Siamese Release Self-Titled EP

This EP doesn’t begin, it detonates. As we all know, music can be medicinal in a way. There’s beauty to be excavated from the ugly, there’s strength that flexes out of tumult, edified balance comes after passing turbulence. What Detroit area quartet Siamese demonstrate this week, with their self-titled EP, is that the whole physical amalgamation of music, from the intangible sounds to the irresistible movement into a dance pattern, from the pure catharsis of vocal intonations-as-personal-demon-exorcism and the occasionally-overlooked soul-renewal of camaraderie between players can be angry and gorgeous at the same time… dark but restorative.

Now, new wave could be romantic, but maybe too mushy; post-punk could be compelling in its agitated frenzies, but maybe too caustic, and mingling metal and pop seems like an interesting idea, but should be treated as a garnish, not a principal. And so, what if you took those three, measured distill them and commingle there cores, dash in energizing danceability, swoops of electronica’s ultraviolet allure and indie-rock’s angular growl and kinetic-cool, and then… well, there you have Siamese. The humans behind it gave this electro-punk potion its needed urgency, its tension, its release.

On this EP, there are moments that fly, launch and lash out, there are moments that just dance, moments that brood and moments that just breathe. There are moments where things are broken with these crashing crescendos and others, lyrically, where it’s all put back together again.  So maybe you’re going through some rougher patches right now? Channel that energy. You can stay pissed if you want, but maybe just start wringing it out with some dance moves.

Siamese got started about two years ago, with each member having not only proven their capabilities at each respective instrument, but each already sufficiently had their feet wet in the scene pond by way of tenures in other bands and projects. Jo Champagne is on lead vocals and keys, Joe Sausser plays bass, Angie Kaiser’s on drums and Steve Thoel plays lead guitar.

This Saturday, Siamese release their EP at the Loving Touch, with Tart, Belterra, and a debut performance of Wuxia.  Before we get to our interview, check out the band’s new music video for lead single “White Jacket” below:

So, there’s a lot of tension and release, there’s furtive energy that turns and the lyrics chase after racing minds and land with intent to mend broken hearts and there’s some darker excavations of the unconscious… and yet it’s danceable! It’s got its own radiance. So, talk about those sides and whether the name Siamese plays at that sort of mirrored mingling.

Jo Champagne: Our songs are definitely full of tension and release, you got that right. Music is very cathartic for me, and I use it as one of my main outlets for emotions. This EP was written during a rather tense time, and you can sense that in the songs. I didn’t want this to be a downer album, though. We incorporate energizing beats and dancier sounds to balance it out and to be able to have fun. And, letting go can be fun. Sometimes you just have to say “fuck it” and dance. I suppose that’s what this whole EP is about. Everything is crashing down, and I’m just dancing right through it. Fuck it.

And, yes, Siamese can totally mean having two identical and opposite sides of oneself; like having two minds within one person.


Photo by Kim Hoxworth.

Joe, tell us about the EP. What was the recording experience like?

Joe Sausser: Recording was a very smooth process. We had everything written and pretty well nailed down before we started, so I think we tracked drums and most of my parts in a day. Zach Shipps (of Arc Pelt) is an actual Wizard and was able to take our nebulous adjectives for how we wanted things to sound, and then just nod and dial it in. He helped us polish a few rough edges, and find alternatives to parts that just weren’t working how we wanted them to. Really can’t say enough good things about recording with (Shipps).

Joe, you were a guitarist before this band, but picked up bass for it…
Sausser: Yeah, I was the last member to join. I’ve known (Steve Thoel) since I was 15 and have played in bands with him, he’s one of my best friends. I really dove into (bass) for Siamese, and I concentrated on the role of bass in various genres. It’s changed the way I even listen to music; OK Computer is a completely different record to me, now.
What’s the transition like for you, then, into this blend of genres?

Stylistically this band is vastly different from bands I’ve been a part of in the past, and from my other current band (The Savage Seven). Every other project I’ve been in and written for has been somewhere on the punk spectrum. So, it’s been great to dip into some non-punk influences. I don’t have as much knowledge of or influence from 80s music as other members do, so for me, at least initially, it was about learning from other rock bands that I like that have electronic/dance elements (The Killers, M83, Sleigh Bells, Interpol, Radiohead…) But I know that that punk/hardcore aggression is still in there. I mean, the songs are dark and angry to begin with, so driving bass parts fit well with what (Kaiser’s) doing for the drums.
Jo, you were in FUR before this… Talk about taking the lead and becoming a frontwoman.

My parents forced me in to piano lessons in elementary school. I hated it at the time, but was told that one day I would thank them for it, and that was true. I also began doing musical theatre around that time. So as I grew older, music became my main outlet. Pretty much every night I would be at my piano playing and recording things. I tried to learn guitar, but failed miserably at it, so I stick with piano/keyboards. As far as the confidence to be a frontwoman, I had that from musical theater. I’m naturally a very shy person, and for some reason that completely leaves me when I get on stage. I have no explanation for how or why, it just does.
And how’s the scene changed, from your perspective, over the last 6-7 years you’ve been participating?

I’d say the scene has changed some since I began in FUR. Back then, I had joined a band that had already written much of their music. I added some elements, but none of it really felt like ‘me’ so I approach everything I do (in Siamese) completely differently. As far as the scene? I’m enjoying myself more at this point because of this. Everyone here is so supportive of each other. If I have a question or need an honest opinion on something I’m working on, there’s always someone to reach out to. Everyone’s so accepting and I love that. It really feels like most of the musicians around here want each other to succeed… And I especially appreciate that (my band) let me be so honest and raw with what we do. I enjoy them all as humans and as musicians. We really have a good time together, and they’re all so talented. My band is awesome.

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