Foo Fest 2013: Cannibal Ramblers
| A Journey With Mark (Very Bad Dog) Milloff and Kyle Anderson of the Cannibal Ramblers |
I saw on Facebook that you guys played a show last night. How did that go?
Mark: Yeah at Tupelo, it was great. Really fun! Totally acoustic, no amplification, no PA system, no nothing. Had the whole place going. It was very good. It was a National guitar not the harpoon guitar.
Kyle: And the twelve string!
Where are you guys originally from?
K: I’m from Pawtucket.
M: I am from Miami.
How did you guys end up meeting?
M: Providence. We were in bands that intersected frequently at Tazza. When I was leaving my other band, I knew Kyle was in Minnesota. I called a friend of ours, Erik, who played bass with Kyle, and asked him if he wanted to play. As it turned out after we had been playing for a week, Kyle returned from Minnesota and I think Erik kind of tricked you over to the house on a Sunday.
K: Yeah for coffee and then we jammed with Mark at like 8:00am. That’s how the band started. Just playing a lot of gigs at Tazza is how me and Mark met.
Has it always been just you two?
M: No we had a bass player Erik for a little. But because we’re cannibals we ate him.
K: And we don’t eat each other because we’re both bad tasting.
So how did you come up with the name?
M: I’m a big fan of Moby Dick. When I first had the name it was the Kokovoko Cannibal Ramblers because Kokovoko is the mythical island where Queequeg comes from and he comes from a family of Cannibals. Then I realized everybody asked what’s Kokovoko? And I said well forget it so it just became Cannibal Ramblers.
K: Not as easy as explaining the Poontar.
M: Funny you should ask! It’s a half guitar half harpoon and half my grandfather’s humidor, which is a 100-year-old mahogany box. If you do the math that’s 150% so it’s the worlds largest poontar, besides being the only poontar.
K: And it’s about as big as Mark!
M: Yeah its about six feet. There’s also a third one in the process of being made. You lose a harpoon once you stab a whale. So you got to have them in reserve. They are all lethal instruments. If the point doesn’t kill you, listening to us does.
I was able to find some songs on Reverbnation. How much material do you guys really have out there?
K: For a while we just figured we would record everything live because that’s how it captures us, that’s how we are. We are performers and that’s how we roll. We come off the best live. We usually just go on the fly! I’m an audio engineer and when mark started talking about recording, I said we’ll just recorded everything live. So we’ve done Nick-A-Nees [Providence], New York, Vermont (kind of everywhere). Up until recently, just for quality sake, (and it had become kind of stressful setting up all the gear to record live), we decided we should go into the studio, because I have access to one. We did it like how we play live. All in one take and about fourteen songs in about three hours. We are in the final stages of mixing and mastering it.
M: We don’t use set lists and are very serious with the concept of taking risk. You gotta go to where you can embarrass yourself and fall flat on your face because that’s where the good stuff can happen. It’s a lot like performance art. It’s music. My day job is a painting. Although it’s music, it’s fine art. How quiet can we get? How loud can we get? What kind of new textures are we going to explore? Kyle is a wild guy.
K: I’m more comfortable being behind my drum kit than anything. That’s how I communicate so easily with Mark because I feel that same thing back..
Do you feel that having another member might disrupt that communication?
K: Yeah we’ve been really happy just functioning as a duo. People have come up to tell us how surprised they are at how much noise–in a good way–we make on stage.
Do you plan to use the Internet to release new material?
K: Yeah we’re going to do both physical and online distribution. Also, we were going to do it on vinyl, but because we are both so anxious and we want to record more already, we’re going to do it on CD and come back to the vinyl.
What are some of your influences?
M: When you ask that you’re actually touching the heart of what makes us who we are. My influences are all delta blues pre-war. I’ve been into this stuff since thirteen years old. Kyle has radically different influences which comes out in his playing, just like my influences come out in my playing. When you put those two worlds together something unique happens. It’s good I haven’t spent my whole life playing hardcore or that you haven’t spent your whole life playing delta blues.
K: I’ve always liked the blues, but not the same style that Mark grew up playing. I used to hear my father playing George Thorogood and The Destroyers, which is how I got into the blues, and I went backwards from him. Then my dad started introducing me to punk rock; the Clash, the Sexpistols, Buzzcocks, Ramones, all that stuff. And then I just wanted to play and friends who would start bands and I would join and fill in where they needed me. Singing, drums, bass. That’s how it started. I knew how Mark played and I really dug it. The band I was in before was kind of blues-oriented. Our personalities just kind of exploded.
M: We’re each pretty disruptive musicians. And we like thin ice. How far can you push a song before you destroy it? But we also really listen intensely to each other. Kyle has especially, and he knows when I’m getting quiet or when I’m getting loud, and I’m the same way. We communicate and talk to each other while we’re playing. Sometimes Kyle will yell at me.
K: It’s just fun no matter where we are. When we first started playing there [Tupelo] I brought my drums and he brought his amp. We were kind of just too aggressive. But we also know how to bring it down. Because we like to push it so hard, being totally acoustic lets us both really push as hard as we want to, and get it as dynamic as we can.
How would you describe your band’s current state?
K: Just keep playing. It’s like a party every time we play. I’m having a good time, Mark’s having a good time, and we just want everybody to be part of that. We’ve had a lot of people just come up and play harmonica, play guitar, play bass, saxophone, do whatever. Everybody’s welcome.
M: I think the current state of the band is flux and it will always be in flux. It’s constantly mutating. I think as long as we’re alive it will be in flux and constantly changing. It’s been an interesting evolution over the year. We used to be paired with blues bands, but lately we’ve been more comfortable with heavy metal/ hard-core doom bands. It’s the passion in the music that appeals to us.
How do you feel about the local scene in Providence?
K: There are a few bands I know. The Providence music scene is great. Everyone is open to what others are doing and that’s cool.
How do you guys feel about the coming Foo Fest?
K: We’re pumped! Excited to hear new bands, and not knowing what you’re going to be seeing or who you’re going to be playing with.
You guys plan on doing the more acoustic thing?
M: No! We’re going all out.
What do you guys see yourself doing in the future?
M: Sky’s the limit. We’ll see how we can go and how much we can push it. We’re going to France in a month to play private parties. We’re being flown to the Alps. They heard us at Shrine, New York. I’m a little nervous I’ll be kidnapped and sold into sexual slavery.
K: Or they might actually think were cannibals and bring us to a cannibal party.