featured artist: the upsidedown
The Upsidedown (L-R): Jsun Atoms (vocals, guitar and keys), Matt Moore (vocals, guitar and harp), Bob Mild (drums and percussion), Tristan Evans (vocals and bass), Brett Kron (guitar and keys), and Jason Anchondo (drums and percussion).
As I chat to Jsun Atoms of the Upsidedown, he tells me it’s refreshing not to be asked about the recent inclusion of their song, Wolf Blood Honey, on HBO’s True Blood. Unsurprising, seeing as I don’t follow the show, am not really on the vampire bandwagon and am generally skeptical about glamourising mythical demons as appropriate partners.
And also, I didn’t know.
Following their recent show at the Holocene as part of Musicfest NW in the band’s native Portland, I accosted members Matt Moore and Jsun Atoms for an impromptu interview. Meaning that I requested one and they suggested we do it immediately; an event I was hideously unprepared for, and the reason I will never again leave home (or hotel) without my voice recorder in my bag.
The earliest foundations of the band’s formation (arguably) began years ago, with a childhood friendship between Atoms and Brett Kron sowing the seed for what would eventually become the Upsidedown in 2003. Add a slew of multi-instrumentalists, including the most recent addition of Jason Anchondo in 2009, and what you have is a well-oiled psychedelic rock ensemble.
Having taken their name from a song by the Jesus and Mary Chain, whose influence is also rather noteworthy in the band’s predominantly shoegaze sound, the Upsidedown released their first album, Trust Electricity, through Reverb Records in 2004. By 2008, the band had a second album under their collective belt, Human Destination, this time released through the Dandy Warhols’ record label, Beat the World Records; a result of both friendship and mutual admiration between the two bands. This has followed on in several collaborations, much like those often evident within the West Coast’s psychedelic scene, such as Dandys’ guitarist, Pete Holmstrom’s contributions to the Upsidedown’s latest release, The Town with Bad Wiring, as well as other renowned musicians including Peter Buck of REM and Collin Hegna of the Brian Jonestown Massacre.
Moore emphasises their love for the Dandy Warhols, both the music and the band members themselves, and explains that the ability to be heard by the band’s fans (such as yours truly, who first saw them playing in support of the Dandys in December 2009) through the tours and the exposure afforded by being signed to their record label has greatly increased their visibility; something that has become increasingly difficult to do with the saturation of networking sites such as myspace that previously gave bands a direct link to their fans. However, Moore points out that the majority of people still using myspace are indeed the bands themselves, but is quick to admit that such forums have helped the Upsidedown reach a wider audience despite his generally pessimistic outlook on the credibility of the mainstream music industry.
Despite the multitude of bands involved in various revivalist movements, many of which are making music very much on a par with their predecessors, the resurgence of styles of music made popular in the ‘60s and ‘70s has failed to truly take off, leaving most of its proponents in day jobs and nostalgia for the past. Nonetheless, Upsidedown’s passion and commitment to their music has seen them garner a huge fan base in Europe, and has spurred their enthusiasm to visit the places where their brand of sound has been met with the greater attention they deserve.
With the September 28 release of The Town with Bad Wiring, hopefully the Upsidedown will find themselves doing more of what they love: touring abroad and having more people hear them.
Because unlike many of their attention seeking fame glutton counterparts, the Upsidedown just love to play music.
Read Christine Campbell’s review of The Town with Bad Wiring here.
(Image credits: 1.)