Posts Tagged ‘vampires are real and palpable’

Bastards of Fate, Tunabunny, and Muuy Biien at Pop Rock Nation

Bastards of Fate, Vampires are Real and PalpableLoud, woozy, strange, carnivalesque, racing from one idea to another, and prone to explosions — all with crooned melodic vocals.

Muuy Biien, D.Y.I. An abrasive, churning, hostile splatter of echoey 2-minute punk-rock songs, more spoken/yelled than sung, that’s very well-played for what it is and ends up striking me as lots of fun. The surf-rock influence helps.

Tunabunny, Kingdom Technology. A very strange amalgam of vocal-harmony-driven rock’n’roll, drone/ambient, and Fall/Wire-ish post-punk.


Bastards of Fate at Roanoke Times

Roanoke-based indie band The Bastards of Fate has released its second album, “Vampires Are Real And Palpable.” But don’t think for a second that the title has anything to do with pop-culture vampires from the likes of “True Blood” and “Twilight.”

“I see it as an Anton LaVey psychic vampire thing as opposed to literal blood-sucking vampires,” bassist Jason Wells said.

But the record was inspired by more than the late Satanist’s term describing those who drain one of vital energies. Dreams of “Sesame Street” characters Bert and Ernie and of random chords and melodies fired the album as well, according to songwriter and light-swinging frontman Doug Cheatwood.

The band — Cheatwood, Wells, keyboardist/violinist Camellia Delk, drummer Doug Shelor and guitarist Benji Pugh — gathered recently at Pop’s Ice Cream & Soda Bar to talk about the new disc. Along for an evening snack of frozen treats and buttered bread was Len Neighbors, owner of North Carolina-based This Will Be Our Summer Records, the label that has released both of the Bastards’ records.

Neighbors came up with a term, “mayonnaise music,” to describe bands that he finds to be bland. Coldplay inspired the term, he said. His Roanoke friends don’t fit into that category.

“This is Sriracha,” the hot sauce, Neighbors said. “This is some skull-and-crossbones stuff.”

Underground rock critics agree.

Big Takeover magazine wrote that “The Bastards of Fate continue their uncompromising onslaught of demented pop with an incredibly strong sophomore effort … as entertaining as Space Ghost on acid. They just happen to tread in disturbing territory, a fateful reminder of the enemies that surround us every day.”

Rebel Noise magazine wrote: “Roanoke is a city of shadows and mist. The Bastards of Fate didn’t move there to become famous — they were born there, to grow up obscure. But … the band’s reputation continues to spread like a well-executed piece of vandalism.”

Dreaming and phoning

At least one song on each of the Bastards’ two albums — the band’s debut was “Who’s A Fuzzy Buddy?” — emerged from a Cheatwood dream. In it, Ernie and Bert were singing “Own It,” a cut from “Vampires.”

“I woke up and I wrote it down,” he said. “That happens a lot. Not with Bert and Ernie, but dreaming a song, waking up and writing it down in the middle of the night.”

He dreamed up the chords and melody to another “Vampires” track, “Winter of Our Discontent.”

Often, Cheatwood will come up with an idea, then call a bandmate’s voicemail to record it. Or he’ll text message lyrics.

“He’ll just call and on our voicemails leave these little sections of songs,” Wells said. “He’ll sing them, just so somebody will have them.”

Performing, then recording

If a Bastards of Fate record is entertaining to hear, a live performance by the indie freaks can be even better. As Cheatwood rambles around, swinging his ever-present hand-held work light, the band churns out dense layers of groove, melody and dissonance with huge energy. By the time the band hits the studio to record, it has the songs down cold.

“Typically before we record, we play the songs that we’re going to record for a year or more,” Cheatwood said. “Then when we’re ready to go into the studio, we just bang them out. I like that way of doing it.”

That process allows the band’s musical inside jokes to sink into the tunes.

“Our music has a lot of inside jokes in it,” Cheatwood said. “Jason will start doing something and I’ll think that’s pretty weird. Then I’ll have to respond to it in some way for it to make sense to me. Then someone will respond to me. It becomes this weird circular thing.”

Maybe it’s a bad note. Maybe it’s a funny approach to a melody. Whatever is it, if it entertains the band, it typically stays in the song, Shelor said.

“A lot of it is based on mistakes or just pure goofing off,” Shelor said. “We’ll do something and go, that’s kind of cool, that’s sort of funny. It’ll keep popping up, and then next thing you know, you just sort of do it habitually at every show.”

Avoiding the scowl

After playing the music for about a year — in the exact order in which it appears on “Vampires Are Real And Palpable” — the Bastards headed to engineer John Thompson’s Roanoke studio, The Mystic Fortress.

The band spent two days getting basic tracks, then a couple more days doing overdubs. All the while, they looked to bandmate Delk, ever wary of her scowl.

“Cam’s our quality control,” Cheatwood said. “When something doesn’t sound good, she won’t say anything. She’ll just scowl. And that’s when you know that something needs to change. But you have to guess what it is.

“It gets less and less frequent, because you learn what she will like and what she won’t like, and you head it off. Like, she’ll make me do it again, so I might as well do it [correctly] now.”

Delk said she has full confidence in her scowl, which she describes as similar to the face of her cat, Keekers, who is on the cover of “Who’s A Fuzzy Buddy?” By the way, Keekers is not on the “Vampires” cover. Instead, the back cover features Delk’s other cat, Theo, with various outfits photoshopped onto his body.

She said in an e-mail exchange later that she would have preferred fewer overdubs and a more live sound. Overall, the band is happy with how the record turned out. Guitarist Pugh’s reaction was the most inscrutable.

“It sounds like when you’re listening to a record and it skips songs and you keep listening to it,” Pugh said. “Like you’ve walked too closely to it, it sort of ‘erk,’ sort of bumps along. And that’s what happens for 40 minutes.”

That description broke up the table in laughter.

“He knows how to sell a record,” Cheatwood said.

One reviewer mentioned that the Bastards sound more like a live band on this disc, but that wasn’t necessarily Cheatwood’s goal.

“My only goal is to make everyone uncomfortable,” he said, “including my band members.”



Bastards of Fate at Get It On Vinyl

When the name Bastards of Fate was passed along to me, I assumed they were a punk band. I was positive in fact, that they were a hardcore punk band with stage antics in line with G.G. Allen’s. I pictured a front man who cut himself on stage and projectile vomited on the audience. It really sounded like my kind of band. When I actually received the record, it came with a vampire slaying kit. The kit was housed in what seemed like a red Crown Royal bag and came with a wooden stake, holy water, garlic, and a letter from the man himself, Van Morrison. That’s right, Mr. Astral Weeks was apparently a legit vampire hunter, and the only ones who knew it were the Bastards of Fate. Upon seeing this vampire slaying kit, I assumed the Bastards of Fate must be some shitty death metal band that takes itself very seriously, yet they remain a joke to everyone who hears them. Thirty seconds into the album, it became clear, The Bastards of Fate have the indie pop sensibility of The Shins and the out there feel of Fank Zappa’s Two Hundred Motels. The singer doesn’t look like the self-defacing punk I was anticipating. In reality, he looks very similar to Pulp’s Jarvis Cocker, with the black horned rimmed glasses and all.

The Bastards second album, Vampires are Real and Palpable (hint the vampire slaying kit), is there first for This Will Be Our Summer recordsVampires really is an album for record collectors and music snobs. If I threw this album on during a party, it would clear the room. This isn’t because it’s a bad album. On the contrary, it’s pretty damn good, but it’s fucking weird. Again, this isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it’s what makes the album worth your time. It takes effort and thought to get into this album. It’ll take you multiple listens to even start to appreciate Vampires, and you’ll hear something new every time you give it a listen. It’s an album you won’t be able to justify to all of your musically vanilla friends because the Bastards of Fate is some far out there Ben and Jerry’s combination that hasn’t even been dreamed up yet. I haven’t even addressed the experimental sounds that permeate the album. Sometimes it’s ambient noise that rears its head, sometimes it’s old cell phone ringtones, and sometimes it’s disembodied voices.

Vampires open with “Winter of Our Discontent,” an indie track that a torch singer would croon if they were working in a bar that catered to mental patients. From there the album quickly picks up into power pop on tracks like “Go No Further” and “Chromosome,” but it’s power pop filtered through the lens of Zappa. “Identity Theft” and “Ultimate Death” plays with the same deep foreboding backbone of early Interpol. It’s the Bastards bizarre take on these familiar sounds that make them an exceptional band. The Bastards walk a fine line between avant-garde and indie power pop. The Bastards are from left field, and you’ll want to leave the dugout and join them because while they’re edgy, there is something extremely comforting about the band. The Bastards are unknown but familiar. Frankly, if this is the direction of modern art-rock, then I’m on board. Even though it wasn’t the punk I expected, the Bastards are my kind of music.

The Vinyl

Vampires are Real and Palpable is available from the Bastards website: The cover is a fairly generic picture of a building. There is nothing telling about the cover, and there is nothing telling about the vinyl itself (it is standard black). It’s the perfect façade for a band like the Bastards. With the LP, you’ll get a digital download. If you’re lucky, you’ll get the vampire slaying kit, but I honestly can’t say that it will come with every LP. I don’t know if I would rely on it when a vampire breaks in at three in the morning, but it’ll be a definite conversation starter.


Bastards of Fate at Big Takeover

Two years after their debut, Who’s a Fuzzy Buddy?, Roanoke, VA’s The Bastards of Fate continue their uncompromising onslaught of demented pop with an incredibly strong sophomore effort.

Vampires Are Real And Palpable filters the dramatic sound of Muse andGhost & Goblin through the lens of psychedelic Ralph Bakshi cartoons and Hanna-Barbera hijinks. A raw darkness runs through the insanity, however, and, as the songs unfold, the vampires become more apparent.William S. Burroughs warned against “psychic vampires,” those who walk into a room and drain the energy. “If, after having been exposed to someone’s presence, you feel as if you’ve lost a quart of plasma, avoid that presence,” he advised. “You need it like you need pernicious anemia.” These sinister characters emerge from the songs, twisting the lives of those around them, dragging everyone into their solipsistic world of doom and despair. Bleak? Yes, very.

That’s not to say that these songs are all dreary mopers filled with ennui. Quite the contrary, they are as entertaining as Space Ghost on acid. They just happen to tread in disturbing territory, a fateful reminder of the enemies that surround us every day.

It’s interesting to note the mutual vampirism of being in a band, especially while playing live music. As the band feeds off each other, the audience feeds off the band, who in turn feeds off the audience. The Bastards of Fate know this and flaunt it unapologetically. The vampires are us.


Muuy Biien, Tunabunny, Luxembourg Signal, and Bastards of Fate at Collapse Board

All mentioned in a half-year review of 2014.


Bastards of Fate at Underwater Explosions

Track preview at the link.


Bastards of Fate at Fear and Loathing in Long Beach

A thin line exists between nightmares and memories in the swamp of interpretation. If you can picture the hangouts that you loved as a teenager and the bars that solidified your psyche in your 20s, stand back, and absorb all of it in. Was it that good or was it that bad. Now envision a spiked wrecking ball tearing through those mental sights with violent sound and you will be arriving at a destination called Vampires are Real and Palpable, the latest musical deconstruction by Roanoke Virginia’s Bastards of Fate. 

An uncut and unstable substance that sucked the usable blood from Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music, The Remains, and The Faint. The finished product is a cacophony of an apathetic concerto that mocks the world falling down around it while getting high from the fumes of the ensuing debris. The lead track “Winter of our Discontent” is a maniacal revision of rock music that blends crooning, noise damage, and anthemic phrasing into a twisted guide for the senses.

“Chromosome I” and “Go No Further” add another element to this lethal dose with bizarre and catchy renderings of LCD Soundsystem and Oingo Boingo, at the height of their experimental phases. Unlike others attempting to sail the turbulent seas of experimentation, the hooks are still firmly in place, just not where you’re used to finding them. A map of a brilliant schizophrenic’s mind replaces antiquated songwriting formats that numb us in car commercials, grocery store Muzak, and superficial brain-dead television shows. 

“One True Love” displays severe psychedelic corrosion with almost angelic harmonies swirling above deranged balladry. This track along with “Identity Theft” are my picks for playlist inclusion, if not the whole album. A unique catchiness and addictive fever bleeds off these tracks. 

Manson Family (the real one) choirs and electro machinery drilling pulverize your cerebellum on “Own It” and “Ultimate Death”. The Bowie-esque pop snarl of “Credit” seriously kicks my ass every time I hear it, the beauty of the line “Did you figure out the answer, oh no…did you figure out the cure for cancer?” gives a glimpse into the soul of a generation left with nothing, and they don’t care. 

Coming near the closing, “Copilot” shakes up the feeling in your bones of being so far away from home, only nostalgia makes you miss it. Even though the home you had, was never a good one and long since disappeared into the void. The rock crumbling uproar of the melodic middle-section is a true moment of rock n roll grandeur. 

The downward spiral of jangled honky-tonk cacophony in “Optometrist” will ensure your head is spinning when the bomb drops on your neighborhood. After this, imminent extinction of all you know will arrive in a form no one has witnessed before. 


Bastards of Fate at babysue

The second full-length release from The Bastards of Fate. We went to the band’s web site but could find little biographical information…just a few quotes and a listing of upcoming shows (plus some links). So the band is leaving it up to listeners to decide what to make of the music rather than force feed ideas down their throats. Smart. In this case, particularly smart because this is an album that makes us think. It’s not an easy dose of something that sounds like everything else. The folks in this band are carving out their own unique space in the world of music by recording stuff that doesn’t sound like everyone else. And yet instead of being overly artsy and weird, the songs are surprisingly friendly and listenable. So…what can we tell you about the band itself? It is comprised of five people. Five people who have a great sense for visuals (the cover art is fantastic). And five people who aren’t afraid of being adventurous. Plus they’re on a new record label we’ve not seen before. Ten captivating cuts here including “Winter of Our Discontent,” “One True Love,” “Identity Theft,” and “Optometrist.”


Bastards of Fate at das klienicum

da wird mir wahrlich nicht bange um den rock ‘n’ roll, wenn bands wie bastards of fatenachrücken. am 10. juni veröffentlichen sie auf this will be our summer records ihr zweites album namens “vampires are real and palpable”. die fünfköpfige krawalltruppe stammt aus dem beschaulichen roanoke, das wohl im südwestlichen virginia liegt und ganz sicher nicht dazu einlädt recht berühmt zu werden. wenngleich wir den 2012er erstling “who’s a fuzzy buddy” nicht kennen, vertrauen wir der aussage, dass der neuling deutlich dunkler daherkommen soll. die plattenfirma spricht gar vom düstersten popalbum ever. was wir Euch heute zeigen wollen, ist eigentlich nur das unten stehende video mit einer liveaufnahme. doch wir sind versucht, dies und jenes zu ergänzen. dem verzicht, von revolution zu sprechen, folgt der drang, evolutionäres vorauszusagen. auch das nur geklaut, weil der waschzettel der promofirma gar so euphorisch ist. ach, wir warten das jetzt einfach ab und pogen eine runde.


Bastards of Fate at Austin Town Hall

Somewhere in the last decade we’ve all started taking our artistic statements way too seriously, especially as commenters on the world of music.  Personally, I accept that fault, but I still hold a really special place in my heart for oddball pop songs that might not get the appreciation they deserve.  Such a tune came in my inbox this week via Bastards of Fate, who are set to release their new album, Vampires are Real and Palpable.  There’s moments when you can see the lineage to acts like Of Montreal or Elf Power, but they also take things into their own hands, blending in a demonic voice near the end of the track, then off-setting it with a high-pitched bit.  It’s a good song that embraces the idea of frivolity in songwriting; you should definitely take a listen.