Aarhus Psych Fest is fast approaching with less than two weeks to go. As a headlining act the festival has booked Spindrift who are ending their most successful tour yet with their appearance at Aarhus Psych Fest. We corresponded with their front man, Kirkpatrick Thomas, for an interview, while he was travelling through Spain.
Q: What came first? –The Spaghetti Western Films or the band?
A: The band! Spindrift formed on the East Coast of the United States in the early 1990’s (wow that’s seems like so long ago) within the college music scene of Newark, Delaware. Then we moved West to Los Angeles in 2001, just after 9/11. Which was 13 years ago. It wasn’t until we moved West that I was so inspired by the vast landscapes of the real West but also was listening to much Ennio Morricone (Once Upon a Time in the West + more) at the time. As we relocated from East to West a big change happened and we took on a more refined identity. We lived The Doors but knew we wanted a bigger, more cinematic approach. Our love of everything Western and especially Spaghetti Western is shown in the film we produced and did the score for “The Legend of Gods Gun” which came out in 2008.
Q: Your constellation has changed impressively over the years – what is your current constellation like now, and what impact does it have on your sound?
A: Our current lineup is me (from Newark, Delaware) on vocals and guitars, Henry Evans (from Providence, Rhode Island) on bass and baritone guitars, Thomas Bellier (from Paris, France) on 2nd Guitar, and James Acton (from Salt Lake City, UT) on drums, vocals, and sampler which he operates with his drum sticks. He’s a jazz drummer, very diverse. We normally have a female keyboard player/ singer but currently with the addition of a 2nd guitarist we found that we can harmonize many of the keyboard parts. The only thing missing is the female vocals which is nice but actually, my voice hits very very high octaves and I sing most of those high parts on the albums, so we really didn’t need the female vocals. Not to mention I play with effected guitars which add a bigger sound plus our drummer does those minimal samples. I’m very much enjoying this version of the band. They are all extremely gifted individually but when we do these songs together it really shows. We’ve learned how to adapt our sound for touring and songwriting over the years to make it like a well oiled machine
Q: Having (largely created for yourself) your own niche in the psychedelic genre what are your musical influences or source of inspiration that may not be obvious to your fans?
A: As a band we find inspiration all over the place. Between collectively listening to music we like or taking something cinematic suggested by a Director to another level we can mold our sound any way we like. It seems that most of my melodies have a “Western” sound usually, so I tend to stick with that, since it seems to work the best.
Big wide sounds with twangy guitar and hauntingly deep or soaring vocals. I’ve always loved that sound and thought I wanted to hear more of that! However we are also influenced by early heavy rockers Judas Priest, electronic pioneers like Bruce Haack, experimental punk music like Chrome, and really far out 60’s groups like “The United States of America” and White Noise. We also recently performed a couple shows with punk legend Jello Biafra in the desert. We did several Dead Kennedy’s songs with him live onstage plus a cover of Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire”. We also very much appreciate old western music, folk music, mariachi, bullfight music, Turkish psych folk, Krautrock, and so on.
Q: If the audience could bring one “Spindrift-ish” item to your gig at Aarhus Psych Fest – what would it be?
A: If the audience could bring one item to the gig what would we expect? Well… I hope the translation is correct here but what we usually do is hang a bull skull from our bass drum. These things are difficult to bring over on a plane so whenever we tour Europe, and they seem difficult to find in the EU, so we are searching for one.
Q: You are travelling with your new film/documentary ( what exactly is the right classification for this?). How did you decide to do this particular concept- and film it?
A: To support and raise awareness about our current feature film and soundtrack to Spindrift: Ghost of the West” is the main reason for tour right now. We have been performing the soundtrack as well as screening the film whenever possible. The film is quite unique. It visually captures Spindrift in October 2012 as we travelled across the American West for 5 weeks to perform old western classic songs in Ghost Towns all over. Mostly to nobody(except the ghosts)!!! It’s a very haunting and beautiful musical journey and visually it captures the West in all it’s glory. It was wonderfully shot by Director Burke Roberts and camera crew JT Gurzi and Rich Ragsdale. It’s like a epic fast trip across the American West for 76 minutes!
(On a side note: we are currently driving from Barcelona all the way over to Santiago de Compostela, and I see so many similarities to the geography of the American West out here. It’s incredible. Maybe we should do a Spanish Ghost Town tour??? The sequel?)
Q: Over the past couple of years, many of the long-standing psychedelic acts bands are experiencing an increased demand – how has this affected Spindrift?
A: Currently we are on our most successful tour yet. We are not supporting anyone either. Just Spindrift. For 6 weeks across Europe. We also just did a very successful US Tour with screenings as well. It’s easy to see that things are moving up and up but I only think it’s because we’ve worked so hard for it for so long. I know Spindrift will always have a psychedelic element to our music so it’s nice to be on top of this wave. Though I can still say that when that wave crashes, we’ll still be very unique to our own. We’ve always been the weird loners with a unique sound. I’m happy where we are.
(Wow, Spain is incredibly beautiful. It’s like a romantic version of the American West. I feel like I’m rediscovering the West again. Very inspirational.)
Q: Getting well received with a good number of gigs now that you are back in the tour van again, what does the future hold for Spindrift?
A: Our tour ends with Aarhus Psych Fest then as the rest of the band will take a plane back to Los Angeles, I will embark on quite a journey. I’m going to Tabernas, Almeria Spain for one week to explore the places where Sergio Leone filmed as well as present Spindrift: Ghost of the West at The Almerian Western Film Festival on Oct 11. I will present the film, answer questions, as well as give a solo musical performance! In the same town that was built for those spaghetti western films!!! This is pretty much a dream come true for me and the people at the Festival are very excited as well. From there…I’m not sure where to go except that we all are looking to do the next album…most likely the next Classic Soundtracks Volume.
Q: Last but not least, what can the audience expect from your gig at Aarhus Psych Fest?
A: You can expect to hear Spindrift the tightest we can possibly be! We’ve been on tour since Sept 1! We’ve played shows almost every day and this version of the band is incredibly tight and well focused. Plus you’ll get to see our movie as well so you can see both sides of the band! We will perform a wide array of songs that span our discography plus some new ideas with cinematic visuals as well!
Spindrift will perform at Aarhus Psych Fest on the night between Sat Oct 4, and Sun oct 5 at the Radar Stage.
The feature film “Spindrift: The Ghost of the West” will be screened same day at 5.15 pm at The Lunar Suite. To see the full program of who’s playing where and when visit aarhuspsychfest.com