Ony Ratsimbaharison is a local musician, writer, and blogger and member of the band fk. mt. Jasper asked Ony to write a regular feature profiling local bands — getting at what they’re doing, why they’re doing it, and how it’s going. If you’d like to see your band profiled in What Jasper Said, send Ony a message at JasperProjectColumbia@gmail.com with the word ONY in the subject heading and she’ll, you know, take it under consideration.
With everything so in flux, it seems rare nowadays for bands to stay together for very long, at least in the local music spectrum. But Los Perdidos, local instrumental surf band, is a rare exception to this pattern, as they formed in 1995. Their songs typically convey a darker form of surf, more along the lines of 80’s post punk. The band consists of Andy Collins (guitar), Byron Chitty (bass), Thomas Edenton (guitar), and Josh Robinson (drums). Over the years, the lineup has remained fairly consistent, aside from the recent addition of Robinson.
The landscape of the music world, and across all the arts, has changed drastically since the 90’s, with the internet and social media making it easier to share one’s work with folks around the world. Before Facebook event invites, getting people out to shows involved flyers and word-of-mouth. When Los Perdidos first formed, Collins and Chitty put an ad in the Free Times to find a drummer, something still possible today but less likely with the internet’s ease of use. Booking a tour or a last minute show is way more likely now with a network of bookers and promoters available at our fingertips.
Despite these changes, Los Perdidos has managed to remain constant and present in our scene. In the following interview, Collins explains what it was like forming in the 90’s and how things are now. They will be joined by Boo Hag and Jackson Spells at the September 18 book release of Tommy Bishop’s The Incredibly Strange ABCs at Tapp’s Art Center.
What was it like starting out in the 90s, compared to now? For example, how do you think technology and social media have shaped the music world and our scene?
My first reaction to that is to say that technology--Facebook, Myspace, etc.--has made it easier for bands to market themselves, but I think it's actually, like it's always been, word-of-mouth more than anything else that makes people aware of your existence. Having said that, technology makes some things possible that otherwise wouldn't be. For instance, we have a song in rotation on North Sea Surf Radio in Amsterdam, so people in Europe end up finding our Facebook page, which is obviously something that would have been much less likely in 1995.
Also, in the '90s there was a neo-surf revival of sorts, which we were a part of. We'd play shows with The Space Cossacks, for instance, or The Penetrators--lots of instrumental bands. There still are some, but the herd has been thinned a bit.
Has your sound evolved at all since forming, and if so how?
It seems all bands, over a long period of time, move inevitably towards increasing complexity and slickness in their songwriting. Maybe it's because they get better at playing their instruments, or because of some nameless obligatory urge to change and "grow." We've sometimes experimented with more complex songwriting, sometimes with positive results, but we never stray too far from a straightforward, rock 'n' roll approach to music. Sometimes less is better.
Has anyone in the band been in any other local bands?
Yes, quite a few--Ghettoblaster, The Spanish Tonys, Felonious Swank...and maybe half a dozen others.
Can you describe what your music is like?
Plangent twang and mutant surf rock.
Who/what are some of your main musical influences?
I can't speak for everyone, but my main formative influences are from the '80s: Joy Division, Dead Kennedys, Husker Du, Bowie, Eno, Devo, Minor Threat, etc. A lot of that seeps into our songs, intentionally or otherwise.
How do you feel about Columbia’s music scene as a whole?
It's cyclical, it seems, with crests and troughs.
Is there anything else you'd like to add?
We're really looking forward to playing the book launch with Tommy. The invitation he created for one of our Christmas shows at The Whig (pictured below) was sublime--a pack of wolves attacking candy canes. The man is brilliant.