Neon Reverb Interview with Thee Oh Sees
I wish I could say I’d been listening to Thee Oh Sees since they formed in San Francisco in the late ‘90s but I’d be lying. Like probably a million other Johnny-come-latelys, I got turned on to them while watching a badass scene of “Breaking Bad”: the one in episode 10 of season 4 where all the capos of the drug cartel are poisoned at what looked like an otherwise fun house party in Mexico.
Now I thought to myself, there is no way any of those fat bastard narcos would have the musical cultivation to appreciate a song like “Tidal Wave”. It’s a masterpiece of surf/garage with just the right amount psychedelia. I hadn’t heard a groove that raw and rowdy in a minute so I had to find out who this band is and how I can hear more. Turns out there is a lot more to hear. With fourteen albums under their belt as well as numerous EPs, 7 inches and other cuts on compilations, I am bummed I hadn’t found Thee Oh Sees sooner but am glad to be in-the-know now. I will be even more stoked to see them live at the Bunkhouse on September 11 as part of the Neon Reverb Music Festival.
Having been a band for more than a decade, there is bound to be some lineup changes. Petey Dammit! has played guitar on at least half Thee Oh See’s recordings so I figure he is bona fide enough to represent them in an interview so here goes:
What are your thoughts on playing a music festival in Las Vegas?
I’ve never played a festival in Las Vegas so I don’t know what it will be like but I really like Vegas and have always had a great time there.
Who would it stoke you to see in the audience while you are here?
Penn and Teller.
What would it take to see at the venue to make you want to kick someone’s ass or at least tell them off?
A Beauty Bar bouncer punching a girl (this happened a few years ago to our friend Carmen during our set). For the record, that dude is a dick!!
Do you guys have a “To do in Vegas” list?
We don’t as a band really, but I really love the World’s Largest Gift Shop and slot machines. I have no concept of math so cards are lost on me. But slot machines … That’s where I’m a Viking! Also I try to eat a Monte Cristo sandwich every time I’m in town.
What are some of the ups and downs of the undulating popularity
of garage / psychedelic / surf music?
I like roller coasters.
Is there anything good about the fan base when your style of
music is not the most happening thing in the world?
It’s relatively douche free.
What goes into making Thee Oh See’s recordings sound so raw?
A 2-inch tape machine and Chris Woodhouse.
Is being intentionally gnarly and chaotic-cosmic sounding a hard thing to do on a regular basis?
No, we are fueled by the Cosmos.
Forgive my ignorance but you guys sure have a shit ton of songs; How many of Thee Oh See’s grooves are covers?
Not many. I can think of four songs out of fourteen albums. But there are many winks and nods to songs and bands hidden within our music if you look for them. It’s like a Highlights magazine in your dentist’s office, if you listen long enough, you’ll find that hidden hot dog in the drawing of a tree.
How many of Thee Oh See’s albums have you played on?
According to wikipedia, I’ve played on seven albums and six EPs. We like to keep busy.
Do you guys do a folk acoustic set?
It’s very rare, but it has been known to happen.
ArtsVegas: Covering Las Vegas Art and culture since 2009.