MusicDish e-Journal - November 22, 2018
MusicDish Advertising Network
» HOME » INSIDER SCOOP » CAREER TIPS » MUSIC SPOTLIGHT » MUSICDISH*CHINA
» INDUSTRY INTERVIEWS » NEWS BEAT » DIGITAL SKOOL » OPEN REVIEW » MUSICDISH EDELWEISS
Search MusicDish e-Journal (Advanced)
Subscribe To MusicDish e-Journal
About | Contact | Advertise | RSS | Submit Article | Submit News | Artist Development | Premium PR Distribution
Mi2N | MusicDish*China | MusicDish Network | MusicDishTV | Urban Music News Network

An Interview with Reptile Palace Orchestra
By Holly Day
(more articles from this author)
1999-01-28
Comment | Email | Print | RSS

Reptile
Palace OrchestraThe Reptile Palace Orchestra has developed quite a cult following throughout the Minnesota/Wisconsin area, and, with the 1998 release of Hwy X (Omnium), their popularity is spreading to the rest of the world. Specializing in Middle Eastern music with occasional forays into blues and even some rock standards, their live shows are impossible to sit still through, unless you have absolutely no sense of rhythm at all. In fact, the first time I saw them play was at the Cedar Cultural Center in Minneapolis, a Minnesota club famous for having uncomfortable seats, a no-smoking policy, and a hangout for "serious" music aficionados. However, when RPO played, gyrating dance circles mysteriously appeared in the aisles and areas generally reserved for through traffic, the usually-quiet crowd laughed and sang along with the songs, and everybody got drunk on imported beer and California wine.

RPO is also one of the few bands to conduct all of their business though the Internet. They conduct all their interviews via e-mail, book all their shows this way, and sell their CDs through their Web page. As all the band members have careers that keep them from staying in one spot long enough to talk on the phone, all interband communications are done through rapid-fire e-mails as well. The current lineup of RPO consists of ex-Sugercub member Siggi Baldursson on percussion, Seth Blair on cello, Biff Blumfumgagnge on fiddle, mandolin, balalaika, Doug Code on clarinet, Bill Feeny on guitar, and Anna Purnell on trumpet. While Anna is the closest thing to a "frontman" the band has, everyone ends up taking a turn on vocals at one time or another.

[H] Where did the band's name come from?

[Seth] So, there we were, needing a name, and Feeny and his Fab Five just didn't quite make it, so we picked the title of a song of mine we were doing. "The Enchanted Reptile Palace" is about a somewhat surreal American roadside attraction, and considering the band's peculiar and far-ranging aesthetic, it somehow seemed appropriate. "Thanks for stopping at the Enchanted Reptile Palace/ Thanks for dreaming of the Enchanted Reptile Palace".

[H] How would you personally describe/categorize your music?

Reptile Palace Orchestra[Biff] Balkan Lounge Funk. No - Wannabee Gipsies with distortion boxes. Seth: We play what we like playing. Bill really set the tone with his early selections, especially with the international music, but it still comes down to that. There is no music that is automatically rejected, that is considered outside our scope. I think we started as everyone's fun, experimental band, and whatever we can do a good job with and that sounds good with our instrumentation, well, then, that's what we play. The audience plays some role as well (I'd say we've gotten more dance oriented over time; it is fun to see them all jumping around), but there are few things which we've totally dropped from our set list.

[H] What prompted you to take this musical route instead of just being another heavy metal/glam rock/Seattle grunge band?

[Biff] Better food, better parking.

[Seth] From the perspective of the folk world, I think we ARE a glam band! Anyway, there are those who, when presented with the chance of doing an Icelandic mambo, run screaming for the hills. We, oddly, have the opposite response. God knows why. Something genetic, maybe. Science has yet to find a cure.

[H] What are all of your musical backgrounds? Is this your first group or have you been in others?

[Biff] I personally have had my hands on a violin since I was 8 years old, did the youth symphony thing, private lessons, etc. In high school I rebelled against the classical music world by getting a fat red electric arch top guitar from Aunt Daisy and building a copy of an "MXR Distortion +" in the electronics lab. Sprinkle in some Ted Nugent (Stormtroopers Coming people), an old Kay amplifier that exploded during Music Clinic Jazz Ensemble (burned transformer - what a stink!) and boom - suddenly I've got a 5-string violin with a Theremin inside of it and am using it to play Turkish, Greek and Macedonian tunes - who'd a thunk it?

[Seth] OK, with the exception of a couple high school rock groups (in which I drummed, by the way), I have mostly been in the folk world. I am the navel-staring sensitive solo singer-songwriter of the group, except that I have a metaphorically surreal navel and I play cello, for some reason. Laziness, I think; I am a failed junior high-school cellist who never learned a normal instrument. Anyway, I played (and still play) the old navel-staring sensitive singer-songwriter coffeehouse church basement circuit. Been in a few folksy sort of groups, most recently a duo with Tracy Moore, the 6- and 12-string guitar wizard. But this is my first time being more or less the bass player for a rock band, and it is very cool indeed. Except that it's not a bass. Bass is tuned in fourths, cello in fifths, and as I said I am lazy. So I play this crazy 6 string electric cello, built by Eric Jensen of Seattle. Lovely thing. And I haul out the acoustic cello too, at least on some of the recordings.

[H] How did you get together in this band?

[Biff] I blame Feeny & Code, the "traditional" dancers in the group who brought in the bulk of the ethnic stuff. Bill Feeny (guitarist, band "daddy") did the graphic art on an old "Gomers" release I did in Madison in 1987, and soon began plying me with tapes he'd made that featured Bora Ozkok, Nash the Slash, Baris Manco, Michael Hurley, etc. He was always in these weird ensembles that rocked out in odd times like 15 and 11. He drew me away from the Glam and Comedy Rock Forces I had aligned myself with. He's the Darth Vader of the band, I tell you.

[Seth] I was on Bill's radio show to do a couple of my spooky halloweenish songs (sometimes my navel is spooky). But the chance to do the folk dance stuff was great; I've been listening to that stuff for awhile. My Dad and I used to sit around in Greek restaurants trying to figure out the rhythms. My dad was a physicist who was also the drum sergeant for the Keith Highlander Pipe band. I am not sure what this explains, except that I really like drones.

[H] Where has your best audience been?

[Biff] LaCrosse Folk Fest, last summer of '97. Actually, we have great crowds all over. Backyard weddings also tend to be memorable. I had a great time in the audience of a Suburbs concert at Merlyn's in 1988. I smoked acid at a Kansas concert in 1983, but everyone else was shooting pot and there was no way I would do that. Lover Boy opened that one - Turn Me Loose, Working for the Weekend people! Early laser light production as well - that winged horse - it looked so real, so frighteningly real...

[H] What do you do besides play music (hobbies, family, other creative pursuits)? Is the band paying for itself or do you have day jobs?

[Biff] I run a CD Mastering / Recording Studio called BEEFTONE, am hired talent & book the Reptiles locally. I also produce a late-night radio show - Mr. Hell's Eastern Lounge on WORT 89.9fm Madison. So no, I have no real job.

[Seth] Well, see, I am a research biologist and University of Wisconsin professor. I work on the developmental biology and genetics of fruitflies. Especially their wings. I am also married, have a Dalmatian puppy named Eno (we were hoping for an ambient puppy, but he is more in his Baby's On Fire phase at the moment). Anyway, the professor job pays my mortgage. Actually, I think we've all had pretty low expectations about the band, money-wise. I mean, not like we'd turn down the big bucks, but it's a Balkan lounge funk act, after all. But on the plus side, that gives us a lot more musical freedom that if we were trying to "make it".

[H] Have any of you actually travelled to Armenia or Bulgaria, or to any other exotic location to experience the local music?

[Biff] Yes. I have been to Egypt, India, Greece, Pakistan, Holland (most of Europe, really) and Turkey. I played a "singer/songwriter" style show in Istanbul, Turkey where no one cared that I made up words to "Truckin." Bought lots of super deluxe tapes and got inspired to play violin in a non-western way; soon I fell in love with all those "eastern" notes hiding between our "western" notes.

[H] Is there anything else you'd like to say about the band?

[Seth] The band is a perpetual surprise and joy. I hope that one day they will invent a good sounding bass amp that is louder than Siggi and weighs 5 pounds. I want the band to play some gigantic, mythic folk festival where everyone, absolutely everyone, dances their brains out. Including my all our friends, lovers, wives, husbands, pets and children. Then, at the end, we all ascend to Nirvana.


Home » Music Spotlight » An Interview with Reptile Palace Orchestra
Permalink:http://www.musicdish.com/mag/?id=645
Email |Print |Comment |RSS

back | top


MusicDish Advertising Network

Music Spotlight

» Hollywood Heavyweights Launch New Christian Music Label

» Round Hill Music And Zync Sign Madge To Joint Venture

» YG PLUS and Gracenote to Bring K-POP to Fans around the World

» Lithuanian Band Grabs Bronze at the Silk Road Indie Music Festival 2017

» HBC Fall Festival Celebrates 12 years of HBC Fest

Music Spotlight Directory



» [2018-09-16] Live Nation Electronic Asia Inks Deal With Budweiser For Creamfields Festivals; Together, Creamfields And Budweiser Will Focus On Building Entirely New Content For Dedicated Electronic Music Fans Throughout Asia

» [2018-08-23] Andy Ma Appointed Warner Music China CEO; Andy Ma Has Also Been Appointed EVP, Commercial And Business Development For Greater China

» [2018-08-23] IndieOn Connects Music To The Blockchain; IndieOn Is Confident Of Creating A "music Miner" Who Listens More And Grow Their Token Value

» [2018-06-23] The 2018 MIDEM Silk Road International Music Alliance Signing; International Music Industries Signing Of A Mutual Resource Sharing Agreement With Shanghai Conservatory Of Music & The China Records Group

» [2018-06-06] Screen Music Connect To Explore The Music Of Film, Television And Interactive Media; Created By James Hannigan, Award-winning Composer And Game Music Connect Co-founder, Screen Music Connect Builds On The Success Of The Sold-out Game Music Conferences

» [2018-06-05] Fred Casimir To Develop BMG's Global Recordings Business; As Well As Building BMG's European Infrastructure, Casimir Was Instrumental In Developing BMG's Recordings Business

» [2018-06-03] 13 Music Label Sold To MTN; DSN Music Spins Off Record Label To Albuquerque Music Entrepreneur's New Group

» [2018-06-02] CISAC 2018 Annual Report; A Comprehensive Overview Of The Confederation's Work To Serve 4 Million Creators And 239 Authors Societies Across The World

» [2018-06-02] MusicDish Announces A Love Electric 2018 China Tour; The Tour Will Crisscross Through China With 12 Shows In 8 Cities, Including Guangzhou, Dongguan, Zhuhai, Shenzhen, Kunming, Jiaxin, Wuhan And Beijing

» [2018-06-02] Darcus Beese Named President Of Island Records; Renowned U.K. Music Executive To Join Universal Music Group's U.S. Label Leadership

» [2018-05-17] Avant-Garde Label Maybe Noise Launches In Beijing; The Official Launch Will Be On May 26 At Magnet Theater With A Performance Supporting Its First Vinyl Release: Png Z

» [2018-05-04] Award-Winning Lithuanian Rock Band Colours Of Bubbles "She Is The Darkness" 2018 China Tour; The Tour Will Kickoff In Shanghai Where The Band Will Represent Lithuania During The Country's Signing To The Silk Road Music Alliance
MusicDish Advertising Network

follow MusicDish on
Follow MusicDish on Twitter

Mi2N Music PR

Talented Hip-hop Act, Jon Clawd, Announces The Release Of His First Body Of Works Titled "Fried Fish And Moonshine"

New EP Release From Jazzy Sky - 'Breakfast'

Esoteric Recordings To Release BE-BOP DELUXE "SUNBURST FINISH" 3CD/1DVD Limited Edition Deluxe Boxed Set - November 23, 2018

Cinq Music Partners With Rock Group TRAPT, Drops New Single

Worship Artist XAVIER JOLLIFF Inks Management Deal With The Management Agency (TMA)

The International Radio Festival Announce Final Line Up Of Radio Stations

Critically-Acclaimed Instrumental Rock Guitarist Mike Dekleva Releases His Second Four Song Instrumental Rock Music EP, "Psychedelia," On Friday, November 9, 2018



Websites: Mi2N | MusicDish*China | MusicDish Network | MusicDishTV | Urban Music News Network
Services: Submit Article | Submit News | Submit Video | Artist Development | Premium PR Distribution

Copyright © 1997-2018 MusicDish LLC., all rights reserved.
About MusicDish e-Journal | Contact Us | Advertise | RSS | Internships