Thursday, March 26, 2009

Tobias Rochman's NEW BAND FEATURE NO. 1 - GRAFFITI ISLAND (London, England)

London, England's GRAFFITI ISLAND are project comprised of only a minimal rhythm section and dead pan vocals. The dry vocal delivery gets compared to BEAT HAPPENING but what makes it more engaging and unique is the general spookiness you wouldn't find in Olympia, WA. The results are stark sounding, detached, lo-fi and possessed garage. I don't want to play up the macabre element too much and have you expect something that's depressing and miserable. It's important to remember it's also got clever phrasing and you can tap your toe to it. Currently they've only released one now sold-out 3-way split cassette w. Male Bonding and Pens. But they have pre-orders up for a 7 inch on House Anxiety records and also a 4 way split 7 inch with Male Bonding, Old Blood and Rapid Youth. They are following these two releases up soon after with another 4 way split 7inch w. Pens, Dum Dum Girls and Crocodiles. I spoke with bass player Conan Roberts briefly by email this week and here are the results:

It seems like you're doing a lot of 3 and 4 way splits, why is that? Economics? Togetherness?
I stumbled upon a whole bunch of blank cassettes for free so it seemed like a good idea to do a split release with our friends bands Male Bonding and Pens. I love the whole split thing, especially when it spans countries and continents, it really creates a fun unifying feel between bands and scenes i think. The US has always had a great history of underground music, England not so much so, so its awesome that labels and bands in the US are now connecting with bands here and giving them some much needed exposure overseas.

What is happening in London right now with regards to new music from the underground?

I've only lived in London for 4 years and its only been the past 12 months maybe that I have seen anything remotely interesting happening with underground music. There were a couple of great bands here and there but never enough bands or interest to really make fun things happen like great shows or cool labels.

I feel like London still heavily looks to and relys on whats going on in the US to determine whats happening here. Especially with underground stuff. A venue will be sold out if someone like Wavves or Vivian Girls come over but when London bands play who in my opinion are equally on a par with those bands its half full. Its a shame, people don't seem to want to get behind and support homegrown bands. I think its a lot harder for English bands to get the exposure in this scene.

But not wanting to be totally down on stuff, there are some amazing new bands in London now who are trying to change this, Pens, Male Bonding, Hype Williams, Thee Pharohs are all amazing bands doing really exciting stuff now.

Does Graffiti Island actively tour?

We're currently trying to organize a US tour with pens so fingers crossed that will be sometime round August.

How do you think a single unified new world government with one currency/flag/agenda could be marketed effectively and accepted with open arms?
I think a lot of people believe that we are already ruled by one new world government, the United Nations. I'm reading a book right now called 'behold a pale horse' which deals with all this stuff. Its really hard to form a definitive judgement on this stuff i think as theres constantly new info to read and digest and my opinion seems to fluctuate with each new piece of info.


  1. I'm a fan of the split 7" when it's a perfect pairing of two rad bands at their best. But a band this good deserves their own solo slab, I think. Once these splits get gobbled up and become eBay grails, won't a shrewd band swoop up on 'em, please?! Surely, Graffiti Island were one of my favorite discoveries last year, slotting so perfectly into my playlist between Oh Sees at their darkest and most lilting and Russian Tsarlag. Seriously loving it!

  2. I totally agree 100%. You nailed it.

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