One of the hardest parts of starting a band, besides collecting a bunch of reliable artist types, is coming up with a name. You need something that sticks. Creative. Memorable. That name is what brands your entire career. There have been some crazy band names out there. Some so outrageous it’s probably why the band never took flight. Ubiquitous Synergy Seeker. Pow. What a name! It’s poetic. Magnetic. It has a memorable abbreviation. The only thing more intriguing than the name is their sound. USS’s front man, Ash Buchholz, broke out of his self-contained imaginative space to speak with OCR!
OCR: Neurochemical Warfare Gas Masquerade. Hollow Point Sniper Hyperbole. Visionary Science Patrol. All of these song titles seem like they could be the first line of a poem written by TS Eliot. Can you describe your literary fascinations? Who are some of your favourite writers? What attracts you to their work?
AB: My biggest influence. Once upon a time when I was seven, right before my Dad left, he put up a poster of Garfield wearing those Groucho Marx sunglasses with the fake moustache accompanied by the caption, “If you can’t convince ‘em, confuse ‘em.”
All seriousness aside, upon reflection new neural pathway circuits were absolutely formed in my brain when I was introduced to the hyper-divergent fluxtaposition absurdity of Beck’s early lyrics, Gord Downey’s stream of consciousness thought paintings, and Kurt Cobain’s sincerely cryptic fortune cookies of agony and honesty.
Simultaneously, I can whole heartedly say that my German genetics contribute mammothly to my instinctual penchance to make abstract correlations and by-pass the obvious, like they are hooked right into my dopamine system for survival. Fun!
As well, since I can’t see pictures or colors with my mind I feel like my imagination over compensated and built one of those hamster mazes out of tubing in my brain into little linguistic carwashes and words just get hooked onto a track and sent down, except instead of soap the words are rinsed and scrubbed and come out the other side as similes, metaphors, and portmanteaus. I honestly just sit in the car and listen to Chopin and write diction on old receipts and napkins.
I have never formally read much fiction or studied poetry, but I love reading old medical dictionaries, abnormal psychology textbooks, and I have read almost every self-help book at the library, so I got that going for me…which is nice. My favorite writer is Eckhart Tolle. His books should be the first thing kids read after they learn how to read.
OCR: If you were to create a genre named after your style of music, what would you call it? How does your exploration of different genres define your sound? Do you think mashing different genres together a limitless way to grow as musicians or is it confining because you feel like you need to work within the specific sound you generated?
AB: Every year the Artic Tern makes the longest migration of any bird and travels 11,000 miles from its home in the Artic to its winter home in Antarctica and I like to describe our music as Campfire After-party.
Our band started because I really wanted to hear Nirvana play unplugged with a baroque string quartet on period instruments over dream surf jungle drum n’ bass. So here we are, it’s now again and the experiment remains as undefinable as ever like a chameleon moon walking on a rainbow wearing a blind fold. Which is why I know exactly where we’re going but have no idea where we’re headed.
OCR: The last several years has seen an emergence of young Canadian talent who produce very strong musical entities. What do you think we can attribute this trend to? Do you think the Canadian music landscape is more hospitable for up-and-coming talent?
AB: To be totally honest I don’t know the answer to this question. I have been too busy playing hopscotch between psych wards and silent meditation monasteries and reading self-help books at the library to notice.
Ask me this question again this time next year as I am finally emerging from my cocoon of perpetual self-consumed rocket ship/submarine turbulence. Hi Mom!
OCR: The cover art for “Advanced Basics” reminds me of Tetris and the glory of other retro video games. If you were to challenge each other to an all night retro video game showdown, who would be the crowned the champion? What games would you play?
AB: The cover of Advanced Basics actually represents the molecules of experience and emotion that color your life and the mosaic that ultimately becomes you. And since 1951 when Feranti invented the first official computer game called Nim this also includes the video games you played.
To answer your question, I would probably be champion by proxy since I would be playing by myself cause Jay is friends with every English speaking person on Earth on one social media platform or another and his hands would be too full of his blackberry to hold a controller.
My proxy championship game would be Arknoid or 1943
OCR: What everyday mundane tasks would be better with glow sticks and general neon enhancements?
AB: Bi-hourly yogic handstands
OCR: If you were to create your own outdoor summer concert series, who would be on the bill alongside with you? Who are some artists you want to collaborate with in the future?
AB: Said summer concert series would include The Lady BlackSmith Mambazza, Allosaurus, P’Dubs, B.A Johnston, Derek Paravicini, Hollerado, Girl Talk, Grimes, Weezer, Lyon, Monster Truck and MGMT. DJ Premier and DJ SS would spin at the after party.
OCR: When you are on tour, where do you feel you get the biggest reception? Is there a place you can’t wait to go back to? Do you like playing big venues or small intimate ones?
AB: We actually get remarkably consistent love across all longitudes. From Tofino British Columbia to Oshawa Ontario to Vienna Austria to Halifax Nova Scotia we get the same love Macklemore style. At this point there may be 3,000 at one show and 300 at another but the enthusiasm is unwavering. We feel thankful as F to for the opportunity to be a catalyst for joy and catharsis.
OCR: What’s next for USS?
AB: Where to begin? We want to perform in every city that starts with the letter T. We have a video coming out for our new singleton Yin Yang that is really funny. David Mewa the producer put together an all-star cast and I almost overdosed on endorphins we had so much fun.
Laughing is the aloe vera of the Buddhist universal truth that life is suffering. Old age, sickness, and death…no one can escape suffering. Have you ever noticed the Dali Llama is always laughing? Enlightenment and laughter go hand in hand. It’s no accident that to relax is also expressed as the expression Lighten up. Right? Right!
We are currently on track to fill our passports full of stamps and our bank accounts full of money and fill faces full of smiles and hearts full of joy on every continent on Earth this year.
And most currently we are about to embark on our first arena tour of Canada with Classified and Hedley. Holy vindication Batman, our first show together was in the attic of a tiny pub in Stouffville, Ontario for twenty people. Our next show is at the ACC.
We trust that life will take care of us.
So do the right thing cause the wrong thing sucks!