Album of the Month-Star Spangled KGB: Life As It Was Pt. 1 & 2

 

When I asked Star Spangled KGB what their name meant, they said, “we stand for no order. Not anarchy bullshit, but more like directionless.” To them Life as it was is just a “mesh of ideas, melodies, old songs, new songs.” Star Spangled KGB thrives off of chaos. It’s a good thing too because the album is exactly that: chaos. It’s as all over the place as I’ve heard any album be in a long time. They don’t even come close to sticking to one genre. Take “Beach Brat,” which I featured here a few weeks ago. It comes off as a late 90s Strokes demo. And then there’s “Give it Back,” which I might go as far as to say is a bit on the grunge side. Then we have the Brian Jonestown Massacre meets the Stones of “Her Flower” and “Almost Occult,” the latter sounding eerily like an under-produced Secret Colours (second cameo of the week for SC).

Whether you’re okay with me labeling Star Spangled KGB as a psych band or you’d rather I call them something else entirely, I think there’s a lot of beautiful moments in this chaotic group of songs.

Star Spangled KGB Interview:

1.)What are your top 3 influences?

This is a hard question. We love that punky art revolution vibe that the Velvet Underground created. We love Spacemen 3 and their sound ecstasy of comfort and we absolutely love the supreme, ultimate, and fucking badass realism in the psychedelic revival that The Brian Jonestown Massacre established. Many things from the 60’s influence us ranging from folk and it’s lord Bob Dylan, and The Beatles and Stones with their evolutionary and revolutionary band lifespans. We dig The Who and their chaotic freedom, the Byrds and all that jazz, but those 3 bands (BJM, VU, and Spacemen 3) really help out our musi

 2.)What was your recording process for this album?

We recorded a lot of it in the summer in our friend’s basement.
We would wake up, our friend took the blue and redline from Chicago and came over and we’d meet in a kids basement, played and recorded the songs live, and then layered it with other little instruments and things. Some of the songs like All Is Well were made in a hot second and it was us just fucking around and editing whatever it was we had just done.

3.) Was there any overall vision for the album as a whole or is it more just a collection of songs?

It was more of a compiled mesh of ideas, melodies, old songs, new songs, and whatever we had to offer to the group. A lot of songs did flow with one another but some were just sporadic ideas that evolved into creations. There was no narrow vision, but I(Jon) wanted to capture something about how we functioned as people and musicians at some point in our lives; All the ups and downs and weird twists of the average mind.

 4.) Why the change from Suicide TV?

We were never really tight with the many names we’ve had and we were always hesitant, throwing ideas and shit around. When we noticed we were obviously evolving as a band we found a real name and eventually cut the tie with our old bassist and became a solid group.

5.)What does Star Spangled KGB mean?

It means whatever. It’s something too sarcastic and too dysfunctional that I would have to say fits us pretty well. Not saying the band is dysfunctional; I mean our direction is dysfunctional. I mean we stand for no order. Not anarchy bullshit, but more like directionless, as the only guide is our pure musical expression and our philosophy. If I’m not making sense I’m sorry, I’ll elaborate. It stands for an important idea. Freedom. And it’s inevitable trait of being unattainable. The U.S.A and the KGB of Russia make a very odd and contrasting combo. I was taking an act practice exam, came up with the name, and we all said “OK. Yes.” I mean the Cold War is fucking crazy anyways, I love history.

6.) What is one of your shows like?

We don’t know, we play a lot of garage shows and play as passionately and chaotically as possible. We hope to get more Chicago venue shows.

7.)What’s the songwriting process?

Some songs start as chord changes, others a lyrical idea or some are songs written with lyrics and everything then taken to the band for formulating it into a solid tune. I(Jon) write the lyrics and a lot of the basic outlines of the songs, but for the most part it’s collaborative and we just bring in ideas like melodies or whatever and we all contribute into creating something we enjoy.

8.)What is the last album each band member listened to?

The last album in it’s entirety would have to be The Rolling Stones “Their Satanic Majesties Request.”

9.)Digital, CD, or Vinyl?

Vinyl for quality or digital for it’s portability.

10.) What 5 songs make the perfect mixtape?

The perfect mix is almost impossible but we’ll name some songs we dig for the fall season.
Siberian Breaks-MGMT, Syndicate Of Sound- You, Bob Dylan- My Back Pages, Spiritualized- Home Of The Brave, and a beautiful song by The Rolling Stones- As Tears Go By.

11.)What are your plans for the rest of 2011?

We plan on putting another record out there as soon as possible. We have so many damn songs and we keep improving and pushing ourselves to get better. A lot of changes happen and as musicians we want to expand our range in the art as much as possible. We are going to get a little more natural and bring in worldy instruments like the harmonium and various types of percussive instruments to really experiment with sound, while at the same time we plan on letting the punk in us roar when we play live and when we record. As of now we aren’t going to walk the line, we’re just going to go out there and make art.

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