Updated: Sep 30, 2019
The group talks about their roots, advice for freshman, and the battle to keep Chaus alive.
Evan S: This is WBCR 90.3 FM Beloit, you are listening to an interview with me, myself, Evan Sheppard and Lu Going our director of electronic music, and we’re sitting here with Blistercoil Weird who’s playing a show tonight at CHaus, September 27th. How y’all doing?
All: Good, excellent, doing good.
Evan S: I love that for all of you. You wanna go through and introduce yourselves, say what you play, what your deal is.
Evan W: I’m Evan Watkins, I play guitar and some synth.
Charlie: I’m Charlie, I play the bass.
Philip: and I’m Philip and I play the drums.
Evan S: Cool, cool. When did y’all start playing together?
Charlie: Last year, with Tony.
Philip: Yeah, Tony Renzema is an excellent songwriter and gathered his flock, being us. But he’s abroad this year so we had to-
Charlie: Come up with something together.
Philip: Yeah, we had to figure it out for ourselves. Very coming of age moment.
Charlie: and none of us are very good at writing lyrics, so the songs are getting a lot heavier and a lot louder.
Evan S: Do you feel like that’s impacted your style? Maybe your genre even?
Charlie: Yeah it’s like a totally different thing.
Philip: Different sound.
Evan W: The vocals have definitely kinda gone on the backburner for now.
Charlie: So there’s a few songs that we are singing on that we just kinda have a lot of ‘verb on it.
Philip: Lotta reverb, and just all of us screaming words.
Evan S: What’re you gonna be playing tonight?
Lu: Are you playing all original stuff?
Charlie: We cover two songs-
Evan W: and five originals.
Lu: What’s your favorite song of yours that you like to perform live?
Charlie: My favorite is Cold Bruise. But bruise spelled as in like a body inflicted wound. Just a little college joke.
Philip: That one was fun. We were originally gonna have lyrics for that but then it was just-
Charlie: The bass line is too hard for me to sing on it, so Philip was singing on it and we kept speeding up-
Evan W: ‘Cause he would sing and drum and we were like no, no, this isn’t it.
Philip: Can’t do the Whitney thing. I like whatever the first one is, what’s it called?
Evan W: It’s like Sitar Destruction or something.
Philip: What’s the second one? The song it goes into. There’s two songs that kinda mash together.
Evan W and Charlie: Oh! Bender.
Evan S: You’ll just have to go to the show, you’ll have to see ‘em live to know exactly what we’re talking about here. What would you say each of your biggest influences on your style?
Philip: I think, collectively we can say that, especially this year-
Charlie: King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard.
Philip: We went and saw their show the day before school started.
Evan W: It changed us.
Charlie: Yeah I haven’t stopped listening to that band in like two years and I don’t know when it’s gonna end.
Philip: Otherwise, who else? I don’t know.
Evan W: What’s our other cover?
Philip: Moses Gun Collective.
Evan W: Moses Gun Collective, but we don’t really sound like that.
Philip: That’s true, that was just a fun song to play.
Charlie: We played that song last year too. I like Thee Oh Sees a lot. Just because it’s childish but in a really good way. The dude’s almost forty now and still just experimenting, not taking it too seriously.
Philip: I’ve been listening to a lot of like, the Sonics and JEFF The Brotherhood.
Evan W: I’d say JEFF The Brotherhood is also a pretty big influence.
Philip: The music’s all very simplistic but it’s very raw.
Charlie: Goat, they’re a band in Sweden. The sitar sounding thing is from them. They’re a psych band from Sweden. The bass lines that I came up with are definitely inspired by them. I like the Voidoids a lot, Richard Hell, all the CBGB (Country Bluegrass Blues) stuff.
Evan W: For me personally also, Khruangbin, I’m a big fan of Khruangbin. Kurt Vile, I love Kurt Vile, I wouldn’t say we necessarily sound like Kurt Vile but I’m a huge Kurt Vile fan.
Philip: We had that one tune that didn’t make the set.
Evan W: We’re not playing it tonight but it’s very Kurt Vile-y.
Evan S: I appreciate that. Do you feel like y’all try to replicate stuff, or do you completely do your own thing? I mean on some level you kind of have to replicate to some extent.
Charlie: For everything I’ve reached independently, it’s definitely been done, I don’t think I’m good enough to directly try and copy a certain format that someone’s doing.
Philip: It’s always sort of a challenge to hear a sound that you like and try to be like “okay, how can I do that in my own way?” because you don’t wanna replicate someone’s sound.
Evan W: I think we find songs that we all dig and we basically wanna play that song, but not play that song?
Evan W: So we’ll write a song in the same vain and it might evolve, but we do that a lot.
Evan S: Lemme copy your homework, but write it a little differently-
Lu: So the teacher doesn’t notice.
Lu: I wanna know, so let’s break down the name. Where did that come from?
Charlie: It’s a Magic the Gathering card.
Philip: Was there other ideas? ‘Cause last year we were Saturn Hat, which was completely Tony’s baby. I sent you (Charlie) that one card, Vizzerdrix, which I was like, “this is a sweet card, right?”
Evan W: We kept sending Magic the Gathering cards and we were like, “this name is awesome!” and like “I don’t know about that one”.
Philip: It’s a pretty easy way to pick a band name, you just get a deck of em and go through.
Lu: That’s a really good idea, I feel like I would do that with Yu Gi Oh cards or something. There’d be some really good ones in there.
Evan S: Do you think you’re gonna go back to Saturn Hat once Tony comes back?
Evan W: I’m assuming
Charlie: The whole lineup won’t ever be together again. I’m going to Japan all year next year.
Philip: I’ll be gone with Evan.
Evan W: We’ll both be doing a semester in New Zealand.
Charlie: And then me and Tony will be together next semester, then the next year is their last year.
Evan W: It’s just the four of us, we’re going through different iterations of who’s here and who’s not.
Evan S: Just switch ‘em out.
Evan W: It is cool though because we have a lot of songs from Saturn Hat with Tony that we wrote that are awesome, but we’re not playing those. Now we have these songs. We have a slightly larger catalog, which is pretty cool.
Charlie: I wonder what he’s gonna think because he totally spearheaded that whole thing last year. And we were just learning and working on songs that he wrote and now he’s gonna come back to-
Evan W: Really loud noise
Evan S: Was it difficult when he left to be like “okay we gotta make some stuff we gotta actually do it” was that hard to get into?
Charlie: I think it was like the second day we got here.
Evan W: Well like you said yesterday, we’ve only been rehearsing for a month, that didn’t really occur to me. Like the 27th to today, I feel like we’ve done pretty good.
Philip: Pretty emotionally rough to not have Tony.
Philip: He’s been sending us tons of recordings and stuff from [the] UK like “guys there’s gonna be new stuff when I get back!”
Evan S: Are you planning on doing any recording or putting together an album?
Philip: That is a question of time and resources.
Evan S: That's fair, I mean the answer does not have to be yes I’m just curious.
Charlie: We might just put some mics down and record it. I mean, I’m taking one of Ian Nie’s classes right now so maybe we could go to Maple Tree but we’ll see.
Evan W: I definitely think we wanna start doing lo-fi recordings just for us, so we’re probably gonna start doing that.
Charlie: We should make an announcement for freshman to start asking around I think there’s a lot of places for everyone to play and I think a lot of people are just a little bit apprehensive.
Lu: Oh yeah, that’s what I was gonna ask. I feel like the music culture at Beloit is dissipating a little bit because the last few classes that graduated were super into music and now that they’re gone it’s been kinda… not as intense and not as big of a presence on this campus and that’s something that I really miss.
Charlie: I’m hoping that tonight will like-
Evan W: spark something.
Evan W: light a fire in the freshmans hearts.
Philip: I know at least the three of us have been trying to, whenever someone is like ‘yeah I play something,’ being like “okay! Here’s the places you can go jam here’s other people I know-”
Evan W: “You can open for us!”
Philip: and they’re like “uhhhh”
Charlie: I was hanging out in Chaus last night at pool night and a few kids got up and started banging on the drums and rapping and I was like “you guys should just-”
Philip: “why don’t you do this?”
Charlie: There’s a lot of people I’ve met that play but-
Philip: and I think it seems really intimidating, coming to college, and being like “I’m gonna perform in front of the college” but especially at Beloit it’s such a good place to get comfortable with performing because it is to a large degree just a lot of your friends in the audience and the same two venues. It’s a really great opportunity to be like “I’m up here doing my thing” and then if you go elsewhere you're really set to keep that attitude.
Evan S: I feel like to a certain extent if you’re on stage having a good time, most other people are gonna be having a good time. And I feel like a lot of people feel like it needs to be very put together and very professional and it really doesn’t. You can just go up and do your thing. Do you have any advice for the wee freshman who are scared of performing but may be interested?
Charlie: Just come play with me.
Evan S: Is this an invite?
Charlie: The stakes are just so low, I played in a bunch of scrappy shows last year with Acid Camp. That just got stupid sometimes, but it was still a lot of fun. There’s not a lot of consequence.
Evan W: It’s also a social thing, you don’t have to be great. Just kinda get to know people.
Philip: More embarrassing things have been done than people getting up on a stage.
Charlie: And for the most part, you could be breaking new ground in Chaus and kids would keep playing pool and sit outside or whatever. You’re not always the main thing.
Evan W: You definitely are your worst judge, or critic.
Lu: I know Chaus has gone through a lot of changes recently, I haven’t been in there since… spring of my sophomore year.
Charlie: and what grade are you in now?
Lu: I’m a senior.
Charlie: Okay, yeah it’s been changed a bit.
Lu: I remember when I was a prospie, I went to Chaus and I was really really excited about it and was like “this is really cool and I really like live music!” it was one of the reasons that I came here because I really enjoyed being in that space.
Philip: and they shut it down.
Lu: Yeah! I was abroad when people were talking about it shutting down and I was just sitting on my phone watching everyone post about it. But I’m interested to see what it’s like now because I still haven’t been in there.
Charlie: I mean, it’s definitely a work in progress. Last year I was a freshman, that was kinda the reason I came too, and they took me down there and I really like the Violent Femmes and Junglepussy and stuff played there.
Lu: I think Modest Mouse played there, someone told me that they played there.
Philip: There’s always some rumor about someone playing in Chaus
Lu: I know for a fact, not at Chaus, but Green Day has played on this campus. Which I think is so funny, I love that.
Evan W: In the 60s and 70s, the Fieldhouse was a known venue, like Frank Zappa and Cream played there. When Frank Zappa was here he was like “Beloit? Huh, that’s the sound a marble makes when you drop it in a toilet.” It was at my graduating party and someone’s dad was like “you know Frank Zappa came there and he said that school sounded like a marble falling into a toilet.” and I was like “What? What’re you talking about?”
Evan S: What do you hope for Chaus, what are your biggest hopes and dreams.
Lu: (to Charlie) Yeah because are you on the staff? At Chaus?
Charlie: Yeah, I was apart of the, I don’t know what to call it-
Lu: The revival?
Charlie: Yeah, and we’re disbanding that whole thing because we’re all friends, and we want all bunch of kinds of folks to come and give advice and stuff. So the next council isn’t gonna be the nightly staff who work the bars and stuff. But last year, we got the upstairs space, and it looked like a dentist's office. They painted the ground floor beige so we had a night where everyone drew on the walls and stuff to try and make it as aged as possible in that one week that we had to open. And we built a stage and a little bar and it’s nowhere near as cool as the place downstairs, but it’s kinda like my baby.
Lu: That was so sad when they painted over everything I was so mad.
Philip: They left a couple blocks of art on the wall-
Charlie: Yeah like the motorcycle guy.
Lu: Yeah there’s so much history in there, I miss it so much.
Evan W: One of the funniest things was someone on the administration was like “so you guys like to draw on the bathrooms? We’ll just put whiteboards in there!” and everyone was like
Lu, Charlie, Philip (in unison): No!
Evan S: Not the point.
Charlie: But I’m hoping it gains the same ruggedness, I hope we can age it a little bit.
Lu: Go back to its former glory. Is the basement gonna be just closed indefinitely?
Charlie: Well there’s no handicap access down there, and there was rumors of bad air quality, which we never got proof for.
Lu: It builds character! It’s good for you!
Charlie: I demanded proof for it, but they didn’t give it to me.
Philip: And while the ADA accessible argument is a very solid one, it doesn’t seem like they made any effort, there was no attempt to actually solve issues as much as it was just like “alright! It’s not accessible. Closed.”
Lu: Right and with the Powerhouse opening, I know they’re trying to push everything towards that ‘cause Chaus is-
Charlie: Yeah they’re selling beer there now.
Philip: At the Powerhouse?
Lu: Well ‘cause Chaus is kinda, the school doesn’t really promote it anymore because it’s kinda grungey and grimey.
Philip: God forbid.
Evan W: and If you wanna say ADA compliant, like 80% of the buildings here aren’t ADA compliant. So why are you choosing Chaus, to start with that one?
Charlie: I’ve gone through this conversation so many times. We got a ramp now.
Evan S: This is WBCR 90.3 FM, Beloit. We had a good chat with Blistercoil Weird. Thanks for coming to the studio. We appreciate it, thanks for your time.