You are probably wondering how this duo of gothic steampunk gentlemen from Seattle lugged their unusual instruments all the way to Moonshine, and how we found them in the first place. The answer to your first question isn’t that complex. They drove 17 hours. The story that answers the second question is one of magic and mystery, much like the unusual electric-gypsy-punk-meets-folk sound these guys create.
With a gentle nod to our matchmakers at XO Publicity, managers of Tiny Porch artists-turned-Moonshine-friends The Rainbow Girls and Willy Tea Taylor, we found ourselves in touch with The Peculiar Pretzelmen (Kevin Incroyable and Deacon Marrquin), who were on the way to Truckee to play a show at Alibi on March 7. Once we heard their sound, we fell in love with their creative artistry and had to have them on the porch for a concert.
The two laid their beautiful circle rug down on our Tiny Porch and then laid down some tunes, and we repaid the favor by testing their limits: pitting Kevin against the biggest snowbank he’d ever seen and trapping Deacon in our (creepy) basement for a little creative B-roll footage. And what we found was that these guys are up for anything. We just had to know more, so we sat down to figure out what makes them tick. What follows is the story of how these two career musicians found each other, evolved their sound, and continue to make music that pushes the envelope.
Le‘a Gleason: I’d like to know who the Pretzelmen are and why they are so refreshingly far from normal?
Kevin Incroyable: Deacon and I had played in bands for a long time in Los Angeles and that’s how we met. We were together all the time at the same clubs but playing with different bands. Everybody was doing what they were doing in Hollywood to make their mark, and when you’re playing with all those people all the time it starts to feel like really clean shapes. Eventually I was like ‘hey, let’s do something that has nothing to do with any of this stuff at all,’ and [Deacon] goes ‘okay, I’ll be right over.’
What is your relationship to each other like now?
We never speak. We have been doing this for SO long. And we’ve had people that travel with us get very concerned, because we legitimately will not talk to each other for hours and hours. People ask if we’re mad at each other and we’ll always tell them ‘yes we’re super mad at each other and I don’t know if the band’s gonna make it until tomorrow’ (laughs). I think we’re comin’ up on 13 years.
I notice your sound has changed over this period of time.
If you do it for a long time you will become very thirsty for something that’s not already out there. We will work on a certain kind of sound and certain style of stuff and ride it out until it’s like ‘okay that exists now’ … and then we’ll move it around.
[It’s like] if you’re a painter and one day … you paint on a brick wall or rock face and it’s exciting. As you endeavor to conquer whatever the obstacles are between you and this new avenue, then you become inspired to try different stuff. That starts to inform the kind of stories that you wanna tell and the way you wanna tell those stories.
Do you have a philosophy behind your music, and is that connected to your sound?
[There’s] been a consistent philosophy in how we create the music that we create, and that attitude is that I want to tell stories — that’s important. But sonically I really want to push past the front of your brain and go way back to a part that doesn’t get touched very much. I wanna shake people a little bit so that something’s buzzing in a way that maybe hasn’t been or certainly hasn’t in a while, and just cause you to stop paying attention to the stuff that’s been weighing you down all day.
It’s a very big part of what we do. That’s why we like to use sounds people don’t recognize. That’s why we like to use a bunch of gear that when people look at the stage, they say, ‘I don’t know what’s going to happen’. We’re already trying to soften that part of your brain so that when we start playing we can poke it, and I want you to freak out and kind of lose some things for a while and then put it back together later.
Is your sound different now that you’re based in Seattle?
After living in Los Angeles for so long, I now have the luxury of living in a place that’s a little quieter. I have a little yard, and now after all these years chipping away, we have a legit studio that belongs to us so when we wanna work we have more time. The last couple of records really felt like trying to catch an animal. You get in a box and there it is! But now we’re really able to grow a thing and manicure it. To curate something.
Getting here from Seattle was a tough 17 hours on the road — as career musicians, what keeps you doing this?
The reality is that I don’t know how to function without going and playing music. It’s all about storytelling and … I want to tell those stories to a bunch of different people and also, I wanna go meet all these people. And I want to learn more stories, think about more stories, and the broader my world view gets, the easier it is to break those stories down into what I like to think of as being ‘cave painting.’
This is our experience. Some of it’s just travel and some of it’s life, but I think of art in general as being cave paintings for the future. We’re basically trying to commit an expressionistic representation of the experience that we have in life in the world right now, and that includes where we’re at with the climate, politics, and growing up and being an adult and having a family. All that stuff is all part of it. If I can put my experience into an enjoyable presentation, hopefully it’ll linger enough that it’ll be useful to someone either sooner or later.