Sunday, 21 June 2009
Pocahaunted could have easily just have been another (albeit incredible) female-voiced drone band from the West Coast of America. Instead earlier this year they chose a different path, recruiting and regrouping as a five piece.
They’ve been showcasing their new material on a brief tour of Europe with fellow LA experimentalist (and now keyboardist with the band) Sun Araw. And I was fortunate enough to grab 10 minutes with Lead Singer Amanda (right) and Bassist/vocalist Diva (left) after their show in Nottingham.
-TLL: How has the tour been going, so far?
Amanda: It's been pretty good
Diva: Most of the shows that we've had there's been like dancing and stuff, they come up to us afterwards and they're like 'we didn’t expect to be like coming here, dancing and having an uplifting experience’ but they really got into that mode and everyone's just been like having fun I guess.
-TLL: I've noticed live, now don't take this in the wrong way or anything, but I'm not sure whether it's your guitarist's guitar lines or your drummer's beard but you've got a bit of a 70's feel to it - that whole 70's Californian feel to it, are you quite influenced by that?
Diva: I think we're influenced by a lot of music from then I guess you'd say we're influenced by a lot of jazz, afro beat and a lot of the afro funk is from around that era.
Amanda: Yeah absolutely, the time when like California Soul and funk were sort of for everyone, getting fairly mainstream - coming away from the roots and African American based music and it was even more of like a world phenomenon. And I think that's when like all styles converged and that's why it sound sort of psychedelic, but also a hybrid of dub and reggae beat to it.
Diva: We also really like dub, a lot of psychedelic influences too maybe not as much (70's) but early 60's stuff like with the other guys and stuff.
-TLL: I've noticed you guys seem to have a penchant for Fleetwood Mac as well.
Amanda: (Laughs)I like Fleetwood Mac, quite a bit.
TLL: I noticed the cover of your new record Passage, it's pretty much identikit to Rumours in like the font.
Amanda: It's hard not like them and I’m not really even into the genre that they come in, they just have a special soul to them and do think there's a funny balance between having two women and three men and having this play off like power structure in the band. Like the female voices being like lead voices.
TLL: A bit like Pocahaunted then?
A: Yeah (laughs) a bit like that!
-TLL: I read an interview with you guys on Alan McGee's website toocooltodie.com...
Amanda: It sounds familiar, did I say anything? (Laughs)
TLL: There were a lot of odd questions like 'What are the secret origins behind Pocahaunted?’ 'What are the secret origins of your name?' implying all these mysterious origins and I think the answers were a bit like 'ooo eerr, what? We’re just a band'.
Amanda: Diva and I talk about this constantly. When people ask a band where their name comes from, I think a lot of people put a lot of stock in their band name and they find that it really reflects them and I think sometimes it doesn’t reflect you, you grow into it, rather than it defining you. And the band name Pocahaunted', literally came to me in a dream (laughs), which is cheesy, but it's true. And I woke up and I went 'Pocahaunted!?' How funny' and then all of a sudden you start playing music and you SOUND like Pocahaunted almost like it was clothes that we had to grow up into and so when people say 'oh is it because you love native American imagery?', 'is it because you want play on that idea of ethnicity?' - it's not necessarily and if that happens it's a coincidence because we just play the music that we played and all of a sudden people were like '..! spooookeey, natiiiiive'.
Diva: It’s all coming from the same person so it makes sense. Yeah, asking a band where they got their name from it just takes the mystery away it's not usually that good of a story.
Amanda: it's makes you wonder if anyone ever asks The Beach Boys where they got their name or like The Beatles - what would they say? They would say 'I don't know'.
-TLL: Yeah you've pretty much touched on the question that I was gonna ask you next, I think with a name like Pocahaunted, it's just a good pun, most bands could like start and end with that where as with you, you seem to have taken it as far as it can go.
Amanda: Yeah, I mean they say you know a shark has to keep moving or it dies, I think the same is true with the band (laughs) if you stop like illuminating in your music then stop giving any of your soul to your music all of a sudden what do you have you know? You have a band with 13 of the same albums forever, and I think a lot of fans feel comforted by that, 'oh I know I like this, here's more of what I like' but as the person creating it, to keep loving it...
Diva: To grow as person and have it fulfil the purpose that it gives to you...
Amanda: Because it's hard, as you're growing as a person, you're touring hearing other bands play meeting other people, you're like 'oh I heard this amazing song by a Thai 60's rock group record that's crazy like sparsey jam' all of a sudden you're like 'I want that in my music, I wanna translate that'. So to be this sort of like mopey, steady thing that never pulls in these other influences it's just... it's not for us.
TLL: It's not so cool unless you're like Slayer.
-TLL: Again with the whole Native American thing, they're all these like your websites, and like videos, I've noticed with you guys... they're somewhat more of prominent thing.
Amanda: I think to Diva and I, our aesthetic is really important and if you represent your band then you kind of represent yourself, then you kinda want your art to be in everything and as like a full fledged artist it's not just we want to play you great music but we also want to present you something beautiful or interesting or unique. So if you see our record cover: it reflects us, if you see our video it reflects us and on and on and on. It's kinda sad when you love a band and then you see their art and it's just black with their names in white and they're kinda like 'what does it mean' you know?
Diva: I think a big part of music is taking your own personal world, like your own personal reality that isn't part of this one and giving that to other people, expressing that to other people. And you wanna do that completely and you wanna create an entire world, if music is the most prominent thing you wanna create a world for it to live in not you know.
Amanda: I think it's hard for bands to get lumped into genres and scenes and microcosms of microcosms and we're sort of genre-less and we're sort of aesthetic-full and we just pick colours and images that we connect with all the time then we're much more vibrant than just being rock set in the middle like 'Drone band!' you know, what fun is that?
-TLL: You could have easily been lumped in with that whole West Coast female drone thing with Grouper and Inca Ore, but now you're this full fledged band and it's just developed into this whole other story.
Amanda: It's an incredible blessing to be around people like Liz from Grouper and Eva from Inca Ore and the other women doing their own projects, but I think the vibe of that is a lot about beauty ceaseless and endless beauty and then there's depths to that. We may be more about rhythm and think that starting to be more prominent, our voices are beautiful and they are, but sometimes they're not beautiful but you push it and you're not obsessed with coming across as precious and it think it works for them and that's why it's a beautiful expression of them. And for us, with Bethany and I, we had to be less precious - cause we're not so precious (laughs).
-TLL: I'm not sure why she's not here tonight...
Amanda: She moved to New York to go to college, we had to split coasts. She's much younger than and I couldn't stand in the way of her dreams.
TLL: It seems rude to ask about whether you continue with her, but it seems like a really good friendship between you two, I guess you'd have to be, considering you spend so much time together.
Amanda: Yeah! That's the thing about this particular band, we're all really close and I was obviously incredibly close with Bethany when she lived in my city and Diva's one of my closest friends, and my husbands in the band and two of our really good friends finish up the back line.
TLL: Which one's your husband?
Amanda: My husband's the guitarist, one of the ones with facial hair (laughs), they all have facial- yeah you have to be really close, it's an endeavour.
Diva: We've been together for a week and I think we're just standing strong.
Amanda: (laughs) Yeah, we're standing strong!... No it's been good, you have to be strong and also I think about bands like The Rolling Stones and they go into their shows in five limos, they have five difference dressing rooms, they're like 'Don't talk to me, I've known you for 45 years. Don't even speak to me let's go play Satisfaction and go home'. And I think if you get that point then in the beginning then you have to be brothers and sisters, you have to be close because the creative process is really intense... you know in 45 years I might be like 'Diva, I'm taking a private jet, take your own damn private jet I'll see you when we get to the venue, dammit' - but for now together.
-TLL: How long of the tour have you got left?
Amanda: Two weeks, we've only done one week.
TLL: So it's kinda fresh so far.
Diva: It doesn't feel fresh! (laughs)
TLL: Is it too much!?
Diva: I mean we're playing every single night on this tour, we haven’t had one day off on this tour, so that's a little intense.
Amanda: We were kinda like 'Hi Ireland... bye Ireland!’ 'Hi Scotland... bye Scotland!'
Diva: At home we're pretty used to staying at home and we've kinda developed our own lives at homes, I mean it's been really amazing, it's been really exciting to come out of that and have all these experiences... but we're not fresh.
A: (laughs) We’re not used to it. We’re doing well, we're eating good food.
-TLL: So do you reckon when you get back, you'll have a bit of a break or do you reckon you'll be going in and recording things?
Diva: We'll have a little, little, little break but we're definitely gonna try and start recording as soon as possible because we have 5 songs already that we need to record and we wanna get the record done, I say as soon as possible but not like rushed, we want it to sound good, as good as it's gonna be. We're gonna start working on that soon.
Amanda: Cause after the tour we'll be slamming at these songs. After 21 days of playing them, if we're not good by then, they’re not meant to be heard by the world (laughs)!
Pocahaunted can be found online at notnotfun.com/pocahaunted and at myspace.com/pocahaunted