Turbogeist Talks "Ancient Secrets"
Fri, 15 Mar 2013 11:39:41
Turbogeist come out of the gate swinging on their Ancient Secrets EP. It's rousing, rough, and raw punk-infused rock 'n' roll. In fact, Ancient Secrets unlocks the kind of energy that's been missing from 21st century rock. It's like a powder keg that's ready to pop off, and that's what makes it one of the year's most thrilling records. It's also the perfect introduction to Turbogeist who stand primed to shoot right to the top.
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Turbogeist frontman Jimmy talks Ancient Secrets and so much more.
There's an old school punk energy, but Ancient Secrets feels alive and modern.
From our perspective, we never really locked down a sound. When you do that, you limit yourself to something. There's too much shit that's a revival of something else. It's like, "Go see this band. They sound like fucking Black Flag or whatever". That's boring. We wanted to write pop songs, but they're our songs so they end up sounding pretty heavy.
Did you have one vision or vibe in mind for Ancient Secrets?
We had a while to pick out the tracklist. We wanted to include songs that shared mutual lyrical content, rather than making it sound sonically similar. "Mermaid's Revenge" is a medium-paced punker with some odd stuff thrown in. The next songs are fast and raging. "Rats" is more of a riff-y thing. It's different from the other tracks on the EP because of the way it's laid out. It's all lead riff all the way through. We wanted to put songs on there that we thought would be a good representation of what we're doing as a whole. We're quite eclectic. We do a lot of weird stuff. We didn't want to go super weird, but we didn't want to go super straight. We wanted to give people a slightly less linear listening experience than your average punk band going at the moment. I hate to use the term "punk band" as well. We're a rock 'n' roll band with some sort of punk sensibilities.
What's your lyrical approach?
I don't think of it as trying to tell stories. When I try to do that, it gets a bit tricky and convoluted. You've got to try and describe a photograph with each song. That's my approach to how I structure a song. I want to describe the foreground, the background, and the main image in the photo. It's complicated to tell a story in a two-minute song. When we were writing the EP, it was definitely what was phasing me in my cultural lexicon at the moment. For 2011 and the first-half of 2012, I was riffing on all of this bullshit Mayan prophecy stuff and listening to some weird conspiracy theorists. I was reading a lot of fantasy and fantastical comic books. That isn't typically me. I've always been a factual biography reading kind of guy. Luis and I started riffing on a lot of fantasy and getting really into the native side and subculture of the infinite. It was a snapshot of what was going on in my head at the time. I usually come up with a song first. We'll work on a riff together and then start thinking of writing lyrics. It starts off with one line and we'll turn that into a song.
What fantasy were you reading?
I started reading this comic book called Fables written by Bill Willingham. If all of the fairy tale characters from different stories were all in one big storybook world together, that's what Fables would be. There's a lot of crazy shit with that. I started reading a book called The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. It's this fantasy epic about this musician-wizard chap. I was also reading the original Grimm's Fairy Tales. All of that gets touched on more in the album. There's this pub down in Exeter that has a Mermaid curse on it literally. That's where "Mermaid's Revenge" came from. We were drinking there two years ago, and I couldn't get it out of my head. I attached this sea chant idea around it. I was riffing on the sea thing. I'm a surfer, and I think about it all the time. It's a fierce song about the sea.
What's the story behind "Rats"?
That one is funny. One of my really good buddies and flat mate has an irrational fear of rodents. I wrote "Rats" as a joke. It's about the rat army coming to take over and subvert the human race back into some form of slavery [Laughs]. It's a bit ridiculous. I was pondering how he might think of rats. They really are going to come, take over, and fuck with us. I killed a giant rat in a basement. No one wanted to get rid of it so we threw it in a plastic bag and put it out with the trash. They didn't collect it for a week. We had this stinking rat. It was hard to get away from. We had rats on the brain. It's an alternative future where the rats take over.
What artists shaped you?
It keeps changing. A couple years ago, I was listening to The Replacements a lot. I used to listen to them a ton when I was a kid. They were important for my development as an artist because they were these guys doing some thrashing away with real ferocity. They write really good songs though. Paul Westerberg writes really great melodies and lyrics. I think they're awesome. I keep on coming back to bands like The Misfits. That's what's interesting about the band. We would all answer this differently. There's some similar common ground though. I tend to like the weirder stuff like the early Dillinger Escape Plan. I love At the Drive-In when they were growing. I listened to those bands as a kid, and they keep on inspiring.
If you were to compare Ancient Secrets to a movie or a combination of movies, what would you compare it to?
I feel like I'd be selling myself short if I said it was a Troma film like The Attack of the Radioactive Man or something like that [Laughs]. Maybe, it's like a slick comedic horror film such as Cabin in the Woods. That was a good film. It keeps you guessing. It's fully mad and crazy. That film has some of the best scenes I've ever seen. There's a guy getting impaled by a unicorn. Then, a guy gets his stomach ripped out by a little Merman thing [Laughs]. That film goes mad!
When did you come up with the title Ancient Secrets?
It had been floating around in my head for ages. It made the most sense. It was a tongue-in-cheek poke at all that Mayan shit people were saying. We don't think we're writing any sort of monolithic music. It's not going to necessarily change the world, but it might in a weird convoluted way in sixty years' time [Laughs]. It might help some guy get laid, and then his daughter will become the astrophysicist who saves the world from impending doom in 2046. That's the way I reckon our music could change the world.
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