“The main influence those bands had on us would be willingness to experiment and a penchant for jamming.” That’s Dillon Christensen talking about Sonic Youth and Warpaint. Christensen is frontman for Der Spazm from Sacramento, CA. Between the border of all out rock and the music of Battles or Mars Volta, you’ll find Der Spazm. The band is loud, expansive, but can tighten up around a verse that’s pure rock. The tracks charge forward, swell, slow and sweep with experimental charm.
The band started in 2006 via Myspace when Christensen reached out to guitarist Leticia Garcia. “We had each jammed with other guitarists before but had never found a chemistry as organic as when we got together,” says Christensen. “We knew we had to pursue the sounds we were creating after only a few jams.” Ambition and ability were neck and neck in those early days. They recruited Ashley Maiden next on bass to root the band’s dimensional melodies and give the guitars room to breathe. The band shopped around for drummers, trying a few, but settled on Andy Fisher after a chance encounter while Christensen was working at Guitar Center. “I asked him to come jam with us, and the first time we jammed with him on ‘Scrilla’ he just threw down this groove that was so natural that we knew we’d finally found the final piece of the puzzle,” explains Christensen. By then it was 2010, and after years working together and now with a drummer who seemed the perfect fit, the band headed into the studio.
That song “Scrilla” opens with a twanging guitar line, a breezy one running right underneath it. There’s a tug of war between a heavier and a lighter guitar line that makes the three-minute track seem much longer. It’s an audible illusion the band’s got a knack for. The title of the band’s EP, Thousand Days, may be how many it took to get these elaborate jams down. “It sounded so weird to us!” recalls Christensen of the days in the studio. There are plenty of those weird and surprising moments on Thousand Days. The opener, “Happy Accidents,” has Christensen crooning like Morrissey while the guitars battle it out in the chorus. The title track clocks in over five minutes, building gradually into a vortex of guitar fuzz and reverb. Keeping track of everything happening in the song gets tricky in the best way possible. There’s a lot going on, a lot being offered, but all of it manages to stay cohesive. “One of our major goals is to keep taking our music in different directions; we don’t want to get bored or boring,” says Christensen.
The band’s planning on touring California next year and making it back to the studio at some point. In the meantime Christensen has got an office job, Maiden is a student, Garcia works in water quality, and Fisher does construction. Until the big tour or record, it’ll be the daily grind followed by nights of playing Der Spazm’s strange, hypnotic music.
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