Gypsys of Pangea have already made a name for themselves across the inner-city psychedelic circuit as one of Sydney’s most enticing live-acts. However, with the new release of their debut full-length album, Ron Hubble, the promising young trio has proven that their music, often experimental and seemingly spontaneous, also translates effectively to record.
We caught up with frontman Luciano Becher and Lachlan Earl (drums/keys), to discuss their ambitious debut and the man behind the album’s title.
Gypsys of Pangea don’t play to other’s conventions. Fronted by a man who once willingly shaved off his own eyebrows for a laugh, their choice to ignore the so-called “forces of grammar and spelling” when naming the band comes as no surprise. Becher’s explanation is as abstract as one could expect: ““It’s all about symmetry, it’s just one of those cool things you do. It’s like when you go to school you don’t wear your school bag all the way up do you? You let it hang around your ass because you look real cool. It’s kinda like that!”
Following their 2013 EP Limiten Sum, Gypsys of Pangea teamed up with Miles Devine, frontman of fellow Sydney band Raindrop, for the mixing and engineering of this new, full-length release. Recorded on Devine’s tape machine, the album is equally obscure. Opening with a delicate piano melody, Hi is a surprisingly brief and gentle introduction, with a swinging jazz feel, which reveals little about the tone for the rest of the album. Only a minute later, second track Journey With The Dark Dog, takes full shape with frontman Luciano Becher’s raspy croon and Oscar Veliks’ driving bass shifting through the changes with effortless cool.
Curiously, each track is interwoven with minute long snippets of daily life, described through the eyes of a down to earth Aussie bloke, Ron – who the band enthusiastically assures is a real person and, in fact, the true inventor of the power-board.
Luciano: It was actually an Aussie invention, but the poor bastard didn’t have enough money to patent it. Can you imagine!”
The man who eventually became a major source of inspiration for the band, first made himself known to Gypsys of Pangea when drummer Lachlan Earl was busking one night. “He saw my set up and was watching me for ages. I thought he was checking out my keys, but he came up to me after and said, ‘Why have you got it set up like this? You’re obviously getting the wrong current. This should be here, that should be here, and why have you bought this inverter…’ He was critiquing my set up, but told me to come over to his shed and sort me out.”
In return, the band gave Ron a copy of their unreleased demos, only to have him email back the demos with overdubbed vocal harmonies, keyboard parts and basic ideas for a cello, which can now be heard on the final recording.
Luciano: “We were stoked when we found all these and we thought, ‘Fuck it, why don’t we ask him to work on it with us?’ So we did. He was very humble about it though; he didn’t even let us copyright the songs with his name on them. It was like the power-board.”
“Then we were trying to think of a name one afternoon, and what else could we call it. Ron Hubble!”
As for other influences for the album, the Gypsys willingly rattle off a list of bands that have inspired them over the years: Miles Davis, Pink Floyd, Grizzly Bear, Hiatus Coyote, and even authentic gypsies like Django Reinhardt. However they are unwilling to define their own sound, preferring to avoid the concept altogether.
“It’s dumb to try to fit everything into one genre, because if you pick two different bands out of one genre they sound like two different things. So you may as well describe what you’re doing in a way that communicates exactly what you’re doing. It’s like saying we’re all ‘the colour blue’. What the fuck does that mean?” Eventually Luciano concedes, and describes their sound as Blue Fog, an eclectic mixture of blues, progressive rock, jazz and folk.
A passion for the surf culture and music of the 70s also plays a large part in the Gypsys’ sound, though the surfing itself was an acquired taste.
Luciano: “I hated the idea of surfing. It looked shit because water moves so smoothly and naturally, and these dudes where just hacking it to bits. And there are still a lot of lame surfers, that aggressive grommet type that are territorial and have these old worldviews about women and how they shouldn’t surf. I thought it was lame, I still do.”
“But then my mate showed me this movie called Morning Of The Earth. It’s this influential surf movie from the early 70s, and it was amazing. The vintage surfing is all smooth and fluid and beautiful. It just looked right. But on top of that was the soundtrack! G. Wayne Thomas and Tamam Shud – all these amazing bands, and I saw it for the first time in a different light. It was no longer these muscly fuckwits destroying waves for points on a scoreboard, it was a lifestyle. That movie changed it for me.”
However, returning from a five month surfing tour of Central America last year, he realised that relaxed lifestyle is not something he’d aspire to forever.
“People over there live so simply and are happier than most people I know. But the thing I took away from it most was that after five and a half months of just surfing, eating, sleeping, I realised that was not a lifestyle I would ever subscribe to again. There’s so much stuff I want to get done with my privileges as a white person from the western world that I think it would be a waste to sit around and scratch my ass for the rest of my life.”
Following their recent debut, Gypsys of Pangea are keen to keep writing and hinting at a concept album in the near future. But first they are gearing up for an east coast tour.
“The goal is to share our music with as many people as possible. Not so much to ‘make it big’, but just to play to people.”
Gypsys of Pangea are a band that must be approached with an open mind. Their playful manipulation of tempo, humour, and pursuit of a sound unlike any other, makes this an unparalleled debut. And while they admit to creating an album that goes somewhat against the grain, what is at first challenging, soon becomes the most rewarding aspects of the album.
In the end, their altruistic goal of sharing their music to as many people as possible becomes more rewarding to those listening than the those on stage.