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Monday, August 03, 2009

The Octopus Project Explores the Depths of Chapel Hill

Austin band The Octopus Project visits Cat's Cradle in Chapel Hill Wednesday, August 5th, for a show that is sure to offer something for everyone! The experimental pop sounds blend a variety of electronic and rock instrumentation, an infectious and original groove that gets you on your feet. Before you read any further, check out their free download of the single "Wet Gold" from their latest EP, "Golden Beds", just released on Peek-a-boo Records on July 28th.

Hear the spooky? That's the vibrant sound of the theremin, haunting.
The Octopus Project's Josh Lambert answered a few questions for us. The band is beginning their US tour promoting their EP

How did the band begin? What is your early history?

We've all known each other since high school times (actually, Yvonne has known Toto since they were 12), and been in bands together since. So, we've more or less, grown up together musically. At one point in college, we were all the backing band for a friend of ours, and we decided that we wanted to break out and do our own thing. So, we formed The Octopus Project. We started out with no goals in mind other than just making the craziest stuff we could think of. It was a recording project first, then we decided to start playing shows.

How did you get the name?

The name comes from a phone conversation that I had with the friend whose band we were in just before The Octopus Project. We were trying to name the other band, and we each wrote down a list of words. One of us would read one word, then the other would read a word, and the combination of the two would make a band name. He didn't like "The Octopus Project," so we kept it for our own band later on.
On your website you mention moving into "an old, ghost-filled house" to use as your studio.

Do you have tales of the paranormal?

We didn't literally move into a ghost-filled house, but that's the sort of vibe we were going for with the last record -- kinda spooky, but charming at the same time. I think we all have paranormal tales, but mostly just the standard creaks and shadows in the night kind of business.

It sounds like you have a great tour ahead of you. What are the biggest challenges being on the road?

I think the biggest challenge of being on the road is finding healthy food. We have all the logistical stuff down -- getting to the show on time, loading gear, getting along, finding a hotel room, etc. But, it's so hard to find good stuff to eat on the highway! If some folks have some secret restaurants they'd like to share, we're all ears! I'm totally sick of Wendy's salads and Subway.

What is the strangest thing that has happened to you at one of your shows?

Probably the strangest thing that's ever happened at a show happened once when we were in Baltimore. We were playing a fairly normal show, but suddenly a guy stumbled in with a gunshot wound in the ass. He was bleeding everywhere and they had to call the cops. We later found out that he had shot himself. I still have no idea why.

How would you describe the band's composition process?

All of our songs are written differently, but for the most part things will start out as an idea -- whether it's a sound or a melody or a beat, etc. Then the song gets passed around between us all until we're satisfied. It's a pretty lengthy process, but we don't normally jam or work incredibly well with all of us sitting in a room. We like to take our time with things. Sometimes, though, a song will just creep out of us, and that's a pretty great feeling.

Has your sound evolved over your different releases?

I like to think that we've learned a lot from each record. Our first record was pretty much a demo that we never intended on releasing to everyone. Since then, we've experimented with as much stuff as we can -- each time getting closer to what we all have in our heads. In a way, I hope we never get there, because then what is there to chase after?

Has it helped being an Austin "hometown" band for the SXSW festival?

That's a hard one to answer. It's definitely made it easier living a few blocks from the festival! There are so many out of town folks in Austin for SXSW, that's your pretty much playing to new people that wouldn't have seen you otherwise. So, it's almost like every band is from out of town. SXSW does seem to put a rather large focus on Austin bands, which is great! I think they've really helped foster the music community in town. And, it does make you really proud to be from such an amazing city. So, to answer the question... Maybe?

We are really looking forward to your visit to North Carolina! Anything else you want to tell those who may be thinking about coming to the show?

We're really looking forward to our visit as well! We haven't played at Cat's Cradle in a few years, so we're excited to come back! We're ready to get crazy with you folks!

Thanks for your time Josh. Don't miss The Octopus Project, Wednesday, August 5th at Cat's Cradle in Chapel Hill.

(Photo: Jordan Hollender)