What happens when you take members from a handful of veteran Portland bands and forcibly send them on an intergalactic space mission to report back on the happenings of a potential lizard planet with thriving resources? They return as a local supergroup led by the husband and wife duo of Cole Browning and Tammy (Bambi) Barnes, with an irresistible lo-fi dream pop sound, chock full of lilting synthesizers with warm analog tones, skewed by the warbling of a confounded humanoid reel tape recording machine. Now that they’ve been back on their home planet for some number of moon cycles, the Reptaliens, as they call themselves, have given birth to a collection of songs which they’ve titled, Recordings, and that they’re slowly leaking into the world one slithering ear-worm at a time.
In advance of their show at Holocene on 10.23 (enter to win a pair of tickets here!) in which they’re supporting LA duo PAPA, we spoke with the members of Reptaliens about the wide range of talented collaboration on Recordings, some of their favorite pieces of gear that were used on the album, what they’re inspired by, and what otherworldly superpowers they may or may not have.
At the songwriting core Reptaliens is a duo, however your debut album Recordings includes contributions from a myriad of local talent. What does the current live lineup look like?
Cole: The current live band is Bambi, Julien, and Tyler (Lola Buzzkill, Moon By You) and I. Bryson (Fog Father, Bryson Cone), who used to play live with us, still records everything with us. He’s the fifth Reptalien! We’ve recorded with Casey of Minden, Cat Hoch, Lawton of Woolen Men, Haven of Kyle Craft and the Sad Boys, and Eric of Wampire. Chogg from Fur Coats has helped us with recording stuff too and Bethany from the Fur Coats also has played some sax with us live.
Bambi: Tim Hart helped us engineer and track the record too.
You’ve all played in stellar local bands previously. How, if at all, have those previous experiences played into your current sound?
Cole: Those experiences have played a lot into our lives but not our sound so much. I don’t think we really sound like any of our past bands.
Tyler: with so much variety in music we can take everything we’ve learned and apply it. Listening is the biggest thing.
Bambi: It definitely makes me a better listener and communicator.
How is it writing and playing music with a spouse?
Bambi: It’s great to be able to create with your spouse/best friend. Song writing with others can be a vulnerable, naked experience and it’s much easier to be naked with your husband.
Cole: It’s great too because we are always around each other so we can work way more often and whenever we feel like doing Reptaliens stuff.
What are some favorite pieces of gear used on the album?
Cole: Bryson slapping the reel to reel to make tape delay happen. Bryson’s field tapes from some market in Africa. I also like to use this janky old karaoke machine for almost everything. We used some wind chimes that we recorded on our phone from the Japanese Gardens too.
Julien: The Nashville tuning acoustic guitar at the Fur Coats house was real nice.
Bambi: Tim has some super nice microphone that he built that was really fun to sing into.
What are some things you’re currently inspired by, musically or otherwise?
Bambi: Mostly sci-fi books and movies, as well as becoming temporarily obsessed with different concepts: stalking, death, comas, cult leaders, Ubik, FM 2030 and rebirth after being cryo-frozen, other-planets that don’t exist…or do they? I have a drawing I wish I could put here.
Cole: Spas mostly. The olive boy. All of our friends doing tight shit.
Ben (Kyle Craft and the Sad Boys): pasta; Olive Garden
If you could have one otherworldly super power, what would it be and why
Bambi: making someone think their naked but their not OR the power to have packaging disappear when my hand touches it i.e. candy bars OR the power to turn cash into candy bars; OR the power to control the radio at the supermarket and only play What a Fool Believes by Michael McDonald
Cole: To be as good at snowboarding as Tyler!