Fans of tubatronic psych jam music are urged to pick up Matt Owen and The Eclectic Tuba’s debut album Intergalactic Domination on October 29th (on CD at eclectictuba.com, or digitally on iTunes and Spotify; pre-order today). Featuring guests Wayne Coyne (Flaming Lips), Amanda Palmer (The Dresden Dolls), Mike St. Clair (Polyphonic Spree) and Jake Ingalls (Flaming Lips, Spaceface), it tells a story of the journey toward Intergalactic Domination.
What say you?
Matt explains: “The story we’re trying to tell here is a story of a heroic journey that begins on Earth, and these guys are chosen to take over the universe – they lift off from Earth and travel through the galaxy toward Intergalactic Domination. Each song kind of highlights a point in the journey and really portrays the emotion that the heroes are feeling at the time. For instance, “Voyage” is a totally somber tune with warm flowing melodies that kind of signifies the first feelings of just floating around in space gazing at the vast nothingness. “As a Matter of Fact, It’s All Dark” is kind of the point where the album takes a turn to the future. It’s the point where the team realizes, “Alright… We’re about to kick some ass” and “One Drop Removes The Program” is the point in the album where the team eats a “special fruit” from one of the planets they visit, and the corrupt truths of why they have been chosen for this mission are revealed to them. The team then decides to turn their motives of Intergalactic Domination around… That’s about all I can say – The rest is completely up to the listener.“
Matt continues, “Reuben Rodrgiuez and I had to spend a lot of time in the beginning just planning out a storyboard.
It took about a year to write – with all the other music I’ve done, the album has just kind of been a compilation of songs in an order that felt right. . . Since I was writing the music in order, I wanted to make sure that I didn’t run into a place where I wrote a tune, then later come back to realize that it didn’t flow well at all. But, of course, that still ended up happening a few times.“
The album came together over the course of 2012, a busy year for Matt that saw him bring to life his vision of psychedelic tuba music, rub shoulders with The Flaming Lips, tour with Amanda Palmer and join the Spree for their annual Holiday Extravaganza. It all started with Matt in the audience at the Lips’ 2011-2012 New Year Freak Out. “I was watching the show and in the middle I had this idea about starting this psychedelic tuba thing but I had no idea where to start,” Matt explains. “On the second night of the Lips show I was still thinking pretty intensely about it and after the show me and the friends all decided that we were going to do whatever it took to meet Wayne. So, we walked straight up to the empty stage immediately up to Wayne and began having a great conversation with him. He invited us back to [The Flaming Lips freak art gallery] The Womb, which was actually supposed to be closed at the time. We just hung out, took the tour and talked. I took advantage of the opportunity to kind of ask him how he started out, how he developed it into such a large show, and a few other nerdy questions. Needless to say, the guy had some great fucking advice. I continued to go to Lips shows around the country and I got several opportunities to talk more with Wayne. After a while, I started to feel like Wayne was kind of a part of this thing. The entrepreneurial and showmanship advice he had given me had helped me every step of the way in this thing. So I woke up one morning, and, as I do often, I looked at my room mate, and I pitched him an idea – I said, ‘I kind of want this omnipotent alien character to be on the album… and I think I’m going to drive 12 hours to Oklahoma City today to ask Wayne to be that alien!’ But I quickly decided that it was a bit sudden, and I wasn’t even sure if the guy was home. So, I waited around for a while and kind of dropped the idea. After that we set up a few Flaming Lips after parties and after the Memphis in May show, Wayne came out to our show and totally dug it. A few months later we played on Friday night in Alabama with Spaceface [the band Flaming Lips touring member Jake Ingalls leads], on Saturday in Oklahoma City with [Lips collaborators] Linear Downfall, and on Sunday in Alabama with Spaceface again. I knew immediately that this was our chance. We played Friday night, drove with no sleep to OKC and met up with Wayne. We explained it to him, and he was totally stoked about the idea!“
As Matt was building connections with Wayne and his collaborators, he also joined Amanda Palmer’s Grand Theft Orchestra (for the Theatre is Evil tour’s Carrboro, NC, Atlanta, GA, and New Orleans, LA dates) and The Polyphonic Spree at their annual holiday concert. “I became pretty good friends with everyone in the [Grand Theft Orchestra],” Matt tells us. “We had a super duper good time and afterward we all kind of kept in touch. During SXSW 2013 I ran into Amanda on the street randomly and we had one of those “HOLY SHIT!” moments! She originally asked me if I would come to her ninja gig and be on her panel, then later shifted that to, ‘Will you play on this Ninja Gig?” So for the first time Amanda was in the audience while I played… just as with Wayne. This was quite the role reversal. One day I just shot her a text, jokingly saying ‘Hey! I’m trying to crowdsource an Amanda Palmer for vocals on our new record!!! If you know where I can find one of those, send her my way!’ She laughed,and gladly agreed to lend her pipes to the tuba!”
“Earlier in my tuba playing days I sent [Good Records and Polyphonic Spree manager] Chris Penn an email telling him that if they ever needed a tuba player, to call me up and I’d be there the next day. He replied with one of those ‘Haha! You got it, bud!’ kind of emails that gives you the feeling that they just laughed their asses off at you… but later on Chris emailed me back about the Holiday Dream shows and asked if I’d be down – I played the Dallas, TX show with them. Mike was outside doing some real serious warm-ups on trombone. I knew that this dude wasn’t just a rock trombone player. So I started talking to him about jazz – and once you talk to a jazzer about jazz, you’re friends for life.“
So what was it like working with all these great artists?
“Well first, an absolute dream come true. I was shocked that any of them agreed to do it… much less ALL of them, you know? During the recording process, we basically just handed Wayne a script, and he and [recording engineer] Mack Hawkins laid it down at Pink Floor in OKC. Mack added some weird alien effects to it that really kick ass and flow great with the feeling of the album! Amanda Palmer was super awesome to work with. I wasn’t sure how she would react to doing a lyric-less song, but she loved the idea and what she added to this song is some really powerful stuff! She was actually on tour during the recording process, so her vocals were recorded in a bathroom in New Zealand and it adds this real eerie ethereal effect that just sits right inside the deep feelings of the tune. I can’t wait to put that one out. Mike was also super easy to work with. He’s really just one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met, man. So easy going, and he can really play the shit out of that trombone!“
The full credits and tracklist are below. Follow Eclectic Tuba album news and tour updates on their facebook page, twitter, and eclectictuba.com. If you’re in or around Alabama, check out the Intergalatic Domination release party on October 29th.
Intergalactic Domination (Pt. 1) feat. Wayne Coyne
Intergalactic Domination (Pt. 2) feat. Amanda Palmer
To The Cosmos We Rise Voyage
The Sun Burns Deep
As a Matter of Fact, It’s All Dark
Heavier Than We Thought
One Drop Removes The Program
What It’s Gonna Take feat. Mike St. Clair and Jake Ingalls
This Belongs to Us
Matt Owen – Tuba, Vocals, Synthesizers, Drums
Reuben Rodriguez – Synthesizers, Latin Percussion
Junior Williams – Drums
Alex Hinson – Drums
Robbie Rockwell – Saxophone
Ralph Wheeler – Guitar
Evan Johnson – Trombone
Mike St Clair – Trombone