Religious Girls’ rite stuff

Band name: Religious Girls

Place of origin: Oakland, CA

Personnel: Nicholas Cowman, Christopher Danko, Guy Culver

Upcoming shows: Saturday in Irvine (check out this rad line-up). Then Monday, November 22 at KXLU 88.9, at 5pm. And 9:30pm at Pehrspace.

Do you have anything special planned for the show?
We will be playing our “newish set” that most people haven’t heard yet, and we’re pretty excited to bring it to L.A. Also, when we’re feeling the crowd, we like to throw a little paint on the drums and get a little crazyyy.

All Religious Girls' photos: Colin Sensebaugh

You Religious Girls all live together, can you talk about how proximity helps the band?
Chris: Despite always being sick of each other!? Just kidding. It’s sweet because it allows us to sit down together and show each other new ideas or work pieces out anytime we please, just walk into the kitchen and hear someone on the organ or into the living room and you’ve got the Juno set up, or any of the other thousand little keyboards laying around the house.

Guy: Living with your bandmates has all the awful aspects of living with a girlfriend, however the positive aspects are art and solidarity—which are hard to come by in Internet-land these days.

Religious Girls is very much a live band. Your songs have a way of filling whatever space you’re playing in and making the crowd a part of the show. How does it feel being a hard act for most bands to follow ?
Guy: I wouldn’t exactly put us as a “hard act to follow,” but possibly we are a group that can be appreciated upon a live-viewing on account of the emphasis we put on our live show.  The aesthetic from day one in Religious Girls has been to physically play as much of our compositions as possible considering that they’re so heavily based on electronic instrumentation.  So much so that our first endeavor with MIDI was solely because the keys on our synthesizers were all broken.  Therefore the acoustic drums and wide array of electronic sounds are always played, cued, looped or generated live somehow.  Initially I found this to be a bit of a silly pride issue between us all, seeing who could do more and contribute the most.  But the more we play out two things become apparent: that it was a good choice to put our live show first, and that we also need to put more work into our recordings in order to convey the best aspects of what we do to a larger audience, and hopefully draw them in with a quick mp3 as is the common paradigm these days.  But then of course, that’s just my opinion.

Your live shows are pretty wild but also have a really positive vibe, do you attribute that to your friendships?
Chris: Yeah we get along pretty well, write well together, and when shit is going pretty well overall our music writing and playing definitely gets much better. We’ve had some crazy personal drama going on in the past year with other house mates, past band members, neighbors, landlords, girlfriends, etc., and everything is clearing up now We’re all feeling good about the way things are falling together, and we think everyone will definitely hear it and see it in our set.

Guy: Our lives aren’t that wild—Oakland is though. Thus we’ve developed a street gang friendship mentality that puts positivity above all else.  Working great so far.

Nick: We get wet ‘n wild everyday.

How did the chanting become part of the music? Can you also talk about how you mix guttural qualities with more modern techniques and gear?
Chris: We all decided together we would take lyrics out of the mix but still wanted to sing. In our efforts to try new things and move away from common pop music standards we came across chanting together, along with speeding up and slowing down vocal loops and samples, and other interesting ideas and weird noises that would make the vocals another dynamic instrument in our ensemble.

What’s the songwriting process like for you guys?
Chris: Normally a simple piece or an idea is presented and we talk about it, see what we like, what we need to change about it, and slowly work out accompanying music and ideas alongside it. This often ends up completely changing the original work—it normally evolves into something much different but way cooler. A lot of times someone will present a theoretical idea, where there aren’t any melodies or rhythms written yet, just odd music theory or an idea that breaks those cliché popular music norms and we see what we can do with it.

Have you found it difficult to translate your visceral live experience into compelling recordings?
Guy: It’s not an easy task.  Dylan Reznick put a lot of work into Open Your Heart To Fantasy and made it sound amazing considering that we had no budget whatsoever and he did the entire thing splicing files in his bedroom.  For the next round of recordings we’re working with our good friends Andy Oswald and Jeff Schenk in a live-tracked studio situation in order to get the energy down in one take.  We’re going to be releasing a seven inch of new material very soon from these recording sessions and thus far it seems our goal of interpreting the live sound is improving, though being there is always going to make recordings pale in comparison.  Thus, I would advise to come see us live rather than take my word for it.

Does having so many strongly creative members make it easier or more challenging to create music?
Guy: Having such creative people in the band concurrently makes writing songs easier and playing the difficult passages we write more challenging because we have to keep up with one another!

Listen to the Religious Girls’ Open Your Heart to Fantasy

Connect with the band on Facebook

Sean Carnage & Peter’s Pool Boy’s present…

Image: Walt Gorecki

Halloween Swim Team

Religious Girls
Luna is Honey
The Lingonberries

Starts 9:30pm / $5 / all-ages

Pehrspace—325 Glendale Blvd., in Historic Filipinotown

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