Interview: An Albatross

Interview An Albatross

As I approached the band at the merchandise table, Eddie had a sword. He was in the process of cutting locks of hair from the heads of each of the members of the band and the roadies. He told me they were going to have a seance. As his hair was being sawed through with the sword, one roadie (who later put on a red dress, black socks, and no shoes or underwear and hung upside down in the middle of the pit from the beams in the ceiling) exclaimed “Cut me Eddie, cut it like you mean it! Cut it like it’s Jesus’ penis…Oh my god it’s getting hot.”
To which Eddie replied: “Dude, it’s smoking!” Then, with lock of hair in one hand and sword in the other, the Lazer Viking raised his arms to the sky as the band cheered, “YEEAAAAHHHH!” This peculiar experience begs the question, “What is An Albatross?” Is it a large sea bird? No. Is to have “An Albatross around your neck” to carry an annoying burden, as the saying goes? Wrong. Is An Albatross just a band? Wrong again. An Albatross is Philadelphia’s six piece answer to the fucking doldrums of life in the modern world. An Albatross is the voice inside you that says, “Take life by the balls! Fuck suits and ties, career moves, luxury cars, and ordinary life and kick out the jams motherfucker!” An Albatross is the circus, evangelism, bacchanalia, and hardcore rolled into one big fabulous revolution. Think MC5 crossed with the Locust and a cult. With their latest 11-track effort, “We Are the Lazer Viking” not even breaking 10 minutes, the biggest complaint about An Albatross is: there is not enough An Albatross. Known for having once played four shows in one night, they spent the better part of the last year making sure to tell you to “Reclaim the sheets! Out of the bedrooms and into the streets!” and heed the call of the Lazer Viking. They are the musical incarnation of life lived to the fullest, and they are loving every minute of it. Singer Edward B. Geida III is composed of equal parts preacher, prophet, pirate, and rock star. He shines some light on wild ride that is An Albatross and exactly what the ideals of Lazer Vikinghood are.

Your first recording was also the first recording on When Humans Attack! The band and label are both from Philadelphia. How did that come about?
My former roommate [Skot Beaudoin] was really interested in just picking up a band and putting out some sort of recorded material. He had a little bit of extra money lying around. We recorded on a shoestring budget. It was recorded for like two or three hundred dollars, and pressed for maybe a thousand. He just went for it because we were friends, and because he thought that maybe we’d be able to push like 500 of the records that were pressed. It wound up doing pretty well by his standards, and definitely by our standards. It wound up getting a snowball effect, and being a pretty decent independent release.

Why is Chris Abbott no longer drumming for you?
Well, he went on to become a male runway model, which was kind of odd. He also had these aspirations to go and discover himself in his native land of India. He had like this gargantuan, sort of grandiose plan going on with where he wanted to go with his life. He went on to bigger and better things. We really wanted to focus on this band and start promoting the ideals of “Lazer Vikinghood”. He firmly believed in it, but he wasn’t able to give it all that he had. He wasn’t able to put forth one hundred percent. We parted ways peacefully. Things happen, but he’s definitely included in our extended family that exists all over the world for us.

Could you elaborate on the ideals of Lazer Vikinghood?
Yes, it’s the founding philosophy of An Albatross, but it’s not exclusively ours. We embrace any other bands that heed the call of the Lazer Viking. I hate to map out precisely what it is because it’s definitely open to personal interpretation. Essentially, it is a future primitive method of bringing people together and completely dismantling the individual’s work ethic that the protestants have instilled in western society. We do this by way of the revolutionary politics of dance, by gathering people together, by sharing sweat, by sharing love and by sharing the electrical zaps that are synapses that jilt while we’re listening to music and engaging in pleasureful acts. It is whether you’re having a feast or you’re having a wonderful show or having sex. Whatever that group, that one on one, or one on twenty, or one on a hundred, or one on twelve thousand experiences… the culmination of it all and the beautiful feeling of it all is that of the Lazer Viking. In fewer words, it’s just “coming together.”

You guys have been spending a lot of time on the road. How long has it been now?
We’ve been on the road for this particular tour for six or seven weeks. Throughout the whole year we spend between five and seven months on the road. We did a really long summer tour with the Sick Lipstick that wound up bleeding from July into October. We took a couple of weeks off and did something in December. We did another tour in February. Now, we’ve been on tour since early March. It’s May now. It’s just been pretty ridiculous. We’ve really been trying to push these ideals. We’ve really been trying to just pollute the consciousness into disrupting and dismantling this idea of fear that we all have of the person next to us and of communication. We’re trying to get something real going on that isn’t vicariously experienced through reality television or a fucking cubicle or through your computer. We are really trying to break it down to a very individual, hands on, primitive experience. I mean primitive in that we’re opposed to the idea that today, in order to communicate with a person, you need some sort of cellular or internet device to get it on. We want to take it back like maybe 200 years and say, “Look man this is in the tradition of the minstrels and the tradition every person that has ever picked up a stringed instrument or a drum and we’re going to come together and do this in real time and get it together like that.” We’ve been trying to really push that forward in the past couple of months.

I’ve heard you have had some really bad luck with tour vans. What has happened?
Well, over the past year we’ve spent about six to seven thousand dollars on transmissions. We’ve spent maybe double that amount in new vans. We’ve had constant curses as far as transportation is concerned. We surmount that to some neo-concert conspiracy to keep us from reaching the people that we’re supposed to reach. Whether you take that as truth or not is up to you. It’s been ridiculous. We spend thousands and thousands of dollars on fixing vans. We come home to lots of personal debt. This is undoubtedly the most altruistic effort I’ve ever seen people engage in to make something happen. It’s really romantic and beautiful in some senses. In some senses it’s just an insane expenditure of resources. It’s been an epic journey.

What is An Albatross mini golf?
Well, our last van was supposed to actually be a boat. We were going to tour the eastern seaboard and then take a tour of the Midwest up the Mississippi. We couldn’t find a punk skipper, but we did have a boat pending. It didn’t work out. Basically what happened is that we decided to install a mini golf course within our van. I think it had three holes. We would invite good comrades of ours to come in and experience Albatross mini golf. It was a short lived phenomenon, but it was fun while it lasted.

How did you manage to get kicked out of Canada?
It’s just so strange. When you’ve been on tour for so long, reflecting back on five days let alone five months is almost like this surreal past life that you were living. Somehow I remember sitting in the customs office at the U.S. – Canadian Border in Windsor. We were in Detroit and we were crossing over into Windsor. They weren’t hip on our work papers, and they weren’t hip on what we were saying. They kept questioning us, asking “What is this Lazer Viking religion that you guys are purporting? Are you an organized church? Are you guys some sort of neo-militia outfit? What is the story here?” They were definitely not picking up what we were putting down. We had to sign papers that actually said that we were allowed to leave Canada with haste. They wouldn’t let us back into the States until we signed these papers. It was really weird. They could have kept us in this weird legal limbo for as long as they wanted to if they wanted to question us and if they thought it was a threat to their homeland’s security.

Haha, did you guys have swords on your persons at the time?
No we didn’t, but we had supple amounts of Viking helmets and war hammers that we were going to take to the next show. No, in all seriousness they just weren’t into what we were doing, and had problems with work permits and what not. It was a total fucking drag. We had to cancel about five shows.

What prompted the addition of your second keyboardist, Kat [Paffet]?
There was a point in time, soon after our first drummer left the band, when our organist Phil [Price] was also engaged in several other projects. We were discussing with him the idea of him maybe focusing on these other bands in order to make himself happy. That would essentially include him leaving the band. As kind of a temporary remedy we hired our sister Kat to join the band and play synthesizers for us. That went on for several months while he was on tour with some other bands. When he came back we said “let’s try to orchestrate this like an organ-synth duo and work with it like that.” That’s been about a year in the making and it’s been working out pretty well.

What is Carl G’s role in the band?
Carl G was a revolutionary and a prophet who was involved with programming and sequencing. A lot of the interludes that you hear on our records were actually composed by him. In my opinion he is a very brilliant mind as far as sounds are concerned. He has a really keen and unique sense of composition in the electronic music realm. We actually took him on tour. He would DJ and do all kinds of samples. We took him for probably about seven to nine weeks of touring in our total existence. That was almost like an entirely different band. That was with a different drummer and without Kat. It was like three or four members ago. Our family has actually included upwards of ten people who have actually been in the band.