Saturday, August 25, 2012

Truckasauras talk DANTASIA with Robin Stein

Truckasauras will be closing out Vibrations festival this year with a three-channel VHS  masterpiece: "Dantasia,"  which has only been performed once before at Vermillion to a small and unwitting crowd.    

Truckasauras continually push to the periphery of the expectations put upon them as Seattle band, or even the expectations of what it means to be a band. Having easily maintained a regional reputation as a raucous speaker-blowing analog-authentic outfit, and for their impromptu street throw-downs ;  Truckasauras' reach and identity has gone further - being featured recently in the exhibition Soundworks at the ICA (Institute of Contemporary Art) in London.  Bothell Trance -  their exploration of phasing in superimposed rhythmic structures - was featured as part of a companion exhibit to the ICA's staging of a major Bruce Nauman sound installation. Perhaps this pairing is just as appropriate as performing with Flying Lotus or Egyptian Lover. 

Dantasia is merely one portion of the multi-part unveiling of Truckasauras 2012, which is to culminate in October with the release of their third LP on the equally adventurous brooklyn-based label: The Journal of Popular Noise. 

I had Tyler Swan of Truckasauras to answer a few questions about what they are going to be doing on Saturday evening. 

Robin Stein: Can you explain what Truckasauras 2012 is?

Tyler Swan: Truckasauras 2012 is a series of local events we put together to exercise ideas that don't necessarily work in a normal tour type show. Culminating in the release of our new album.

RS: Can you describe a bit what you're going to be doing for Vibrations festival? What is Dantasia  and The Ultimate Beginners?

TS: For Vibrations Festival we are doing an encore presentation of Dantasia featuring The Ultimate Beginners which is an audio/video presentation done with two VCR's, a video sampler and three projectors. 

RS:  What was the process for composing these videos and songs?

TS: It's all made out of samples from an instructional music VHS series called The Ultimate Beginners. Chopping them up to make songs then matching the video sample to the audio samples used.

RS: What led you to working with The Ultimate Beginner tapes and what influences went into the process of creating Dantasia?

TS: Danbo [Dan Bordon] made a video back in the day by chopping up the vocal instruction tape and it kind of became a Truck classic. He kept finding tapes from that same series at different thrift stores until he had a whole stack. Keyboards, drums, bass, guitar, vocals. This gave Dan the idea to chop up and combine them to make a full band. We call this band The Ultimate Beginners.

RS: What's unique about using only The Ultimate Beginners series as source material for making music and videos?

TS: It's cool, it worked really well. All the tapes are like the intro first lesson for each instrument. They all teach the same stuff. It's all blues scales, open chords, C major, A minor type stuff. So they all went together really well with tempo and harmonics. It's like they were already playing together.

RS: Can you talk about the constraints of your equipment (synching VHS tape decks,   the midi video deck, only using a single source material…) and how it informs the way that you guys create this kind of piece?

TS: It falls into what the whole Truck thing has been. Limitations of gear creating a style. You can try out different styles and ideas and that limitation kind of keeps a cohesive thing. Also we have been experimenting with having no sync and the chance occurrences with that. The VCRs are cued manually creating a slightly-different-every-time type of thing.

RS: In the process of doing Truckasauras 2012, what are some things that you have gotten excited about (music, art, whatever...) as a product of this project? Things that might inform what you see coming up for you as a band.

TS: During all of this, Ryan has really gotten into building a modular [synth] and a lot of ideas have popped up with that. Also the Dingus and the Buttfucks[*] , live drum stuff has been inspiring.  

[* Dingus and The Buttfucks - an all live drums incarnation of Truckasauras]

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