Friday, October 07, 2011

Predawn Rumblings.... Introducing Spacin'

Sometime in the heat summer, over beers in the backyard, good buddy Jason Chillinger started telling me about his latest solo music project. Evidently a full-time job, family duties, leading the Birds of Maya & the Mega-Jam Booze Band, & writing a guidebook to the art of the barbecue wasn't enough to keep him busy. As of late, he'd been battling insomnia with late-night/early-morning sessions in the basement. While I stared off at some tomato plants and swatted an army of mosquitoes from my shoulders, Jason described building rhythms from an analog tape loop and playing guitars out of a pyramid of solid state guitar amps. He had been playing hazy, basement world music. I summarily dismissed this whole development as the passing fancy of a substance using dreamer. I steered the conversation into something a little more tangible: probably something about Carlos Ruiz or my advice for enjoying tequila (neat, w/ a squeeze of fresh lime & a cerveza chaser). My host munched on hummus and cookies and we eventually went our separate ways, me to my miserable rowhome and he to his tangle of guitars and amps in a cramped underground studio.
Months later, while the city slowed to hibernate under a blanket of snow, this project actually crawled out of the basement and onto the stage. I showed up late on a Sunday night to witness the promised pyramid of amps and a grinning Chillinger, barefoot despite the sub-freezing temperature, joined by Ben L & Dizzy Polizze... the other 2/3 of Birds of Maya. This, despite his insistence in the backyard that his new project was nothing like his long-running hard rock act. He was calling it Spacin' and the trio performed circular groovy jams (and by jams I mean loosely scripted, exploratory & repetitive passages) for about four hours. There was no drumkit; Ben played a floor tom & (if memory serves) a little drum sampler. Dizzy played (what else?) an inexpensive Fender guitar. Chillinger pranced around barefoot with a guitar slung over his shoulder and he occasionally whispered/moaned into a microphone, struggling to negotiate hand & mouth coordination.
Early this past spring, Spacin' unveiled a revamped lineup. Gone are the Birds (Dizzy was accused of being too good a guitar player for this project), and introduced are 3 new faces. Among them, novice naturally gifted percussionist Eva Killinger. This was a more together outfit, certainly more practiced. In recent months, hangouts have been cut short, postponed, or cancelled so that Chillinger could go rehearse his band. They live communally work about as hard as the Afrika 70, they rehearse in the inconvenient early hours, & they pay fines for wearing wrinkled clothes.

SPACIN' will perform at an art gallery in Philadelphia called Little Berlin on Sunday Oct 9.

 Deep Thuds sample by killinger

So what's the story with Spacin'? I can remember that in the freezing cold of last winter, you told me that you were working on a solo project. I think you said that it involved a tower of amps in your basement.
ha ha. yeah. Spacin' was originally me and and these towers of amps I built out of all of the busted Megajam Booze Band peaveys that everyone leaves at my house. I soon realized that I can't play guitar well enough to play by myself.

Am I insane, or were you briefly working on something called Chillinger?
Chillinger was what I used to call my late night 4 track recordings (pre-Spacin'). That stuff is mostly country. I've never done anything with them. I made one cdr and gave it to my mom for mothers day 3 years ago, other than that, no one really knew about it. Apparently there's a dj or something using the same name, so I was briefly calling it Spacin' Chillinger which became just Spacin'.

What kind of sound are you after? It doesn't exactly rock that way that Birds of Maya rocks.
I'm not really after any particular sound. Whatever the song sounds like when it pops into my head. They are pretty diverse. It's like a mix tape where you would put fela kuti and velvet underground next to each other, not because they sound similar, but because they just rule in general. It makes no attempt to be Birds of Maya. I couldn't do that even if I wanted to. Nothing can be birds but birds. bom forever. 

This stuff is downright mellow compared to Birds. Are you getting soft?
The stuff online you might be hearing is just me. Those songs are mellower than the band is in actuality. With the full band it's still not as loud as birds, but it has an unmatched level of sloppiness. 

So you've been recording some tunes? How the hell is that working out?
Really good. As of right now it's an 8 song full length LP called 'Deep Thuds'. Hopefully it'll be done in the next couple of weeks. 

Do you play all or most of the instruments in the studio?
There are a couple songs where I play most of the instruments, but the majority of the songs feature the full live band.

Who's playing in the live band with you? I recognize some of those people.
It's me, Jason Killinger on guitar and vox, Paul Sukeena plays actual good guitar. Sean Hamilton plays bass, and my wife Eva Killinger on drums. The majority of the album and most of our shows have been that line up as well. Mike Polizze and Ben Leaphart from birds have also played live and on some of the album. 

And like in Birds, you're the only one with a microphone. What are your damn songs about?
A wide variety of heavy shit. Cheeseburgers, ego death, making a wrong turn in Kensington, getting a metal bar put in my chest, the joy of being and how I never really want to wear shoes. 

Are you jealous of Mike Polizze? The entire world adores him & Purling Hiss.
ha ha. Not jealous, but psyched for him. He sent me an email today saying he's playing in Paris tonight. That's wild. Godspeed, Mike. 

You don't have cable either. How do you keep up with the Phillies?
Scott and Larry speak the truth! Go phils.  

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