-What’s that? Eh?
-A camera, we don’t have money for a dictaphone so I just record and extract the mp3
-Oh yeah, yeah.
-We don’t have any money nor talent. You know, shit writers, shit editors, shit website…
Don’t you hate it? One day, you’re just minding your own business and two interdimensional musicians pop into your room, kidnap you, give you a free tall coffee and play some psychedelic rock just for you. An interview with the lovely cuates from Mega Aquarians, Desmond (vocals, guitar) & Marc (drums, cool moustache) followed. We just had to after watching them during Tramlines and pushing their music around…
Let’s start with a random question: is any of you dudes a fan of the old Dungeons and Dragons cartoon?
Marc: I used to watch it!
Des: I remember the theme tune. A dragon face guy? Half black and half white face? What was his name?
Marc: I remember the little Dungeon Master.
Venger. And Tyamat was the dragon!
Des: Did they ever go back?
Nah, they never showed it. I think cartoons and sitcoms are made to be downbeat so you’ll grow up to be bitter adults. Just like the ending of ALF…
Des: Oh, ALF as in… Melmac?!?! ALF!
Des: ALF! You remember him?
Des: With the big nose! “Ha! No problem!”
I loved it and I watched it religiously, watched it in Spanish and English and loved it and then they showed the ending and I went “Oh For Fuck’s sakes!”
Des: What happens?
He misses the rescue ship from his friends who survived the explosion of Melmac because he wanted to reassure Brian, as he was crying. Then the government arrests him.
Des: Oh, man… hey, guess what I’ve been watching lately? The Fall Guy!
Yeah! It was cool, I loved the intro.
Des: “I might jump an open drawbridge!”. It’s ace!
Cool! So… only 2 members in the band but still you sound very complete (and loud). What’s the story behind Mega Aquarians?
Marc: We were in different bands and when they ended, we sort of said to each other “let’s have a jam” because we had the same practise room. We discussed genre…
Des: And our interests. You’re more into Jazz and David Bowie and The Beach Boys and I listen to all sorts of shit! We wanted to keep it esoteric loose, kind of a lightning bolt. There’s no template for the sounds, just experiment. We thought there would be more freedom to experimentation live without a bass player. We could go into some sort of path without having someone having to follow you through key changes and so. That was the idea.
Marc: We had a couple of jams, a couple of songs and a gig and they went down really well. So we thought we had something going on.
Des: Yes, that gig at The Cremorne.
When did you start out?
Des: 2009 but we were called differently. What was it?
Marc: L. Ron Hubbard! We had different names.
Des: L. Ron Hubbard. Leo Slayer. Bon Voyage.
Did you have any troubles with Scientologists?
Des: No, but if we had it would be fair game to them. David Miscavige would chase us. I was happy to keep them but Marc was too scared from them.
Marc: That’s right!
Did you see the episode from South Park?
Des: Yeah! I got really obsessed with L. Ron Hubbard. I wikipedia-ed him to death. Did you read about Sea.org?
Des: Fucking hilarious.
Marc: We also were Leo Slayer for a while. I liked that one. We’ve been through various names, but we liked Mega Aquarians.
What is music for you: Instinct, rules, freedom?
Des: Dynamic tension between instinct and rules I suppose. You can reformulate rules after a period of freedom I guess. Sounds a bit vague.
Marc: You have a constraint to freedom…
Des: And then you re-negotiate with it again.
Marc: We do have rules but we’re happy to break them if there’s a reason.
Des: They’re not really rules…
What was the first album that made you want to pick up and instrument and do some racket?
Des: Megadeth. Rust in Peace.
Marc: For me, the album that made me think “this is for me” was Trust by Herby Hancock.
Des: Yours is less obvious than mine!
Marc: I was an Indie kid…
Now that you mention Jazz, there’s a bit of a Jazzy groove to your drumming, do you have any particular influences?
Marc: Tony Williams, Jack DeJohnette. I listen to all sorts of music and take influences, though. Mega Aquarians is very rock-based, but there’s a jazz thing that I put in the mix. I never play a double bass drum thing.
Des: I like Vangelis stuff, me. The Weather Report, Sparks, Steely Dan, anything like that.
Which Vangelis album do you like best?
Des: I like Blade Runner, 1492 too, you know what I mean?
I love the soundtrack for The Bounty!
Des: Yes, that’s good too! He’s awesome. A big melodic influence.
Marc: But our music never ends up like any of our influences, we try to remove ourselves from it.
Des: I listen to loads of old bizarre stuff. I do like new bands, you can’t say you don’t like any new. I do like The Mars Volta, which you can say they aren’t really new. I’m out of the Zeitgeist.
Ah, the Zeitgeist is a bit of The Ringtone Generation… speaking of new music, how did you feel during Tramlines? We saw you at The Washington and loved your set.
Marc: We did 2 set, right? The second one was a little disappointing, not too publicised, badly attended… but we loved The Washington. Went down really well!
Des: It was completely packed. Loved the vibe too and it surprised me, I didn’t think it was going to go down so well! Contrary to what people like, really, I thought it was going to bomb!
Which goes to show there is an audience for all genres if you give it a chance! But anyways… what do you enjoy best in Mega Aquarians: the song creating process, the jamming stage or playing them live?
Des: I’d say the creating process for me.
Marc: I like all of them. It’s exciting to come with something new but also exciting to get a good reaction when playing live.
Des: I always imagined that I’m reclusive and all but once I get on stage I go all Freddy Mercury, mincing around and all, it comes out of nowhere, but I’m not like that but enjoy playing live loads.
On that note, do you think your audience limits or feeds your jamming?
Des: Well, not really. Depends where we are?
Marc: Could you repeat the question?
Do you think the audience’s reaction gauges if you continue jamming or playing more straight?
Marc: Ah, well, basically a lot of the time we never give more than we are willing to give.
Des: We get a feel from the audience.
Marc: We rarely extend or cut short a set, we just decide what we want to play. Regarding jamming, we have bits in the song that are where we think “ok, this is where we take off for a bit” and then “these bits are where we come together again”.
Like fixed points, then?
Marc: Yes! And we have little cues, little signals when to jam and when to come back.
Des: I just tense my bumcheeks.
Marc: Yeah, because I’m always staring at your arse.
Like Ace Ventura?
Cool! This is from a listener from our podcast, Radio Chaneque: What exactly is a “special beast”?
Des: Well, it’s hard to say. That’s why…we are trying to describe the indescribable, such an esoteric concept.
Marc: And we can only speak of 3 dimensions when it comes from another dimension…
Des: It is very difficult in this plane. We would have to meet it in another plane. Then I could describe it better. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Book them and they will come!
Any story behind the lyrics to the other songs? Or is it a similar answer?
Des: Ha ha, I’m not being purposely being obtuse…
Des: It’s not big stories. We have ‘Deas Astra’, about a girl with superpowers. So ‘Special Beast’ is a superhero and Deas Astra is a made up name for a Goddess, “Day Goddess”.. Jesus Christ, this is why it’s better on the emails, right?
Go on, this is cool!
Des: I use “super” a lot, it’s like hyper, very Jean Baudrillard.
So do you have more of a literary influence or maybe film influences?
Des: Oh, literary influences, yeah. I love Phillip K. Dick, pretty much read everything by him. I love Kurt Vonnegut as well. Aldous Huxley‘s early stuff. Films? I like anything by Paul Verhoeven or that has Arnold Schwarzenegger on it. Junior!
Des: Oh yes. Lesson, though: don’t play a Russian. He’s trying to make himself boring on purpose. There was a strange concept of what a Russian was in America in those days.
Wait, that’s Red Heat!
Des: What’s that then? Oh, sorry! Raw Deal…that’s the one…
The one with the shoot out in the quarry with The Rolling Stones’ ‘Satisfaction‘!
Marc: I don’t remember that one!
Des: I seem to remember him with a leather jacket and a shotgun…
That’s the one!
Marc: I think what drives your lyrics is the mood you’re having.
Des: I don’t write about anything specific…
Who made the Vincent Van Gogh / Mega Aquarians painting?
Des: Stuart Faulk, he’s a great artist, check him out.
Will do. Here’s another question: how many amps is too many amps?
Des: Oh, well…I just gone one down! Orange super crispy, but the Selmer, lots of bottom end and character. You don’t always get a great PA, so it’s nice to have more control. If you know how to balance your amps, you get a supersound. It’s 2 now. The Selmer gets pissed off and I need to turn it down and you feel emasculated…
Will you go for a conceptual album?
Des: Yes, absolutely! I already have a concept: Great mysteries of the past. It’s a Reader’s Digest book with all these awesome stories of the past. Not even mysteries, but stories, like the one of Julien and Ethel Rosenberg, who got caught spying nuclear weapons and got executed. Also got another song called ‘My Green Hell’, about the guy who goes to explore the Amazon Rainforest and never comes back and he’s family looks for him. He was lost in Matto Grosso. Was the first non-native to try to penetrate the area.
Is it the British explorer after the Lost city of Z?
Des: Yes! That one! It would be a great concept album!
Last but not least: any plans to release more stuff?
Des: We want to release a single in February. Aquarius!
Marc: We want to formally release ‘Special Beast’ with another song. Basically, we will record again when the financial constraints are overcome.
Des: Mixed in Sheffield is going to release it electronically. I’d love to put it in vinyl! Sounds better.
Marc: We have plenty of material and we want to record it.
Des: The trouble with vinyl is that it’s really good with old ones when the process was all analogue, no digital step in the chain. Tape to vinyl. If there’s a digital step, there’s no fucking point, know what I mean?
You get compression and all.
Des: If you wanna record analogue, bang it straight from tape! You get some real good beef from that. Some people might think I’m talking bollocks, though…
I’m tone deaf but I know when something is overcompressed, like grinding gravel in your ears. Like the Chili Peppers’ Californication.
Des: I used to like them.
Me too. The way it was mastered, even something acoustic like ‘Emmit Remmus’ looks like a ruddy cumberland sausage. It should be crests and valleys.
Des: Ha, I never heard anyone call them sausages!
Ah, that’s me.
Des: It’s like chorizo!
It’s a fair cop, I don’t know the proper term! Anything else you want to add?
Des: That was pretty much it!
Thank you guys
Words: Sam J. Valdés López