Portland, Oregon seems to hold an enclave of burgeoning artists. Fom the 60’s nostalgic Unknown Mortal Orchestra to the electronic hyperactive STRFKR, there seems to be a niche available to anyone. Adding to the cestpool of talent in Portland, Wampire is currently making strides and stirring up a bit of news in the music blogosphere.
Despite being a staple band around Portland, Oregon for years, the five- piece outfit is finally set to release their debut album Curiosity. Wampire has previewed a few songs off their album that is a smorgasbord of sounds ranging from a 80’s inspired wall of sound in “The Hearse,” to an amniotic lazy haze in “Orchards.” Luckily, we were able to talk with Rocky Tinder from Wampire about their recording process, working with Jacob Portrait, and the dying house party scene in Portland.
So you guys are done with the tour and SXSW. How have the past few months been for you guys?
Rocky Tinder: It’s been really good. It’s nice to finally get things rolling. After recording the album, which was like in last November, it was kind of like a waiting game. It’s great to finally get on the road and to start touring. Now we’re waiting for the actual album to come out.
You guys are set to release your album in May, but how has the reception been so far?
Rocky Tinder: Well that’s the weird thing about it because we haven’t really released many of the songs yet. So while we’re playing them we can literally see the audience trying to figure the songs out or trying to digest them. It’s interesting to actually see that, and it’s cool just to figure out what impresses people in their initial way of hearing a song. But we also get stoked to have people come out who are also familiar with our music.
It’s weird because while you guys are relatively new, you guys have been a part of the Portland music scene for awhile.
Rocky Tinder: It’s crazy. But it actually kind of started by accident and then once things developed, we became more of a staple in our scene. At that time, I kind of had a feeling that we weren’t in the right place yet. Now though I feel that we’ve finally hit that place where we’re all comfortable and excited about touring around. It took a while to finally get out of that rut, but I’m glad we did. If we didn’t take a break a couple of years ago, I don’t think we would have been happy right now.
When you first started out, you guys used to play a lot of house parties right?
Rocky Tinder: Yeah, we used to a lot. It’s crazy because either I’ve been out of the loop in that scene or that scene is totally nonexistent. But yeah, in the beginning, we used to play at house parties all the time. It’s pretty funny too because back in the day there used to be houses of prestige to play at. So it’s really funny to look back on now.
Aw man, no more house parties?
Rocky Tinder: No, not that I know of. Back then it was just really popular to stay in your house and throw shows with live music. It just became a thing for a while that everyone was doing. Even people and kids who moved into Portland caught onto it. It had a ripple down effect for a while, but it probably got burnt out around the time cop raids became frequent.
How’s it like living in the same city as Unknown Mortal Orchestra and STRFKR. Any competition?
Rocky Tinder: (laughs) No, not at all. We’ve all been good friends. Out of all those guys, I hang out with Jake from Unknown Mortal Orchestra the most. We always joke about different punk bands we want to start and throw around stupid shit like that. But all the other guys moved to L.A. so we see them a little bit but not as much as we used to.
Do you ever find yourself moving to L.A. with the rest of the clan?
Rocky Tinder: I would like to. I’m a little tired of the constant rain over here. I can be really unproductive when it’s rainy outside. It can be like that for around seven to eight months a year. I get most of my stuff done during the summer, so it would be nice to go to a place that is constantly sunny.
You’ve mentioned that the recording process for the album was loosely structured. In retrospect, how did that work out?
Rocky Tinder: I liked it. There was some stuff that got a bit rushed because of time. Of course every band is going to say ‘they could do a better job at some stuff,’ but I’m satisfied. I loved the writing process and was really stoked about working with Jake on the album. His input during the recording process was great. He would help us as to what worked production- wise and what needed to be cut out. We cut a lot of stuff, moved stuff around and made different arrangements. It was really fun. I never have liked the concept about five guys jamming in a room and trying to make something come out of that. It takes too long. The collaboration with Jake was great because we were constantly productive; throwing ideas at each other and experimenting with what worked and what didn’t work.
I can definitly see the loose structure. I hear everything from 80’s to psychedelia on the songs released so far.
Rocky Tinder: Yeah, at first we knew what we were getting into when we started recording. A lot of the bands nowadays are starting to get very eclectic and different with their sound. So while we were excited to record a new album, we were also really nervous. But, ultimately I’m happy because we didn’t make a record that sounded like the same song over and over again. I would compare our album to a delicious parfait that has a ton of different flavors. It’s good stuff.
You guys mentioned your record was probably a bit like “chew and swallow.” It must be cool to see that everyone is taking to it so well.
Rocky Tinder: Yeah I could see that. One thing you can tell while listening to it is how well it’s produced which is largely due to Jake. But yeah, I’ve always wondered that. Maybe it’s because it’s weird or just really all over the place that may make it more interesting. I guess we’re doing something right if people like it.
You’ve talked pretty highly about Jake. How was it like working with him that you feel was essential to the record?
Rocky Tinder: One of the biggest things that I appreciated while working with him was the constant dedication of not doing anything too obvious. There is a beauty in subtlety that people don’t appreciate sometimes. He never recorded two songs the same way and was constantly experimenting with new things. Whenever he felt he was making something too obvious, he would try and get over that hurdle the best he could. So it’s really cool that he had no problem taking chances.
It’s pretty interesting you guys did a cover of Kraftwerk’s “Das Modell.” Why that song?
Rocky Tinder: We recorded that song a couple of years ago and at that time Eric was into a lot of Kraftwerk. It was also funny because the band name is sort of taken from a German joke; so we thought it would be fitting. It’s also such a good song. We always wanted to do it, and when we covered it, Eric and I were playing to a drum machine so it sort of just worked out. We also tried to catch the simplicity of their aesthetic into the cover we did.