Badass Band 59- Major Powers & the Lo-Fi Symphony

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You ready for a Bay Area band that is part Queen, part Rock Opera, and all awesome? Want to experience what they call ‘Adventure Rock’? Then I have just the band for you.  In my mind, their tunes belong in a Tim Burton-esque musical. This week’s Badass Band is Major Powers & the Lo-Fi Symphony from San Francisco.

Major Powers & the Lo-Fi Symphony brought themselves to my attention a couple of months back, and since the time of the first email, I have yet to stop listening to their album ‘We Became Monsters’. I have to say it was the name that really drew me in, how can you not be curious about a name like theirs? All of the songs on their 13 song album bring just a little something different to the album. It blows my mind that only three guys play these songs, I would seriously expect a whole symphony behind them to get the variations in rhythm and melodies that they do. My personal favorite is the first song I listened to, and the first track on the album, ’93,000,000 Miles’. The lyrics are fun, and where these guys get you is the variety of instrumental sounds and styles all wrapped into one track. This one in particular starts our with a light-hearted more piano driven sound, then moves into some raging guitar riffs and fast paced drum beats throughout the chorus, taking this journey multiple times within the track. Some other favorite tracks include ‘The Idiot Parade’ which has a fun, old-fashioned, 1940’s type sound, with lyrics that start seemingly innocent, but get quite dark as the song progresses, with the chorus, ‘Stupid people, always getting it wrong. If you don’t like us, why’d you bring us along?’. Then there is ‘Mr. Mysterious’ which sounds like something from a school musical, mixed with some fast-paced key strokes, which give it a carnival or saloon feel. The vocals are a dream, smooth and pleasing to the ear, and the harmonies better than many bands you would deem a ‘rock band’. Really, I can’t even begin to describe the radness of these tunes in words, you need to do yourself a favor and take a listen.

Major Powers & the Lo-Fi Symphony consists of three life long musicians, Nick Powers, Kevin Gautschi, and Dylan Gautschi, who come from a variety of musical backgrounds. This clearly comes across in their ability to mesh the sounds that they do. This band is seriously different and just straight up a fun listen. I dare you not to love them.

Major Powers & the Lo-Fi Symphony were kind enough to take some time to talk to BBB, so read below to find out things like why the music scene is a wasteland, what’s so rad about their name,  and how their show will take you on a ‘sonic adventure’!

K = Kevin Gautschi

D = Dylan Gautschi

N = Nicholas Powers

When and why did each of you start playing?

K: An overwhelming urge to rock faces.

D: Our mother was the bass player in Leila and the Snakes and our dad was a recording engineer, so we naturally started playing music.

N: 5 years old. Liked pianos.

How did you meet?

K: Dylan is my older brother so we met when I came out of the womb. Nick, we met 15 years later in our High School town, Crockett.

D: On stage.

N: Kevin’s answer technically.  Dylan’s answer spiritually.

What kind of music did you listen to growing up? How does that differ from what you listen to now?

K: Mostly hard rock, metal, and Alternative rock of the early 90’s.

D: I had music from the 60’s,70’s,80’s, 90’s. A lot of Michael Jackson and Madonna. Now I listen to new bands that kick ass like Metal Feather and To the Max!

N: Classical. Jazz. Basically any type of music that tries to help you understand, but is still really hard to understand (Neo Classical and Avant Garde Jazz can go fuck themselves). Also, musicals (Mary Poppins, West Side Story).  I didn’t listen to tons of rock as a kid.  Most 80s british shit seemed dreadful to me; how much melancholy and 2-dollar synth can you cram into a 3-minute ego orgy? And American glam can suck it.  But I’m sorta receiving my rock education in reverse.  No clue who Sparks or Faces or The Equals were growing up – now I’m getting my mind blown by them as an adult.  I’ll prolly end up thinking Scorpion is amazing or something.  I also can’t get enough E-40.  Luckily he puts out a quadruple album every 6 months.  Dude’s like 75 years old now and spits harder than all the other wack ass MCs.

Which musicians do you admire? Why?

K: I admire Bjork in particular for her vision, creativity, and unwillingness to compromise.

D: Bob Marley, timeless music with a relevant message. His music will literally never go out of style.

N: The ones who aren’t entitled, shitty snobs.  Also Lee Morgan.  His solos made the most sense to me.

Why the name Major Powers & The Lo-Fi Symphony?

K: It is the only name that got us all equally pumped, and it sounds musical.

D: The words Major and Powers in the same name, enough said.

N: Because it’s convoluted and horrible, like pretty much everyone’s life.  Also my name’s in it, but it wasn’t my suggestion, making it totally awesome.

Describe your show visually & musically for those who have never been.

K: It is a sonic adventure for the kids filled with danger, mystery, and fun.  Visually, it is quite simple. We just get up there and sing our little hearts out.

D: Guys I’m skipping the next few questions.

N: Kevin’s answer technically.  Dylan’s answer spiritually.

How does your creative process typically work?

K: Nick writes melodies and lyrics, Dylan writes drum parts, I write guitar parts, we work on harmonies together.

D: Guys I’m skipping the next few questions.

N: I write most of the arrangements on my piano at home and most of the lyrics/melodies – then I show it to the beautiful Brothers Gautschi and they help me make it into exciting, butt-kicking rock music for a trio.

What do you think you biggest break or greatest opportunity has been in your career so far?

K: We opened for Buckethead! that was awesome.

D: Guys I’m skipping the next few questions.

N: In a personal sense, just starting this band with Kevin and Dylan.  They enthusiastically took up so many important band-logistics-reins and helped me focus in my vision with razor-like precision.  God bless the Gautschis.

What has been the biggest challenge for you so far?

K: Making money and finding someone to make a video for us.

D: Guys I’m skipping the next few questions.

N: The scene is a wasteland and a waste of time.  Every day is a fucking challenge.  Any artist taking their shit seriously will tell you that.  God bless our fans/friends.  It’s people who enjoy it and go out of their way to let you know that make everything worthwhile.

What are you working on now, and what can we expect from you in the coming year?

K: We’re actively looking for a videographer, writing new material, and looking for new shows and venues to play.

D: Guys I’m skipping the next few questions.

N: Winning a Grammy.

Why should people listen to your band? What makes you unique? If your band had a slogan, what would it be?

K: If you like adventure and lots of vocals and fun melodies, listen to Major Powers!

D: Take a chance on music not force-fed to you by your corporate overlords. Our slogan is “Just make some fans….”

N: People should listen because it’s accessible storytelling; we don’t hide it (or a lack of it) in overwrought prose or tired chord progressions. In the same breath: nothing is entirely unique; everyone’s just trying to hustle their shit – I’m not a hater. My slogan is something along the lines of “we’re all going to die, why the fuck aren’t you doing what you think you’re good at (or trying to figure out what you’re good at) with every extra second you have?”  Or whatever.  I know it’s hard.  That’s what she said.

If you had the opportunity to change something about the music industry, what would it be?

K: I would fire everyone that is in charge of the airwaves on mainstream radio.

D: Salaried and medically insured musicians, so that music can actually be a part of the infrastructure of society and not marginalized as a novelty or bunk dead end career choice. Also so that more original and heartfelt art can exist.

N: What Kevin and Dylan said, plus I would get every musician to boycott every club that doesn’t pay out enough.  Let ’em squirm.  The profit-motive is unprecedented today.  Also, social networking is absolutely horrendous in its current form.

Random Portion

(Dylan elected to sit out the random portion)

One song you never get tired of.

K: Billie Jean

N: The Blue Danube Waltz

What is the best live show you have ever gone to?

K: Sergent Garcia y los locos del barrio.

N: Red Summer at Rafael’s in Vallejo

Favorite things to do NOT musically related.

K: Read Daniel Quinn books, hike and visit forests.

N: Unsuccessfully envisioning perfection.  Also: I’ve been trying to build a hot tub by hand in my yard for like 4 years.  Also: fuckin’ and laughin’.

If you could be a fictional character, who would you be?

K:  Aladdin, I want 3 wishes so bad.

N: The Architect from The Matrix, Santa Clause and Will Smith’s Hancock.

What kind of jobs did you have before (or currently) you were in the music industry?

K: I worked in a restaurant called the Dead Fish in Crockett.

N: I worked at the Crockett Museum as the docent’s assistant (RIP Dick Boyer).  Also immigration paralegal-support in SF (they fired me for building my band’s website at work instead of working).  Also I do computer.

If you ran Badass Bands Blog, what is one band you would feature? (Exempting yourselves

of course.)

K: Descendants of Prospectors!

N: Yuri & Yuri

FIND MAJOR POWERS & THE LO-FI SYMPHONY HERE:

Twitter: @majorpowers

Facebook: facebook.com/major powers

Web: lofisymphony.com Download the album here: http://lofisymphony.com/webecamemonsters

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