End Hits recently caught up with our favorite mutant popsters Nucular Aminals to chat about their new full-length and 7-inch for K Records plus their upcoming tour with Psychic Feline. Read more about singer Robert Cometz's Frawg Pound Studios, a supergroup called Itchy Problems, and spicing your food with human remains after the jump.
END HITS: I understand that most of your band moved here from San Francisco before starting Nucular Aminals. Why?
NUCULAR AMINALS.: We all lived there at the same time. Erin, Jheremy and Robert played as Nucular Aminals sans Wiley, who we met in Portland after our first drummer quit the band. Erin, Robert and Wiley all have lived in the Northwest previously, in Olympia and Seattle. We left San Francisco because a lot of friends we have made along the way had moved to Portland for an easy living, which sounded nice as we all felt separately that San Francisco was too expensive, and especially difficult to afford the space to practice with your band.
What music are you listening to? Are there any artists that you would cite as particularly influential?
JHEREMY: The Breeders Title TK and Kim Deal in general, Christmas' LP on High Fives and Handshakes that just came out and The Beets.
ERIN: I'm really into the new Shannon and the Clams record. I'm also listening to a lot of Trash Kit, Hans-a-Plast, LiLiPUT, Broken Water and Wet Paint DMM. Influences include Monks, Breeders, Daniel Johnston, Spider and the Webs. I also have to, slightly embarrassingly, admit that I bought my farfisa after realizing that was what Elton John was playing on "Crocodile Rock."
ROBERT: Los Saicos, Psychic Feline, Chalk Circle, the LiLiPUT/Kleenex Mississippi Records release and Firebrand.
WILEY: Devo and Nirvana.
You also operate Frawg Pound Studios. How did you get started recording local bands?
NA: Robert has been recording bands since 1998. It all started out after recording Nodzzz first 7-inch and he has been busy ever since. Robert has recorded many local Portland bands including Caldonias, Magic Johnson, Psychic Feline, Explode Into Colors, Cat Fancy Hornet Leg, Orca Team, Besties, Purple Rhinestone Eagle, Forever, Karen and others mainly through word of mouth.
What kind of equipment do you use to record? Does this process give your recordings an overall aesthetic?
NA: Robert records up to 16 channels at a time onto Pro Tools that are sent from the basement via audio snake to the upstairs living room. The idea behind his recording style is to try to capture the way the instruments actually sound live. It is a fun place to record and consistently has great results. Recently he has added an 8 track hi8 tape machine (DA88) and analog mixer to the studio to mix it up.
The first Nucular Aminals record was on Aphonia but your new LP is being released by K Records. How did you come to work with them?
NA: Robert is in Hornet Leg who are already on K records. Calvin Johnson had listed us in his top ten on Jigsaw so we knew that he was a fan before we had approached him about collaborating together. Our first album was released on tape by Olympia tape label Ick Ick that was distributed by K Recs. The connections had already been made.
What was your writing process like for this record?
NA: One member will present an idea for a song, a chord progression or piano riff and the others flesh out the idea, write in their parts and make the song feel whole. After a few practices with the song a demo version is recorded so we can reflect on how it sounds. Some of the songs that appeared on the album had been written well before they were recorded so they changed through being played at shows and in practice. Robert writes the lyrics usually drawing on history, books and personal experience
What informs the lyrical content of the disc?
NA: "Aug. 21st" is about Robert being jumped after a show at the Punx Palace. "Ammut Eats" is about Egyptian Mythology and sweet revenge. "Bob Flanagan" is about Bob Flanagan and his performance art. "Scams" is about certain scams that have been performed by Robert and his uncle. "MPIO" is about how Robert has had 35 different jobs now. "Kitty Pity" is about all of our deceased pets. "Eat Me" is about Robert's idea of cremation and his ashes being put into pepper shakers at restaurants for human consumption. Gross. "Gay + Gay" is about equal rights and prop 8
A main influence may be Lou Reed.
Tell me about your upcoming tour with Psychic Feline.
NA: Psychic Feline have a 7-inch coming out this month with High Fives + Handshakes that they want to tour to support and we coincidentally have a record and 7-inch out on K/IPU at the same time! We are close friends and thought we should hit the road together. They are traveling to Austin, TX and back. We are separating there as we continue through the U.S. We have similar interests in where we would like the shows to be (houses/DIY spaces/venues etc) so we worked together on this tour and it has made the tour booking experience more exciting and hopefully with better outcomes than if we had done this separately. Psychic Feline is our favorite band in PDX so it makes sense. Bob (P Feline) and Robert are in Hornet Leg, Sydney was in Caldonias with Bob. Sydney also has guest vocals on our LP coming out. Curtis and Robert went to high school together in Arizona and Curtis works with Jheremy. Wiley was also in a band with Curtis called Paper Bags when he first moved to Portland. This was meant to be! Soon we will buy a house together and form one giant band called Itchy Problems.
What can we expect from Nucular Aminals for the rest of 2011?
We have half of a new album ready to be recorded when we get back from tour. Aphonia Recordings are putting out a split 7-inch for us and Mirror Mirror. Perhaps another tour to support the 7-inch out on IPU in the fall. Try to tour internationally.
Nucular Aminals - "Erring Sister"
Tip for End Hits?
Email them here.
Get the best of the Mercury each week in your inbox!