Bright Lights: A catch up with Iguana Death Cult

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Iguana Death Cult rose from Rotterdam with a sound that was a blend neo-psychadelic, post punk and garage rock. It was created by the founding members of the band when the urge to create some rock and roll got into their bloodstream. Now the five piece are releasing their new record, Nude Casino, on Los Angeles based label Innovative Leisure. We caught up with Jeroen Reek of Iguana Death Cult for a chat.

Hello, what’s for breakfast today?

Full Turkish! Enjoying a week off in Turkey.

You guys are from Rotterdam. Tell us a bit about the city and it’s support for music.

Rotterdam is a city to be proud of. After being almost entirely destroyed by the Nazi’s it was rebuilt into a true exponent of modern architecture. An ever expanding piece of art. The last couple of years our music scene has grown into something really distinct. Whether it’s a punk group like Pig Frenzy or a synth bedroom project like Midwinter Bonfire, you can hear a certain thread running through it. The support is great I think. Sometimes it’s hard to choose which show you wanna see and the turn up is often great.

Your sound is great. It’s pretty primal garage rock, but with elements of acid-drenched psychedelia and a strong energy. How did you come about finding your sound?

Probably a mixture of an eclectic taste in music and severe hyperactive disorder.

Your next release, Nude Casino, is out on L.A.’s Innovative Leisure. How did you start working with the U.S. based label?

We met the guys from Innovative Leisure at SXSW last March. They came to see two of our shows and we really hit it off right away both musically and personally. We had just finished recording ’Nude Casino’ so 1 + 1 was 2 and we ended up working together. Great label, great guys.

You guys grew up together, and the band was formed rather quickly, and Justin has to learn bass pretty quick before your first show. It seems like there was no time to waste. Where did the urge of starting a band come from?

Because time is always running out.

You’ve been described as a “powerhouse live act”. How important is a live show for you?

The emphasis was always on the live shows and making people lose their shit, which is a lot of fun. Recording on the other hand felt a bit like a necessary evil in the beginning. Something I didn’t particularly enjoy. That completely turned around with the recording of ’Nude Casino’. It was a real inspiring process and we had a lot of fun in the studio, making a more layered, high end production than we we’ve made so far. Still, I think live is where it’s at and we’ll keep trying to do that better than an album could ever be.

Nude Casino sounds like a slightly more matured and polished sound compared to 2017’s The First Stirrings of Hideous Insect Life. Has the growth been natural to you?

Pretty much, slthough we made some conscious changes in our sound. We cut back on the surf guitar and made a more hi-fi recording. There are also a lot of keys on the record. That wasn’t planned but the studio was filled with all these classic organs and synths so we had some fun with them. We ended up using Rhodes, Hammond, Jupiter, Vox Continental and even a vibraphone, hence the fifth Iguana, Jimmy.

Nude Casino flaunts subtle hints of country, especially in the opening track. What have you guys been listening to as of late?

Almost everything but country to be honest! I found a Japanese disco compilation I’m really into called Pacific Breeze and I also fell in love with Kamasi Washington. That ‘Heaven & Earth’ album is all I want to hear right now. Other artists that we’ve been listening to lately are: DAF, Isaac Hayes, Purple Mountains, Tangerine Dream, Duds, The Congo’s, Crack Cloud and Thundercat.

Some tracks on Nude Casino have some fairly dark themes. “Tuesday’s Lament” has themes of mortality in the lyrics, yet sonically it’s still playful and upbeat. Is that contrast a conscious thing you were trying to achieve?

Yes, certainly. Of course subjects like death and mortality are quite gloomy but then again, they’re part of everyday life. I must say that I have an almost unhealthy obsession with them and needless to say that can be really depressing, but lately I’ve become way more positive. I find a lot of strength in reading about science, philosophy and spirituality. That’s kind of what ‘Tuesday’s Lament is about. I don’t know what life is good for or what comes next but that uncertainty is enough reason to keep swimming upstream.

Talk to us a bit about the recording process, give us all the details.

The recording process was a really intense period of three months in which we wrote almost all the music and lyrics. It was so nice to be able to go in full focus this time. We recorded all the base tracks at Duct Tape studio in Rotterdam, an awesome DIY studio run by a nutty professor that goes by the name of Dude Niek. The guy learned how to record music before he could speak. His studio is like a cabinet of curiosities filled with beautiful amps, tape recorders, space echo’s but also a lot of broken, half working, glued together gear. But the Dudeman finds a purpose for everything and thus creates some really unique recordings. The vocals, keys and mixing with did with Marcel Fakkers from PAF! Studio. Stepping into PAF! Studio is like stepping into a time warp to the sixties. It’s filled with classic keyboards and organs as well. They became really important for the sound of Nude Casino.

With the release on the horizon, what does the future hold for Iguana Death Cult?

Personally I just want to play, see the world and much as we can and make as many records as we can.

Check out the video for Bright Lights below. Keep up to date with Iguana Death Cult on Facebook here.

Nathan McLaren-StewartComment