Massaging Ear Holes

12 April 2012 | 3:31 pm | Cam Findlay

Boasts of a "stainbow" and "seizure-inducing lights" is to be expected from an outfit that delivered the Acid Chess EP. And now, Usurper Of Modern Medicine’s Cam George promises a "buckwild" live show.

Usurper Of Modern Medicine are just one of those bands – and admittedly, there have been a few lately – that more or less shocked both pundits and fans alike when they unleashed their explosive and intense take on experimental music. Utilizing deep, rolling basslines, crunched-yet-eminent keywork, distorted vocals and a cavalcade of drums, they enamoured many, playing strings of gigs at the smaller venues around town. And then Acid Chess came out. Their second EP, if you include the hastily put-together Dental Plan teaser, launched Usurper into the international spotlight, leading to a bunch of gigs in New Zealand, Japan and beyond, as well as support slots with the likes of Seekae and Holy Fuck. Now, as they ride the cusp, the three-piece are about to unload their second proper studio-based EP, the appropriately named Turbo Handshake.

It could be a bit of a stretch to believe that the trio have found so much success with their live shows after starting out as a purely studio-based project, involving nothing more than MSP processing and sampling. But, as keyboard whizzkid Cam George explains, the band's decision to take to the stage was no-brainer. “Our decision to take our music to a live setting was inevitable, more than anything,” George begins. “We all love watching, playing and being involved in live music, and have been in many other bands and roles for many years. The time when the band is referred to as a studio-based project in retrospect was us finding our feet. Playing live shows wasn't at the forefront of our mind because we weren't quite sure how it was possible to play the material in a live setting.”

Since those initial stages, Usurper have had to find time to develop their sound amidst some ridiculous timetables; each member of the band splitting themselves between Usurper and other musical projects, as well as full-time jobs. “If you want something done, ask a busy man,” George touts when asked how they found time to record Turbo Handshake. “It was recorded after our Japan tour last year. It was pretty easy to find the time, after feeling so fresh and inspired by the artists and places we saw. That being said, I value both the other guys' work, especially Steve [Aaron-Hughes]'s relentless enthusiasm to getting shit done.”

George is also clear on how their time touring, working and generally experimenting with new sounds has shaped Turbo Handshake as a different beast altogether from Acid Chess. “Sonically, I think you'll here more vocal processing, re-sampling, and a more physical presence from the rhythm section [on Turbo Handshake],” he details. “It's not that we have created a new formula to write music exactly, but rather a way to feel comfortable without any formulas. The first and final songs were written in Japan for a Headphone party, and then it became a process of fleshing it out with other organic live instruments.”

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While they're still on that wave, the trio are returning home to play a list of shows to their strongest fanbase, hoping the experience will refresh them and give them the confidence to move on. “Our technical approach to a live show has been modified recently and so you can expect a lot more freedom and swagger in our groove,” George explains. “We're also including a 'stainbow' of projections that interact with the live audio, a seizure-inducing lights show and some buckwild sound walls rolling through, massaging ear holes.”