Beyond their love for analog synths, husband-wife duo Jeff and Jess bring the geek appeal with lyrics that offer quirky takes on SF tropes from cyborgs and clones to ray guns and erotic surveillance.
With a new CD, Candy Apple Daydreams, ready for release and a show coming up on Friday, Feb. 5, they seemed an obvious choice for a Missions Unknown interview.
Hyperbubble open for Japanese SF-pop band POLYSICS at the WHITE RABBIT (2410 N Saint Marys St, San Antonio, 78212). Doors open at 7:00 PM. Cost is $12 / $14. For more info: (210) 737-2221. Look for a POLYSICS interview on Missions Unknown the day of the show.
Your upcoming show is the release party for your new CD, Candy Apple Daydreams. Tell us about it. How’s it different from previous Hyperbubble disks? How’s it the same?
Jeff: Candy Apple Daydreams is a rainbow-flavored candy-coated concept album about Hyperbubble and our adventures on the planet Earth. It’s constructed like a symphony, but each track still works by itself as a pop song. It’s a much more ambitious album than the previous two, and it’s also more confidently delivered. We performed the songs live for half a year before recording the vocals, so when it was time to lay’em down in the studio, it was like, “Bam!” You’ll hear stuff that reminds you of some of your favorites from our first two albums. The songs are still fast and fun and catchy, but this one also totally takes off in new directions, like the tricky drums on “Teddy Bear Crime Wave,” and “Moogzilla vs Korgatron,” which sounds like Wendy Carlos playing lazer tag with Motorhead.
With lyrics about clones, moon buggies and phasers set to stun, it’s obvious science fiction plays a big part in the world of Hyperbubble. Do you consider yourselves SF fans? Could we go so far as to label Hyperbubble an SF band?
Jeff: We’re definitely fans of sci-fi and are admittedly fond of silver jumpsuits, but I don’t think of Hyperbubble as a sci-fi band. All that stuff you mentioned exists here and now. When we were growing up, some of it was considered sci-fi, but it really isn’t sci-fi anymore. We’re making music about the 21st Century.
There seems to be a strong element of retrofuturism to your music, lyrics and visuals – from Star Trek references and ‘80s analog synth sounds to ’60s mod fashion and Golden Age ray guns. Do I sense a frustration that the future we’re living in now isn’t as shiny, clean and sleek as so many had predicted?
Jess: Yeah! We want all the fun stuff that The Jetsons promised.
Jeff: We’re getting there. We have digital diaries and webcams, but what about robot housekeepers and talking dogs?…And where’s my jet pack???
You clearly have a reverence for the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s pop music you draw inspiration from. But, at the same time, there seems to be a certain cheekiness inherent in Hyperbubble. To what extent do you see the band and its music as a critique and/or parody of American pop culture?
Jess: Pop art and pop music have always had elements of subversion. Were using the iconography of our day: vending machines, surveillance cameras and robotic checkout lines. These are the Campbell’s Soup Cans of our time.
Do I detect an element of pranksterism?
Jeff: Sure. We’re playing the game of Pop while giving our fans a peek behind its facade.
Jess: Lifting the curtain on The Wizard of Oz.
I was surprised at how many compilation tracks and remixes you guys have floating around. Can you talk a little bit about how those projects/collaborations work?
Jeff: Usually for the compilations, we’re invited by the label who’s putting it together. We’re all electronic and we do our own recordings, so along with doing remixes, comp tracks are an inexpensive way to get worldwide exposure. For the remixes, it could be anything from a label offering royalties to remix one of their group’s singles, to meeting another artist online and agreeing to swap remixes. From there, we just email each other WAV audio files of the separated instruments and vocals for the song, then drop’em into our laptops and mix away.
A good number of those comp tracks are Christmas-themed. Does Hyperbubble love Yuletide music, or is it more appropriate to say you’ve been scarred by it?
Jess: Some Christmas songs are great, but yeah, you gotta be careful. You can get Christmas music damage. It’s not very merry at all.
Jeff: Visiting shopping Malls can be a rough deal, so we’re recording new holiday classics to make those elevator rides and register jobs more bearable.
In addition to being bandmates, the two of you are married. That combination has made for volatility in a lot of other bands. Is it difficult to be lovers and collaborators?
Jeff: Nah. It’s cool! Music and art are good for you.
Jess: Just ask Paul and Linda…or The Captain and Tennille, for that matter.
You’ve appeared on a spate of releases on European labels. Why do Europeans love Hyperbubble so much ?
Jess: My guess is they have a fascination with Americans, particularly Texans, and American pop culture, just as much as we are infatuated with Euroculture. They’re probably amused by our accents, as well.
Jeff: We were raised on Monty Python and The Avengers so we have a sort of English sense of humor. The French and the Italians seem to dig our artiness and fashion. Maybe our German friends detect a trace of Tangerine Dream in the music? I dunno. Our latest album is on a Scottish label. That may seem odd for a Texas band, but Scotland’s the land of The Eurythmics, The Rezillos, Bis, and the Bay City Rollers, so it kinda makes sense.
How often do you make it to Europe to perform live?
Jess: We’ll be doing our second tour of Europe this May to promote the new album. The first tour was in 2008.
Both of you have pretty strong visual art backgrounds. How does that inform Hyperbubble? Would Hyperbubble be a significantly different band without its performance/visual art element?
Jess: No different than the Beatles without their moptops, The Sex Pistols without the safety pins, or the Bee Gees without their white satin pants.
Jeff: Or KISS without their logo… Not to say the music isn’t important, but yeah, once we got Photoshop we knew we were ready.
Jess: Our visual art backgrounds have helped us view Hyperbubble as more than just a band, but a concept. It’s a complete audio-visual package. So besides just playing club gigs and music festivals, we also do mulitidisciplinary performances at art venues like The Flight Gallery, The Museum of Art, and our upcoming performance at Luminaria, which will encorporate both visual art and live music.
Beyond the upcoming release, what does the future (or retrofuture, for that matter) have in store for Hyperbubble?
Jeff: LUMINARIA in San Antonio March 13, then it’s off to England, Scotland, Ireland and France.
Jess: Also be on the lookout for all-new videos for the new album!
Could each of you give us your five favorite SF/fantasy/horror movies, books and albums/CDs?
Jeff: The ultimate space music is Sun Ra. I mean, c’mon! The dude was from Saturn. He didn’t just release albums, he released anti-matter vortexes. Godzilla is my favorite actor, but I also really like “of the” sci-fi movies: Phantom of the Paradise, Voyage of the Rock Aliens, and Dawn of the Dead. As for books, I would never travel through space and time without my copy of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
Jess: 1984…Bladerunner…Brazil…The Prisoner…I’m reading McSweeny’s Enchanted Chamber of Astonishing Stories at the moment. Albums? Sci Fi soundtrack albums are great, so along with your Hitchhikers Guide, I’d recommend you bring along the soundtrack to A Clockwork Orange, or at least a couple of copies of Xanadu.