Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Tripping Icarus Kicks Out The Jams

It happens every year in the NFL... A player gets traded to a new team and based on the availability of  that player's jersey number, he might have to negotiate it from a new teammate currently on the roster. That happened this summer when Donavon McNabb was sent to the Minnesota Vikings. McNabb has always worn number 5, and as luck would have it, that number was already being worn by the punter on the Vikings team, Chris Kluwe. Kluwe, upon hearing the news that his team would be getting the star quarterback, immediately sent out this tweet on his twitter account: “So here’s the deal, If McNabb comes and wants 5, it’s his, BUT he has to promise to mention Tripping Icarus in at least 5 press conferences.”

Chris Kluwe as you know him. He now wears the number 4.
Tripping Icarus is the band that Kluwe plays bass in, and he was simply trying to gain some exposure for himself and his band mates. It worked... All the media giants picked it up and for about a week, it was a headline on all the major networks.

Kluwe is actually quite famous for other tweets he had sent out criticizing Peyton Manning and Drew Brees, so his twitter account was already on the national media's radar. Here is a guy who doesn't sugar coat what is on his mind, and I respect him for that. How genius is it that he promotes his band through negotiations with McNabb? As far as band marketing goes, it doesn't get much better than that. People flocked to the Tripping Icarus Facebook fan page and scoured iTunes to buy their music.

Out of curiosity, I went to Tripping Icarus's Reverb Nation page to check out their sound. I honestly wasn't expecting much. Hype is often fueled by inability, in my opinion. I was instantly surprised. The band has a very unique sound that I would describe as being dark and mysterious, and dare I say a bit folksy? They've got deep lyrics and rich hallowing bass tones. The lyrics are haunting and the vocals are delightfully menacing. If you take the pyschobilly out of Deadbolt, you might have Tripping Icarus. Fugazi came to mind as I listened, as well as Type-O Negative. The music is catchy, and well... Very good. I felt as if I had unlocked a golden door and found a musical treasure.

I contacted two members of the band, Jesse Damien Revel (vocals and guitar) and Chris Kluwe, to post a few inquiries about Tripping Icarus. It's interesting to note how much their answers seemingly differ, especially when it comes to issues about the band and football.



How did the name Tripping Icarus come about?

Jesse: We brainstormed it in the parking lot of our old rehearsal space in a rush to come up with a name to use. We were going to record our EP, The Sideshow Sessions, that weekend or the next and there was going to be press there, so we needed a name. I had just joined the band about a month earlier and refused to go with the name they had previously been using (a name so foul and unpoetical I won't even write it here). So we sat down and decided not to move until we had one. We just brainstormed until it happened. It was a combination of words and ideas that instantly hit.

Chris: It was the night before we were going to record and we hadn't agreed on a band name yet so we spent a couple hours just bouncing names back and forth until one stuck.

Please tell me a bit about yourselves...

Jesse: My least favorite question. I'll say I'm in my late 20's and that's about it. This, of course, says something else about me: I'm private.

Jesse Damien Revel

Chris: I play video games, tabletop miniature games, read books, and write music. Oh, I also play football.

In light of the recent media blitz, is there concern within the band that it is becoming well known for the wrong reasons?

Jesse: I think that concern is shared as we've definitely talked about it before. It's always bothered me personally because I hate professional sports. I consider music sacred and the profaning of it via poor associations concerns me greatly, be it our band or music in general in a consumer culture. But the flip side to this is the overwhelming amount of music out there and the crap shoot that it's become. I rationalize it and accept that, if we make it somewhere because of a gimmick, it's ok if and only if what we create is above and beyond pop music. This is a difficult thing to elaborate upon, but I hope you get the gist.

Chris: I don't think so, but that's something we've always had to deal with just because of what I do for a living. I hope that the initial curiosity draws people in, but then they realize it's good music and enjoy our stuff.

What is the single most surprising thing to happen to Tripping Icarus in association with Donavan McNabb signing with the Vikings?

Chris: So far, the media attention. Who knows, maybe he'll become a fan.

Jesse: Nothing surprises me at this point. I've seen people come to shows in Vikings jerseys just to watch Chris play, having never heard the music and most likely not listening to the music as we play. This sort of celebrity worship is so foreign to me that the surreality dumbfounds me in any of its many manifestations.

Chris, what do your teammates think of your band, and has Donavon responded to your now infamous tweet?

Chris: Donovan hasn't responded yet.. A bunch of my teammates actually listen to our stuff, I try to put copies of our cds in the locker room for them when we finish recording.

(Editor's Note: Since this interview was conducted, McNabb has met with Kluwe and agreed to terms. See a video of their negotiations here.)

Your sound is very distinct. I really can't out a name on who you remind me of, other than the fact that I do hear glimpses of Fugazi in your songs. It's surprisingly unique and has an unmistakable dark tint... Who are your (individual) musical influences?

Jesse: My influences are all over the board. My roots are in the blues. Hill country blues in particular. Delta blues. Bob Dylan. Pink Floyd. But also a lot of turntableism, drum and bass.

Chris: Tool, Rage Against the Machine, Tool, Audioslave, and Tool.

How much impact does the NFL have on the band throughout the football season in terms of practice, studio and playing gigs?

Chris: Well it affects our playing schedule for sure, we can't do weekend gigs, and we can only do Friday gigs if it's to open for a big band (since it definitely affects me on Sunday). Practice-wise we try to get together 3 times a week at night for a couple hours; we'd like to have more time available but some of these guys have day jobs :) Studio time we generally save for the off season so that way we can get a bunch of uninterrupted time to record.

Jesse: Too much. It limits our ability to gig and to tour. It doesn't affect practice at all. But on the positive side of things, we get to record often, which is fun and a good learning experience.

Does the band get out of Minnesota much, or does it predominately play the Twin Cities area?

Jesse: We've never played outside of Minnesota. Hopefully this spring we'll be able to hit the road.

Chris: Primarily the Twin Cities so far, but we have done some shows in Wisconsin and outlying Minnesota areas. Again, the main issue is trying to schedule stuff around football.

Chris Kluwe playing bass

We all know what Chris Kluwe does for a real job... What about you Jesse?

Jesse: I make music and write.

What is the best way to get a copy of your latest album, Perfect Citizen?

Jesse: Right now it's to download it from Itunes or other online retailers. In a few months we'll do a hard release of it.

Chris: iTunes for now, but we will have CD's at our next live show, which will most likely be a CD release show for Perfect Citizen.

What else would you like the world to know about Tripping Icarus?

Chris: Judge our music based on the music, and not what I do for a living. I can promise you that this is not some hobby, I really enjoy making music with these guys and would definitely like to take the next step towards touring when we can.

Jesse: Music saves. Life, without music, would be a terrible existence. If we can be a drop in the universal bucket of good sounds that offer catharsis, thought provocation, or just a slight relief from the difficulties of being alive, that's enough. But we'd like to do that at stadium size shows with an audience of forty or more thousand people!  Thanks for the opportunity, sir!

No, thank you! It would be really good to see you play in Des Moines soon.

Reactions:

0 comments: