PHOTOGRAPHY Wanda Martin
WORDS Melissa Louca-Klatsia
If “So laid back, I left with dreaded hair” were a genre, that would be how I would describe TOMORROWS TULIPS’ sound. Their website describes the music as “Bummer-Pop” and makes reference to the “DIY underground”. Combining the experimentalism of post-punk with a nod to “loser-rock” in their lyrical ensemble, “The Tulips” provide a pop-take on the noise of esoterism that bears all the aesthetics of a teen-dream summer. Illuminated by kaleidoscopic patterns throughout the set, we were transported to a mystical LA beachscape full of wonder and perhaps even another dimension as frontman Alex Knost at one point tried to disappear his guitar into the ceiling.
Flashing our camera in their faces in the underground back-stage of the Shacklewell Arms, the band swigged and offered whiskey from a bottle whilst bumming cigarettes. With a huge fan whirling continually in the background and a NO SMOKING sign providing the backdrop, we made ourselves comfortable in the intimate space.
FOXES: [Do you] mind if I’m flashing sometimes in your face?
Alex: Flash away I’m so used to it.
FOXES: Ok, so what was the first gig you attended?
Alex: First ever? Ever… What do you mean like, individually? What’s the… Oh, the first show…
Ford (Archbold): Um, Social Distortion… I was like twelve… in Hawaii.
Alex: What was yours Jennie?
Ford: Oh-ho, she probably has a good one.
Jennifer (Agnew): Greenday. (Laughs)
Alex: Oh what? Really? That’s your first? I thought it would be like, “The Germs”.
Jennifer: Oh yeah, The Germs! (Jennifer would have been too young to attend a Germs gig) …Yeah, I was ten.
FOXES: (To Alex) What was the first one that stood out for you? Can you remember?
Alex: (Head in hands) I’m trying to remember, I want to be accurate… um… the first gig that really stood out for me? I don’t want to say something like yeah right… and then it’s some vital thing that like you know, shaped… err… I remember that my dad took me to go see a Talking Heads cover band. He loved the Talking Heads and I was really young. I think I was like, twelve or ten or something. I think at the time I thought we were going to see Talking Heads and then it was just like, these guys, but it was cool. I remember that one. That stood out.
FOXES: What about the first album that you bought?
Alex: First album I bought? Oh, I have a good one. I was… For some reason like, we went to Washington DC. It’s a mandatory thing, like in grade school. We visited some historic place [that] I don’t remember, but I bought a Django Reinhardt CD - I remember specifically buying that. I remember my parents made me take it back… My parents made me take back a Nirvana CD when Kurt Cobain killed himself and then the substitute I got was Aerosmith. It was so bad.
Ford: …first thing with my own money? That I made or like that my dad…
FOXES: Well you might have stolen the money but…
Ford: Um, I don’t know. I’m trying to… (Thinking) …See that doesn’t count. I downloaded one on iTunes…
Alex: I bet Fordy had a Pompadour and probably a Clash stenciled T-shirt when he was like, nine.
Ford: Probably The Clash for sure which is better than The Stones but…Maybe The Stray Cats actually. Stray Cats.
Alex: Orange County Rockabilly.
Ford: Put that one. (Everyone laughs)
FOXES: Do you remember? (To Jennifer)
Jennifer: I actually do. I bought two cassettes. One was “Licensed to Ill” and the other was “Free Willy: Soundtrack”… yeah, really embarrassing answers.
FOXES: Are you guys reading any books right now?
Ford: I just read John Lydon’s book. It’s pretty cool. Um, “Anger Is an Energy”. It’s pretty good. I actually enjoyed it. He seems like a great guy.
Alex: I read Anaïs Nin. Anais Nin… Anais Nin… Yeah, she had like a, like a sexcapade with... Norman Mailer? …But anyway, she’s this great writer. She wrote a lot of like, seventies erotic shit. But I read this book… it’s called, “The Seduction of the Minotaur” and it’s kind of a hard read. It’s cool, very vivid. It’s nice and uh, Mishima – is a Japanese writer and he wrote this book called, “The Sound of Waves” and it inspired the band, “Pearl Diver” to name their band Pear Diver. I didn’t know that but it’s about this island off Japan…It’s really cool. [The writer] committed suicide like total Japanese style like (makes sword-stabbing action to the chest) after he wrote his masterpiece at 45 years old. But apparently he’s written plays. I wish I could remember his name. It’s Yukio? I’m going to sound racist but Japanese names are really hard to remember. It takes place in this village and this guy’s a fisherman and it’s like a rumour mill… all these people that never leave the island. It’s pretty psychedelic. I recommend it.
Jennifer: I just stopped reading “Transformer” – The Lou Reed biography by Victor Bockris. It’s really good. They all stole it from me in the van. It was really good. I like biographies.
FOXES: What would be your superhero power?
Jennifer: Flying would be cool. Yeah, I choose that.
Ford: I’d be telepathic.
Alex: Like, a never-ending erection. The ability to really do that…
Jennifer: Well if you take enough Viagra…
FOXES: Alex – You have a side-project with Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth – Can you tell us a little about that please?
Alex: (Signals towards Ford) Ford wrote all the songs. [Kim] came to our shows in New York and she came to play with us once in the desert and then I went to assist her making these Sculptures ‘cause I know how to do shit with surfboard resin so I was making sculptures using resin. We just made an album.
FOXES: What would be your spirit animal?
Ford: Flying Fish. No actually, I’d be a little lamb - a baby lamb… Can I have a smoke?
FOXES: I have tobacco.
Alex: We’re all so tired. I’ve been tired since I was born… We stayed up at this girl’s house... we did MDMA and her friend… what the fuck, she was on coke… She didn’t go to bed and I was trying to go to sleep… It was like, five o’clock in the morning and she was like, “Are you awake? Check out this video of mine!” Like dude, I’m so asleep. I’m like totally asleep it’s not even funny. You’ll meet her. She’s a riot. Oh actually… (Gestures towards my tobacco)
Jennifer: Do you mind if I take a cigarette from you? We’re poor.
FOXES: We’re all poor!
Alex: Why are you guys interviewing us?
FOXES: ‘Cause you guys are great! We love your music.
Alex: Yeah, Yeah…
FOXES: No, it’s true! Is that faux humility? What’s your spirit animal (to Jennifer)?
Jennifer: It’s probably like a sloth or something.
Alex: Do you have a lighter?
FOXES: You’re a surfer!
Alex: Everyone’s a surfer.
FOXES: Music or surfing - which one is your main passion?
Alex: My super-power?
FOXES: No passion – Surfing or music?
(Another person enters the back-stage)
Alex: This is Dominic (Santos) - he does all the projections.
FOXES: Oh that was amazing!
FOXES: What would be scarier to you? – If some chick rocked up with her ex’s name tattooed on her or your name before you had even started dating?
Alex: That’s a real question?
FOXES: What would be more off-putting?
Alex: The question!
Ford: Wait, what was that? Oh that’s interesting. Yeah, my name… Obviously.
FOXES: How about you?
Jennifer: Um, I don’t know. I feel like, actually… Maybe if they had my name unless like, that was their mom’s name too - they had like, the “I love you”.
FOXES: Ford – Tell us about the T-Tops (Side-project with Matt Taylor of the Growlers)
Ford: The best band ever! – That’s all you need to know.
FOXES: Where did the title, “Experimental Jelly” come from? (The title of their second album)
Alex: Too much MDMA.
FOXES: Do you see yourselves as a strictly an LA band or do you plan to take over the world? How do you think your sound translates to a European audience?
Alex: Dismally… Dismal to most audiences - We’re not a very, like, we don’t have a very wide demographic. We’re too quiet - too slow. We don’t suck enough dick.
Jennifer: We don’t suck enough dick?
Alex: We’re not like a popular band.
FOXES: Do you have any festivals lined up this year?
Alex: We’re playing The Paris Psychedelic festival in two days.
FOXES: Lyrics? Who writes?
Alex: Ford and I write the songs.
Ford: Like, what do you mean, words?
Alex: I like it when Ford does it ‘cause I can be the ass-hole, like, take this word out or put this word in… but then if I do it I always leave the shitty words in.
FOXES: Who influenced you? Music-wise?
Alex: Velvet underground. I don’t know. Ford’s dad was a big rockabilly fan. I also love The Eagles. Not so much, like, Hotel California [but more like Lion Eyes.]