Thanks for doing this interview for Somewhere Cold. Could you please introduce yourself to our readers? Where are you from and who plays what in the band?
Steve Kennedy – guitar, voice, analog tape, and currently drums as well.
Kim Kennedy – bass & bean-counting.
“drummer”, Roger Chandler, recently quit the band under very negative circumstances. Right now, we’re still looking for a suitable replacement. I’ll probably be playing drums on much of our next album, whenever we get around to recording it, unless we find the right person soon…and then maybe on a few cuts anyway.
Kim and I are originally from Delaware. We moved to CA in 1997. We currently live in the SF Bay Area (East Bay). We’re considering moving out into the desert of southern California or southern Nevada in a few years…maybe.
How did you get started in music? Who would you say are your greatest influences?
S: For me, it started back in 1970, watching The Monkees on Saturday morning re-runs. But that’s probably too much history. During the 80’s I was big on really early REM (like Chronic Town & Murmur), Husker Du, Miracle Legion (one of the greatest under-appreciated bands ever), The Church, Rain Parade, etc. And in the 90’s I turned on to stuff like Swervedriver, Ride, Loop, Boo Radleys, Lilys, Sundial, Teenage Fanclub, etc.
Can you describe your song writing process? How do you approach the writing of lyrics? What inspires you?
S: I don’t know if there’s really a “process” per se. Usually a song begins by just jamming around at practice. Then when we have some ideas or riffs or whatever that we like, we eventually get around to assembling it into some kind of song form. Usually the words are the last thing. Often, I’m perfecting the words, one line at a time, while I’m actually recording them! Very rarely do we come to the tape recorder with a fully formed song. The recorder also plays a big part in the creation.
Karma is your third release, second full length. How do you feel about the release? Would you change anything on it?
S: I like it enough. Personally though, I’d say it’s only about 80 or 90% of what I really wanted. Unfortunately, money issues prevented us from recording more material for it. I would’ve preferred it to be a little higher-fidelity as well, though it’s probably the best quality recording we’ve been able to do so far. Our reasons for recording on our old eight-track machine are numerous….one of them being that I like the freedom to just daydream on a song and spend all day working on it….something you can’t do at a studio with the clock running the whole time. I mean, if you have a huge budget you can do that sort of thing, but at our level, it’s just not practical. So when faced with the choice of having slightly muddy recordings that are really thick and layered and psychedelic or having really clean but less engaging recordings, we opted for the former. Again, the money thing helped us make that choice!
I think your disc is thematically and musically very coherent. Can you describe your thinking in putting these particular songs together?
S: Thank you for saying so. Those are my favorite kind of albums…ones that just flow together, so I guess what I’m thinking when assembling an album is how do I make this sound like my favorite albums. A great example of this effect, if your readers want to do a little research, would be Surprise, Surprise, Surprise by MIRACLE LEGION (Rough Trade, 1987). It’s one of my favorite records of all time, and it’s real big on that flowing thing. On the “shoegazer” tip, I’d say that Swervedriver’s Mezcal Head is one of those albums as well. It just has a continuity to it. Going waaaay back, I’d say my first introduction to the flowing-album-concept was probably the HEAD Soundtrack (1968) by The Monkees, believe it or not. I first got a copy of it in 1979 and it changed my life. I’d never heard anything like it before.
I like how you take relational concepts and use pseudo sci-fi imagery. Can you give us a little more insight into where your interest into sci-fi started and what particularly interests you about it?
S: Good question. I hope I can give you a good answer. Sci-Fi and “classic horror” (ie: not idiotic slasher films) were a big part of my growing up. I used to watch all those old Hammer films on Saturday afternoon creature-features, etc. But sci-fi, specifically, can often hold the promise of a better world, or in some cases, a warning to us about the possibility of a nightmare world. Both concepts are pretty strong forces. You can either strive for something transcendental or you can operate out of fear of the unknown. I usually prefer the former. I think the kind of sci-fi that intrigues me the most is the kind that offers more potential positives. I, for one, cannot wait to go camping on Mars, though that might have to be for another life, given our species’ preference for bombing each other over really “aggressive” space exploration. I think there’s also a slightly “spiritual” or maybe even quasi-occult-ish aspect to our stuff as well. And that’s based on my interest in “theosophical” writings from the early 1900’s. Though I try not to lay that stuff on too thick.
To you, how has your sound progressed from your Self Titled disc to Karma?
S: Hmmm. I don’t know if it’s really changed all that much. To me, there’s an amazing similarity between our first CD and this new one. FWK is kind of like an updated, higher-fidelity version of the first CD. We weren’t that concerned about it being so similar since FWK is our first label release. So it was kind of like re-presenting an expanded version of our initial debut to a larger audience.
In your eyes, what is the future of Sciflyer? Do you see your sound evolving from Karma?
S: If I knew what the future held, I’d be in Vegas right now. But what I hope will happen is that we can eventually move up to a larger, better-funded label. Not that Clairecords isn’t a great label. It’s just that given their size and limited budgets, I don’t see how we’d ever be able to make what we would consider our personal “masterpiece”. And even if we could, it wouldn’t get the same amount of exposure as a release on a label like, say, JetSet or Jade Tree or Matador or any of those other “power-indies”….ie: indie labels with huge budgets. Regardless of what anyone might think of us for saying this, we would like to eventually get on a major label. Yeah, I know. But a lot of people forget that the majors USED TO put out a lot of great stuff. Let’s not forget that all that MBV, Ride and Swervediver stuff was all major label! And now with bands like BRMC, My Morning Jacket, Longwave, etc getting major label deals, there might be a bit of a swing back to the glory days of majors actually putting out good music again, instead of all this boy-band and teen-stripper nonsense they’ve been hawking. But anyway….about evolving….yeah, we’d really like to eventually move to a slightly stronger pop sensibility, but without losing the psychedelia, if that’s possible.
What are you listening to now?
S: The “Top Five” CD’s I’ve been spinning most recently are:
MIRACLE LEGION – Portrait of a Damaged Family (Mezzotint, 1996)<br>
SWERVEDRIVER – Ejector Seat Reservation (Creation, 1995)<br>
LET’S ACTIVE – Cypress/Afoot (IRS, 1985….just reissued)<br>
THE CHILLS – Submarine Bells (Slash, 1990)<br>
LOOP – Heaven’s End (Mute, 1987)
As you can see, I’m kinda stuck in the past…but I’m comfortable with that.
Any other comments? Contact information?
S: Other comments? My hamster died recently. I raised him from a little baby. He was a white, long-haired Teddy Bear hamster. He lived two and a half years, which is pretty long for them. He was the cutest thing you ever saw. He was so well behaved that we could let him run around our apartment, and when he was done playing, he’d climb right back in his cage! He took the best pictures too! (I’ve attached a jpeg) We really miss him.