Tuesday, June 5, 2012


Everybody knows Xiu Xiu. I remember blasting "I Luv The Valley OH" with my sister and feeling as misunderstood as Jamie Stewart in high school. I was happy to hear the band was returning to Austin tomorrow night (at Mohawk) on their North American tour. I had been seeing their passage through the states and Canada with Dirty Beaches and Father Murphy. 

The line up took on a change mid-way though and Dirty Beaches was replaced by YAMANTAKA // SONIC TITAN. This band's music and performance is as big and exciting (and experimental) as their name suggests. There is no way for you to understand their music through text, so I suggest you give it a listen (below). They create music they have self-dubbed "Noh-wave" in reference to No Wave and Noh, a classical form of Japanese musical drama.

I lucked out on an opportunity to interview the band's core, drummer Alaska B and singer Ruby Kato Attwood about influences and what to expect from their show.


I saw you listed Boris and Gwar as a few of your musical and stage inspirations. Are there any visual artists you are particularly inspired by?
Ruby: I'm influenced by documentarian footage of ritual performance.

Alaska: The artists I hate influence me the most. If its challenging to my taste, it instigates my response through imitation or resistance. So I guess I love hate my favourite artists. Love:  Zhang Huan, Takashi Murakami, Marina Abramovic, Tenjo Sajiki. Love hate: Matthew Barney.

Are there any other bands you would consider "Noh-Wave"?
Alaska: Noh-pe

What are some of the strangest items you've transformed into instruments?
Alaska: Clothesline and 1x6 plank gu Zheng, 50s egg timer bass, a water chestnut can shamisen or a megaphone tamboura. I also built an infamous set of electronic drums out of a Rock Band kit back in 2008. We don't use them as much live, but they still rear their heads every so often. 

I have new ones in the work. Right now my baby is our new 8-panel DIY-led light rig I built with Aylwin Lo for under $600. Our lightning designer Alana Ruth is currently using it on tour. Designed to be modular, I plan to keep increasing its capabilities. It can already sync to Ableton live and MIDI.

What are some of the best reactions to your performances?
Alaska: When a kid at ATP in England somehow knew all of our lyrics. Or maybe when I jumped into the pit at our false alarm farewell show back in 2009 and managed to send even seasoned extreme musicians terrified into the corners with a violent head smashing performance. I've had to cut those down though; I can't take as much abuse as I used to.

Ruby: A guy in San Francisco told us that he finally understood the connection between meditation and doom metal. Generally, the response from our fans have been amazing, and we want to come back even better than ever on a headlining tour

Some of the worst?
Ruby: All reactions are good. Whatever they want to think is half of it.
Alaska: I guess 50% is a passing grade no matter how you spin it.

Have you been to Austin before? 
Alaska: Noh-pe. But our other singer, Ange Loft, might be the first Mohawk to ever perform at the Mohawk

What do you have planned for the performance at Mohawk in Austin?
Alaska: Due to touring's limitations, we've toned down a lot of our stageshow. I won't be doing any of our more intense performance pieces, because I have to play night after night, and drumming is already physically demanding. Our cardboard sets are definitely limited as they can't survive that many shows, and with less time to set up, we can't do the absurd spectacles we became known for. But we still plan to put on a killer light show and play a solid set. The audience won't be disappointed.

Xiu Xiu, YAMANTAKA // SONIC TITAN and Father Murphy
Where: Mohawk, 912 Red River
When: Doors at 9, show at 10
How much: $10 advance, $12 at door

See you there!

1 comment:

Sonkiova said...

The best opener for XX possible. Excellent. I can't wait for them to tour again.