Deadphones, “Somnambulator”

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Walking in dreams, walking after midnight, & walking while asleep.

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Sjimon Gompers | February 27, 2014

Deadphones

Introducing Deadphones, the reincarnation of Cuckoo Chaos. (photo by Tommy McAdams)

As reported by the local San Diego papers, Cuckoo Chaos are now officially Deadphones. It was during the last holiday season when we got the memo about the band's transformative new beginnings, and now Jackson Milgaten and friends are making the evolution official. With a March release slated on Waaga Records, and Deadphones' official first show with the new name and new sound happening February 28 at San Diego's Soda Bar; we bring you a first and exclusive listen to the new incarnation with, “Somnambulator”.

An imaginative adventure that gives you a glimpse into a day in the life of a sleepwalking dreamer, the worlds of dreams and reality are chronicled together. As you join Jackson and company as they go walking in their dreams, Deadphones detail the dangers of what can happen when you go walking in your sleep and investigate the active — but asleep states closer. “I'm up in the sky and I'll never come down, wings on my back, the wings on my back…well I race down the highway and swerve left and right, I dodge all the bullets that are passing me by, and people stop to asky why, I'm a somnambulist.” In the life of the “Somnambulator”, you experience both the dream and the awakened world where sky meets the asphalt streets like a collision of consciousnesses.

Those familiar with the eclectic oeuvre of Cuckoo Chaos will find the Deadphones development a move in new directions. While Chaos was always in control, “Somnambulator” finds the band letting their signature electronic elements allowing for a greater opportunity to the song to breathe. As the waking realms of visions and open-eyed understandings are related, steady drum pulse steps push the tension to each new flight of fancy that runs into real time. The San Diego band harmonizes in sections, as the keyboards communicate their own call and response language in back and forth echoes. Deapdphones keeps the entire affair sleepy-headed and surreal, sharing and spinning tales of materializing spirits like, “the specter keeps haunting me, he's got my father's eyes,” all of which gives “Somnambulator” an edge that will please your inner Kafka or Poe.

We had the pleasure of observing the chrysalis of Deadphones from Cuckoo Chaos, courtesy of our following interview with Jackson Milgaten.

Give us the process on how Deadphones came to be.

It's been a long and arduous journey that led us to the birth of Deadphones that really began as we started writing the follow up record to Cuckoo Chaos' Woman. We made a conscious decision to diverge from the sonic path we had been on and that was really the beginning of the end for CC and the initial seed that eventually grew to become this project. The whole thing was a very organic process and we basically just followed our ears as musicians rather than making an attempt to write a new record for a band that already had 'a sound.' So, while from an outside perspective we still looked like the same band, we were actually undergoing a major transformation into something almost completely different. And in the end we felt like we had changed so much that we couldn't even call it the same thing. I think we always knew it was going to work out like this but we were in no rush to force the metamorphosis and give it a name before it was fully realized. We just let it percolate and develop naturally without any restrictions or impositions.

What evolutions do you all feel is at work with your sound going from Cuckoo Chaos to Deadphones?

I think the most notable difference lies in the process by which these songs were written. Every single piece of music on this record is a collaboration and a synthesis of the five people who created it. This was a completely collective creative effort. Some of the songs began as a bass line, or a vocal melody, or a drum pattern, or as a guitar riff, but it was never a simple straight ahead path to completion. In fact it was quite the opposite. The name of the game was deconstruction. We didn't want any of the individual parts to sound like much of anything on their own but rather work together as a larger, more complex machine. There was very little room for ego to be brought into the mix. Nothing was sacred and anything could be deemed unnecessary or inappropriate at any moment up until the very final mixing was done. Remarkably, it was a very fluid evolution. It was also an incredibly painstaking and disorienting means of writing which almost drove us all insane at several points. Ultimately, we created something that not only were ALL of us were supremely proud of but we also felt represented us as individuals and as a group.

What brought you to the name Deaphones? Is it like a dead dial tone for headphones kinda deal? It's a rad name.

Thanks! We had been tossing names around for the last couple years and couldn't all seem to agree on one. A couple months ago Jeremy threw out “Dead Phones” and I suggested making it one word. We feel like the music we're making is very modern if not somewhat futuristic and the name seemed to capture that.

What is the story behind the development of the song, “Somnambulator”? It reminds me of that Brazzaville album from 2000 called Somnambulista.

Somnambulate means, 'to walk while asleep.' Lyrically, the song is about specific nightmares that we, as individuals, had and shared with Scott at one point or another. Musically, the one constant I believe we retained from CC through to the new project is our love of poly-rhythms and emphasis on groove above all else. We incorporate a lot of beats and rhythmic patterns from other cultures that aren't traditionally used in the realm of rock and roll. My brother, Keith Sweaty, contributed his magic touch (along with Jeremy) to this track and their production ended up not only being the icing on the cake but really brought the whole song together. To me, “Somnambulator” sounds like something you would hear in a post-apocalyptic Miami nightclub where everyone is on mescaline instead of ecstasy.

I have always loved the way electronic, and synth elements are featured in your music. What is the Deadphone way of deciding what kind of consoles, synth choices, and programming goes into the mix.

There isn't really any rhyme or reason to it. Although I will say that combining electronic and synthesized sounds with traditional guitar/drum instrumentation is something we intentionally set out to do. But as far as the process goes, we usually go with what feels right and a lot of it is a result of experimentation. Some of it is created on our samplers during the writing process in our rehearsal space and the rest is created in post production then worked back into a live setting via the use of the samplers. It's a symbiotic relationship in which the live show and the studio recordings are interdependent and inform one another.

Okay, so we just got hipped to your full-length available March 11 from Waaga. Give us all the gory details of blood, sweat, tears, triumph, pain, and pride that went into the mix.

We're so excited to finally see this thing come to fruition and to get to share it with the world. The songs that appear on this album were written over the course of the past three years and we spent all of 2013 making it come to life in the studio. It's been frustrating, exhausting, full of sacrifice, self-scrutiny, and an endless amount of time and effort. It was also magical and probably the most rewarding project I've ever been part of. We poured all of ourselves into this thing and I think it really shows. A HUGE shout out to Stuart Schenk who engineered the record and produced/mixed it with us. His contribution was fundamental and we cannot thank him enough for his patience, guidance, and commitment.

The first Deadphones release is slated for March 11 from Waaga Records.

Catch Deadphones at San Diego's Soda Bar on Friday, February 28 with Inspired and the Sleep, Emerald Rats, and styles from DJ Santino Romeri. Check out more details via this Facebook event page.

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