“What are you loading into your camera? A really long memory card?”
Octopus Project’s bass player Ryan Figg is chiding me playfully as I load hard 35mm film into my camera while the rest of the Austin quartet waits patiently. The boys—Figg, Josh Lambert and Toto Miranda—wear pressed white shirts with collars, ties, and slacks: a cross between channeled Mormonism and gospel choir practice. Lambert’s wife, Yvonne, is decked out in a tulle-covered dress and a giant smile that embodies the giddiness that permeates through their entire set later that night.
Following the release of new EP Golden Beds alongside the release of their first two albums, One Ten Hundred Thousand Million and Hello, Avalanche, it’s perhaps fitting the foursome is so jovial, and might also be related to their propensity to talk in rounds. We sat down with the Project pre-show to wax about hurricanes, neurochips, and doing a photo shoot in a dark alley.
So how 'bout that theremin?
YL: We saw a documentary on the creator (Russian Léon Theremin) a long time ago, about his life and how he made this instrument. Today is his birthday, coincidentally! Anyway, there was a band called Eku in Seattle whom we saw when they went through Austin who had it, and me and Josh were like, “Wow. That has to be ours.” We found one on the Internet. I took to it a little more and practiced but it took me about three years to play solid melodies fluently. It was so worth it. It makes you feel good, like a kid again. I end up after the show explaining what it does and how it works to a bunch of people who stay behind and are like, “How do you ‘play’ that?”
Why not The Manatee Project?
JL: The name is actually a random combination of words we felt sounded good. There is really no meaning to it (laughs). There was a previous project we were in with another dude, we were his backing band, but ‘Octopus Project’ didn’t seem to fit well with what we were doing there.
How was playing in Taiwan?
TM: I was there, but I don’t really know.
JL: Everyone was really friendly. We were the only American band along with Mates of State, and in the audience there was just a ton of people.
YL: We were lucky we got to go there, we have a record label who puts out our stuff in Taiwan who were dedicated to getting us there.
You shot the “Wet Gold” video in Galveston, which is still a devastated area after the hurricane last year. How did that area feel like?
RF: Devastating. Absolutely.
TM: It was so creepy.
JL: I agree, it was just a crazy sight overall. At the end of the video, where we all are lying down, there’s just all this debris around.
YL: We saw these hotels that were built on stilts that were in the ocean, swept out, and the bridge that went out to it was completely washed away. It was very eerie. We shot in January and the poor guys all had to get in the freezing water.
JL: It was close.
The new EP has five songs on it, and seven videos to accompany them. Are you hoping to compile a video anthology?
JL: Maybe a DVD five, ten years down the road…if DVDs still exist then.
TM: Maybe they’ll be able to beam it straight into your head by then.
RF: A neurochip into your brain! Yes!
Who does your cover art?
JL: We all work on it together, put together over time, and see if it works. It’s a collaborative effort.
TM: Actually, we just keep doing it like the Greeks. (lowers voice) And doing it. (lowers voice even lower) And doing it like the Greeks. (returning to normal decibel) Man that’s gonna sound so weird in print.