An interview with Cricket Engine

What do you find most beneficial about playing to a live audience?

I think our live act needs a lot of work, honestly. I don’t see it as an engaging experience for neither the band nor the audience. A few dudes playing inconsequential melodies over a .wav file is in no way a performance. So, we have been meaning to get some live drums in there, and start tailoring our songs to fit a bit better with a live band. There needs to be a connection between the audience and band, and at this point I don’t see that happening. However, the good news – summertime is a bad time for us, as Scotty and Seth disappear into the woods to guide rafts and the remaining dudes are left struggling with everyday life – but as soon as the summer is over I certainly think there is going to be a major overhaul in our process, now that we’ve have the prospect of potential slapped on our sammy. I would say that sometime in the future we could be a fucking electro-jam rock powerhouse with suspension cables and spinning drum sets and all that good stuff. Not really, but the plans for operation “rock their faces off” are certainly being drawn up. I want to be able to bust a 707 hand clap nine times, and look you in the eye nine times.

How have your influences played a role in your songwriting?

Well, we grew up listening to u-ziq and plaid and whatnot, so of course we’re going to try and emulate that – but as we get older and get a snippets of what other people are doing, we’ll try to incorporate that as well. Scotty and I were in a mathrock band called Ent for a few years in Sacramento, and I?ve played drums for crime and choir on and off. So, we also want to incorporate our live music styles into our stuff. The biggest wild card we have is Sean, Cody and Seth – who haven’t been playing music since they were little kids, or at all and therefore have a completely different aesthetic on how they tackle a particular part. They’ll come out of nowhere with this off the wall stuff, it’s great – and I certainly think it adds that slightly disjointed feeling to our music, it nearly defines it.

How has your fan base helped to increase your coverage?

We are quite literally a Myspace band. We’ve been making this racket for years and years, and for shits and giggles we put up a Myspace site and all the sudden we’re a hard working band. It’s sorta silly really, but it was amazing to see that PEOPLE ACTUALLY LIKED IT! That blew our collective socks off. So, suddenly people are emailing us and buying CD’s and asking to do interviews much like this one. It’s really funny and awesome. The kids on Myspace have done a great job spreading us around – making us feel like tiny, secret rock stars. We weren?t doing anything with our music before Myspace. I made a mix CD for my 9 year old sister, that?s about as much PR work that I had done prior to this. We intend to send some Demos to a label or two eventually. But y’know…

What is your songwriting process like?

Usually Scotty or I will piece together a rough skeleton of a song, then introduce it to the dudes and we all takes turns adding and subtracting from it, until we are all happy or bored with it – and from there it becomes a solid gold cricket engine hit. And by hit, i mean placed in a folder and not listened to for a long time, or used to annoy our friends or grandparents or pets.

All of our song writing processes are different, but not terribly so. If I’m writing a song at home, Scotty most likely isn’t writing his while jogging up the Himalayas out of habit. I’m not going to say that doesn?t happen, but chances are we are all sitting somewhere farting with our computers. I’ll usually down a handful of random pharmaceuticals and pump out a song, crouched and drooling. Surprisingly, our most creative and goofy songs were probably written while one or the other was taking turns playing video games or reading. We never sit down and say “I?m going to create a crazy, wacky variation of electronica!” – usually we’ll just start off with a melody that seems neat and build from there, not knowing where the song is going to go or if it’s going to be all serious or end up fucking busting an 808 over your face halfway through – then smattering your bruised face with bird and monkey samples for good measure. Ultimately, we are just screwing around with music programs and hoping it turns out kinda neat, or funny at best.

What influenced you to adopt the style of music you’re known for?

The computer itself – we write this music only because the computer makes it pretty easy to do. Could you imagine how hard to would be to squeeze a pigeon just at the right time to get a pigeon call right during the breakdown of a song? We’d have buckets and buckets of dead pigeons in the recording room because random CE member couldn’t nail the transition or the pigeon didn’t agree with the composition. But of course, you know – I’ll be driving home from work listening to mouse on mars and then decided to write some music in that vein – but luckily i am untalented enough so that my blatant rip off comes out so terrible that it sounds like a completely different thing. So, in that case, our influences have helped us develop our own sound, but like an autistic kid trying to interpret spaghetti into dance moves.

Does living in the Bay Area present any advantages for you musically?

I’d have to say its one huge densely populated disadvantage. We don’t go out to shows terribly often or mingle with the other electronica dudes milling about in various bars and galleries or wherever electronica dudes mill about and mingle. Oil tankers? I don?t know. We’re fucking dorks too, we use outdated equipment and we aren’t completely hip on the hip world of electronic music. So, no, the scene here hasn’t effected us at all, simply because we don’t know what or where it is. And even if we did, the electronica dudes would ask us about how sweet our akai samplers are and we’d make helicopter sounds and spin out hats around and around on our heads.

We used to all live up around Placerville, in the woods – and we’d punctuate song writing sessions with lizard hunting or just sitting around out in the woods looking at things. Down here, the most interesting thing to see outside is a bum stepping on ketchup packets or canyons and canyons of buildings. Trash and fog. For some people this may be inspiring – the whole “wow, but man, this is the reality of reality man!” trip and really get off on that particular brand of inner-city grit – but I hate it. It’s disgusting and noisy and crowded and expensive and distracting. We’re only here because of jobs and school. Cody is a graphic artist, and I am a video game artist – Scotty gradated and escaped, so really only Cody and I are left down here. Sean graduated USC not long ago, and is currently a troubadour somewhere up in the foothills. Seth is hiding under a log. It’s true.

What is this Cricket Engine you speak of?

If you are ever out in a field and you find an intricate pattern of copper wires just buried a little bit beneath the grass, spreading all the way out to where the suburbs start, you’ve found the voice of the ever dwindling cricket engine.

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