I first saw Halloween Swim Team perform at their residence at Vermont House where parties, kitties, beer, and live music galore was the theme.
As far as any bands out there that are purely synth, Dustin M. Krapes (vocals, synthesizer, tom drum, beats), Jon Navarro (synths, vocals, cymbal), and Scott Carillo (synths, vocals, and cymbals) have developed a way of writing and performing songs where three analog synthesizers talk to one another without stepping on each other’s toes. Dustin’s vocals ride on top of it all—verbally expressing the non-verbal analog conversation amongst the trio.
Now the band is preparing for the third and final release of their ANTENNAAA EP trilogy.
I met up with Halloween Swim Team at Echo Curio where they played at Michael Nhat’s release show for Swimming to Cambodia.
HST will soon be releasing the third EP in their three EP series. Called ANTENNAAA.iii, it’s out September 25 at Echo Curio with 60 Watt Kid and Laco$te.
Where are you guys originally from?
Dustin: We all used to live in Upland, California, and in the Inland Empire.
They used to have some crazy half-pipe in Upland.
Dustin: Yeah, Pipeline. I used to have a Pipeline poster.
Who used to live at Vermont House?
Dustin: Scott moved out in the beginning of November 2009 and I moved out in December. We had recorded a lot of the album there and then finished it up in Upland.
How do you usually write songs because you aren’t a typical band set up?
Dustin: Sometimes, I’ll come up with a beat on my computer and I’ll make a little riff. I’ll bring it to the band and we’ll jam on that. Most things come from jamming or recording and writing as we go along.
How different was the writing process on ANTENNAAA than in previous recordings?
Dustin: We would record our practice sessions and set up a mic in the room and we would formulate the songs that way where as the last album we recorded it as it was being written.
Jon: These songs are more jammy I guess.
Dustin: We would play a beat non-stop for an hour or half an hour until everyone came up with a part—we didn’t do that with the last recordings.
Now that van in the back of the Vermont House was your tour van. Why did you choose to paint it from those crazy creatures to a standard color?
Scott: I tried to paint it.
Dustin: I didn’t like how it looked too goofy; it looked like a target and stuck out too much—which is kind of cool.
Jon: It was good for a while.
I know traveling with keyboards things can go wrong…
Scott: Everything eventually goes.
Dustin: Mine in particular; I don’t even have a case for it right now. The knobs have been damaged—I’ve noticed that one of the knobs doesn’t quite work perfect all the time. So there will be critical parts where I need to switch over to something and I’ll just get noise so I’ll have to eventually fix it somehow.
I have this Halloween Swim Team sticker that has a fluffy orange cat sitting on an old synth—that’s Dustin’s cat right—is she still around?
Dustin: Yeah she’s staying in Upland right now at some friend’s house.
What’s her name?
She had kittens—did they go to anyone in particular?
Dustin: A lot of friends got a kitten and some of them have disappeared I heard. She had two litters. I gave them to people at the Vermont House parties who were down for a cat right then and there.
Jon: We made sure they were a good person though.
Scott: Yeah, we carefully screened each one of them to make sure they were responsible.
I ask because Margot Padilla (I.E.) and Angie Meng just made a funny video called “Kicking Out Cal” with their fluffy orange cat, Calvester, which made me wonder if they were related at all.
Dustin: Oh really, I don’t think we gave her one.
Scott: We would have though.
As far as the ANTENNAAA EPs—.i, .ii, and .iii—did you separate them for a specific reason.
Dustin: We recorded ANTENNAAA which is the full length album. ANTENNAAA .i, .ii, & .iii are EPs with a couple tracks from the album and they have bonus tracks, remixes, live recordings, collaborations or other studio experiments. This was a way for us to get some of the bonus material out and they are limited edition so they are a special thing.
I really like that song “Movies” from the last recording—how is ANTENNAAA different from your previous recordings?
Dustin: I went about recording the vocals a lot differently. I wrote them having decided to adopt the impression that I was transcribing transmissions sent to me from some entity deep in space. I tried to let the words come to me—then I had to organize them into the songs; the lyrics are a product of working with that idea. The lyrics themselves are a bit more alienating in comparison to the lyrics on the last album.
What is your personal workhorse right now as far as instruments?
Jon: I go through moods with different equipment. I’ll play with one for a long time—right now I’m all about my Juno.
Scott: I play the Novation I think it’s a 160 but it’s got paint all over it though.
Dustin: I use a Prophet 600 and a little tape player and a megaphone.
Do you write off the drum machine?
Dustin: Yeah, sometimes we write a song and I’ll just play tom drum and—
Geoff Geis (of Pizza!): [Walking by] Holla!
Dustin: —they’ll come up with something. And once they’re coming up with stuff I’ll start messing with the actual beat.
Going back to the first song you guys wrote together back in the day—what do you think of it now?
Dustin: It’s quite silly.
Jon: It was a rap song.
Scott: The beat is still bumpin’ though.
So where do you want to go from here after finishing ANTENNAAA?
Dustin: We haven’t laid out a plan. I feel we may get a drummer. Honestly I don’t know but I want to do more jamming.
For tacos, when you get the urge for one, what first comes to mind?
Dustin: In the I.E. there is place called Patty’s in Claremont they have the best potato tacos. Sometimes it’s hard to find a good potato taco.
And don’t miss Halloween Swim Team tonight…
Sean Carnage presents
with the comedy stylings of Peter Moran
+ DJ Kyle Mabson & DJ JCiocci2000 (of Paperrad)
Starts 9:30pm / $5 / all-ages
Pehrspace—325 Glendale Blvd., in Historic Filipinotown