Hark, ye of little attention span: Sacramento spazz-rockers Tera Melos are bringing their refined mayhem to town tonight, their last stop before they embark upon a tour of Japan and South Korea with Mike Watt and the Missing Men. They're supporting their new album, Patagonian Rats, out a month ago today on Sargent House, a breathless fifty-minute orgy of double-time Zeppelin licks and anthemic prog-rock passages the likes of which, quoth frontman Nick Reinhart, "only wizards could decipher."
Think you can handle it? Catch them tonight at the Bottom of the Hill, with Skinwalker (two members of The Locust without a MySpace page) and Glaciers, and try to outwit them with a Simpsons reference. For instance: who is this guy?
How's the tour going?
It's been great. We've never toured with a new record out; we've done it around rereleased albums in new formats, but it's still been old music. This is the first time with a new record. It's been challenging to play our new songs live, to pull them off without being sloppy (I like to call it "rock") but also not totally polished. I don't want to sound exactly like the record.
How has it been playing as a four-piece band?
We've been recording and writing as a three-piece for the past few years, but there's a lot of layers on the new album, so we brought in our friend Evan, from the Bay Area band Worker Bee, to play second guitar and keyboards and vocals. It's been great. There's less room on stage when we play--we play some pretty small places--but that's the only negative thing.
What does the band name mean?
It's an opening in chess. It's where the black player goes first.
I also read that it was a Simpsons reference.
You know, I'll be honest with you, we usually just make something up and lie to the interviewer about it. I wish it was a Simpsons reference. John and I did an interview once with Capital Chaos where the interviewer asked us which one was Kang and which one was Kodos. I was so thrown off by the question that I just babbled for five minutes.
So which one is which?
We probably each represent each of them at different times.
What do you do when you're not making music?
Well, for a few of us, it's... I don't want to say "fortunate," because we all struggle with bills, and "not having anything to do" isn't right. But Nick and John have been able to occupy themselves with other projects. John plays with Marnie Stern on our downtime, and Nick works with Zach Hill in a band called Bygones. And I work a shitty job.
Don't we all.
Well, no, because I just described two people in our band who don't.
What inspires your songs?
I really like the idea of taking some crazy cold medicine and all of a sudden waking up on a park bench and looking around and noticing familiar surroundings but not quite knowing where you are, and finally seeing a statue of Jebediah Springfield. That would be a sick Dungeons & Dragons-type role-playing game, or World of Warcraft or some shit: create a character that isn't necessarily one of the Simpsons characters, and interact in that world.
So you'd be comfortable saying that Patagonian Rats is a Simpsons-inspired concept album?
Uh, no. It's not a concept album either, although you might get a different answer depending on who you ask. I don't know if there are themes that run through it, or if Nick, who wrote the lyrics, just kept on talking about hair.
What do you sound like, in a word?