Bazmati Vice is a Philly band with a fluid lineup, active in the city since 2017 but formed back in 2013. Comprised of Chris Jackowski, John Kerber, Flower Lynx, Ari Michaels, and Eric Proctor, Bazmati Vice has performed for years in the Philadelphia area, including shows at The Ardmore Music Hall, Milkboy, Bourbon and Branch and many others. They have also performed in Syracuse, Boston, and New York City at The Knitting Factory, Piano’s, and the Bitter End. Bazmati Vice is back with their first studio-track in nearly 2 years on titled Bonehead, and you can check them out on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.
To start off our interview, I’m going to ask a question I’ve been asking everyone recently – during this time of social-distancing, how have you been coping? How have you been managing your time?
It’s definitely been a weird balance between trying to enjoy the free time and make the most of it, and being stressed out about everything going on. We’re lucky enough to still be able to work remotely (we all have day jobs!), so our music schedule has mostly remained the same because we work at it in the evenings. The biggest change is that our drummer, Eric Proctor, doesn’t live with the rest of us, so we’ve been experimenting with remote song and video recording, which has actually been easier than expected. We loaned him our electric drum kit and he’s been sending clips of audio/video for us to line up to our recordings here at the house.
How did the band Bazmati Vice come to be? Where did the name Bazmati Vice come from?
We started out in college (Haverford College!), and I remember us hanging out in a dorm kitchen brainstorming band names when a friend of ours, who happened to be making rice with her lunch, jokingly suggested:
“what about Basmati VICE??” and we pretty much just went with it! We tried for a while to come up with something better, but over time it grew on us, and as people on campus began to know the name it ultimately stuck. At one point, we even considered dressing up as Miami Vice characters and throwing rice into the audience at the end of the show to fully embody the wordplay, but that (thankfully) never materialized.
Many of our song titles have a similar origin story, starting out with a silly name that we plan to change later, but then getting so used to it that it becomes the final name. A lot of songs on our first album were like that (“Kappa”, “Exponential”, “Dune Buggy”…), and even one of our newest songs “Plutonium” came from a random voice memo name on Andrew’s phone. To some extent I think our guiding principle has always been to make the most exciting music we can without taking ourselves too seriously, be it in our live shows or our song names, and I would say we’ve stayed true to that over the past 7 years.
Tell us about the creation of Bonehead, your new single.
The writing process for Bonehead was by far the longest of any song we’ve ever finished, and I think this speaks to the outside events that were happening when we started writing it. Our lead singer Clayton had just told us he was moving to California, so we were trying to figure out how the rest of us were going to continue as a band. Losing the guy who writes lyrics is unique because it forces you to revamp your entire catalog. We’d been swapping and cycling drummers for a while at that point and were able to write and perform our material, but we felt that it wouldn’t be right to hire someone else to sing Clay’s lyrics — they were his in a way that didn’t feel transferrable. So we saw an opportunity to begin collaborating with new singers, and start from scratch.
The Bonehead composition process started out with the verse, which was one of a few ideas John threw out during a brainstorming session, but we couldn’t figure out what to do with it from there. We tried matching it with a sort of optimistic chord progression, but that didn’t feel right. Then we tried pairing it with a 7/4 odd time heavy rock riff, but that felt too cheesy. Eventually, Chris and Andrew hashed out a sort of dark and brooding pre-chorus that resolved into the more uplifting chorus that made it onto the final track. Around the same time, we began our collaboration with vocalist Ari Michaels, who was writing lyrics to the song templates that we were coming up with. She really brought Bonehead together in an amazing way, taking the different moods of the song sections and gluing them together into a story about a relationship gone sour. Her lyricism and vocal performance on the record really inspired all of us!
Once life is back to normal, what’s next for Bazmati Vice?
Getting back on stage! We’ve always focused on our live performances, and because we’ve had so many lineup changes over the past 7 years, we’re always trying to change things up and do special gags in addition to performing new songs. For our 2018 Halloween show at Milkboy in Center City we wore banana suits and performed a Monster Mash–Rock Lobster mashup, and we like to throw in some curveballs such as, most recently, a funk-rock arrangement of “The Nightman Cometh” from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia… We’re always exploring new ways to interact with the crowd and make our shows as unique and memorable for the audience as we can. It’s definitely been the thing we’ve missed the most since everything started getting locked down.
Additionally, we’re continuing to work on the rest of our album, of which Bonehead is the first single! We’ve got a wide variety of influences, as each of us has different musical backgrounds and interests. Match that with the fact that we’ve had six other members that have come and gone over
the years, and you get a band that not only pulls from all sorts of weird directions, but also has changed drastically over time. For the first few years we were doing more of a basement rock thing — think Red Hot Chili Peppers, Black Keys, that sort of music. Later on, we got more interested in more funk-oriented stuff which then led us into jazz and prog territory.
At present, we try to embrace whatever feels exciting, exploring both the jazzier side and more accessible, upbeat styles. You’ll hear this in the collection of songs we’ve been producing at Gradwell House this winter,
Bonehead being the first release. We’ve got songs in the works that range from in-your-face funk-rock to melodic, lyrical ballads, as well as some instrumental fusion improvisations and even a jazzy, swinging dance party! It’s all over the place but that’s what keeps us excited. “Bonehead” is available wherever you stream music!F
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