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Interview: Oneida

Oneida’s unrelenting propulsion through the likes of krautrock, psychedelia, noise and all-around experimentation has lasted for more than 15 years. This becomes especially admirable when one keeps in mind that such sonic efforts have all been within the context of a ‘rock band’. Yet Oneida’s explorations are uniquely their own, with the aforementioned genres and styles simply being markers of their eclectic influences and subsequent compositions.

With 12 albums, a slew of live improvisational All Tomorrow’s Parties sets and a recently completed album-trilogy under their belt, the band are embarking on a series of dates that sees them play their first shows outside of NY in years. And to add to their already prolific output, Oneida have revealed on their website numerous new projects including a brand new full-length, 4 limited edition full-length cassettes entitled The Brah Tapes and much, much more.

We caught up with Shahin and Bobby on topics such as the medium of cassette tapes, their ‘drive’ and Can ahead of their Glasslands show on 7/17.

In June 2013, you performed at the Deerhunter-curated All Tomorrow’s Parties in Camber Sands, England with Rhys Chatham. Shahiin – you also joined Kid Millions (John) and Zach Lehrhoff for an Ex-Models performance at the very same ATP (which blew me away). Though you have all played at ATPs in the past, what was this specific experience like? What was it like to be a part of such an eclectic yet excellent and esteemed line-up? People were raving about the Ex-Models show all weekend…

Shahin: It was an honor. I mean you couldn’t ask for a more talented cast of friends, peers, and forbears to be stuck at British Chuck E Cheese with. I’m glad Bradford woke the Models dragon and we got to burn the place down and friends who’d never seen that got to see it. Mostly I remember thinking it was such a relief to be at an ATP and not have to be pulling off an 8 hour recorded improv with like a dozen guests for once.

In 2011 you ended your Thank Your Parents trilogy with Absolute II, yet you followed up almost immediately with 2012’s A List of the Burning Mountains. After more than 15 very diverse years of being a band, how do you remain so prolific? What drives you all to constantly re-enter new jams and soundscapes?

Bobby: the question of what drives us is probably unanswerable in a not-lying context. That drive just is, and always has been, and I don’t know where it comes from – but it’s pretty well shared among us all. And given that we are driven to keep going, it seems to make sense that we keep sticking our noses into new places. I mean, if we made a ton of money doing this we’d probably do the same thing over and over again till we stopped getting paid. But you know.

On this upcoming tour that kicks off at Glasslands you will have with you limited edition cassettes of The Brah Tapes, featuring original live and studio material from the past 5 years. Tapes are becoming more and more common today not only on bands’ merch tables but also as a revived platform for new music. How do you feel about the resurgence of tape labels and enthusiasts? What have your relationships been with the medium?

Bobby: My own personal relationship with cassettes is the world of mixtapes. I grew up with taping shit off the radio (thank you WLIR!) and taping my older brother’s LPs – don’t know if you remember, but that’s how we killed music back in the eighties. I’m psyched about tape labels and tape listeners now just because it’s another medium, another way to experience/immerse/explore. And hell yeah, bring back the rewind millstone! Any time you get some obstacles in your life that force you to navigate them in your pursuit of what you want, it keeps you sharp, you know? It’s like when your bandmates retune your guitar between soundcheck and stage time – just be on your fuckin toes, you know?

Your website indicates that you have been recording your thirteenth (!) album this year. What has that process been like? And what does the near future hold in store for Oneida?

Bobby: We’re actually recording more than that right now – we’ve just finished a full album in collaboration with composer Rhys Chatham, AND we’re well along on the next standalone Oneida album. Plus The Brah Tapes… I think we’re doing all right. Near future: more music, more money, more problems.

And finally, the eternal question: Ege Bamyasi or Tago Mago?

Oneida: Love the one you’re with.

Thanks, Bobby and Shahin! Get tickets for their show TOMORROW (7/17) with Disrhythmia and Beech Creeps here.

For all general enquiries and hate mail, please reach us at info@popgunpresents.com or tweet us @popgunpresents

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