By Kristyn Potter
We are thrilled to have partnered with the math rock blog Fecking Bahamas for the May Ear Buds Cassette Mixtape. We had a nice little chat with Nikk, one of the founders of the site, and discussed how the blog got its start, why they picked the bands they did for the cassette, and all-things math rock. This interview also covers a lot of ground, amazing links for your next rabbit hole, and some math rock blogs and YouTube pages as well.
Let's start at the beginning, how did Fecking Bahamas get its start?
Fecking Bahamas started when my wife Kat and I were living in the UK. We had always been into math rock, but this was our chance to really interact with the scene. I started writing for Musical Mathematics, which was an amazing blog focused on math rock and the general UK scene. I guess my enthusiasm got the best of me and I started researching math rock heavily, even making a 'database' of math rock bands across the world. After a while we were sitting on so much writing and general data that we just decided to throw together our own blog. We decided to transform our math rock database into an interactive map, which people could use to find bands in the more obscure countries. At the time, the Japanese scene was super exciting but poorly documented, so we also released a Japanese math rock compilation on Bandcamp. I guess all of this stuff combined gave us our start, they got our name out. We also did this 'History of Math Rock' article series, which people tend to like.
Why math rock? Versus an indie blog or rock blog etc?
My attraction to math rock is similar to my broader love for jazz and experimental genres. I just love music that is unpredictable, stuff that requires multiple listens to pull it apart and parse the sound. However, while jazz is overburdened with improvisation and long-winded freeform instrumentation, math rock is punchy and to the point. It retains that raw energy and brevity of its punk heritage. In terms of making a math rock specific blog, I guess in addition to our love for math rock, we wanted to contribute to that particular community. It's small, friendly, and the people are open-minded. We were also enthusiastic about focusing on one genre and doing it well - researching it to the n-th, covering the entire globe, unravelling its history etc. A more general music blog for us wouldn't be as special and a bit cumbersome in terms of staying on top of things (we all have day jobs!).
How did you guys come up with the name?
The name references a song by Don Caballero called 'Palm Trees In The Fecking Bahamas'. We were throwing a couple of ideas around like 'Tectonics' and 'Bear Tooth', but the Don Cab reference sealed it. It was Kat's idea. Admittedly, I was a little hesitant about having 'fecking' in the name, as I thought this might be deemed inappropriate. But in the end we went with it and people generally dig the name. Still, I seldom put the name on my resume.
Let's get into the music ... Favorite band you’ve covered this year?
Giraffes? Giraffes! new album is easily the standout for me. It is exquisitely crafted right down to their choice of when to raise the guitar volume or hit the snares. I urge people not to sleep on this album. Some of my other personal faves we've worked with this year include sewingneedle, Cheer-Accident, Lingua Nada and Straya.
Now for a harder question, one of your favorite bands you’ve covered/discovered of all time
No, that's an easy question: Cardiacs. They were a wonky punk band that formed around 1977. They are my favourite band, and I've tried to infuse their legacy into Fecking Bahamas wherever I can. The frontman and mastermind Tim Smith suffered a combined stroke and heart attack in 2007, so the band have been on hiatus since. One of his side projects The Sea Nymphs put out an album unreleased of material in 2016, which we had the honor of covering. They are equally as wonderful.
Any funny or awesome fan/audience stories or comments?
I'm just generally stoked on the mail we get from people around the world regarding our site. We got a really touching e-mail recently from a kid in Thailand who was extremely grateful to us for helping him find music that he didn't have access to in his country, music that helped define him as a person. I got another e-mail from a guy who used to be friends with Matt Sweeney in Chavez, and he ended up giving me unreleased tracks from Sweeney's earlier band Wider (the band of which, according to folklore, is where the word 'math rock' stemmed from). I'm still figuring out how we can release the tracks to the math rock community.
Oh man that sounds so cool! Please release it! And now for the cassette... how did you come up with these particular bands and tracks? Any theme for this selection or is it random?
Providing a global perspective of math rock is something we take very seriously. This is the basis of the 'World Of Math' interactive map on our site, and the region-specific compilations we release on Bandcamp. We do it to give math rock bands from less established math rock scenes or, I guess you could say, 'geographically isolated' countries a bit of a leg up. This also provides an opportunity to hear how cultural differences shine out in their music. That's the idea with this cassette. We put 8 spectacular math bands from 8 different countries all on the same playing field.
Any song that you particularly love on the cassette?
'Jester In A Jar' by Stuck In November. These guys are really talented musicians, and they doing something left-of-center in an already left-of-center genre. There is some really interesting stuff coming out of Bangalore, India.
Where are you guys located?
Everywhere. Australia, Japan, UK, South Korea, France, Germany, Russia, US. Location isn't a barrier to what we do.
Favorite band ever, no questions:
Cardiacs, as above. But I also love Kate Bush, I have to sneak that in.
Anything you want us to hype/share/promote?
We try to be a well-rounded encyclopedic resource for math rock, but naturally we can't cover everything. No one blog can. So if people are into math rock, there are a bunch of really good blogs, podcasts and channels out there and they should check them all out. Some of my personal favourites are The Other Rock Show (radio/podcast), The Math-Rock News (Facebook page), Plenty of Swords (blog), and Let's Talk About Math Rock (Youtube channel). Definitely check these guys out.