Memphibians
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Memphibians

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The best kept secret in music

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"Memphibians: Movement"

Jimmi Bayer and Nick Schoeppel are possibly the hardest working men in Jax show bizness. Not only do they helm the prolific indie label Infintesmal (home to such local margin walkers as the 2416, Kevin Lee Newberry and DigDog), they also form the nucleus of swampy guitar-abusers the Memphibians. Oft overshadowed by Infintesmal’s busy release schedule and a wealth of side projects, newly-minted album How To Be Followed Alone is where the Memphibians should finally come into their own as not only Infintesmal’s flagship but maybe even elbow their way to the front of Jacksonville’s guitar-slinging pack. Memphibian’s sound is difficult to classify, as it avoids the affected distance of a lot of indie rock, while also deftly sidestepping meatheadisms that too many young guitar bands fall victim too. They’ve come a long way from underwhelming beginnings as an acoustic-based duo project to finally being able to give vent to bigger, grander, weirder noises. It’s heady and confused, in all the best ways. Listen for hints of Brian Jonestown Massacre and Half Japanese, friends. In their first major interviews, young moguls Nick and Jimmi sat down with MOVEMENT to discuss their music and the art of noise.

Who is currently in Memphibians, and tell us how the group came to be? Had you played in other bands previously?

Jimmi: The current lineup includes Stephen Ezell, Bradley Metz, and Katie D’Elia. However the lineup will be different for the upcoming fall tour. At this time I can only say we are very excited about the new additions. Nick and I met at a small bar in an even smaller town in Mexico. We hatched the idea that night to start a band. After touring and recording with Richelieu, Memphibians was born.

Nick: Memphibians are from Mexico. Current members are Katie D’Elia, Stephen Ezell, Bradley Metz, Jimmi and myself. Before that in 2008, Jimmi and I were in Richelieu with a Navy sailor who could bend time. And space. I played guitar, Jimmi on pickle buckets with butter knives, and Lelyn R. Masters spitting through the mic, not the end of the world, but of the new cycle. None of us knew how to play instruments. We were the Friday & Saturday house band at Shantytown and London Bridge for a couple months just by showing up and playing.

Which came first, the label or the band?

Nick: They both kinda started at the same time, but I think we gave the band a name first.

Jimmi: The band had been around for a few months before we ever thought about starting a label. Memphibians afforded us the opportunity to play with a bunch of local acts. After seeing a handful of amazing bands, creating a label seemed like a logical extension, to come together as a family and community.

Where there any labels that inspired you when beginning Infintesmal, like Dischord, Factory, or K?

Jimmi: I’ve always been a fan of K, Merge, Sub Pop, etc. Personally I think SST was a big influence on me. The diversity, drive, and camaraderie of that label changed the history of American music.

Nick: The creation of Infintesmal was more inspired by the bands in town that we knew of and really liked. We definitely admire and appreciate those labels and other good ones.

How important is Jacksonville to your creative life? Ever thought about just upping sticks and moving to a bigger city?

Nick: We love Duval. It’s still an open canvas… I’m from here. Seeking travel and extended stays in other places I love, but Jacksonville is home. Although not personally a fan of living in a huge city, we do have talks of setting up branches across the land someday. Small towns and big.

Jimmi: I love this city. Good, bad, and ugly. So many people take great pleasure from bashing this city, but to those people I say, “What are you doing to make a difference?”

Unlike a lot of more vanity-style labels run by bands, you guys seem to work hard at building a deep roster and promoting a sense of community. Is it difficult to balance both, whereas sometime what’s best for the Memphibians might not be best for Infintesmal or when you’d rather work on your own songs instead of packaging and art for a cd?

Nick: Indeed. Creating a label surely was the beginning of getting everyone in town together, to blend bubbles…as far as Band vs. Label, sometimes you practice, sometimes you package cds, or make posters, or book shows, hang out, then practice. Repeat.

Jimmi: There really is no conflict. Whatever is best for the label is best for the bands, and vice versa. Running the label as well as Memphibians isn’t difficult, having to work a full-time job as well is the hard part.

In the past you’ve had some pretty interesting undertakings to promote the label- one that comes to mind immediately is the “Infintesmal Nights” series at various clubs and bars. Whats going on with the Infintesmal Nights now?

Jimmi: Starting in July we will be hosting every Saturday night at Shantytown Pub. Every week will showcase the finest local music as well as touring bands from across the world.

Nick: We used to have Thursdays@ TSI, then Underbelly, both of whom were super nice. We’ve been hosting Wednesdays @ Shantytown for 2 years but starting in July we’re switching to every Saturday at Shantytown. Gonna be good. We also do the Infintesmal Records BBQ. We’ve done nine @ different bars and venues around town, featuring 10-12 bands and free cuisine. The next one will be soon.

Tell me about the new album.

Jimmi: This album is our baby. I’ve never been more proud of anything. It took us awhile to find the right sound, the right feel, and it’s such a relief to have it released. The floodgates have been opened for the next one.

Nick: We finally did it. We tried a few times before, but it wasn’t the right sandwich. Jeremiah E. Johnson really did a great job helping us with the album.

You got a really thick, dirty, raw sound on How To Be Followed Alone. What was the recording like? Did the record turn out sonically the way you wanted?

Nick: We put war paint on and got ready. Jeremiah would ask us questions we hadn’t even asked ourselves. Sonically, I trusted everyone involved in the project that it was going to be very great. I had no anticipated sound.

Jimmi: We owe a lot of credit to Jeremiah Johnson (Wudun). He really pushed us to find the true essence of each track, breaking everything apart and rebuilding again. I’m very happy with the way it sounds… it’s all there… the ugly and the serene…

You cover a whole lot of stylistic ground on the album, is writing songs pretty much like a free-for-all? Were there any albums in particular you were listening to a lot around the time you were recording?

Jimmi: This batch of songs is pretty much the first songs Nick and I have written. It took us awhile to figure out how to bring these songs to life. In the last hour we assembled some friends and turned on the mics… As far as any particular records in heavy rotation, we all have pretty different tastes. I think that is why Memphibians just sounds like Memphibians

Nick: Yes it is pretty much a creative free for all. I don’t think any of us were really listening to a whole lot at the time. The process was that we had written these songs without knowing how to play music. Then we got members that do. Thanks Brad, Katie, Steve, Jojo!

I’ve heard there’s a more shoegazey side project that you’ve got going? Would you run down some of the other bands you’re involved in? There’s Beach Party, for one…

Nick: You may be speaking of Happy Accidents, an improv/universe/noise/drama. I think we’ve played three shows. And there’s Tell Yer Children, one of the best bands in town that most folks haven’t even heard of. Jimmi and I both play stand up drums, with members of the 2416. Strumming some indie-distort-swamp-grunge-pretty. It is good.

Jimmi: Beach Party is Trenton Tarpits (The 2416), myself, and Matt. It’s pop music at it’s DooWop trashiest. Nick and I also play drums for Tell Yer Children, a shoegaze-meets-new wave psychfest featuring Saint Andrew & Terry Davis Jr. of The 2416, as well as Alex of Poisonous Ghost fame. Happy Accidents is an improv project that Nick and I dust off from time to time.

Where do you see the label in five years? Do you look to the shift towards digital music with dread or cautious hope? Where do you see the band in five years?

Nick: The label will be releasing great albums on cd, tape, vinyl. And digitally we’re soon to catch up, just because we should. It is special to hold in your hand an artifact. An album, with art included. The band will be chillin’ in a tree fort somewhere nearby some spring water. Unless of course, the poles shift.

Jimmi: I’m terrified of the digital shift, but learning more everyday. We’ll never abandon a physical product though, it just means too much to folks like us. We’re working on distribution at the moment and focusing on getting everybody on the road. In five years I hope to see a lot more national attention towards Jacksonville music. I think Volumes 1-3 of our Real Better Jacksonville Plan compilations is enough proof that Jacksonville can hold their own next to other independent music “scenes”.

So later on this year, Memphibians have this total Black Flag/”Get In The Van” style tour of the country in the works?

Jimmi: I’m booking now. We’ve been around the southeast and now we’re looking to make it out west as well as a trip up the east cost. After about five or six months we’ll be back to record the next record before hopefully leaving on a New Zealand/Australia/Japan leg. THEN maybe we’ll take a break…maybe…

Nick: Yes. My jobs don’t know about it yet…so…Ricky, Marco, I’ll be leaving sometime in the fall. Hope you’ll let me stay until then, and return to work when we come back.

Any upcoming releases on Infintesmal you’d like to talk about?

Jimmi: Digdog has their debut full length coming this fall titled Early Reiser. It’s a trip to say the least. I Hope You’re A Doctor has a new album, their 7th in less than three years. Rumor on the street is it’s their finest yet. I’m helping Kevin Lee Newberry assemble a new album and The Moonies are going in to record with Jeremiah Johnson. Tuffy has a seven-inch coming and The 2416 has begun work on their newest slab of brutal candy titled Misanthropic Wonderlust. Honey Chamber has been stockpiling songs for their third and fourth albums and on top of all this…

Volume Four: The Real Better Jacksonville Plan.

And you thought Alvin Brown had a lot on his plate. - Movement Magazine


"Memphibians w/ The Lemonheads"

First up, though, are local outsider indie heroes (and Infinitesimal label kingpins) the Memphibians. They're recently back from a months-long cross-country tour where they broke in a new rhythm section and took their impressive new album How to Be Followed Alone to the masses. Back home now and working on new material, it's a much-more accomplished Memphibians that take the stage tonight, comfortable sharing with indie-pop godfathers. The set draws mostly from How to Be, with a new song thrown in for good measure. The two most notable things from their performance are that they're loud as hell, conjuring up a big, big sound, and the second is that Memphibians' music is deeply weird and damaged; any time they start to veer towards Arcade Fire-style anthems, they take a drastic left turn into climes unknown, the kind of place where Half Japanese and Pastels keep summer homes. Good stuff. - Ink 19


""Memphibians Kill The Local Competition With A Watermark Achievement in Indie Rock Thuggery""

The 16th Century was, weirdly enough, a
hotbed of freewheelin’ activity. If Casey
Kasem (or rather, Cassius of Kasemius) were
to intone a hit parade of then- cultural, social,
artistic and spiritual smashes it would make the
accomplishments of the Kanye West of his day
(Mughal Emperor Akbar the Great, 1542-1605)
seem like a mere Justin Bieber the Younger.
William Shakespeare, John Donne and Miguel
Cervantes were hotter than pissed gruel while
etching mordant burned-out trending names like
Leonardo da Vinci, Albrecht Dürer and that sassy
little scamp Francois Rabelais. A? er a tickedo?Martin Luther hammered his infamous
95 ? eses to the door of All Saint’s Church,
“freedom” was on the smallpox-encrusted lips of
the young, hip and modestly tonsured.
One such person down with the latest
trends was Jacob Böehme. Once called “the
Russell Crowe of umlauted contemplatives”
by Folio Weekly, Böehme (1575-1624) worked
diligently to climb his way up from humble
herd boy to shoemaking apprentice. Yet even
that wasn’t enough for this pride of the village
of Görlitz; he soon ascended to the status of
actual shoemaker. And it was in this cloistered
realm, in the year 1600, that a 25-year-old
Böehme was transformed from mere cobbler
to what we now call a Rhineland Mystic (and/
or possible insane person). One morning, while
marveling at his bounty of lamb’s-innards laces,
B-Däwg saw God re¢ ected in the sunlight that
danced along a burnished pewter dish. “In
this light my spirit suddenly saw through all,”
Böehme wrote in his opus “Aurora” (1612) “and
suddenly in that light my will was set on by a
mighty impulse, to describe the being of God.”
Folio Weekly can say freely say without
hyperbole, hesitancy nor the gentle nudging of
direct bribery that Memphibians’ latest release,
“How to be Followed Alone” (myspace.com/
in¤ ntesmalrecords) shines with a spectral
descendent of that same, ine? able light. Heady
words for any local release, true, but if we
exaggerate may God strike us dead, preferably
not in the Editorial or Design departments.
?e opening salvo of “Yer Working Boy”
has all the elements of quintessential Southern
psych: a disturbing chant-like vocal, the
guitarist repeatedly “stopping” for no apparent
reason and a bass player who is seemingly
learning the song while the tape is rolling. Like
a visit by an angel, the song is over way too
soon and leaves with the same heralding blast
of Peavey amp feedback. “Lord of the Near and
Close” is apparently a baleful ballad to angstinduced halitosis, the metallic breath of cheap
beer, plant-based combustibles and antibiotics
delivered in a pleasant, Sonic Youth-style chuga-lug. ?e band is the waddled foundling of
In¤ ntesmal Records founders-enablers Nicklaus
Schoeppel and James Arthur Bayer III who are
joined by Kathleen D’Elia, Stephen Ezell (of
locals Dig Dog) and Bradley Metz. ?e core
quintet is supported on “How to…” by Jordan
Terrell and recordist Jeremiah Ezekiel Johnson.
Other than that, the CD itself is void of any
information, barring an innocuous picture of
the band that could be taken at any of the local
Buprenorphine-based reconditioning camps.
One dude in the photo is sporting a Mis¤ts-style
“devil lock,” which could either be an occult
signi¤ er or just a matter of the wind changing
direction. And just as ?e Beatles had Ringo, the
Memphibians have “Sky Songs (pt. 2)” the wilted
¤ ?h track on an otherwise solid assortment that
succumbs to the dreaded Pavement Paradigm,
wherein bands lacking the hey-nanny-nannies
to steal from ?e Fall will freely emulate Stephen
Malkmus and da boyz micro beer fueled poetry.
Yawnsville, kids. But anyone who hangs out in
the strobe lights long enough will eventually
bene¤t from a seizure or two and Memphibians
are no exception. “Miniature Suns” sounds like
a maniac recounting his encounter with some
DMT-hawkin’ machine elves at a Cassat Avenue
pawnshop. ?e band is also adept at a form of
musical synesthesia, using economically strapped
production methods to both temper and trick
the ear. “Batteries” either has a guest horn player
or bene¤ts from someone playing a comb on
wax paper, or as free jazz titan Albert Ayler once
called it, “Bullwinkle Saxophone.” ? at same cut
also features the drummer clicking a four count
on his sticks at the end of the song. Warm up that
Grammy Award!
“Midwest Creation” and album closer “? e
Black Hills” are refreshingly creepy approaches to
psychedelia, rendered by scab-covered derelicts
mistaken for churlish hippies. Memphibians have
recently been touring the U.S. so their upcoming
gig at Shantytown Pub should ¤ nd them in rare
form: de-loused, turned on, tuned up and ready
to a? ord both skinhead and deadhead alike the
chance to dive into their inviting pool of noxious
indie rock regurgitations. 
Dan Brown - Folio Weekly


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

Photos

Bio

Memphibians was formed in 2008 by James Arthur Bayer III and Nicklaus Schoeppel. In 2010, Kathleen D’Elia joined the family and they recorded their first album, “How to Be Followed Alone” with Jeremiah Ezekiel Johnson. After a full scale U.S. tour in support of HTBFA, Memphibians returned to their home base in Jacksonville, FL to continue work on their sophomore effort, “The Dirty Future” EP. In 2012, Nicklaus left the band and was replaced by Andrew Felts (Raggedy Zeus/A Selfless Lot) and Jacksonville legend Kevin Lee Newberry (Helios Eye/The Moonies). Memphibians toured independently for nearly five months, playing 100+ shows in 39 states in support of "The Dirty Future". They are currently working on their second full length effort, to be released in 2013.

Memphibians’ sound is often described as “junk rock”, “train wreck”, or “all the elements of quintessential Southern psych” They have performed with such artists as The New Pornographers, The Lemonheads, Holopaw, and the Black Lips.