I ordered the All-Time ÁQuarterback! 5-song CD along with it's cassette companion, The Envelope Sessions. My first bit of advice for anyone interested in ATQ is to spend the extra three bucks and get The Envelope Sessions. Herein lies, in my mind, ATQ's strongest track, "Underwater". Something about this tune stopped me in my tracks and made me rewind it and play it over and over again. Soft and careful, the song plinks along at a lilting pace, slowly drawing you in with beauty and wondrous imagery. Definitely worth it.
Other gems on The Envelope Sessions include, "Cleveland", a very sad tune, but great, and "Factory Direct", a clever take on the mass marketing of music. The Envelope Sessions also contains a few cute, plucky numbers, which seem to fit the toy guitar quite well, but are really more novelty items than substantial songs. Speaking of which, the toy guitar might limit some musicians, but Gibbard pulls off toy rock excellence with ease.
Moving on to the big 5-song CD, (it's only bigger in the sense that it's physically larger than the tape, which contains 10 tracks), this is were ATQ shines bright. The disc starts out with that distantly familiar Casio sound and unfolds into something truly special. One soon forgets that they are listening to instruments with one string or are otherwise on their last leg. Gibbard is able to pull sometimes catchy and sometimes heartbreaking music from these instruments so deftly that it doesn't seem likely the songs could be improved, even with fully-functional equipment.
The disc's songs range from the jaunty "Untitled" to the teary "Send Packing". I happen to prefer those in between, especially "Plans Get Complex", which describes the complications of getting older and "Rules Broken" which bears my favorite lines of the EP, ".if we could break the rules/ That were already broken/ Before we were born/ Then we could hold them to/ Their guns cause we'd be/ a Punk rock band, too." Rock on.
Another gem on the disc is ATQ's version of the Magnetic Field's tune, "Why I Cry". Not having heard the original, (shame on me), I cannot tell if Gibbard butchers it or what, but it's sounds superb to me. Gibbard manages to make the synthesizers not sound like an eighties disaster by blending it all in with gorgeous vocals.
Now, mind you, the tracks on ATQ do not soar or rock like many of those on a Death Cab for Cutie recording, but they're really not meant to. The simplicity of the music is unique and refreshing and shows that Gibbard's music succeeds, not as a result of gimmicks or tricks, but in spite of them. This project could have easily descended into kitsch or novelty, but instead he has produced something lasting and good.
All-Time ÁQuarterback! won't be touring again anytime soon (for those who were able to catch the November 23rd show at the Crocodile, I applaud you), but you should look forward to full-length releases from both ATQ and Death Cab sometime in the year 2000. In the meantime, I suggest you pick up a bit of ATQ ahead of time and see what Gibbard's up to these days. While it won't make you play air guitar or shout, it will make you marvel. In short, ATQ is a definite must for pop-music fans.
Very good five song disc from this side project of Ben from Death Cab For Cutie. And, this cinches it - Ben is one of my new favorite singers! Really, he's as good as Stephin Merritt or Tali Lucksmith - his voice just makes me swooooon! So soft and mellow... Anyways, this is a bit more lo-fi than DCFC records, with lots of acoustics and casios. And a very jaunty piano line in "Untitled". This is still pretty mellow, though, and his cover of the Magnetic Fields' "Why I Cry" fits in quite well. Very nice!
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Interview with Corey from Morgan Leah Records (December, 2001)
Corey: How did it all begin?
Jay: I moved up to Bellingham (where Joe was attending WWU) so that we could start a band with someone he'd met at school, Catherine Raap. We called the band Virginia Creeper and played several shows around town (including a couple with Modest Mouse believe it or not). Then Catherine left the band at about the same time Bart started playing with us, so Bart, Joe and I recreated ourselves as The Revolutionary Hydra (a band title that Joe and I had wanted to use for years but we could never talk Catherine into agreeing with). The same day we decided to start a new band we got a call to play a show in the lounge area of a dorm hall, and that was a very weird show because we just made up several new songs and played them a few hours later.
What are you up to now?
Things are sort of mellowed out for us in a way as we all have very busy civilian lives (Bart's even wowing the professors at college again). But at the same time we still manage a good deal of recording. We have a two song 7-inch coming out on Montesano Records (sometime soon) and we have a new album "in the can" just waiting to be mastered and shopped around to various labels. If nothing happens from those endeavours, our label Elsinor will release it. The new album is kind of a departure for the Hydra, the songs are a little longer, some are quite a bit slower than you would expect from us. . . and sonically it's all very warm due to Chris' fancy new studio digs. Beyond that we have plans to make a sort of drum and bass e.p. as well as a Bellingham Indie Rock Musical.
What else interests you aside from music?
Well, I can safely say that everyone in the band has myriad interests. . . all of us love good movies, we were all just talking about AmŽlie the other day. Robbie is building his own recording studio, I'm doing some home recording lately, Joe is a computer whiz and takes care of our websites. For myself I'm an avid but weird reader because I like to mix things up, for instance I'm concurrently reading a history book about Anglo-German relations before WWI, as well as one of the Horatio Hornblower series (there's a nautical theme there for sure) but at the same time I'm reading a book by Grady Booch about the Unified Modeling Language and I'm working through one of those teach yourself Java in 21 days books, and to keep the run on sentence going, I'm also almost through rereading The Portrait of the Artist by James Joyce. I'll read one on the bus, one at night before sleeping, on on my lunch break... I love doing concurrent readings because I'm always keen to find connections or threads between disparate sources.
What was the most interesting show you've played so far?
I'll have to cheat and give you three answers. One show was at the Humdinger Haus in Bellingham where there was, no kidding, a stand up comic that did his horrible thing in between bands. The second most interesting show was at this kid's house in Bellingham, a very ritzy mansion kind of house that was on a cliff overlooking Bellingham Bay, and the kid's dad threw the party and ordered tons of food and stuff and the place was just packed and it was probably the first and only show we've ever played where the kids were going crazy during our set, pogo dancing etc. and we even played a Jesus and Mary Chain cover. The most interesting show by far was at a house party in South Pasadena (L.A.) where Joe, Bart and I drove straight down, like 23 hours straight. We arrived at the house in the afternoon feeling incredibly dazed and confused. Then when it was time to play, we were totally forgetting how to play our parts, and the songs were all slow and weird (for instance Bart would just drop out on drums for a few measures) and I couldn't remember any words and just made stuff up... I've never been so fatigued in my life, it was like the weirdest kind of drug trip except that the only drug we'd taken was caffeine. The best part was that people thought we were this deliberate art band that was intentionally doing some strange meters and dropouts and extemporaneous lyrics.
Wait, there's a fourth one, and probably my all-time favorite. We played at a girl's high school graduation party about a year ago, in the back yard of her parent's house. It was absolutely magical, I'll never forget the looks on people's faces. We sang through a series of linked guitar amps (courtesy of the opening band) and we were awful but it was so much fun, and the food was great too. I can't tell you how satisfying it is to be singing along and to be trumped by a kid who's scooting around on a tricycle or when the uncles in the background lose control of the basketball and it dribble towards the band... As you can see we kind of disdain the typical rock club show, they're almost always kinda boring from the standpoint of what we get out of them, compared to the weird venues we try to find.
Any plans for tours or suchlike?
We talk about it, and the chances are very good that if the next album seems to do okay we'll probably try to do something. It's going to be very hard to coordinate with everyone's schedule, but I think we'll at least shoot for the typical West Coast swing.
Seattle Weekly feature (Published November 30, 2000)
Title: Good company
Sub: The Revolutionary Hydra revel in their inner circle.
BY LAURA LEARMONTH
I HUNG OUT with Seattle-by-way-of-Bellingham band the Revolutionary Hydra for about an hour before founding member Jay Chilcote announced this revelation: "We don't actually have that many friends."
But since Jay's friends are the guys from Death Cab for Cutie and a bunch of similarly minded indie popsters, he doesn't go around complaining about bad company. And as long as he's got a couple of cronies to wield the sticks (ex-Death Cab drummer Nathan Good and Robbi Skrocki), one to recite insoluble lines of melody (Allisyn Levy), another to thump the bass lines (Death Cab frontman Ben Gibbard), a Morrissey-minded songwriter who also crafts inculcating guitar parts (Barton Sharp), and a brother (Joe Chilcote) with whom he can share the remaining singing, songwriting, and guitar-playing duties, he doesn't have to want for much. Add to the party one very talented friend who will step in and mastermind the production (Death Cab Renaissance man Chris Walla), and the Revolutionary Hydra have what it takes to put together a fine collection of songs. On The Antiphony, the band's second full-length release, this is exactly what they did.
An antiphony is a responsive chorus or chant, and considering the band's approach to making music, it works quite well as an album title, a song title, and a premise. The back and forth, hurried then hushed cacophony of keyboards, whirled guitars, and twisted samples that are the hallmark of contemporary indie rock are the basis of the Hydra's songs. But the sounds turn quickly, forcing abutments at the first sign of prophecy and charging the listener with the task of actively responding to the fallout. While Jay argues that those who like their music linear will probably have a difficult time with his band's corkscrew progressions and obscured lyrics, those who value the inherent reward of paying close attention to detail are sure to get off on the complexity.
In keeping with this call-and-response collaborative theme, when I compare their Bellingham/Seattle scene to Athens' Elephant 6 cooperative, the band only half-jokingly pick "Elsinor Boys Choir" to describe their collective of musical friends.
"What few friends we have, they're all talented in different areas that really compliment each other. We were interested in doing this label thing," Joe recalls, referring to the indie imprint, Elsinor Records, that he and Jay started in Bellingham. "Chris was interested in recording people, and people like Ben and Phil [Elvrum, prolific indie producer and member of D+, the Microphones, and Old Time Relijun] and Pacer were really talented at coming up with songs. If you needed that last piece of the puzzle, you could always call someone."
While the liner notes cite a list of players that's just shy of a baker's dozen, the band claims that if need be, Bart and the brothers Chilcote can pull off a Rev Hydra set on their own. Current drummer Skrocki admits that even though he plays in two other bands, he'll be around whenever the Hydra need him. And Joe says the Death Cab guys are always welcome to share the stage. Conversations aimed at getting to the bottom of the band's convoluted lineup end up in the middle of conversations about beer at the Zoo, Neutral Milk Hotel, and the mystery of song titles. An attempt to finally simplify the story goes something like this:
"We've never played a show without the three of us," Jay says, pointing to his brother and Bart. He figures this will sum things up.
"That's not true," counters Bart.
"Oh yeah, you weren't at one of them," says Joe, looking at Jay.
"What?" Jay says, completely foiled.
"Yeah, we played a bunch of your songs," Joe says, giving his brother an old-fashioned hard time.
Indeed, with friends like these, who needs enemies?
E-interview done with Splendid (December, 2000)
What's the worst "day job" you've ever had?
Jay Chilcote: Working on the plant line at Genie Industries in Woodinville, Wash., grinding burrs off of steel beams and other pieces. The metal dust would make my nose bleed, and the days were 10 hours long.
How much time do you spend on the internet each week? What do you do when you're on?
Jay Chilcote: I spend probably 3-5 hours a week "surfing," most of it at work, researching new software and hardware and of course reading The Onion. I check Macintosh and Unix related sites a lot (for my job). I don't do nearly as much recreational surfing as I used to, too little time...
Most people, whether they're willing to admit it or not,have a uniform -- clothing they'll default to when left to their own devices. What's your uniform?
Jay Chilcote: Jeans and a t-shirt. Boring, I know.
Joseph Chilcote: Canvas, cordoroy, cotton, polyester, and fleece. In that order.
PC or Mac (or Linux/etc.)? Why?
Jay Chilcote: I'm a huge Macintosh geek for sure (since our family's Apple IIe in 1980). I'm very excited about OSX and its Unix underpinnings and have been playing with the beta version -- I love the built-in Apache server. I help with Macs at a local elementary school 'cuz I can't enough of it at work!
Joseph Chilcote: Mac. Because Mac nerds are cuter and PC nerds. Plus, I can get Agnes, High Quality, to talk dirty to me whenever I want.
What is your definition of a "good person"?
Jay Chilcote: Someone who is good in spite of themselves. Which completely eliminates me as I'm always sweating about being a "good person." The same logic works for "cool person," but this raises the same chicken/egg cirularity that Bart and Lisa experienced with Marge and Homer in that one Hullabalooza episode. Actually, I want to change my criteria: A good person is someone who thinks Owen Wilson is funny, and likes kitty cats. This nicely fits all of the people I know and provides me with a welcome amount of insularity.
Joseph Chilcote: Mom.
What is the dumbest fashion trend of the last hundred years?
Jay Chilcote: The whole idea of fashion trends, maybe? Cosmetics? Or those new scooter things.
Joseph Chilcote: The mullet. No, France.
What book (or books) that you read as a child has most influenced your life as an adult?
Jay Chilcote: The Iliad, Chronicles of Narnia, Hardy Boys, all of Alexandre Dumas' books, Les Miserables, Louis L'Amour westerns, Marvel and DC comics -- especially The Haunted Tank!
Joseph Chilcote: X-Men, Fantastic Four, Ambush Bug, Longshot and the Bible. In that order.
What is the most important trend/cultural paradigm shift of the year 2000?
Jay Chilcote: The Ford commercials where kids carry on a conversation by repeatedly saying "dude." It's either that or Sleater-Kinney.
Joseph Chilcote: Isn't "paradigm" just a word that dumb people use to sound smart? I'm fired, aren't I?
Given the choice, would you rather stake your life on yourability to quickly solve a complex mathematical equation, or attempt to fight/escape from a large grizzly bear? Why?
Jay Chilcote: In both cases I think I'm very much doomed, being both gimpy and bad at algebra.
What's your favorite video/computer game? Don't have one? How about board games?
Jay Chilcote: I (sheepishly) admit to liking Myth and Myth II, for computer games (This is nothing to be ashamed of! - Ed.). I haven't really played video games as much as I used to back in what, the '80s? In fact I have a PlayStation that totally goes unused. For board games I like Risk. But my girlfriend loves Scrabble and in theory I should like Scrabble because I've always loved cool words, like "differentiate," but there's something about competitively assigning numeric values to randomly received letters which fails to excite me.
Joseph Chilcote: Scrabble, but only if played phonetically. Also, because you can't be magnanimous about others' vocabularies. Did I mention that I just looked up magnanimous in my Scrabble dictionary?
If you could elect to never, ever, ever have to kiss one particular person now living, who would that person be?
Jay Chilcote: Joe Namath.
What's your position on gun control?
Jay Chilcote: I think controlling guns is a very good thing, erratic gun use is totally scary.
Joseph Chilcote: Cowering, usually. I think that urine filled squirt guns in the hands of monkeys is the greatest threat our children will face in their lifetime.
What album or albums in your music collection would you have to replace immediately if they wore out, were stolen, etc.?
Jay Chilcote: All my Belle & Sebastians, Elliot Smiths, Neutral Milks, Quasi, Magnetic Fields, and my pals Death Cab for Cutie (I had to say that or they'd kick my butt).
Joseph Chilcote: In the Aeroplane Over the Sea.
Do you use Napster (or any of its variants)? How often? For what? If not, why not?
Jay Chilcote: I'm such a complete loser I have never even tried using Napster. If our band was even slightly popular I guess I might have to confront some of the ethical implications that come with Napster, but as it stands, I just can't find the time. I spend what little time I have desperately trying to write my own songs. I'm more excited by the point-to-point interactivity and networking issues that Napster pioneered than in being able to download all of Liberace's greatest hits. Instead of a rarified network of servers, it brings an egalitarian view to the web, where all enabled-devices become part of the network. I'm just a big geek aren't I?
Joseph Chilcote: No. I'm too busy suing online mix-tape trading lists. Yeah, you know who you are.
You are able to get away with murder once, and only once. Who, if anyone, do you kill?
Jay Chilcote: The very first person I find who complains they don't like Dostoyevsky. The irony alone would be worth it.
Joseph Chilcote: The sole witness to that murder I commited a while ago.
Paper or plastic? Why?
Jay Chilcote: Well, it's a serious issue and I think the people who work the checkout stands appreciate the way I seem to really put a lot of thought into my answers. As such, I like to mix it up, it keeps me on my toes.
Joseph Chilcote: Plastic, because paper is forever.
You're stuck at my house. It's your turn to cook. What meal do you cook me?
Jay Chilcote: Spaghetti! With really good garlic bread!
If you could make a rock 'n' roll porn movie, who would be your two co-stars?
Jay Chilcote: Chan Marshall (is that how you spell Cat Power lady?) and Bill Callahan from Smog. Jeff Mangum will be there with a bottle of ketchup and a fork.
What's the most evil thing in the world?
Jay Chilcote: People who breed so-called "AKC" pets. Second place goes to dictators -- what a bunch of losers, trying to make the trains run on time.
Joseph Chilcote: Money, in the hands of an evil genius.
You have the power to bring one famous dead person back to life. Who's it gonna be?
Jay Chilcote: Bertrand Russell, just because I had a friend in college and we took lots of Philosophy classes together and we would laugh at how popular Bertrand Russell was in his own heyday, but how ultimately most of his enduring lights turned out to be viewed as more quaint than trendsetting. Along the same lines I might resurrect William James and ask him what his brother Henry was like growing up.
Joseph Chilcote: Not sure, someone who died recently I suppose; they won't smell as bad.
What was the last pet name used by you to refer to your someone special? What was the last pet name your someone special used to refer to you?
Jay Chilcote: "Little Pooper" for question number one, and "Sweetie" for question number two.
Was Betsy Ross hot for George Washington?
Jay Chilcote: While there might have been some flirting going on (I certainly don't remember any from grade school class, and yes, that also means I didn't receive any flirting in grade school), I don't think Betsy would ever have been able to penetrate the strictly observed "separation of church, state and flag weavers" dictum that our forefathers swore by. In most instances, including growing hemp, old George was a "stick by the letters" kind of guy. He would have laid down the law for Betsy in order to honorably avoid even the appearance of collusion. That way the flag design which Betsy came up with could be seen as being untampered with, and springing, instead, purely from the apolitical sub-consciousness of Betsy herself.
What "official version" of a historical event do you most suspect to be a load of crap?
Jay Chilcote: Churchill's fixation with the Dardanelles.
Joseph Chilcote: The moon landing. I mean, come on.
What is the "most wanted" item on your holiday wish list?
Jay Chilcote: I'm hoping to get a new pair of green corduroy pants, a virtual uniform piece for Systems Administrators. I also hope to get a new mixing board.
Joseph Chilcote: Something new to read.