Posted by: Necci – Jun 08, 2012
“People that can eat people are the luckiest people of all,” wrote our dearly departed pal Mr. Vonnegut in his late-period novel, Hocus-Pocus – though it’s important to note that Mr. Vonnegut died long before the formation of Yorba Linda, California’s Feeding People. Had he lived long enough to listen to Feeding People’s debut cassette, entitled Peace, Victory and The Devil (from the always appetizing Burger Records), certainly Vonnegut would have been singing a different tune. Yet you needn’t be a pioneering, science-fiction-humanist author to eagerly digest Feeding People. On Peace, Victory and The Devil, we find the band gambling with garage rock that resists the forces of gravity, their sound expanding quickly toward the outer limits of space, all wrapped around a volcanic vocal core that sounds alternately scared and centered. It’s an amazing ride, appropriately peaceful in patches, devilish in the details and ultimately victorious over both boredom and the expected.
Feeding People’s full-length debut will appear on Innovative Leisure, but not before singing for their supper at Austin Psych Fest 2012, and sometime after guitarist Louis Filliger, vocalist Jessie Jones and drummer Mike Reinhart were kind enough to make a meal out of our ridiculous interview questions. Enjoy.
Grace Slick famously used the words “Feed your head” in the song “White Rabbit,” taking her imagery but not her dialogue from Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.” What – if anything – do those words mean to you? In what regard – if any – does your band name refer to a hunger for knowledge, or for the impossibly broad category of mind expansion? Or are you just hungry – like, can I make you a sandwich?
Louis (guitar): I just imagine Grace Slick eating mushrooms in the cover of darkness. As far as the band name goes, Jessie (singer) named the band before it was a band. As of late, though, the name has been taking on some of the things you have mentioned above. I think band names take on a life of their own; when you think of KISS, you don’t think of a kiss – you think of a bunch of sweaty dudes that get laid. I never thought of our band name as a hunger for knowledge, or that we were feeding people some slick-licks, but more so that we are people that FEED. We might change the band name to Fiending People. All jokes aside, Jessie is an amazing cook, strangely enough… Funny side note: yesterday, some body builder confronted us outside of a convenience store and said his motorcycle had just been impounded and that he was dying for a sandwich, and that he was about to eat the bark off of a tree. We fed him.
Jessie (vocals): Feed your head, like food for thought… and yeah, what Louis said!
Mike (drums): She’s telling us to do lots of drugs and forget everything we were ever taught about our current reality. In regard to our band name, part of me thinks of hunger for knowledge and mind expansion, and another part of me sees a little fat kid getting sausages rammed down his throat… or, I don’t really have an opinion.
Do any members of Feeding People come from a distinctly musical background – parents, siblings playing or recording music? Who are the people in your life that you credit with helping your interest in music blossom? Can you point to one specific band or album as being representative of assisting your musical perspective in expanding beyond what might be considered “the norm”?
Jessie: If music were to come from anyone, it’s probably my dad's fault that I play music. He gave me my first guitar and lesson when I was little. Often, Louis will tell me I have a strange accent – my mother is from Minnesota, so don’t you know it’s got to be her influence on the way I sing. I thank both of my parents for supporting my interest in music. The earliest inspiration towards my affinity for weird music goes to every Disney movie that still haunts me!
Louis: Musicianship runs in my family, but I would never consider myself a musician. My mom has supported all of my musical endeavors – love you, mom. I remember exactly when my “musical perspective” of rock music was irreversibly changed!! It had to have been when I heard Syd Barrett’s The Madcap Laughs for the first time. It totally put me in a daze and I immediately began searching for albums that had the same effect on my brain.
Mike: First and only in my family. Michael Jackson, Kenny Rogers, Tony Danza, Billy Zane, Mark Wahlberg, Warwick Davis.
Was there anything as straightforward as a goal or a central idea around which Feeding People formed? Or was it a more organic, perhaps accidental process? Did any of the members play in other bands together prior to this one? How do you think being in Feeding People – even for a relatively short period of time – has altered your everyday sensibilities? What has been the most surprising thing about the Feeding People experience thus far?
Jessie: Everything as far as I am concerned has been a surprise. I leave everything to fate, and this whole band is proof!
Louis: Feeding People as a full band formed as a fluke. I would consider it a total accident. Prior to Feeding People, Mike (drummer) and I were in a band called Bronco Tatonka and we played music for over 6 years together, so I think it helped when we both switched over to playing in another band. The Feeding People experience?? Haha… I don’t know. It has been a really fun time for us. The most surprising thing is just all the amazing people we get to associate with. Free the Robots (Chris Alfaro) played on our last album. We just recorded at Johnny Bell’s studio (Crystal Antlers) and that was a total dream come true, and now we come to find out Bobby Harlow is mixing our album – it’s a total trip.
Mike: Pretty much random. I’ve done bands with Louis in the past, Bronco Tatonka and Tablefruit. One night, I was at an open mic in a cabin in the woods and I saw Jessie singing, and I instantly was star struck. I wanted to get her out in front of a full band. Not knowing how to play the drums at the time, I offered to fill in for a show I got them on Bronco Tatonka’s tour thru Reno, Nevada. It was the worst show we ever played, but I knew this shit was really real. When we got home, we put Louis on bass and became a full band. It’s been about a year and a half now.
What does the title of your debut cassette release from Burger Records – Peace, Victory and The Devil – represent to you? What was the single strangest misconception that was relayed to you about Feeding People once the cassette was released? How – if at all – do you think the band has changed since the recording of Peace, Victory and The Devil?
Jessie: Being so involved with Jesus as a child aroused my curiosity for the Devil. We never talked about the title of the album. I woke up one day and that’s what it was. Seeing that everything has either been a twist of fate or divine intervention, I wonder who is really watching over me.
Louis: I cannot, for the life of me, remember how we made up that name. Something to do with the fact there are more sightings of the Devil than of God. The most annoying misconception was that all we did was drop acid and put mushrooms on our pizza for lunch every day. We are just music nerds – dudes next door. The band has changed a few members since our tape was released. I originally played the bass, but I’ve replaced the original guitarist and Max Riech, our keyboardist Jane’s brother, has taken over on bass and he is way better than me. It is a little different sound, but if we didn’t think it sounded better we would have just stopped. We aren’t tools … yet.
Mike: The name insinuates that you gotta crack a couple eggs to make an omelet, one man has to burn for another man’s victory, you throw a bowl of fruit at a silverback’s forehead and the damn thing’s gunna go ape shit, you step on my toe, I break your foot, you slap my face, I’ll kick your head off… all in all, it’s about finding peace and serenity through Satanism or no beliefs at all.
What can you tell us about the origin of the almost unbearably awesome song, “Night Owl”? Not that it hampers our enjoyment, but we only make bits and pieces of the lyrics – can we so blunt as to ask what the song is about? In Roman times, the hoot of an owl was said to be the sound that preceded imminent death. To an Apache Indian, dreaming of an owl signified approaching death, while in the Americas, the owl is commonly associated with wisdom and knowing how to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop. What does it mean to you? (NOTE: In interest of full disclosure, we asked the exact same question of the band Weird Owl.) Did Nanna ever get her clock fixed?
Jessie: It all happened when I was searching for answers on the sidewalk. I was staring at the sky, and the words poured out from the Milky Way! I believe nature reiterates itself with and beyond language. Sometimes it speaks through people, and sometimes it writes songs called “Night Owl.” I was unaware of any mythical connections and strange legends surrounding owls before I wrote this song! So after reading about owls being messengers of death, wisdom, and aliens, I feel that I have been guided by voices. And the song took on a new meaning. It’s a mystery, even to me!
Louis: Owls supposedly portend alien abductions! We all get our clocks fixed, eventually.
Mike: No comment… I just like the song.
What music have you been listening to lately? If push comes to shove, what’s your favorite Black Sabbath song of all time and why?
Jessie: Alright, I have been obsessing over Broadcast and anything Trish Keenan put her surreal, velvety voice over. Also, Crystal Antlers and anything Burger Records has released! My favorite Black Sabbath song of all time is “Planet Caravan”! I walked like a mad psycho up and down the streets to this song for a couple of hours when I first heard it.
Louis: As of late, I’ve been listening to a lot of Incredible String Band, which apparently annoys the shit out of most people, a lot of Camper Van Beethoven, C.A. Quintet, Jaill, Conspiracy of Owls, Crystal Antlers, and all my Burger tapes… Infinity People out on Burger Records – literally out of this world, really. Favorite Black Sabbath song has to be “Electric Funeral.”
Mike: Black Sabbath Rules Hard.
Would you care to comment on the rumor (the rumor that we are attempting to start right now) that your full-length debut for Innovative Leisure will include only cover sings relating to people feeding? Tentative song list includes “Eat the Rich” by Motorhead, “”Feed Me (Git It)” from the soundtrack to Little Shop of Horrors, and “Hungry Heart” by Bruce Springsteen.
Jessie: Holy Hell!! Yes to all of the above (and below…).
Louis: That is absolutely true. We will also be covering the fun. song, “We Are Young,” and Beck’s “Mother Fucker.” “(A Dash of) Pumperknickle” by Barney, as well.
Mike: I’m lost… ?
How did you first hear of Austin Psych Fest? Are there any bands in particular that you are excited to try and see while in Texas?
Louis: I don’t remember when I first heard of the Austin Psych Fest. I heard The Golden Dawn is playing and that is just nutty. I also enjoy Brian Jonestown Massacre. MMOSS should be amazing to see, as well. Just saw Quilt at SXSW and they are way above the curve.
Jessie: My friend, Brian, was talking about the festival being a sensation last year. It sounded right down my alley, but I never thought I’d be going, let alone playing!! I am excited to see The Golden Dawn, Brian Jonestown Massacre, MMOSS, Quilt, The Meat Puppets and The Cosmonauts. Their drummer, Jen, is out of this world!!
Mike: … ?? …
Napoleon Hill – author of perhaps the world’s most popular “self-help” book, Think and Grow Rich, and a giant fan of Black Flag [you mean Bad Brains, right?-ed.]–said the following:
“We begin to see, therefore, the importance of selecting our environment with the greatest of care, because environment is the mental feeding ground out of which the food that goes into our minds is extracted.”
Jessie: Yes, yes, yes – I really relate to that. I believe everything is a reflection of our own perspective. Egos need constant stimulation and knowledge to grow from our collective consciousness as human beings. If you don’t feed your body and mind the right substances, you will be left with a deprived soul.
Louis: I was pondering this same concept about a year ago. I was getting depressed because of what I saw and how I thought it correlated with my mental capacity. If you see a shitty suburban landscape, it is because that is all you are capable of understanding mentally. So I thought I was stuck in some suburban state of mind and that got me thinking that reality was roughly fifty-percent of what you see and fifty-percent unconscious and subconscious mind, which cannot be understood or explained or even described, a void that encompasses the whole which cannot be if it isn’t. I also think we dump other realities into other parts of the world via wars and pollution. American hypocrisies are cleaned up here, put into bombs and other energy sources and dropped onto foreign countries. I think thoughts take up physical space and have to be physically dumped into other places. Our country has run out of room for mental bullshit and we ship our mental bullshit oversees. Too many people, too many thoughts, more wars. I guess we live everywhere at once. Cosmic consciousness. I’m a burnout :) . Feeding people our mess. Wonder what poor soul this subconscious pollution will land on. Hopefully it will hit the desert or be shot out into space.
What’s next for Feeding People?
Jessie: WE ARE GOING TO THE MOON!!!
Louis: WOODSTOCK ‘94, an endorsement for Sketcher’s, and an all-expense-paid trip to Electric Wheelchairland.
Mike: Time travel and nothing but good times.
By Ryan Muldoon/originally appeared at revoltoftheapes.com