Itchy-O Marching Band announced its signing to Alternative Tentacles last Thursday, May 8th. It becomes the latest in a roster of creative weirdos on Jello Biafra's long-running imprint. Those not familiar with the band in Denver should make an effort to catch it when you can for the sheer spectacle of thirty-plus costumed figures performing what can only be described as experimental marching band music.
With its full drum section, synths, a guitar, bass and sundry noise-makers with dancers roaming through the crowd, Itchy-O puts on an unforgettable performance. The group's debut full-length is scheduled for a release in the fall. Itchy-O (its members wished to remain unnamed and collective) answered some questions for us recently about its signing to Alternative Tentacles as well as some memorable shows inside and outside of Colorado.
Westword: How did Jello Biafra find out about Itchy-O? What did he tell you about why he's interested in the band?
Itchy-O Marching Band: Jello caught us at a Denver Anarchist Black Cross benefit a couple years ago over at a DIY underground space called Glob, and we were smitten with each other instantly. We have a number of snaky provocateurs in slinky burka-esque [outfits] that had no idea who Jello was, but for whatever reason they were drawn to him like loose mules to a corn patch and he loved it. Not sure words can describe the honor we felt watching him jump around and dance his ass off while being molested by our creepers.
You recorded the forthcoming record with Bob Ferbrache. How did you get connected with him and why did you want to record with him rather than another engineer/producer in the Denver area? What kinds of suggestions did he make to you in the recording process?
Bob Ferbrache and Absinthe Studios have been responsible for a ton of great work including Devochtka, 16 Horse Power, the Czars, Crash Worship, Human Head Transplant, Tarantella...the list goes on. We asked him if he's be interested. He said yes.
In terms of suggestions, Mr. Ferbrache did not make a whole lot of suggestions as much as he just worked his wizardry. Bob has a lot of really nice über-expensive microphones that he knows how to use. He is also an absolute master at making stringed instruments sound mammoth.
In recording the album, what kind of logistical problems did you have to overcome being a thirty-plus member band?
We recorded all twenty-plus drummers at the same time for each song. We nailed every song on the first take. And if you believe that we've got Santa Claus hog-tied in Blue Beard's pirate chest with a hot lil' Easter Bunny we'd like to sell you.
We went back through all of our EP recordings, added the our Taiko drummers to those tracks, re-mastered all of those tracks, and added five new songs. This full-length LP was three years in the making.
On what formats will the album be released in September?
We will be releasing this on vinyl with a download card, but because we know many do not play records and many do not buy CDs any more, we are working on an Itchy-O Coloring Book that will come with a download code. Recently, this science textbook illustrator, Leanne Fenton, just started sending us these little amazing graphics of our players. We asked her if she'd be interested in developing a coloring book for us and it's almost complete. How do you think having your album coming out on Alternative Tentacles will help further the cause of Itchy-O's inevitable world domination?
World domination? Oh my...What world domination could you possibly be referring to? We are just a bunch of nice kids putting on masks and tuning into the rhythms of your collective unconscious, balancing them with the gravitational pull of the ever-warbling cosmos and amplifying them into something you can hear and feel. We're vibrating the smallest particles and cells in your body all the way up to your biggest organ, then projecting those energies out into the ether. If by world domination, you mean leading souls into an ego smashing pool of Hermetic ecstasy, I'm sure we do not know what you are talking about.
Why do you think Alternative Tentacles is a good label fit for Itchy-O? Who are some of your other favorite AT artists and why?
Alternative Tentacles was our first pick even before Jello came to our show at Glob. They were our first pick even before we started recording. It's totally true. The roster of bands that have been on AT is absolutely incredible, and it embodies a true love for the things obscure and original. Jello has exquisite taste and has the guts to take risks on acts that do not seemingly fit anywhere else.
We are truly truly honored to be included among the ranks of the Dead Kennedys, Butthole Surfers, the Melvins, God Bullies, Fleshies, Victims Family, Zeni Geva, Neurosis, and Denver's own Munly and Slim Cessna's Auto Club.
What was the most memorable show of this past twelve months and why was it so?
Oof! Gauging by the Memorable-Meter, it will be hard to pick between playing with David Byrne last July or having the entire band man-handled and our lives threatened by greased up musclemen in sparkly panties at an Anarchy Championship Wrestling match we attempted to crash in Austin... it's also tough to discount anything we play outside our home turf here in Denver, where our fans continue to evolve with us. However -- looking back over the last year -- we were so well received at this joint in the New Orleans' French Quarter called One Eyed Jacks. We'd have to say that was a hugely memorable highlight on our last tour. There were a bunch of world-class weirdos that showed up for that show who had never seen us before, and the cut-loose like they had been following us forever. Those folks truly know how to get real freaky-deaky!
If you'd like to contact me, Tom Murphy, on Twitter, my handle is @simianthinker.
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