Awkward Terrible is a band that is hard to forget. The beginning of their Facebook description accurately says, “This is as quiet as I get. I can get louder if you want me to.” The first time I saw them live, I thought that my earlobes might explode (in the best way possible). The band is comprised of Sam Seiger (drums, vocals), Sam Gehrke (bass) and Chris Kowall (guitar, vocals, synth, LSDJ). I sat down with the guys to talk about their unique style of music and their upcoming projects.
Could you give us a little background on how Awkward Terrible formed and evolved?
CK: Sam S. and I have been in bands together since middle school, when they were in a Sex Pistols cover band. We played together as a two piece band starting in 2009, and have officially been called Awkward Terrible for four-ish years. Just in the last few months we added Sam Gehrke as a bass player.
Where does the band name originate from?
CK: The band was originally called The Munitionettes. We picked that name with very little thought in high school, and quickly realized no one could say it or spell it. We changed the name in 2011 prior to the release of our album “I Feel Asleep.” We joked about how we didn’t like the name The Munitionettes, and joking turned into a real conversation where we decided to just change the name and get it over with. Awkward Terrible was originally a joke name, but it turned out we both thought it was the greatest (or worst?) band name ever. So it stuck.
How would you describe your band to somebody who has never listened to your music before?
CK: That’s rough.
SG: Dance, punky gameboy vibes.
SS: A little bit mathy sometimes?
CK: Yeah, I guess so. Scoobycore weed rap.
SS: I always say like… supernatural 8-bit dance. But technically it’s called chiptune.
SG: Maybe we should explain what chiptune is?
CK: Basically chiptune is a genre of music that uses hardware from the 80s – gameboys, NESs, Commodore 64, sounds from older retro video games.
SS: People always think we’re just sampling Tetris or some shit, which isn’t what it is. Literally we’re using programs where you can write music with those 8 bit or 16 bit sounds. The program we use the most called LSDJ (Little Sound DJ).
Which bands, artists, video games, etc. are your biggest influences?
CK: Infinity Shred and Anamanaguchi are two of the best chiptune bands, and both huge influences that introduced us to the genre. Crystal Castles, J Pop, Be Your Own Pet, Death From Above 1979, Sleigh Bells, R Kelly. Hello Kitty. Scott Pilgrim. Pokemon; we’re all in to Pokemon. Tumblr. The movie Heathers.
What is your process of writing a song?
SS: Basically Chris does everything. We help him out towards the end, but he does most of the heavy lifting. He’s the one who works all the magic with the chiptune stuff too – He was the one who originally wanted to take the band in that direction back in high school, and learned how to use LSDJ and write songs that way. Although we usually split lyrics 50/50.
Although your music can sound very perky and upbeat, your lyrics are often dark and pessimistic. Is that paradox intended or does it just happen that way?
CK: It’s intended.
SG: Why would you use the word perky?
CK: Yeah, most of our music is dark and minor key. It’s weird to write in a major key.
SS: The happier sounding sounds are usually older songs. As we keep going things get darker. I think the spookiness is just part of our attitude. It’s fun to write about ghosts and blood and stuff.
You guys released your first full length album in June of 2011 and released a split record with The Glowing Stars in early 2012. Is there any new music on the horizon? Especially with the addition of a band member?
CK: Of course. This year we’ll be releasing something, probably by the end of summer.
SS: We were just making plans for this before we started the interview.
CK: We actually released a remix recently that we did for some friends, a band called Crashfaster from San Francisco. The song is called Beacon, and the single release included remixes from us and a few other groups. It’s here for people to check out: http://crashfaster.bandcamp.com/track/beacon-awkward-terrible-remix
Who does all of the band’s design work? It’s great. Love the neon!
SS: Aw, thanks! I do all of the design.
If you had to describe your band in one word, what would it be?
SS: Oh no.