Text by CATHERINE P. LEWIS
A CONVERSATION WITH REPLICATOR
Replicator is a noise rock band from Oakland that's bound to get your booty shakin'. So far they've self-released an album and an EP; up next is ddbbLL Vvzznn, a split EP with Lower Forty-Eight, on the Defend Los Angeles label. Not coincidentally, Replicator and L48 are embarking on a weeklong tour of the West Coast in October, including a stop in Seattle. I caught up with the band - Conan Neutron (guitar, vocals), Ben Adrian (bass, keyboards, vocals), and Chris Bolig (drums, destruction) - from my home on the other coast.
Tablet: So what exactly are you replicating, anyway?
Chris Bolig: We replicate the sound of peacocks being beaten over the head.
Tablet: Who do you most get compared to?
Conan Neutron: Somebody once said "Devo goes metal" - I like that a lot.
Ben Adrian: My friend Erik said we reminded him of Arsenal.
CN: Really, Arsenal? That's definitely the most obscure one I've heard. I didn't think anybody knew who they were!
CB: Mostly we get the Shellac comparison.
Tablet: Speaking of Shellac, Bob Weston recorded your first album, but the next one you're recording on your own. How's that going?
CN: It's 90% done, and I think it's the best thing we've done by far. Ben is recording it, but that's not really the same as "recording it ourselves," since he's an engineer and works in a studio.
BA: I like being able to try many different recording ideas, and now that I work at a great studio (Mr. Toad's in SF), to use nice and interesting gear and record in a more acoustically pleasing space.
Tablet: You did a nationwide tour last year, and you're always doing shorter local tours. What do you listen to in the van when you're on the road?
CN: We pretty much listen to nothing in the van; the stereo is always stolen, and when it's replaced it gets stolen again. So we gave up replacing it for now.
BA: Thievery runs rampant around Conan.
CB: We listen to the cosmic vibrations of the road as it makes sweet love to the van's tires. But now that our van is totaled...
Tablet: Oh yeah, I heard about that, what exactly happened?
CN: We were coming back from a short tour when we smelled something and heard a loud BANG. I guess we were leaking fluid out of the rear axle and when it ran out, it snapped and split the drive train and drive shaft in half. All in all we're pretty damned lucky nobody was hurt or killed. These guys Bam and Gary towed us, who were totally surreal: Gary was a life-sized muppet, and apparently "all hopped up on prescription pain medication," according to Bam. Lucky thing he wasn't driving.
Tablet: You're about to go on tour to promote a split EP with Lower Forty-Eight. How'd you hook up with them?
CN: Cory from Absolutely Kosher Records was booking a night at a local club for a while. He wanted us to play and thought they would be a great match for us. He was totally right - we quickly became great friends. They are definitely our sibling band, although stylistically we're a little different. We have more danger and chaos to what we are doing, and they are more structured. Their new album blows my mind.
Tablet: How has each of you grown from your experiences in Replicator?
BA: I've become much more minimalist in nature since becoming a bass player. I don't like busy or showy bassists, and since I'd never been a bass player before Replicator, the experience has changed my outlook on timing and musical space.
CB: Ben taught me that being completely inappropriate at times can be really hilarious. Conan has taught me that getting mad at inanimate objects leads to high blood pressure.
CN: I'll have you know my blood pressure is perfectly normal! A lot of musicianship has rubbed off on me from Ben, and a lot of punk rock "play from the heart, or don't play" philosophy has rubbed off on him from Chris and me. I've grown a lot as a person, deal with people better, and have a creative outlet that keeps me from exploding. I owe this as much to Ben and Chris as I do myself - these guys are family to me.
Replicator and Lower Forty-Eight play at Café Venus and Mars Bar on October 4.