Cue & Ehh? With The Congregation Of Vapors
The Congregation Of Vapors - Esau And His Lentils (Preview) from the forthcoming release 'Zetacarnosa'.
'TCOV' first tickled my ears when I downloaded 'With Love From America' from the sadly dead 'Teaching The Indie Kids To Dance Again' MP3 Blog. The track was different in every way to recent trends of lo-fi folk and muffled garage guitar rock. It was triumphant, passionate and wide in scape, resembling an anthem from a John Williams soundtrack. It's sound; like a spiteful Neil Diamond venting his hate over a political party theme, it was... hard to explain. I played the tune repeatedly, the more I played, the better it got.
After finding more material I was amazed at the range and flair of the Congregation. Forever morphing members, enigmatic, with touch light sensitivity on one side. Friendly faced, knowing and understanding, with an erosive wave of political phlegm on the other. I'm pushed to find a simile that would best describe the band, so I won't... I questioned them so you can discover them for yourselves:
Which one of the 10+ of you am I questioning? What is your role in the band?
JED: You've got three of us. I'm Jed Davis, keyboard player and occasional singer. I also serve as music director, getting the projects together and keeping things cohesive with such a large and shuffling cast.
DOM: I'm Domenic Maltempi. I sing, write some words, worry my comrades with my butterfly knife breakfast dance, but can be counted on to gainsay the most egregious things I'm not accused of. I am the architect of the coil-toy flesh springing up in the jungle-gym veins of our father who played the ARP 2202 in Heavatroik.
MIKE: I'm Mike. I play bass and stuff.
Straight onto 'With Love From America'... My girlfriend Laura gets an empathic Republican feel from it and hates it, whereas I sense a tongue in cheek Liberal stance with a little sympathy for the 'big fat loser kid in the class' that is the U.S.A.. What's your intention with the track?
JED: Davidt, before you show Laura this interview, make an expensive bet with her because you'll win. Everything you need to know about "With Love From America" is in our excessively wordy "HUBRIS NOTES" on the subject: Read the PDF
MIKE: We really love the world. Especially the French. They revolutionized toast and ticklers.
I have the track as No. 12 in my best of 2005. Right above K T Tunstall's live version of 'Black Horse and the Cherry Tree', but below MC Lars' 'The Raven'. Would you say this ranking was fair? What would your 12th favourite track of 2005 be?
MIKE: Mike Doughty's "Looking at the World". Mostly 'cause his name is Mike.
JED: According to my iPod, Brian Dewan's recording of the traditional "Tobacco's But An Indian Weed" was my 12th most listened-to song of 2005. It was recorded in 1993, though... is that a disqualification?
In your track 'Before I Was Born' you state that the lord had cursed you. He cursed me with fuzzy cheeks (the face, perverts), moley skin and a bad digestive system. What did he curse you with?
MIKE: He cursed me with a lust for Rock, and bad hair.
JED: All the things he cursed me with are plainly stated in the song. But shit, Davidt, I'm sorry he fucked YOU up so bad!
'The Congregation Of Vapors' gives the impression that you are a group with bad B.O. (Body Odour). Am I missing something? What's the real reason behind the name?
JED: I gotta apologize in advance for the long answer, but here goes... Mike and I spent a few years in a band called Collider. Everyone in the group was broke, but we were operating under the misconception that to have a day job is to somehow compromise your "artistic integrity" - so we started taking session gigs where the four of us would get hired together to back up pop singers. Suddenly our rent was paid and we seemed to be brushing up against the publicly-accepted idea of success. But I hated it... the music was 100% compromise; it was fuckin awful! And so was the company: the only people more loathsome than pampered pop stars are the ridiculous 15-year-olds who idolize them. After one particularly high-profile but gut-wrenching session stint, I realized that I would enjoy a day job more - because then, at least, I could separate life from livelihood, take the steady income and spend it on projects that are actually fulfilling to me. So I quit the Collider business, went to work in an office and started TCOV. The name comes from Hamlet, specifically the "What a piece of work is man!" soliloquy. On one hand, "The Congregation Of Vapors" is a reference to the hubris inherent in the pop star condition - being one, wanting to be one, feeling entitled to be one. In the more literal sense, it's about a cloud of musicians that comes together in different formations depending on the mission: a band that doesn't really exist.
DOM: Why does Metamorpho open his tunic when the party has been dialed away and it's too cold for sunglasses? No daddy sweats on our olives. We have no father. Our organist is missing polypeptides. What he calls love we call duress. No limitations on creative input was a major imperative for our feral troops; however they ended up swallowing swords on a gorgeous cliff is their business. Sure our drummer loves hockey, but if we needed an oboist who was vehemently against ice games but who fit in with the gossamer architecture, then so be it.
MIKE: It's gas. Don't listen to any other explanations. Dom has bad gas.
What's your favourite smell?
DOM: It's always a mix of leather whiskey talcum fresh air. Olfactory hotshot that I am, I need a lot of a lot.
JED: Chanel No. 5 bath powder. I used to hang out with a junkie who wore it. That shit can make you smell like an angel even after you've spent a week nodding off and forgetting to shower. Close second is the hamentashen smell that wafts down the block from Moishe's, the kosher bakery in my neighborhood - butter, sugar and preserves.
MIKE: Dom's gas.
The last time I had heard the word 'congregation' was around 20 years ago in Sunday School at Church. After being ran over by a police woman one day on my way home I found myself in hospital with stigmatic style wounds. My Grandmother said that it was Jesus testing me. I never went back to church after that. Have you lost your faith? If 'Yes' at what particular moment?
MIKE: Yes. I forget when, but I think it had something to do with angel dust.
DOM: Yes. I think I was in some early adolescent year (as I'm sure is per-usual in these apostate tales). There was no critical moment, but more of a flap of time that felt like burlap playing a ditty on the demons in my windpipe. I mean, what do I know? I'm a finite creature who talks to incorrigible packets of cup-o-soups when they don't rip on the first try. With that said, most of the 'revealed' religions with the books and the corny narrative and all that smell of some of rank presumption, fear and mind-fucking vanity, vanity and fear. God made Himself a man... worship man... no, he's not really a man... He's God, but worship man, man sins, but go through me man/God, it's cool. Man interprets, you worship, light a candle, take a picture passed out in a pew or on the salad bar of a temple of some stripe. Loo light in the piss-tight songs of the angels of idiot-proof... don't use it to see... that is to say...
JED: I was raised in a Jewish family but I am not interested in practicing. Once I heard bacon cheeseburgers were off-limits, I was outta there.
You find yourself waking up from a complete crazy night, remembering little. You notice an instruction pamphlet for tatoos sitting on the table and feel a tinge of pain coming from your entire chest area. You know that there's got to be a tattoo there. What would you be hoping it was a tattoo of?
MIKE: Punky Brewster.
JED: Man, I hope it's the cover of Kiss's "Rock and Roll Over".
What would it really be?
MIKE: Brandon the Wonder Dog.
JED: With my luck, the cover of Kiss's "Lick it Up". Now you know why I don't drink.
With so many of you in the band, do you have a dictator or a democratic voting system to make decisions?
JED: I'm the de facto "musical director". From the TCOV collective, our goal is to assemble the group that can communicate a song in the most powerful way, yet still enable each individual performer do what comes naturally to him or her. We've all been in bands together for years, so that's easy - the guys trust me to cast them in the best light, and I trust them to be themselves.
MIKE: Screw that bullshit. We answer only to Jesus Fucking Christ.
Weird & Freaky Question:
You are pleasuring yourself over some filthy porn on some very filthy porn channel, as you are just about to cum a family member opens the door to enter the room. You have one of two choices. Either dive for the remote and change the channel leaving your erupted cock poking from your zipper, spewing sperm all over your pants, or quickly throw the little beggar into your trousers and have him seep his juice inside your pants, quickly tucking the toilet roll in your pocket, leaving yourself sitting with an obvious 'tent pole' infront of the porn. Your Choice?
JED: Porn does nothing for me. I like the ladies - not pictures of the ladies!
DOM: I show cock on that one. Fuck it. The pants won't take a hit. You mentioned TP in this scenario. The cum is caught; the Mao Se Donger has a little white bonnet. My first impulse is to shut the shop on the filth. Porn noises and images might sting more in future than a glance at the exposed tumescent member.
MIKE: Neither. I would stand proudly, waving my engorged member back and forth spraying whoever was so foolish as to disturb my viewing of "Choco-Trannies" with man-goo.
Jed Davis/TCOV Wiki
Honesty Vs. Politics - Jed Davis' Blog