Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Graffiti Island

For The Stool Pigeon / (l-r) Conan, Pete, Cherise

MP3: Wolf Guy

East London trio Graffiti Island have a deceptively simple sound. Through a fog of tape hiss they transmit a swampy tangle of minimal Americana; a dirty, heavily stylized racket populated by werewolves, demonic cats, headhunters and satanists. It's an eerily perfect concoction, from the slightly atonal bass to the schlock-horror subject matter and deadpan delivery. But as bassist Conan explains, it's not as knowing as it might seem.
"The three of us get together and make this music, and how it comes out is just how it happens," he explains. "I've never really thought about it or analysed it past that. A lot of it just happens subconciously."
Which is at odds with the deliberately pared-down setup. It seems a lot of choices have been made to produce something with such a recognisable identity. But evidently, it's much simpler.
"It's more the atmosphere we want," continues Conan, "the way it sounds and the images it conjures up in your head. I love 80's b-movies, and comic books. We all kinda do, so maybe that comes into how we sound."
The band started 18 months ago with a slightly different lineup. "Basically a friend of ours wanted to start a band and kind of got us together," drawls LA-born vocalist Pete. "Well, me an our drummer Cherise. It was this guy Roy, who's now in Hype Williams. He left, then Conan joined."
Pete has his own set of cultural filters feeding into Graffiti Island's odd alchemy.
"I definitely like sounds from the 50's, garage bands, the heavy reverb and distortion. There's stuff like Ariel Pink around now I guess, that's not stuck in one genre, it's kind of all genres together which kind of creates something new."
It's this instinctive handling of post-modern rules that makes Graffiti Island so fascinating. Reference points and influences are juggled, re-processed and incorporated into the whole with ease.
"If I could I'd make something in every genre," says Pete. "I'd make a country album, a hardcore punk album, everything. Recently I've been using lots of weird percussion and bass, it sounds like it came straight out of the jungle." Not the kind of jungle you can still hear on countless pirate radio stations? "No way,' Pete smiles. "I'm taking jungle back to the jungle."

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