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Interview: Thousand Foot Whale Claw

27 September 2016

photo courtesy of Monofonus Press

This past February, Austin’s Thousand Foot Whale Claw quietly released one of the best kosmische-laden albums of 2016. Compared to their previous releases put out by their own label Holodeck Records and the like-minded ATX label Monofonus Press, Cosmic Winds feels like a major step forward for the band and will most likely be considered one of the best kraut-inspired records of 2016. The BT spoke to Justin Goers (bass/synth/drum machine/guitar) and Adam Jones (synth/drum machine) through email about Austin, Holodeck Records and Cosmic Winds.

BT: To those unitiated to TFWC, has your sound changed over time or remained consistent to the work found on Cosmic Winds?

JG: Our sound has changed a lot over time, we have lost and gained new members and changed our live setup and studio equipment, but we are still striving toward the same goal of creating our own brand of experimental ambient and spaced-out kraut-rock inspired music. Cosmic Winds is a record we made with studio experimentation at the forefront. I put together a small home recording setup and we recorded every chance we got. Our live sets and our albums are all unique vectors from the same cosmic center.

AJ: I’ve always enjoyed the freedom to do whatever I feel like in this band. I like a lot of different types instrumental music, and we use this band to explore a many different ideas. I think it still all sounds like the same band, so it doesn’t bother me.

BT: Can you talk about the band’s involvement/role with Holodeck records? Maybe give a little back story?

JG: Adam and I are two of the founding members of Holodeck Records. It was founded to give a louder voice to a lot of the wonderful experimental, ambient, synth-based and sometimes un-classifiable music that was being created in Austin.

AJ: When we started I was in a shit load of bands, and I knew that I wouldn’t be able to find actual labels to put out all of this stuff. Then I noticed the same problem with a bunch of my friends. We said “Fuck that!” and decided to become that label.

BT: Cosmic Winds seems to me, more deliberate than past recordings. What caused this shift? Was there specific influences, lineup changes, or gear that created new paths for the band?

JG: We began recording Cosmic Winds with the intent to make a very simple, layered ambient album. Something cleaner and more focused than past efforts. As we started digging in our ambitions shifted and we just tried to make the most interesting, atmospheric album that we could. We were totally unconcerned with creating music for a live performance.

AJ: I think there is just a natural evolution and advancement the longer you have a band, or else, what’s the point? For us, the initial concept of the project was simple, but can only be done so many times. After a while you just get better.

BT: How does being based in Austin affect the music created by TFWC?

JG: We definitely take inspiration from a lot of the awesome bands in and around town. Having an amazing synth shop in town (Switched On) helps too.

AJ: You can’t understate the importance of living in a place where everyone’s hustling their own music projects. Austin is a great place to have a synth band.

BT: Does the album title “Cosmic Winds” speak to something specific or is it more of a general description of the record?

JG: Haha, it’s actually our technical term for the sound that is made when you perform a filter sweep on a noise source. There’s a lot of ‘cosmic wind’ on the record and in particular it’s all over the title track.

AJ: Explosion sounds and cosmic wind are very necessary steps in finishing any of our songs.