You’re probably not going to like Innerds.
I’m not going to sit here and write about how you’ll love their music and how you simply must go see them live. It’s just not fair. You’d probably check them out and leave saying, “What the fuck was that?! Fuck that Seth Combs guy. I’m never listening to that asshole again.” Trust me, you wouldn’t be the first.
Here’s the thing, though: Innerds aren’t making, as Depeche Mode dubbed it, music for the masses. One listen to the duo’s music—guitarist and vocalist Bobby Bray dubs it “post-prog-skronk space-tropicalia math lounge”—and it’s evident that this is music verging on performance art.
So, while you may not like it, you’ll leave with little doubt that they’re certainly one of the most experimental and innovative bands in town. Weed helps, too.
“Whatever the boundaries or rules are for music, they’re just completely removed,” Bray says. “We’re just kind of like 5-year-old naked children running down the street as fast as we can.”
To understand why Innerds is so “out there,” as one recent attendee of one of their shows put it, it helps to understand their pedigree. Bray is probably best known for playing in The Locust, a costumed grindcore band as legendary and polarizing as you’re likely to find in the local scene. Drummer Brandon Relf played with instrumental math-rockers Sleeping People—if you saw them perform, you’ll remember that Relf was often the star of the show for his spirited and intricate syncopation. The duo had been mutually admiring each other for a while, but it wasn’t until their bands toured together three years ago that the two became serious about collaborating.
“Basically, I wouldn’t stop bugging him until he played with me,” Relf says. “Sleeping People was slowing down, and everything was up in the air for me, and the only person I could think of for something new was Bobby.”
Their new rehearsal space in Mission Valley is packed with equipment that Bray has either collected or assembled over the years. He’s always dabbled in computers and effects pedals to produce the strange sounds heard in Locust or Holy Molar records. For example, he uses a midi-guitar pickup to tweak his guitar playing so that it sounds like a synthesizer. Still, his recent decision to go back to UCSD for a degree in “Interdisciplinary Computing in the Arts” has been eye-opening.
“I’ve learned a lot,” says Bray, who explains that his major focuses on computer-based technology in music programming, producing and effects. “I can build these things that don’t exist yet. I’ll say to myself, ‘I need real-time glitch in pedal form.’ So now I can use this open-source software and incorporate these things into Innerds. A lot of guitar players who want to play cool-sounding stuff are limited in what they can pick and choose from in a catalog. I’m no longer limited to that. My toolset has expanded.”
Bray has used this new knowledge and “toolset” to give Innerds a sound that, literally, you won’t hear anywhere else. Even if they have a technological advantage, Bray maintains that it’s within the construction of the songs, when he and Relf are jamming, where the real magic happens.
“Sometimes it feels like these song ideas come from a parallel dimension and they’re just possessing our human bodies for a moment and these songs emerge,” Bray says. “That we’re just a small cog in this big, grand parallel-dimension communication exchange of ideas and we’re just helping manifest these things that come from somewhere else.”
“Yep, I pretty much feel the same,” Relf adds.
This all comes across strikingly when you hear the band live. They’ll launch into a demented version of The Rolling Stones’ “Time is on My Side,” with Bray’s vocals filtered through an effect pedal so that it sounds like a robot in heat. And then, just when you’re starting to get used to Relf’s inhuman drumming and the bizarre noise coming out of the amps, they switch it up again and launch into what sounds like—well, I don’t fucking know. It’s fucking crazy.
Spazzed-out PCP monkey-rock from Mars?
“We’ve been doing this kind of music for a long time, and we’re really trying to do something that’s different to us,” Relf says, “to push the boundaries of our own musical ability.”
And that’s just it. Innerds aren’t necessarily doing this as some grand “fuck you” to the conventional ways of how music is supposed to sound or be crafted. They’re just playing the music that’s in their heads. And unlike some limitedly talented, generic rock band, they actually have the means to pull it off. Even if the end result leaves you shaking your fist or scratching your head.
“Our whole objective is to make some crazy songs and share them with people,” Bray says, “homing in on ancient techniques of Zandarnian reptilian telepathy, for instance, but in musical form.”
Wait, what was that?
“To try something different, we’re trying to home in on the ancient Zandarnian tradition of reptilian telepathy. We’re trying to set the soundtrack to that.”
Yep, that clears it up.
Innerds perform with Capillary Action, Devfits and Dead Animal Mod on Tuesday, April 19, at Che Cafe. innerdsinfo.blogspot.com