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You Bred Raptors?
John Hammond had a dream
by: Tracy Mamoun - October 5, 2012

 



Part-time residents of the subway’s best busking spots, playing their sets to Time Square's puzzled commuters, You Bred Raptors? (the name is from a line out of Jurassic Park) is an instrumental trio from Astoria, NY with a taste for strange performances. The band deploys a rich catalogue of experimentations ranging from unique orchestrations to ambitious takes on some familiar patterns as varied as funk, metal or even celtic rhythms - all served by a cast of drums, cello, 8-string bass and the occasional keys, bearing freakish masks from ghostface to grimacing jester. A tastefully weird, out-of-time local gem straight from the city’s underground.

To start with.. let's 'talk' about the very divergent styles/aesthetics coming together in your compositions. What type of music were you guys playing before You Bred Raptors? How much do your respective musical backgrounds influence your work with the band?

You Bred Raptors? started as an extension of my solo bass work. Zach Schmidlein, the drummer/glockenspeil and piano player of this posse outfit joined up a few years ago after my original drummer left. He came from classical piano and tech metal drumming. We busked as a duo and for a year and eventually added cello. I knew my dream band was bass, drums and cello. I don't want guitars, I don't want vocals and I'm pretty sure I'm speaking for the rest of the band, we also despise theremin players and saw players... sorry. Actually, we aren't sorry... stop playing gardening tools and learn a real instrument. Our cellist, Bryan Wilson was doing awkward, self deprecating stand up comedy WITH HIS CELLO when we met him. We knew he was the guy when he started singing graphically dirty songs whilst inter-splicing Bach's Cello Suite.

To answer the 2nd part of the question, Zach and Bryan are trained and went to school for music. Bryan has written an acclaimed book on cello chords and Zach's multi instrument finesse makes me all sorts of jealous. I on the other hand, never took lessons and stumblefuck my way through writing and composing. Being the main songwriter of the band makes manoeuvering kinda tricky when you only refer to notes in sharps as opposed to flats, no matter what the key or ALL cello bowing as either Staccato or Legato. Bryan's keen ability to play by ear and his many years of conservatory study help handle me with kid gloves when I try to use big boy music theory terms. It comes together in a strange way as working in music seems to transcend vernacular and proper term usage... as cheesy as that sounds.

After a few years working two circuits, i.e the city's venues and its public spots.. Which stage do you find the most challenging?

I'm inclined to say that I prefer our regular subway gigs to our venue shows. NYC is a competitive, unfriendly jungle of venues who range from good hearted to dastardly villains, twirling their moustaches and tying innocent, buxom bands to railroad tracks. In the subway, we know all the rules and what to expect (for the most part). You bring your own gear, you rely on no back-line, no bored sound-guy, no drink specials to promote, no door person to keep on task, no other band's diva bullshit, no set length requirement and no fighting to get paid at the end of the night. With that said, you simply trade one set of problems for another. In the subway, you are at the mercy of every jaded straphanger's mood, the economy, the weather, rush hour and all of MTA's relentless nonsense. We really love the honesty that comes with busking. If people like you, they take their ear buds out, listen and maybe give you a dollar for your time. Conversely, if they don't like you, they keep walking. Maybe they DID like you and were just in a hurry. That's true but in most cases, when someone doesn't like the sound we are producing, it's written all over their faces. We are faced with the interesting challenge to show the seemingly know-it-all New Yorker something new and different. They've seen everything but the trick is to pull them and make them think it was their idea to stay and watch.

I find the venue bullshit to be more challenging. Most of these are what comedians call 'bringer shows'. And if you are lucky enough to gather 25 people on a weeknight at 10 pm to see your band, and only after those 25 people, then you might start to see some money. But the amount of texting, networking, facebooking, tweeting and smoke signals you have to put out in a city with already so many other cool things going on, it just barely seems worth it.

Hmm.. dinosaur cloning research? How did that come into the picture?

Dinosaur cloning is a real thing and it will happen in our lifetime. I'm tired of cloning sheep, chickens and dumb Michael Keatons... it's time to make kick ass dinosaurs so I can ride a god damned Triceratops. Dinosaurs are one of the few things in my life personally that have kept their awesome factor over the years. We usually tend to look back with shame, nostalgia or pure befuddlement about the things we held true. Dinosaurs, at least in my book still give me mental goosebumps. I have two dinosaur tattoo sleeves as well. So I'm kind of pot-committed at the moment. We did find a company that is doing dinosaur cloning research but through some shady-ass answer we got from their rep isn't allowed at this current juncture in time to accept donations. So as of right now, all of your tips are being well guarded over... but eventually we will probably buy a Moon Bounce Castle with them.

So Pete. 8-string bass - that's not one that we get to see so very often, out of a studio. What do you find most attractive about the instrument?

The 8 string is a normal bass but with 2 lower and 2 higher strings. It is tuned F# to high F. I often mess around with tunings and capos because again, I was never too gifted at drawing inside the lines. I find this instrument to be perfect for me as a songwriter and for this band in particular because I don't play it solely like a bass or solely like a guitar. It's a strange hybrid. I have small fragile girlhands so I had to get it custom adjusted to make it more playable. I can tap high and low parts at the same time while letting the cello or glockenspiel take the lead or vice versa. It's not a gimmick at all though. I'll give you the masks and the dinosaur stuff if you wanna shit in our Cheerios but the 8 string bass is it's own instrument. The ERB (Extended Range Bass) community is always taking shit from players and non players alike. I'm a delicate flower who is now afraid to put up videos on YouTube for fear of the backlack of comments of "Why don't you just play guitar, faggot?... ps You're gay" or "why dont u shove that ironingng bored up your arse LOL". I left in the spelling errors so you can see my dilemma. ERB's are a just an extension of what you already know as a bassist or guitarist. It's branching off and experimenting with different sounds. Some people will always hold fast to what they love and that's fine. They want their classic rock, they like pooping at the same time everyday, they want their bass players to be playing root notes and they don't like surprises. Ehhh, you win some, Jerusalem. You can't please everyone. I was recently endorsed by Conklin Guitars and they are building me a custom Epileptic 8 String bass. The build won't be completed until Spring of 2013 but my musical boner is poised and ready for it. Metaphorically speaking that is.

To end with... any favourite busking memory? (good, bad, hilarious, you name it)

People see a crowd and want attention... it's the generation of individualism. One of my favourite memories is when we actually collectively as a band just went completely numb to that feeling. This was at Grand Central Station near the 456 trains during rush hour. When I say he was shady, I mean he wasn't being rapey or creepy... he was just up to no good. He had a terrible poker face. He had a friend with him who was filming this go down. He gave us 2 dollars into our Dinosaur Cloning Research tip box and proceeded to pull 2 very large cock dildos out of his bag and proceeded to swing them around. While their was racial harmony in the ebony and ivory phalluses (phalli?), we completely wanted nothing to do with it. Every intuition I had to laugh at waving dildos and to satisfy boy-hood pranks completely evaporated. We all cohesively stopped playing at the same time to an already stunned crowd and just started clapping for the guy in the most dickhead way possible. "Yeah guy... awesome", "No one likes you", "Everyone boo this man" we said. He wanted to be a doofus, and now he gets to act like a buffoon. Everyone followed suit and started booing the guy and he left. I suppose I remember that moment as a favorite because the band was completely together. Not 3 seconds after the guy left, we immediately picked up with where we left off without any discussion. I'm a sucker for comradery in the face of douchebaggery. More often than not, it so rarely wins the war.



 
 

NYC is a competitive, unfriendly jungle of venues in the subway, we know all the rules and what to expect (for the most part).




You Bred Raptors?
"Hammond"




what it is

What it is: Delicate post rock orchestrations behind a mask of grotesque.For those who like: Primus, Bright Red Paper, Consider the Source



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