Comets on Fire RUUUUULE, and Blue Cathedral is their third album and first for Sub Pop. With their first two full-lengths, (2001’s self-titled/self-released debut and 2002’s Field Recordings from the Sun on Ba Da Bing!) Comets established themselves as flag-bearers of modern psychedelia. Where their previous efforts are full-tilt psychedelic affairs, Blue Cathedral is harder to pin down (the elusiveness of which we heartily support). Here, Comets’ trademark sound is enriched by more structured, keyboard-driven jams, churning Blue Oyster Cult-ish chooglers and slow burners reminiscent of Harvest-era Pink Floyd. They recently opened a string of dates for Sonic Youth and have also played shows with Rocket From The Tombs, Dead Meadow AND Dead Moon, Sunburned Hand of the Man and more. We sat down with Noel Von Harmonson in order to bring THE SCOOP to you, the people.
SUB POP JOAN: Noel! How did you and the Echoplex first meet and fall in love? What was it about The Echoplex’s wiley, sound-bending ways that prompted you to experiment with its many possibilities?
COMETS NOEL: Shit, I gotta stop talking about the echoplex. People are gonna catch on and then EVERYONE’s gonna have one, and all I’ll have is some broke-dick totally abused echo box that sounds like garbage…will I be able to get another one to replace it if I ask Sub Pop nicely?
SPJ: Well, I’m sure that….
CN: No! ‘Cause they’ll all be goooooone….goodbye, echoplex. It’s just a delay pedal, really. It’s really inaccurate that everyone says I play “echoplex”; if that’s all I played, it would be easy, and I wouldn’t have to lug that huge pile of junk I play around to shows. It’s more than one fancy little box. There’s like five other broken (and heavy) pieces of junk in my “rig”. I didn’t play any echoplex on the new record, actually….I found a wider tambrical spectrum by beating two stones together really fast! Super tough—and a lot easier!
SPJ: Wow! Who are some of Comets’ inspirations, percussion-wise?
CN: (speaking for percussionist Utrillo Belcher here): Prolly Mitch Mitchell, BJ Wilson (Procol Harum), and Keith Moon.
SPJ: That rules! If you were legally forced to change your name to one of the following, which would it be? A) Cubes On Ice, B) I Heart Your Ass Face, C) Rev. Deacon Dog & The Jews, or D) JamMaster Toast!
CN: This question must be directed at a criticism about the band name that we get a lot. It goes like this: “Yo, dude, it’s weird ‘cause a comet, like, can’t really be, like, on fire, ‘cause it’s, like, made of ice, you know.” A lot of band names don’t make sense—like Tripping Daisy, for instance! And look where that dude is now!
SPJ: So what you’re saying is that you’re choosing JamMaster Toast. What’s your favorite thing about your new record, Blue Cathedral?
CN: I was pushing to have the title be Blues Cathedral.
SPJ: I’ll see if we can change the packaging with sharpies.