Interview with Kirpatrick Thomas of Spindrift

Posted on November 27, 2010 - by Julian Woolsey

How's the new tour been so far?

It's going really good. It's a six-week tour that we booked ourselves, DIY-style, across the United States. We're hitting most of the major cities and some of the smaller cities here and there. We'll be traveling through the Fall season; we're having Thanksgiving in New Orleans with Frankie (of Brian Jonestown Massacre) and Louise (his wife), and their son Django. Then we get back to California, and we're going to record our next record in Joshua Tree, in the desert where all the new material was written.

At the Hicksville Trailer Palace?

Yes. I believe we're going to be the first band to do a full-length record there. We'll stay there for seven days. We're trying to raise money for recording costs on Kickstarter.

How's that going?

It's going good! We're almost halfway there -- we still have 3 more weeks to go. It's going to cover everything from renting the place out and paying the engineers to paying for documentary footage. All the fans get to pre-order the record and be a part of helping us make this record happen.

People can even have Spindrift play a set at their next party.

Yeah, for a certain amount, we'll play! We'll come to your house and play.

Awesome. What's the new record going to be called?

'Classic Soundtracks.' It's basically a musical résumé for us, dealing with movie scores and composition surrounding film works. Mainly things that were concentrated around the desert areas of Southern California. It's largely the western stuff, but we've also branched out to do some Bollywood songs, and some Joe Meek-sounding science fiction stuff, and there's some extremely atmospheric space-rock stuff going on as well. We're also working on a mountain man movie called The Legend of Coby Wallace. We're doing some stuff for a cult filmmaker named J.X. Williams. We're also putting on some music we scored for Mike Bruce's next movie. Mike Bruce directed our film The Legend of God's Gun, but his next movie is The Treasure of the Black Jaguar.

The connection with film has been a big theme for Spindrift, from the obvious Ennio Morricone influence in the music, all the way through creating your own feature-length film, The Legend of God's Gun, which you just mentioned.

It's what I think our music lends itself best to. We just had another song featured on [the HBO show] Eastbound & Down, which is pretty cool. We have a couple other things coming up. Just had some news tonight that was pretty good, but I can't really say anything about it yet. It could be an exclusive, but I don't think I should leak it out yet. But I think it has something to do with Robert Rodriguez.

Cool! It seems like your lineup has stabilized a bit, that is to say, you've gone through many lineup changes over the years; for a while you had a larger lineup, but now it seems like it's getting more compact, almost as if you're getting even more focused on exactly what you want to achieve.

I believe it went like this: 4-piece, 5-piece, 4-piece, 3-piece, 7-piece, 5-piece, 5-piece. We've stuck with 5 people for the last 8 years. This is basically due to the confines of touring, getting out there in a cheap van with a large amount of equipment. It's kinda hard to get around with all these amplifiers and drums and pedal steels and autoharps and organs and extra guitars... we don't even have a trailer yet. All that will probably change eventually, if we can have our say. We're trying to make it into more of an atmospheric vibe when we play. We're doing a bit of that tonight, giving it a little visual effect.

People who see you on this tour are going to be hearing material from the new record, correct?

Yes, a lot of it is the soundtrack work we've done in the past, so we're going to be playing all that, plus a lot of new stuff.

Would you say that your songwriting process has evolved over the years? Is the writing primarily done by you, or is it a collaborative effort with the other members of the band?

It's mainly me. It's mainly me bringing it to other really talented musicians, and then everybody puts their thing in. The way that seems to work best is if I act as the composer and conductor, with the band as the orchestra. We have so many sounds to work with, and it's all up to my imagination to figure out how to use them. I think with the lineup we have now, those sounds are balanced quite right. The pedal steel added a nice spooky western feel to everything. The autoharps and a lot of the harmonies we can do now are much different than before. There's a lot of little nuances that I can call on now. Sasha [Vallely] plays the Native American flute, which is pretty cool. It's really working out great.

Is there anything else you want to let people know?

Everyone needs to chill out a little bit, I think.

Very good advice. Thank you!

Help Spindrift record their new record 'Classic Soundtracks.' Check out Kickstarter to find out how!

Head on over to their official Myspace page for a list of upcoming tour dates.