The song “Towers” on Kaz Mirblouk’s newest album, Imitate, Intimidate, which got released on Lolipop Records on August 19 of this year, is a dark, lush, washed-out psych-garage jam. It’s much more filled-out and nuanced than anything on his debut record Through The Glass, which was a more traditional entry into the fuzzed-out garage-rock revival genre, self-released in 2014 and re-released in 2015 on Lolipop Records.
The entire Imitate, Intimidate album is a huge step forward for Mirblouk. This album release kicks off a national tour for Kaz Mirblouk (both the name of the band’s leader and the name of the band itself), which will roll through the Bay Area at The Hole in Oakland on September 16 and The Crepe Place in Santa Cruz on the 17th. The band formed and spent their formative years in Davis, but now Mirblouk has recently relocated to his hometown Los Angeles, after graduating UC Davis. He has big plans for his music.
The Bay Bridged: Tell me about the recording of the album.
Kaz Mirblouk: These songs are all a collection of periods in my life over the past year. Some were written fairly quickly, and others were just ideas that I had for songs that kind of sat in the back of my head for a while. I actually recorded the album in December of last year with Chris Preston and Daniel Yelsits who were in my live band up in Davis at the time! I felt like the album needed one more song, and the night before we were to drive down to Joel Jerome’s studio in Eagle Rock (northeast of LA, near Echo Park) I was sitting in the back of my car late at night and playing around with one chord progression that I had come up with probably 5 months before, but it never materialized into anything until that. My band had about 10 minutes to learn the basic form of the song in our hotel room before heading into the studio to record the song.
TBB: What plans have you got now that you’ve graduated college and are back in LA?
KM: I’m hoping to take a break from what I was studying at school to focus on performing and writing more music. I felt I was doing pretty well for myself doing it part-time as a full-time student who also worked at a concert hall and the radio station in my free time. I want to see what could happen if I tried just music for a while. LA’s harder to break into, from what I’ve gathered from mostly being a person who grew up going to shows all the time around the city. In Davis there’s a different sort of drive to make music — just to make it, perform, and have fun. It’s a lot more DIY in Davis. There aren’t really any real venues for live music, other than the few bars downtown, especially those that would be all ages. Typically, touring bands and locals would play at house parties and at an art collective downtown.
TBB: Does it ever bug musicians that you named the band after yourself?
KM: I wouldn’t say the band is named after me — rather that I am a musician who plays under that name. I have people who back me up in a band form, without whom I would not be able to perform a lot of this music in the form that you hear in the recordings. The reason that I chose to perform under my name originally was part I couldn’t come up with anything, and also part it was just me writing songs in my bedroom. I’ve gotten better at addressing the whole “is the band you or the collective of people who perform behind you?” I can say it has definitely bugged a couple people that I have performed with, but we’ve usually talked it over and had things resolved. Right now I have a new lineup. It includes Joey Kaufman on drums, who was the drummer on the first album, Through the Glass. The newest addition to the lineup is Skyler Garn, who will be playing bass on this tour and potentially into the future as well since we all live in LA. Now that I’m back in LA I hope to play with him more frequently and more permanently.
TBB: For someone in the psych-garage genre, you write pretty long songs.
KM: I’ve never been one to sit down and be like ‘Yah, let’s just write a short little song,’ or ‘Let’s write this huge, complex song with many different parts evolving over 12 minutes.’ It often just develops naturally. My first album came out of a time where I was much more into the fast garage rock/garage pop short-and-sweet songs kind of format and I was playing just as a two-piece band. Up until then we never had a bass player live. It was only because I came up with bass parts for our first EP, and felt it added another layer of completion, did I decide to add another player. When I started writing with a full-band mentality, I realized each song could build and progress to a myriad of different complexity and length in just a single song, which is probably why some songs on this album are considerably longer than what we used to be like.
TBB: Any meaning behind the title: Imitate, intimidate?
KM: The album’s name at its core comes from the idea of the ego. When we’re in social situations, we often subconsciously put on masks which are nothing similar to our true selves. It touches upon how people imitate others in order to feel confident and get a one-up socially instead of being who they truly are. This often results on people being cold and intimidating, to again appear higher on a social scale. The monotony of similarity and convergence and clash of personality is expressed most blatantly on the fifth track, “Faces.” The repetitive nature both in the lyrics and instruments in the song kind of allows the listener to see and a feel a change in mood without there being actual activity. In hindsight the album, both content and feeling, has been a bit of an intense reflective experience with the months following its recording. Which has allowed the title to take on that much more of a meaning.
September 16, 2016