Named after a Siberian cryptid cognate of Bigfoot, Tjutjuna emerged from the band Mothership when guitarist Brendon Schulze left to pursue a professional career in television. Rather than continue with vividly imagined, Michael Moorcock-esque tales of science fantasy, however, Tjutjuna focused on the instrumental aspect of the band's overall sound and developed it much further.
Drawing on the noise-rock mayhem of the Boredoms, Pink Floyd's kaleidoscopic, lunatic calm and the transcendent, cycling freakout of Acid Mothers Temple, this band is not purely intense noodling with psychedelic sounds, but rather a channeled, sculpted sound with layers of texture and mood woven together in an effort to transport the listener far beyond the everyday.
We spoke with guitarist/noise manipulator Adam Shaffner, drummer James Barone and guitarist Brian Marcus about the unorthodox setting of one of Tjutjuna's most inspired shows and how they feel about the whole "space-rock" designation.
Westword: You guys always seem to have interesting ideas for shows, like that absolutely memorable one at Fiske Planetarium in Boulder on April 22, 2006. How did that come about, and do you have anything like that planned for the future?
Adam Shaffner: I used to walk to school every day right past the planetarium and had classes in there for all my astronomy labs and stuff. I just went and talked to the director and asked him what it takes to have a show there. He already had it planned out, gave me the forms and the prices, and we set it up. We let their technician do free-form, improvised visuals over our stuff, and he did a really good job.
James Barone: We literally showed up at five o'clock and discussed it with him.
AS: I would love to do that again, but we'd have to figure out how to get people to go up to Boulder. You basically pay the people's wages who work security; the deposit you get back. That show was the whole reason we started playing music together. "Hey, we can get a show at the Planetarium — we gotta write some songs now."
JB: I don't think we'll ever top that.
I'm sure you probably get called a space-rock band for good reason. Do you have any reservations about that sort of designation?
AS: A lot of people just think that space rock is a delay pedal and guitar. But if you don't have any song behind it, it's just going to suck.
Brian Marcus: There are plenty of bands that play like that and don't change anything about it; it's just washed-out rock music. Space rock seems to follow a trajectory — not to draw out that parallel to space travel, but I definitely think it's traveling music. Just like Johnny Cash has that rhythmic cadence. I think we're pretty spacey.
AS: We'll get thrown into one bin or another, and that's an okay bin to be in.