By Duncan H. Ros
Few bands have the will to delve into the strange and avant-garde with the veracity and magnitude of Spacefish. Perhaps it is because of guitarist and singer Nate Dibert’s leanings as a creative writer–a career which began with so much optimism for the fledgling novelist, until his senior year in college, when his financial aid was dropped. Fortunately, luck and happenstance were in the band’s favor. “We ended up getting recording equipment by chance,” said Dibert, speaking on his musical partnership with drummer Keith Clowson. “We sat down and recorded the first album A Love Story. At the same time our bassist / synth player Alexa [Myrdal] just got back from Arizona studying audio engineering. It all fell together organically.”
With the postmodern influence of writers like Tom Robbins and Lewis Nordan along with the musical influences of Black Sabbath and Tom Petty, Dibert and Spacefish have been able to create something wholly unique. A Love Story, released in September of 2014, and their second full-length release Earth Jokes, released two years later, tell a very specific narrative about Spacefish as an extraterrestrial entity. In A Love Story, Spacefish lands on Earth to gather information and experience and to learn about the human race. “It’s not a traditional love story. It’s more of a relationship with one’s atmosphere,” said Dibert. The album ends with Spacefish leaving Earth after an enlightening learning experience, mirroring the band’s process of learning the recording process, and growing together musically as a band.
Earth Jokes explores what Dibert calls the “normal paranormal,” essentially concepts that we as humans decide to accept on a regular basis, but upon investigation can appear quite strange. One example offered by Dibert is the concept of drinking cow’s milk–something most people accept as a normal dietary requisite, but in taking a step back from an other-worldly standpoint can seem like an odd endeavor. If people consumed rat milk, for example (as evidenced in an episode of The Simpsons), this would be seen as a disgusting culinary abomination. Earth Jokes challenges the status quo, the way many of the art movements of the past have. “We want to change the root of where people’s thoughts come from,” said Dibert. “Not to sound too brainwashy or anything like that, but we want to challenge people’s ways of thinking. We want you to be open to experience everything your world has to offer.”
Musically, Spacefish seem to compose their songs with a simple framework, and use that as a springboard for conceptual and sonic experimentation with Dibert constructing the lyrical narratives behind them. “Earth Jokes,” off the album of the same name, begins like an eerie movie soundtrack similar to something Stanley Kubrick may have put in one of his early films. After three minutes it forms into a simple chord progression, layered with chorus, under-water vocals and unearthly feedback. “Creature” begins in a mellow blues shuffle, but switches to an unexpected static-charged peak that fans of bands like the Butthole Surfers and Throbbing Gristle will easily sink their teeth into.
The third and final album in the trilogy is due out later this year, but Dibert was tight-lipped in divulging any specific details about it. “I think the question should be raised, where will we go next?” said Dibert. After two albums and three years of teaching themselves recording and album production, Spacefish feel that they have begun to streamline their technique for the final album of this series. “The songs themselves are much more full hearted and a thicker version of what we have now,” said Dibert. “There’s no guessing. It’s a lot of very upfront concepts, and it’s all catchy too, so hopefully everyone digs it.” Although this will be the end of this particular album cycle, Spacefish maintains that this is simply the end of this series of stories and music, and, in the words of Dibert, “Spacefish will be around for millions of years, and this is only the end of book one.”
Spacefish will be performing at the “Best of” 2016 Rock Awards will be held February 11 at James Street Gastropub and Speakeasy in the ballroom. The band will be performing a live set, and have been nominated for the Best Music Video Award for “Creature” off their album Earth Jokes.
Earth Jokes album release show