Californian garage-rockers Thee Oh Sees are bringing their explosive live show to Cosmic Café on Feb 28, presented by Popscene. Led by mercurial Bay Area musician John Dwyer, the band are renowned for pumping out both three-minute pop-rock nuggets and psychedelic extended jams, averaging more than a record a year over the best part of a decade. With new album Floating Coffin due out April 16, BK caught up with the band’s bassist Petey Dammit ahead of their Bangkok visit.

First up, how were the All Tomorrow’s Parties concerts you just played in Australia? It’s quite a time to be appearing on the same bill as My Bloody Valentine…
ATP Australia was wonderful! It was a really great time and an honor to be playing with so many amazing bands. They do a really great job with that festival and always have a really nice set up, so you can really enjoy everything that is happening. It’s a complete mind-blower to know that you played on the same stage as Swans and My Bloody Valentine. It is also such an honor not only to share a stage, but to be able to see them perform and walk past them in the hotel lobby the next morning!

What brings you to Thailand?
We have never been here before and it seems like such a beautiful country. This is our first time playing in Asia, so this part of the tour is all new and amazing for me. I'm just happy that we are allowed to come to Thailand and play a show!

What can you tell us about your forthcoming album Floating Coffin: how was it recorded? How is it different from previous records?
Floating Coffin was recorded at a studio called The Hangar in Sacramento, California. An insane amount of albums have been recorded there and it has a long history of incredible releases. Unfortunately, it will be closing down very soon so we wanted to get in there and record another album while we still had a chance. We used our good friend Chris Woodhouse [producer of previous albums Master’s Bedroom…, Help, Warm Slime, Putrifiers II, etc.] once again because he is a wizard and probably knows our music better than we know it ourselves. It was recorded live with a few overdub tracks, like most of our recordings, and I think it is a good natural progression from our previous releases. This one will also have some incredible string arrangements on it to mix things up and give it a nice flavor.

You guys are so prolific. Do you have a long-term plan for releases or is it just like a natural flow?
There isn't a plan for our recordings, we just write songs and then record them at our own pace. We don't really think about what you traditionally can or can't do in music or recording, we just do what we do when we have the time to do it. It's better to be busy than bored so that translates into a lot of touring and recording for us.

Which do you prefer: recording or touring?
They are both great. I feel really fortunate to be doing what I am doing in my life right now. I suppose I prefer touring, though. I knew growing up in a small town that if I lived a normal life I would never get to see the places I'd look at in books or travel very far from home. So after discovering music I worked really hard to get to a place where I can use music to see different countries and enjoy different cultures. I really am living the dream right now!

Does the band prefer to play small clubs and house parties over the bigger venues?
It's a bit of a silly question. You can drive a super-expensive brand new tiny sports car or a beat up 1953 Cadillac and get massive amounts of enjoyment from each one.

Your live shows are renowned for being pretty rowdy; has it ever got too out of hand?
There have been some pretty crazy shows, but nothing too wild. There was a great show I remember in Montreal where I started to feel a little sea sick because the crowd was swaying back and forth so violently I felt like I was on a boat!

With such a big back catalog, how do you decide which songs to play live?
We have a limited number of songs we remember very well; for each new song we write, an old one gets removed from our memory bank. These all get written down on a piece of cardboard that is in John's guitar case and he picks and chooses them at random at the start of a tour. A few shows into a tour we've worked out a set list and we just go from there.

Thee Oh Sees started out as a solo project for John. But over the years, the band has grown quite a bit. What is the songwriting and recording process like now?
It's always been John coming into the rehearsal space with an idea, then we add our own bits to the mix. I suppose he is the chef, while we are the sous chefs!

How do you stay sane on the road?
I don't.


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