September 16th, 2011 | Interviews

ramon felix

Download: Feeding People “Big Mother”


Feeding People is a dark and delicious contradiction. Both the band and the band members are incredibly young (founders Nic Rachman and Jessie Jones are just 19 years old) but their music—fueled by beer and the attentions of Burger Records—also veers towards the ancient and dark. These punk rock kids have roots in psychedelia, stoner metal, pre-war blues, and even Sunday School sing-a-longs, and they also know how to enjoy a backyard, a cool evening, a chimenea, and a cracklin’ Duraflame log. We coaxed them into talking about drugs and demons, just days before the End of Time—bad timing, since this is their first interview ever! Their LP is out now on Burger, too. This interview by Dan Collins and Lainna Fader.

What was it like sharing the stage with Thom Yorke?
Mike Reinhart (drums): He shared the stage with us!
Nic Rachman (guitar, bass, vocals): It was at the Airliner, for Low End Theory.
Louis Filliger (bass, guitar): I told him, ‘Thanks, Thom Yorke, for opening for us,’ because he played before us. I’ll never get the chance to say that again!
MR: Gaslamp played, and Free the Robots. It was Thom Yorke’s first DJ session ever! He was pretty nervous because it wasn’t his equipment. Flying Lotus was helping him. For not knowing, he DJ’d for like two hours. We didn’t know if we were gonna play! The place kept getting shut down by the fire marshal.
NR: They turned away 300 people, then kicked out like half the people, and it refilled again. That was pretty crazy. They wouldn’t even let us go outside.
MR: Thom Yorke just appeared out of the wall, and when he was done, he disappeared into the wall! There were no trap doors! He jumped into a large man’s jacket and somehow fit into his belly fat and was led away.
Did he turn into swarms of rats, or some other form of vampiric manifestation?
MR: Now that I think about it, I saw a shit ton of roaches on the roof.
MR: He probably disintegrated into bugs and left the building!
Jessie Jones (guitar, vocals): And belly fat.
How did you end up doing Low End Theory in the first place? Your sound doesn’t seem to be a fit for that scene.
NR: Well, because Gaslamp Killer plays our songs in his shows. They like our music—that’s why they asked us to.
MR: I think we’re the third band to ever play at Low End.
NR: We’re only the second—Entrance Band was the other band.
MR: Of everybody who was there to see the show, no one was there to see us! They were like, ‘Uhhh, what’s going on?’
JJ: Surprise!
MR: ‘All of a sudden we have to be subject to a band?’
Jane Reich (keyboards): We started off playing and there weren’t that many people in there—but slowly, but surely, more people were coming in.
JJ: They’re open to a lot of types of music, and I think psychedelic music is one of the genres that they like.
JR: As far as music goes, the more bands and DJs come together, the more we’re understanding each other’s style. Like, I’m into hip-hop, and I’m into psychedelic shit!
Who’s your favorite hip-hop artist?
JR: Uhhhhhh … ha ha ha ha ha!
MR: The beat scene is working in a lot of old psychedelic, 70s and jazz. I hear Gaslamp throwing in Jimi Hendrix.
NR: I think that’s why they like us. It’s kind of weird—at that show, we were a completely different feel. A lot of people were really into it, though. Daddy Kev offered us a record deal!
Your current record label is through Burger Records and you have a new tape with them—but you guys seem so different than those bands as well.
MR: I’ve been friends with Sean and the guys who run Burger, and we’ve been accepted by all the other bands, too. It’s not like we’re outsiders.
JR: We can’t thank Burger enough—all of them individually: Sean, Brian, Bobby and Lee—but especially Bobby and Brian. Brian was like our uncle when we went on tour.
Do you feel like your music is darker and heavier than anything else on the label?
NR: I think Burger is pretty dope, but I think our music is way darker than anything there.
LF: It’s more comparable to the MMOSS album they put out. They’re doing some psychedelic, dark stuff.
JR: I think we are definitely the weirdest individuals at Burger Records.
MR: My left nut has batwings!
We just interviewed Daryl Hall, and we talked about how he had dabbled in Aleister Crowley-ism. Are you guys involved in the occult?
MR: Who’s Aleister Crowley? That’s the guy with a triangle on his head?
JJ: Thelema: it’s his philosophy/religion that he created. No, we’re not involved officially.
MR: I am fully involved with demons in every way. Mike Reinhart is a demon!
JJ: I was possessed as a demon in a dream a couple nights ago. I was crawling on the ceiling, and I cut my throat open.
NR: I am definitely thinking seriously about getting a universal hexagram tattoo for Aleister Crowley.
LF: I was crucified in my dream a few nights ago. I was Jesus, and the guy who was crucifying me was wearing a polyester bowling suit, curly hair, and was totally like a Greek, slob bowler.
Why are you racist against the Greeks? It was the Jews who killed Jesus Christ.
LF: He was just greasy!
Despite being heavy and sinister, your music has some acoustic flourishes.
NR: That was pretty much the original stuff. It started out with a couple recordings like ‘Kaleidoscope,’ which is on the tape, and ‘Summertime Dear’—just that kind of acoustic stuff. Actually, a lot of the songs on the album that are now electric, like ‘Native’ and ‘Uranium Sea,’ were acoustic, just me and Jessie Jones. We used to play this coffee house in Orange called the Ugly Mug every Monday night, at the open mic. The guy who runs that place was the biggest asshole!
JJ: They kicked Mike and Louis out.
NR: The guy strangled Louis.
MR: And I stole an OATMEAL COOKIE from that cocksucker! He watched me do it, too. I stared him dead in the eye and was like, ‘I’m taking this oatmeal cookie,’ and I walked out the door.
You wrote three songs in two hours for your first open mic. What songs were those?
JJ: We wrote ‘Sweetness,’ which isn’t recorded, ‘Kaleidoscope,’ which is on the cassette, and one other one—I can’t remember. The session was pretty good! It was encouraging.
NR: We were just bored and decided to write a couple songs and go play! We’ve known each other for six years. We used to play together all the time when we were young: we played in a church band together. She sang, and I played guitar.
That’s adorable! What church?
NR: Cornerstone, on La Palma. In Anaheim. Christian, evangelical and evil!
JJ: Evilgelical!
NR: I went to a rehab there for high school, and got kicked out. That church fucked people up! The first time I ever did drugs was in that church.
JJ: And look what happened! Sorry, Mom!
Do you think music and spirituality can be legitimately entwined?
LF: Bach wrote religious music, some of the craziest music ever written. It started there, and with Mozart: triple octave shit he does, with two hands; it’s crazy! Mozart’s Final Requiem is a religious piece, and it’s some of the best music ever written.
What other genres or artists have influenced your style?
MR: All the music from 90s Disney movies. Sonic II soundtrack.
NR: Super Mario music, definitely!
You guys feel more like a Castlevania band.
MR: Whatever you say, man! Bruce Springsteen. Chuck E. Cheese music. Silver glove era Michael Jackson …
So you’re a Sega game. Moonwalker.
MR: Dope movie! Joe Pesci with spiders all over him …
NR: Syd Barrett, Roky Erickson, Jimi Hendrix …
JR: Sonic Youth. Leadbelly. Delta blues.
NR: Gandalf’s self-titled is like the best album ever …
LF: White Noise, An Electric Storm.
NR: Sapphire Thinkers, definitely.
MR: You guys are just saying shit you learned about last week! White Noise and all that shit …
NR: I heard that album three years ago!
With all your acoustic interludes, would you get offended if I compared your music to Led Zeppelin?
LF: The first album rules, so that’s OK with me. I like Physical Graffiti.
JJ: I would say it’s more like Black Sabbath.
Do you like sludge metal, like Pentagram?
MR: I’m totally into it. When I first heard them playing acoustically, I told them, ‘Let’s turn this into a fucking rock band.’ I didn’t even think I was going to be playing drums. I just thought they needed that fucking sound. We turned it into that sound.
JJ: In a week! In Reno!
MR: We did the most drunken, sloshed-out show in Reno.
What bands were you in before Feeding People?
JR: I was in a band called Aneurism.
LF: I was in a Chuck E. Cheese band.
We thought you guys met on a chicken hunt?
MR: That’s how Nic and I personally met. I’m a Boy Scout and a fisherman, all around natural birdwatcher, and I was fishing down by the river, and I saw some chickens. And then I go to the local Starbucks, and I saw this homeless kid, and Louis was hanging out there with a mutual friend …
Nic, you were homeless?
NR: I was homeless for about four months.
JJ: He had an attitude problem!
NR: I got a ticket for pot, and my grandparents flipped out and kicked me out. And this guy, Louis—
LF: —I used to feed him!
NR: He would come to Starbucks because he was ditching school and didn’t want his mom to know. I was 16 at the time, and turned 17 while I was homeless.
MR: I didn’t even know he played music! I just knew he was a homeless kid and he seemed cool! So I brought him down to the river in my van and we chased these chickens around.
Did you eat them?
MR: No, they were pets. As violent as I may seem, I would rather cut a man’s head off than a chicken’s. I would happily eat a human.
Anton LaVey’s followers ate a human. A surgeon procured a piece of a human thigh and they served it at a party.
JJ: That’s resourceful, but gross.
Your sound is lo-fi, but it still sounds cleaner than bands like, say, Cosmonauts or Audacity. What do you attribute that to? Just your style?
MR: We’re clearer.
NR: I think that’s just the style. The tones are a lot different. Most of those bands are really punk-influenced, and that’s not what we really are. We’re more psychedelic.
LF: Uh, we all bring different influences.
MR: Me and Louis primarily like fuckin’ punk rock. Heavy sludge, like Ink & Dagger …
LF: Le Shok.
MR: We grew up as hardcore kids, and that’s what we contribute to this band.
JR: Whereas I come from a more psychedelic thing, like Can, Faust …
JJ: I’m personally hoping for us to get heavier. I’ve always had more of a Sabbath ideal, and I hope we get heavier and darker, even more than we already are.
LF: I hope we get more commercial so we can make money. Two-minute songs. Chuck E. Cheese commercials. Honestly, there’s more pressure on us to be more commercialized. Now we have a manager, and we want to make money off this, you know? So now we’re at that point. How are we going to make money and keep our integrity?
Wait fifteen years, and then go country.
NR: I can see it going towards a heavier stoner-rock, fuzz, riffy, jam music.
With those kinds of musical goals, how did you get Chris Alfaro of Free the Robots to produce the songs on your album?
MR: Louis was giving out sexual favors—‘massages’—in the local club scene, and Chris was one of his clients, and Louis did such a good job that Chris wanted to know about his personal life.
NR: Chris owns The Crosby in Santa Ana, and when we played our first show there, he came upstairs to hear what we were doing because he thought it was cool. And when we were done he came up and said he wanted to work with us. That was like September, and basically we started recording some songs on the 16-track digital recorder that we have, and we just sent them to him by email and he worked on them while he was on tour.
MR: We pumped out thirteen songs in a month on a shitty ass little recorder, all recorded live. We have never track-recorded. We recorded drum, guitar and bass live. And it’s all on a whim—a lot of it’s jamming.
LF: All the music’s live, except some of the leads. We would have done vocals live if we really knew how to do it. But it got confusing.
MR: They sound live. In the next recordings, we’re going to keep recording live. We’re not going to try and polish ourselves—we’re going to keep it raw and dirty.
NR: It’s first takes! That’s how we wrote the songs. They were all acoustic, and then we just played ’em electric.
MR: There’s only two songs on the album that are acoustic songs, the rest are pretty much written just jamming on the recorder.
NR: No, that’s not true, because a lot of the songs were original ideas on acoustic.
MR: Just ‘Night Owl!’
NR: No, ‘Native,’ ‘Uranium Sea’ …
MR: ‘Uranium Sea’ started after we were already playing. Everything was written together besides ‘Night Owl.’
NR: And ‘Standing Tall.’ And ‘Kaleidoscope.’ LF: I feel like we’re negotiating.
This is too long—in print, we’ll just put ‘[They fought]’ in brackets.
MR: Put in there that Mike punched Nic!
What are the heaviest drugs you guys have done?
JR: DMT! I’ve done it all!
Did you see pulsating globules? Supposedly everybody who takes DMT sees the same thing.
JR: That’s not true at all. I’ve done it a couple times. There’s that thing like, ‘Everybody sees aliens!’ But that doesn’t happen every time.
You see aliens, but only sometimes?
JR: Well, they like talk to you, but it’s so extensive. They were like right in my face, and they telepathically talked to me. They basically told me that they’re here because we’re fucking up the planet, and that’s eventually going to fuck up the solar system.
NR: It sounds like Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. ‘So long, and thanks for all the fish! Tried to warn you—you’re gonna be dead!’
MR: This interview doesn’t matter, because when we get stomped on by the bigger being, time doesn’t matter!
So what does matter?
MR: My mom. Ha ha! Since nothing matters, we could just sit here and laugh.