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Kool Kats feat. Free Salamander Exhibit

Kool Kats feat. Free Salamander Exhibit

Photo by  Jason Bang

Photo by Jason Bang

Currently based in Oakland, CA, Free Salamander Exhibit continues to shed its dead skin cells, casting off an accumulated detritus of metal, prog-rock, and art-rock influences.

We caught up with members of the Exhibit where we spoke of unspoken things and they put together a "playlist of formative music".

Fresh Pots!: So what did you guys grow up listening to? How has that music manifested itself into the Free Salamander Exhibit?

Free Salamander Exhibit: The playlist we compiled was the product of a discussion we all had about this very thing, and we pretty much all agreed with all of it. Every one of us grew up listening to a pretty dizzying array of music from a wide variety of genres. Tracing individual influence at the level of individual songs might be tricky, but I think as a band we approach writing and arranging new music with very open minds - we don't have any particular agenda. Tunes mostly or completely written by individual members get teased out and rearranged over a pretty long rehearsal process, so in the end everything runs through all the filters, and somehow comes out sounding like us.

FP: What can we find on the stereo if we take a road trip on the Exhibit's bus?

FSE: We listen to just about everything, really. Old Joe Frank shows on tape, bands we are friends with and love (Cheer-Accident, Dead Rider, Atomic Ape, Dreadnought, Bubblemath, Kylo Ren (from Eugene OR)....), 20th century and contemporary classical music (Ligeti, 2nd Viennese School, Xenakis, Ferneyhough, Jonathan Harvey, Crumb, Brian Finnessey....), Led Zeppelin, metal (Gojira, Gorguts, Suffocation, Portal, Coma Cluster Void, Meshuggah, Nile, Enslaved...), Henry Threadgill, Talking Heads, Cardiacs, classic prog (King Crimson, Yes, old Genesis, Gentle Giant....), and lots more.

The stereo is free to use, most of us have a ton of CDs or very full iPods/phones, and we often hit more record stores when we can to find new things. The policy is that anyone can always skip a song, and that's about it. We do some long drives, and listen to a lot of stuff.

FP: How do you guys discover new music nowadays? Is the human race with technology still like an alcoholic with a barrel of wine when it comes to music and the internet?

FSE: Probably more so than ever, but on the other hand it's one of the best ways for us to reach people. It's not really something a band can opt out of at this point.

As for discovery: the barrier to entry on making and putting out music is lower than ever, which is a great and terrible thing, but probably more great than terrible. There's so much good stuff out there. There's also so much noise to try to cut through. Often, though, we discover new stuff by old-fashioned talking to people, and by playing with great bands who we may or may not have heard of before.

FP: Is sleep indeed wrong?

FSE: Sleep is a very personal choice. It's a pretty good idea to get some sleep before driving a bus 17 hours to the next gig, we find. Otherwise, striking the balance between sleep and productivity is a path we each tread alone.

FP: What's on the horizon for the Exhibit?

FSE: We have a September tour of Europe in the works, with appearances at the Rock in Opposition, Freakshow Artrock, and MIMI festivals, along with several other shows around the continent. Further out, we're looking forward to a proper US tour in 2019 to take us all the way to the East Coast for the first time.

FP: Lastly, how do you guys take your coffee?

FSE: Often, strong, and with a touch of fat.


A playlist of formative music, compiled by the members of Free Salamander Exhibit:

Tropidelic #080618

Tropidelic #080618

Gimme Danger #073018

Gimme Danger #073018