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Sunday, September 22, 2019

The Abyssmals - "Gospels, Hymns and Other Trash!"

Rescued from a cult and saved by love and rock'n'roll. Read all about it here!

1) For the viewers of this blog who would not know you, What would you tell about you and your musical background to introduce yourself? Can you also introduce the other members of The Abyssmals who participated in the recordings? 

JARPON: The Abyssmals are a five-piece garage psych band from the Schenectady, NY formed in October 2016. The band consists of Bob Forget on guitar/vocals, Boris Cahrenger On bass/vocals, Nick Nigro on drums, Muffy Reyes on keys/percussion/vocals, and me (Jarpon Reyes) on guitar/lead vocals. The group initially formed around a collection of demos (The Abyssmals S/T) I started recording in Spring of 2016 and released that September.  Up until that point everyone was in separate bands that were in the process of ending so it took a bit to get together. Once everyone was assembled, the songs began to take on a new life with everybody bringing their own personality and musicality to them. While there’s definitely a cross section of psych music for us, everyone integrated their own distinct musical sensibilities, styles, and sounds. Personally, the Velvet Underground are my faves, but the stuff that most informs my writing for The Abyssmals is mixture of early Mod/British Invasion, 50’s rock, 60’s surf rock, Nuggets-era psych, 70’s punk, and a little 80’s post-punk.  The Animals, The Monks, Los Saicos, The Stooges and ? and The Mysterians were big vibe inspiration behind the whole idea when I started writing. More modern psych and garage bands like BJM, Black Angels, Black Lips I also love and can be traced in our songs. Also artists like Elvis, Roy Orbison and more currently, Angel Olsen. My dad was a big karaoke guy and I grew up on American oldies radio so I’ve got a major soft spot for dramatic crooning and melodic, vintage pop.

BOB: I grew up listening to a lot of British Rock, started with The Beatles, The Who and The Stones.
I eventually shifted into Brit Pop, Shoegaze, Psychedelic, New Wave stuff like Oasis, Blur, Ride, My Bloody Valentine, Happy Mondays and The Stone Roses. I also enjoy several American artists, The Velvet Underground, The Black Angels and Brian Jonestown Massacre.

BORIS: Hello, I’m Boris and I play bass. My own personal music background goes way back to high school, where I played euphonium for 4 years or so. After that, I went into a pawn shop and purchased a Squier p-bass without even playing it beforehand and never looked back. I’m a huge fan of Motown and Stax artists, and also passionate over rock and roll.

MUFFY: I'm pretty much a tempestuous fan of music so it depends on my mood what I'm really digging. The most impactful artists for me musically though are Blondie and The B-52's. For performance style and aesthetics, the B-52’s still reign on high with that, but I also really love 60's flight attendant outfits, Cher in her Bob Mackie days and any and all drag queens.

2) About your debut full length album "Gospels, Hymns and Other Trash!",  what can you tell about the recording process? Was this a "live" in the studio recording or a track by track recording with lots of overdubs?

JARPON: We recorded in the basement of our friend, Shane Williams’ house.  He was essentially the engineer and I mixed it. Our friend, Troy Pohl mastered it. Side note: Our song, ‘Mansion of Happenings’ is actually about Shane’s house.  When Muffy and I moved to New York in 2016, the first show I went to I ran into Bob and Shane and also met Boris. I’d known Bob and Shane because my old band in Boston, Peachpit, played some weekend tours with Bob and Shane’s old band, Linear North, back in 2014.  That night Shane invited me over to jam with them all at his house the next morning. I hadn’t played with people in months since my old band broke up so jamming with them was great and inspiring. I immediately went home and wrote ‘Death Row Messiah’ and ‘Mansion of Happenings’ the next day and kind of sparked the idea of a band. As for the recording process, we did the majority of the instrumentation live. Bob did a few guitar overdubs. All the vocals were recorded separately at me and Muffy’s house as was most of the organ, percussion, synth and random bells and whistles. I cut together all the weird audio samples. The first bit at the beginning of the record is a mix of a John Lennon clip and Rod Steiger’s Twilight Zone intro monologue.  The sax before ‘For All of Time’ is a recording of our friends’ son mimicking Ornette Coleman.  Other than that, most of what is heard happened in one room together over the course of 2 or 3 days. I’d never mixed a bulk of work like this before so it definitely was a massive undertaking for me and also a huge learning experience.  I probably went through 6 mixes for each song.  I love recording and mixing just as much as performing, but I think for the next record I just want to watch and learn while someone else takes the wheel.

NICK: Recording live takes at Shane's house was a blast and I think the live feeling definitely came
out in the final product. It was an awesome experience to watch the mixes evolve over time.

3) Do you use the nowadays digital recording technology or do you only work with analog machines in analog studios? 

JARPON: Yeah, we used all the newfangled digital stuff. It’s what was available, haha. I also feel like as long as you have a sense of vision about what you want, you’ll get there somehow. I do know we’d love to do some analog recording though. Hint, hint if anyone is reading this wants to record us.

4) How would you describe the music you're playing? 

JARPON: I used to use the label, “Butt Psych” for kicks before, but most folks stick us with “Garage Psych” or some variation of that. We’ve gotten a pretty good mix of bands people have compared us to or hear in our songs. The Cramps, Brian Jonestown Massacre, The Velvet Underground, Beatles, Stones, Black Angels, The Pretty Things, The B-52’s, The Warlocks, The Allah-Lah’s, Dick Dale and even Tommy James and the Shondells have all been mentioned. Our sound gets likened to Quentin Tarantino soundtracks with some frequency as well. I’m ok with it. All of that’s in there and more, I think. Muffy was quoted in another interview as characterizing us as an “inter-dimensional trash prom”. I like that one.

MUFFY: It's true! I feel like we're the cool band that a school got to play at their prom back in the 50's -- but in an another post apocalyptic dimension where the world had ended but yet we as humans are still here.

NICK: It's definitely a mix of what everyone is bringing to the table. At it's core, it nods to vintage rock and roll with some twists and turns thrown in the mix.

BORIS: I tend to keep it simple and tell people we’re 60’s style psych/garage rock with energy, attitude, and style.

BOB: A lot of people throw us in the Psychedelic Garage category but we all bring our musical backgrounds to the table and it just ends up being The Abyssmals!

5) What is your favorite topic/topic that comes easily when you write a new song?

JARPON: There are definitely some themes I end up swimming with a lot. Those would be belief/disillusionment, obsession/addiction and escapism. That may sound kind of grim or heavy, but I like to present them in a tongue-in-cheek way.  I very rarely begin writing a song with a topic in mind though. Usually it begins with some chords, then a melody, then I pull words out of the melody.  The topic of the song will springboard off the first line I come up with so I put a lot of emphasis on having a solid first lyric. Overall though, I try not to think too hard about it. I don’t write very personally or confessional with Abyssmals songs really. It makes it a little more fun that way.

BOB: I normally don't write any lyrics, but when I do it's usually about escaping, struggles in life, space and water. Other times when i'm working on a song I try to create a mood with different guitar lines and effects. Then there's the acoustic guitar approach where I'll be strumming away on something and then i'll just record a quick demo and build off of that.

6) Do you have a new video on youtube  featuring a track from the new LP?? 

JARPON: No new video yet. That’s something we’ll be working on.  I made a video for the ‘Death Row Messiah’ demo I did, but we’ve got some ideas for stuff off of G.H.A.O.T. I guess it’s technically past due for our “promotional” time, but we’re mostly concerned with just making something fun and cool, timelines be damned.

7) What can concert goers expect at a The Abyssmals gig? Are you playin' any famous cover songs during the gig? 

JARPON: Concert goers can expect to escape the realm of earthly burdens and fall head on into the abyss. No taxes, no mortgage, no debt to pay. Just straight freedom of freakishness. They can expect to be entertained. As for covers, we’ve done a few.  ‘Hold Tight’ by Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich, which is a good, classic Nuggets tune. We also did ‘Reverberation’ by 13th Floor Elevators at our album release show, which was shortly before Roky Erickson passed. Probably the most famous one we’ve done is ‘Helter Skelter’. That’s always a bash.

8) Are there any bands in The USA today you consider yourself close to musically speaking?

JARPON: Actually, when I first heard the band, The Nude Party, I immediately felt like we had some kindred sonic sensibilities. I absolutely love that band too.

MUFFY: When I listen to Black Lips, I definitely think we can play a bill with them, they have that stanky southern rock while we have a cheerfully despondent, post-industrial America sound.

BORIS: It’s hard for me to say who we are close to, but we have been told that we sound like The Brian Jonestown Massacre and The Black Angels, which is cool to hear people say, as they are definitely big influences.

NICK: As far as more other well known bands go, Thee Oh Sees and Ty Segall match the heavier side of our sound. We also had the good fortune to play with the bands New Aura (Boston, MA), and Psychotic Reaction (Norman, OK) who have a similar feel.

9) To what kind of music did you listen to as teenagers? What were your favorite bands as a teenager? Name 3 bands that you consider still have an influence on your own work today.

JARPON: As a teenager I started off mostly listening to 90’s alt-rock bands that would have been on MTV’s 120 minutes (even though that was off the air by the time I started high school).  It really wasn’t until my late-teens/early 20’s that I started finding my own tastes.  I started getting heavily into The Beatles’ full discography around 16 or 17 and obviously that was huge.  But also right around then I started listening to Elliott Smith and that deeply affected me. It was the first time I’d heard an artist and felt like their music was speaking directly to me. His music made me fully realize I wanted to write songs above anything else. And not necessarily songs that sounded like Elliott Smith but just good songs in general, regardless of genre or style. But as far as bands from my past years of musical discovery that currently influence the Abyssmals’ songs - I’d say the the Velvets, The Beatles, and a dead tie between The Stooges and The Buzzcocks .

BOB: The Beatles, Oasis and The Who were my favorites as a teenager but then I started pushing towards the psychedelic, shoegaze stuff later on. I always loved the songwriting of Lennon/McCartney and Noel Gallagher but I found my strengths were in the lead guitar/guitarist role. Nick McCabe from the Verve was always a huge inspiration for me when it came to the guitar same with Kevin Shields from My Bloody Valentine, they both had a big impact on me when it came to finding new sounds.

BORIS: For me, the first band that I really got exposed to and loved as a teenager was Tool. I was blown away by the rhythm of their songs and the riffs. I also loved Rage Against The Machine, Chili Peppers and in my late teens I got really into The Beatles. Three bands/artists that still have an influence on me today (off the top of my head) are Stevie Wonder, David Bowie and Television. I can go on and on with artists though!

NICK: I grew up with a lot of 60’s rock, folk, and Motown in my house. As I got older I found my
way into punk rock, grunge, hip-hop and indie/alternative rock. If I were to pick 3 bands from early on I'd say David Bowie, John Lennon/Plastic Ono band and Velvet Underground have had a lasting impact on me.

MUFFY: I was in a cult as a youth so I was not allowed to listen to any music outside of American top 40 radio.  It was only until I was rescued about the age of 25 that I was able to diversify my tastes.

10) What are the plans for the rest of 2019 as far as The Abyssmals are concerned?

JARPON: The rest of 2019 we’ll be playing as many awesome shows as possible, working on new material, and ideally getting ‘Gospels, Hymns and Other Trash!’ on vinyl and available to our ravenous fan base for the holidays.

11) Anything you wanna add?

JARPON: Firstly, on behalf of all of us, thank you so much for your listening, interest, and time Eric!  Secondly, I thank anyone who takes the time to read this and listen to our songs. Lastly, to any bands, labels, bookers out in EU who may read this or listen to us: we want to play with you, we want to play for you, we want to release with you!!! Hit us up at


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