Voxtrot makes waves every time they come to New York. After packing Rothko their first time around, they were back last month in support of their new EP and impressed all (including us) that came out to see them. Their bouncy brand of pop, fronted by equally energetic frontman Ramesh Srivastava, at times sonically references bands like The Smiths and Belle & Sebastian. Their unique style and sound manages to stay in the forefront however, so be sure to check them out - they'll be playing 4 sets during CMJ this week [details, and mp3, after the interview].
Ramesh was nice enough to take some time out to answer a few of our questions.
Let's get this out of the way, where did your band name originate?
It was a spur of the moment thing that just seemed to come about on its own. I suppose there is the word play of ‘Vox (voice),’ but more than anything I liked the sound of it. It definitely has nothing to do with the Genesis acapella album.
What is your favorite/least favorite memory involving New York?
When I was seven, my uncle Graziano ran this restaurant in New York called Lantana. One year at Christmas, my mother took my brother and I to the restaurant from my Grandmother’s place in New Jersey… in a limo, which then took us to see the Phantom of the Opera on Broadway. Being eight, it was magical-I felt like kid glitterati.
What is your favorite/least favorite thing about playing shows in New York?
The constant fear that the number of things happening on any given night will cause our performance to go unnoticed.
Is there a difference in the New York music scene from your own local scene?
This is also an issue of size. In New York it seems that the population allows for there to be many subcultures of music/art- there is distinct twee pop community, psych folk community, etc… In Austin there is one great thing happening each night. Perhaps this pushes one to be diverse, although forced diversity is not necessarily a virtue.
Now its time for some fill-in-the-blank action
“You know you’ve made it when…”
You don’t have to carry your own guitar amp… oh, and that same amp is not a Peavy.
“It’ll be time to pack up the gear for good when…”
You are no longer passionate about your career.
“I’ll never forget the first time I…”
Went to Mexico. I tend to be terrified of fucking with schedules, other peoples’ temperaments, etc… and sometimes may seem to lack spontaneity. I like spontaneity, just the secure kind, like spontaneity with insurance. Two summers ago, when Voxtrot was playing pretty constantly, and I had this rather monotonous job stocking shelves at the University bookstore, I went to san Miguel de Allende with my friend Noelle. We chose the destination at random and just took the night bus from the border. It was great.
“I’ll never forget the first time [insert another band member’s name here]…”
Mitch ‘nexted’ a member of the Canadian border patrol. Translation of ‘nexted’- When somebody makes a statement that you find displeasing or boring or annoying or whatever, roll your eyes, snort as though snoring, and groan (in your most disaffected tone), ‘Next…’ It’s a joke-habit I picked up from my friend Steven in Glasgow. Silly but useful.
I believe the French-speaking border patrol persisted in calling him “Michelle,” highlighting the androgynous nature of that name.
Let's have some fun with word association. Give me your immediate feelings on the following (if you’ve got no discernable feelings, make something up that won’t embarrass you in the morning)
Bridge & Tunnel
Transportation [I’m not very good at this, am I?]
A disturbing combination of powerful and highly subjective.
Better in old films, better when you’re a kid, better before the triumph of branding, but still bizarrely captivating.
Bloomberg/Smoking Ban/Noise Laws
Occasional regret that I was not born sooner.
A few quickies on the music tip
What's the most played song on your iPod (or an equivalent music playing device) in the past week?
Green Velvet-la la Land
Who would be in your ultimate music supergroup, your all-star Olympic team of rock?
Stephen Malkmus, Stuart Murdoch, Jimi Tenor, Arthur Russell. Or maybe I’d just scrap that and rehash the Beatles.
If you released a 7” what would you put on the cover?
This marvelous picture of cat projecting strawberries out of his eyes called ‘The Story of Tom Hanks.’ Mitch (Voxtrot guitarist) and I bought it from an Austin art show as the christening piece for the house we moved into when I moved back from Glasgow. It’s done by an Austin artist called Palfloat (www.palfloat.com) who usually gives everything away for free. We paid 35 dollars, but as he said, at least he would be able to buy groceries that week. Since it came into our lives, I’ve always wanted to use it for that exact purpose.
What was the first/last album you bought on the day it was released?
Radiohead-Amnesiac [perhaps most of the things I’ve been excited about in more recent years have had release dates before my time], when I was sixteen. I was in Paris with my family and I waited outside FNAC for the store to open. A bit of a disappointment for me after Kid A, but good enough to listen to all summer. That same day, I bought a ticket form this Parisian girl for the Radiohead Oxford homecoming show. My purchase paid for her train ticket to England so it seemed like a pretty even trade. The concert was a dream come true for my then level of ‘fanhood’ and it rained all day. Oxford itself was so crowded that the closest hotel I could get was fifteen miles outside of town in the middle of the country. I managed to get the last bus there and had to run down this unlit abandoned farm road for an hour until I found it. I guess that was kind of my summer of Radiohead, or rather my summer of mainstream Britpop and other related forums.
If Josh Schwartz, creator of the OC , asked your band to perform on his tv show (as Modest Mouse, the Killers and the Walkmen recently have) would you?
God yes. It’s been a running joke of mine for ages. Our guitarist Mitch and I (along with our neighbor, Niki Nash) have this ‘weird’ involvement with the OC. I know that kind of ‘ironic appreciation', for lack of a better term, is a bit boring and predictable, but OC Monday nights have become a bit of an event. If we said no to the Bait Shop, it would be heresy.
And finally...What came first, the music or the misery?
The music, then the misery, then the misery over music.
CMJ schedule: Friday they'll be at Pianos at 3, Tribeca Rock Club at 5, and Coda at 11. On Saturday afternoon they are playing a free show at Rothko at 3.
Listen: The Start of Something.mp3