(Photo by Rachel Perlin)
The last time I sat down with LA-based beatscene trio, The Glitch Mob, they were just kicking off the summer festival season. Five months later, they have wrapped up The Blade tour and it’s back to the west coast to decompress before hitting it hard in the studio. I had the pleasure of seeing Ooah, Boreta and EDit tear up Hammerstein Ballroom on Saturday night, with support from New York natives Chrome Sparks and electro-duo The M Machine.
Returning to the city for the first time since Governor’s Ball, The Glitch Mob brought a remarkable amount of energy to their beautifully choreographed live show. The Glitch Mob doesn’t deliver a typical rock show or DJ set, even though their sound may sound like the lovechild of those two genres. Rather, their one-of-a-kind stage show, The Blade, is a fully functional instrument that doubles as a set design. Electronic drum kits and paneling are spread across the machine’s ominous stature, provoking the three artists to move thoughtfully within their respective stations. It’s turbine-like appearance and accompanying fog and light show, give it a futuristic, almost ethereal presence. The Blade is a vehicle, a backdrop that only elevates this truly impressive trio.
Fans of Drink the Sea were appeased by a number of tracks from the debut album, but this tour was really about Life. Death. Immortality, their new album that I’ve described to people as, “kind of like a grungy Evanescence album, but like if Evanescence was really fucking cool, slightly more electronic and didn’t suck balls.” The 2014 album builds upon their previous instrumental works by incorporating a number of collaborations with fantastic female vocalists including Aja Volkman and Metal Mother, to name a couple. The crowd was especially receptive to songs like I Need My Memory Back and Demons, both of whom feature Volkman, as well as Fly By Night Only (feat. Yaarrohs). The soaring vocals and dramatic drops make these the perfects tracks with which to head bang and “scream-sing” along.
And of course it wouldn’t be a Glitch show if they didn’t throw in some fun covers like Tupac’s California Love, The White Stripes’ Seven Nation Army and Prodigy’s Breathe. These guys have a remarkable sense of their voice and audience. Their encore was particularly satisfying with a Fortune Days dedication to all of our lost loved ones on Day of the Dead, an extended version of We Can Make the World Stop and a Skullclub finale which had their fans going HAM. Even the crew joined in on the fun by appearing onstage in banana and gorilla costumes. While I can’t determine whether this cameo was expected by the trio, it seemed to make everyone happy, so thumbs up to that. Overall, Saturday’s show was an exhilarating performance from a remarkably unique act. If you missed The Glitch Mob during The Blade tour, I strongly urge that you start studying their discography so you’re ready to party when they hit the road again.
I also had the chance to catch up with the geniuses behind the whole Glitch Mob operation – edIT, Ooah and Boreta, in the flesh. Here’s what they had to say about their favorite stops on the summer festival circuit, appearing in the Sin City 2 trailer and ending the tour with a bang. Check it out!
Megan: This was your first time touring with The Blade, do you feel like creating this stage show as an element that you perform inside of is something that you’ll continue doing?
edIT: The Blade is going to evolve but it’s also the sequel to our previous show when we were touring Drink the Sea, although it’s completely re-conceptualized.
Boreta: It’s all a process, and an evolution.
edIT: The Blade is going to be constantly evolving. Whether it’s still going to be called the Blade a year or two from now, who knows? (Laughs)
Ooah: But the style in which we play and create a sort of show on stage, well we’ve been doing for years. Just a little bit more each time. This is the biggest and most dialed in show we’ve had so far. If you look at pictures of us in early 2000’s, we were still playing on smaller controllers.
edIT: Like Blade Jr.!
Ooah: We built our own light show then, too.
Megan: You guys are going to eventually have your own transformers! (Laughs)
edIT: That was actually a part of the game plan originally.
Ooah: It was! We were going to have moving arms on it and everything.
edIT: But we opted to simplify. (Laughs) Maybe next year.
Megan: You guys did a ton of festival shows this summer. I was at the Bonnaroo show!
edIT: Oh you were? Cool!
Megan: And I have to say, that was one of the weirdest fucking crowds I’ve ever been in. The people under the tent were going HAM at 4 in the morning. I was hanging out on the fringes after coming from the Skrillex Superjam, and those people were scary. I called it “K-Hole” city.
Boreta: Man it was late, people were probably doing whatever they could to stay awake. (Laughs)
Megan: Oh yeah, I’m sure it had nothing to do with you guys. It was just that strange, Bonnaroo witching hour.
edIT: That was a great show though! Playing that late, sometimes you just don’t know what to expect. Lots of times people are cashed out at that point, but the fans really brought it!
Megan: Oh yeah! People were going nuts! It was so fun to watch from the outside too, and you guys played until almost 5 in the morning.
Ooah: It was so late. They kept pushing us back because the Superjam ran late.
Megan: Was that your first time doing Bonnaroo? Isn’t it the sickest festival?
edIT: Yeah! It was a lot of fun.
Megan: Out of all of the festivals that you guys played this summer, what were your top picks?
Boreta: Honestly, I enjoyed all of them. They were all so different. Almost all the festivals, not Bonnaroo, but I’d say 90 percent of them scheduled us to play at sunset, for some reason. EDC, Coachella, Lollapalooza, Austin City Limits both weekends and Electric Forest, all put us right before sunset into darkness, which is the coolest time to play.
edIT: In Europe we had late night slots, mostly.
Boreta: But in the states with The Blade festival shows, they all seemed to be at sunset. And to whoever decided that out there, THANKS! (Laughs) It was just a really cool thing. All of the festivals were great. I think we played every major festival in the United States, and there is such a different vibe at each one. It was so interesting to see and spend time at all the festivals and see the different cross sections of people [at each one]. I really can’t pick one favorite.
edIT: Especially with Europe versus the states, too. They all have their own history, quirks and traditions that come with them.
Megan: Were there any cities that you particularly fell in love with?
edIt: The festival that we played in Quebec City was pretty amazing. We played this crazy festival that lasts for weeks in Quebec. And the deal is, you buy the ticket and I’m pretty sure it lasts for the entire duration of the festival. It’s really cheap too, and basically every day, there are multiple outdoor stages in Quebec City where artists play. The day we played it was Deadmau5, Alvin Risk, us and another act. There were 80,000 people outdoors on a Wednesday night in Quebec City.
Megan: What a fun idea!
edIT: And the day before, Journey played, I think.
Megan: (Laughs) Very diverse! I know your song Can’t Kill Us was featured on the Sin City 2 Trailer. Are you guys big Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez fans?
Boreta: Oh yeah! That was awesome. I still need to see the movie!
Megan: Was that a call that you guys got, and you were all like, “AAAHHHH!!!”
Ooah: We’ve done quite a few movie trailers at this point, but this was the first one where I was like ‘oh shit, this is actually something that we’re into.’ We’ve done a lot of superhero movies and I mean, that’s cool, definitely a cool feeling. With that it’s something that we can call our parents and say, ‘hey, we just did a trailer for G.I. Joe!’ and that’s exciting. But with this, I could call my little brother and say ‘Dude, we just did the Sin City 2 Trailer!’ It’s just a really cool art thing. We’re fans of his art, and he was a fan of the music, so when it came together it was a pretty mind-blowing experience.
Megan: Yeah, the trailer looks so great too. I got really pumped when I heard your music and yelled at my boyfriend, “THAT’S THE GLITCH MOB!!!”. I was so excited about it.
edIT: I finally got around to watching that Edge of Tomorrow movie that we were featured in, and it’s good.
Boreta: Oh yeah?
Megan: You guys get to do all the weird, apocalyptic stuff.
Boreta: Yeah, if they want futuristic apocalypse stuff, they come to us.
Megan: (Laughs) These guys could bring on the end of the world. And so with Life. Death. Immortality you collaborated with a lot of vocalists, and I know that was a bit of a digression from Drink the Sea which was mostly instrumental. What’s the next step when you get back in the studio? Do you have DJ’s and producers that you hope to collaborate with? Or are you going to stick with vocal heavy stuff?
Boreta: We really don’t know. That’s all part of the process for us. When we get in the studio we always talk and have a concept of what we want to do, but that inevitably is thrown out the window once the process takes hold. The music really does what it wants to, and we try to get our intellect out of the way of the music and let it say what it wants to say.
edIT: So we can’t really tell you what’s next. We won’t know until it happens. And we’re really not too worried about it. (Laughs)
Megan: Are you guys going to take a break after the tour to decompress?
Ooah: Sure, a small break.
Boreta: We’ll take a break, but we’re really inspired right now. After touring, the first thing we say is ‘okay, let’s undo the exhaustion and months and months of sleep deprivation’. But once we’re back to being sane again, we’re all really inspired to get back into the studio. There’s this feeling of capturing all of the steam from the shows and the energy and vibe and what you get from playing a live show. There’s this intangible feeling of what works and what doesn’t work, and what we could have done better from playing a song live that you can’t really articulate or write down. You just have to take all of that and put it back into the music. We are overflowing with ideas right now.
Megan: Did you meet any artists over the course of the tour that you think you’ll end up collaborating with in the future?
Boreta: Oh yeah. Right now we’re touring with these two acts. Chrome Sparks is an artist that we learned about from our fans.
Megan: He’s pretty sick.
edIT: Awesome dude too! Amazing music, and an awesome group of guys.
Boreta: We tweeted at our fans asking, ‘Who should we take on the road?’ And a bunch of people responded with Chrome Sparks, and M Machine too. It just so happens we all have mutual friends and connections, but our fans really chose that.
edIT: And it’s been amazing!
Megan: And that has to MAKE a tour too, when you’re in the presence of like-minded, fucking awesome people.
edIT: It’s good vibes! When you’re with people who are genuinely great individuals and it’s good vibes and no drama, it really goes a long way.
Boreta: In a few years, Chrome Sparks will be playing here [at Hammerstein] with his own band. I guarantee it. He’s an amazing producer, and they are the coolest guys ever. We’re really inspired by them, and M Machine too.
Megan: I’m from Kentucky, and I saw Chrome Sparks play at this little festival in Louisville called Forecastle. The electronic stage was set up underneath an interstate overpass. It was a cool way for them to repurpose what was available in this little park. It was fucking awesome.
Boreta: Oh that’s cool! They are really great.
Megan: So what did you guys do for Halloween?
Boreta: We played in Philly!
Ooah: We had a great show at this little place called the Electric Factory.
Megan: I keep hearing about that place!
Ooah: It’s so cool. It might be my favorite venue that we’ve played on tour so far. There’s something about it that’s so vibey. It’s not just a club, it’s got a warehouse feel to it.
Megan: And I really like Philly! They don’t have to try hard and put on that whole “We’re from fucking Philly!” attitude. They just are who they are.
edIT: It has a great vibe! It was the second time we played that room in this tour, and it was a lot of fun. Halloween night is a great night as a live musician to play shows.
Megan: Oh yeah, people are down to get SUPER weird. Did you see any particularly hilarious costumes?
Boreta: Well, me and Josh put on skeleton masks and walked around the audience. We had these really cool masks and we were just creeping people out, including our crew. We were fucking with them and just going up to random people and staring at them. We eventually went on stage wearing them and people were like, ‘Oh my god you were that asshole that was staring at me!’
Megan: So they didn’t know it was The Glitch Mob fucking with them?
Boreta: Some people figured it out eventually because they noticed our tattoos, I think. But it was awesome to be anonymous in the crowd, and it was the first time we really got to watch a whole show from the crowd because we had the masks on.
Megan: So I asked you guys about your matching tattoos last time. Did you guys get any new ones on tour?
Ooah: Nope, no new tattoos on tour or since we talked to you last time. We haven’t really had time for anything like that.
Megan: Yeah, you guys have just been crushing it. That’s awesome. (This is where I start struggling because I only slept about 92 minutes the prior night.) Uh, guys. This is where I’m at right now.
edIT: You’re good! You’ve got a massive, 12 oz. Red Bull.
Megan: You’re right. I’ve got Red Bull. So guys, tomorrow is the last show of the tour?
Ooah: Yep, D.C.
Megan: And then it’s back to LA! Was there any significance with D.C., or is that just kind of how it played out?
Ooah: Just kinda worked out that way.
edIT: Should be good, though! We played Silver Spring last time, which is right outside of DC.
Megan: Is there any kind of anxiety that comes with ending a tour, or are you mostly just anticipating having downtime?
edIT: It will be good to wrap the tour on a positive note. Say goodbye to our crew for the time being. I think everyone is excited to go out with a bang.
Megan: Do you have any crazy plans for the last show?
edIT: Nothing too crazy. We just really want to show some love and respect to our crew who has been on tour with us since March.
Ooah: We couldn’t do it without those guys. They work so fucking hard.
edIT: We want to try to bring them out on stage at some point in time.
Megan: The production value on these things must require so much behind the scenes.
Boreta: It really does.
Megan: Well you guys do a great job about being gracious performers.
edIT: Thank you for that!
Boreta: We are so thankful for our fans. People don’t always realize, but as an independent act we don’t have backing from a major label. And this tour wasn’t sponsored by an energy drink, or anything like that. All of the dollars come from something we’ve generated through music.
Megan: Which has to feel pretty amazing too. It’s all you.
Boreta: It’s a great feeling. We are really, truly grateful for our fans.
Megan: Well guys, I’m not going to keep you any longer because my brain is about to fall out of my ears. I am bringing a new believer in electronic music to your show tonight, though. She said she finally “gets it”, so no pressure, or anything.
edIT: (Laughs) We’ll do what we can.