Sexual Poo Worship and the Death of Kuu: Let's Talk About the New Skarekrau Radio Album
Mabel Suen Rick Wilson at Apop Records on Cherokee Street
No-wave tends to work as an anti-music, a reaction to pop music slathered in classy hooks.The wondrous prog of yore dared not mix with the rough edges of hairy music from the outer crust. Skarekrau Radio is a cult under the pretenses of fantastical rock and experimental sludge. Calling on the shrieking feminine voices of the New York underground, this Midwestern troupe is as whimsical as it is appalling, with sound-scapes balancing the inane and bizarre.
Rick Wilson has shared his rank breath for 20 years of Skarekrau Radio, a religious sect of noise warriors who celebrate Kuu, a god who permits sexual freedom, promotes happiness and most importantly dissolves borders. Krau lives with a history of organic albums, which promote stream-of-consciousness structure with a penchant for static amongst feedback. Wilson dropped its latest effort on my digital doorstep recently, and in doing so raised my eyebrow with this concerted effort of solid rock music.
The Coital Mass of the Kuu Puu collects two years of musical massage, kneading the amoebic noise crew into an angled rock band. Breaks in structure occur throughout the album with pockets of expressive free jazz, but Krau shows a melodic penchant with riffs you can tightly grasp. With this release now swimming in record pressing hell, ears will have to patiently wait until an autumn release. With all tracking, mixing and mastering done, Kuu Guru Rick Wilson has joined us to speak more on this full length effort and the future of Skarekrau Radio.
Joseph Hess: Albums typically work as the bench marks in a band's life. Skarekrau Radio tends to carry a bevy filled with messages for the listener. What can you tell us about this latest studio effort?
Rick Wilson: When I wrote the music for this album, I had in the back of my mind that it would be science fiction. I watched this thing on PBS about the second shuttle disaster, the one that came in and blew up in the atmosphere. Debris went all over Texas somewhere. It wasn't the first one where the shuttle blew up as it was taking off, but the second one when the shuttle was coming in. What was really amazing about the documentary was that they had the scene of all the astronauts, all getting ready to go home after being in outer space, seconds before the whole thing blew up. And they're all happy and cheerful and waving for the camera and they're all excited about being home and then the next minute the whole thing blew up from the inside out.
Before the whole thing blew up, they noticed there was something wrong in the back and they hit the thrusters to hopefully slow the shuttle down, you know, before it just blew up to smithereens. I guess that energy of something coming in from outer space into the atmosphere is called orbital decay, because it's basically the decay of a meteor or a satellite coming back in. That was something going on in my mind the whole time and there's even a song called "Orbital Decay" on the album.
There seems to be an underlying message in having a song about orbital decay.
I wanted [the album] to be about how small we are, and how we can't control the forces that keep us on this planet. It's almost like we shouldn't be leaving the planet, it's almost telling us. We're in this beautiful ecosystem, this beautiful Earth and we leave it because we want to be star-faring beings but we really don't know what we're dealing with. We don't even know what's going on at the bottom of our oceans. I think our resources should be more internal rather than external, and once we get there, then we can begin to explore space. A lot of the songs are about that.
The science fiction direction is quite different from the sexual themes of older albums.
With a lot of Skarekrau records, there are a lot of songs about sex and sexuality. The song [on this record] "Tropical Mattress" is about sex, and the sexual residues left over on your bed. I imagine it being like a small little insect going into this moist area and it's like a jungle. It's the tropics. You go from that and burning up in outer space and it's about small worlds, large worlds.
It sounds like a celebration of your limits.
Yeah, that's a good way of putting it. I never really thought about that, but yeah maybe that is what it is. Maybe the Kuu Puu is our existence on this giant piece of shit in the sky and how we're living in it in different ways and how we can't escape it.
The new record is titled The Coital Mass of the Kuu Puu. Elaborate on what that means to Skarekrau Radio.
It's like mass is sort of like poo, and Kuu is our god, so it's worshiping poo in a kind of sick way. Maybe not sick. The Coital Mass of The Kuu Puu is worshiping, sexually, God's poo. And who knows what God's poo is? Maybe the Earth is the poo of God, maybe we're just living on it.
When did Skarekrau begin work on this record?
This album was recorded almost two years ago, in July of 2010 by Cooper Crane up in Chicago. We've made several trips up and down, and it's been very frustrating. Cooper Crane recorded, produced, mixed and mastered this album.
What studio did you record at?
I don't remember the actual recording studio's name, but I can get it to you. It has a funny name, but it's a beautiful recording studio and a lot of bands have recorded there. Bobby Conn has recorded there, Cave records there, Lazer Crystal records there, Ga'an records there. It's beautiful, and has a basketball court floor and pianos and extra drums with a beautiful booth. It's all analog, it's a beautiful recording studio. We recorded there for two days and we left and came back and then did some overdubs, singing and stuff. We came back again to mix it and we came back again to master. So I would say we were there every step of the way.
How was it, working with Cooper Crane of CAVE?
Cooper's magic, you know. He took most of the cymbals off the drums, he did all these goofy little things to make it sound the way he wanted it to sound. It sounds great I think, it sounds very powerful. It's probably the most rock album that we've done. There is improv, but there's not a lot improv. There's actual beginnings and endings of songs, which is completely different from what we're writing now. It's sort of like this phase, like I said before, it's about science fiction, story-telling, more like [the movie] Heavy Metal. I imagine us in space rockets, ships are failing apart but we're barely hanging on. We're moving around, getting sick, our puke's bubbling around us and we don't know. We're supposed to grab this piece of space junk, bring it on board, take it to this satellite, deposit it there and now we're back up in outer space again. That's what goes through my mind. The album prior to it was mostly improvised with story-telling and this one is more internal, with us trying to play tight.