Infiltrating The Mechanism : Digging through the bricks and bones of Luscious Apparatus

Out of Portland, Oregon comes Luscious Apparatus. Founded as a studio project by Jack Norton in the great plague of 2020 he picked up Sandi Leeper, Daniel Henderson and Catherine Hukle and off they went! Their debut single “Infiltrate” found its way to my ears a while back when I requested new music I should be aware of and it has haunted my mind ever since. Of course then, I was quite excited to learn a second single was on the way. So much so, that rather than simply including the single in a compilation review I wanted to use the opportunity to help out this new great act and let them speak.

Below you will find a review of the second single “Bricks & Bones” along with an interview with the band, enjoy!

The Review:

The song kicks off with plucked, effect laden guitars that carries an air of nostalgia and melancholy. Sublte synths creep in along with pounding dramatic drums, heralding the coming of something or other. Sandis vocals are the perfect mixture of determined yet soft, like an iron fist in a velvet glove. Quickly were in the midst of it all with serpentine guitars slithering through, waltzing with synths and pads melted together perfectly to create something that for whatever reason I keep wanting to describe as seductive. Both singles released so far have quite a cinematic feel to them in terms of sound as well as structure. Theres a drama and the feeling of a story being told through sound. If one day Luscious Apparatus ends up with a song or two featured in a movie my only reaction will be “About time”. With only two songs available they sure know how to leave you wanting more and their short output carries such vast amounts of potential and intigue that we can do nothing but foam at the mouth like the starved beasts we are as we await the next feast.

Luscious Apparatus – Bricks & Bones
Jack Norton – Synths

Why don`t we start off with introducing the readers to the band, who are Luscious Apparatus and what brought you all together?

Luscious Apparatus are Jack, Sandi, Cate, & Daniel – that’s also the chronology that each member joined the band. It was a studio project until 2020 – that’s when Jack floated a bunch of demos by Sandi, and she happened to like them. She cut them up, then rearranged them to fit her lyrics, added some instrumentation, and just like that they sounded like real songs. Finding Cate was pure luck; Jack ran a Craigslist ad for a shoegaze guitarist just as Cate was getting ready to move from Seattle back to Portland, and as it happened, she was looking for a band to play in. For the record, that shoegaze influence, those walls of sound are deliberate – this wouldn’t be the same band without them. Daniel was the last to join – not from lack of interest, but because of his own musical commitments, and COVID. Daniel (under his solo project Newphasemusic) had just released The Precedents of the United States of America, and Jack did a Luscious Apparatus remix of “So Much to Lose.” Shortly after that, Daniel joined Luscious Apparatus as the drummer.

Daniel Henderson – Drums

Luscious Apparatus as a term seems quite fitting with the singles released thus far, what were the ideas and thoughts that lead to choosing the name?

I love that the name sounds intentional, and we’re 100% happy with the way it fits our sound. Obviously, it’s a direct reference to Alan Wilder of Depeche Mode, and his other band, Recoil. The truth is, though, the name for the band was picked many years ago when Jack was working as a part-time promoter in Dallas. As the story goes, Jack was known at the time for throwing extravagant scene parties in his downtown eighth-floor loft apartment. One of the smaller parties was for his birthday, and involved a close friend who was a DJ, and some undisclosed quantity of psychedelic substances. At some point the Recoil song, Luscious Apparatus, was played, and the story of Carla, Jack, and their doomed relationship at the mayonnaise factory was permanently imprinted in Jack’s subconscious. At that moment, Jack decided if he ever formed a band, it would be named Luscious Apparatus.

The song notes for Brick & Bones talk about a woman and her journey to control her rage. Something about the overall concept of the song instantly reminded me of Jungian psychoanalasys ideas like Shadow work, particularly the idea that one must control and integrate certain parts of oneself to avoid its negative affects. Is the song based pure fiction or is there any real life events or perhaps even experiences that served as inspiration?

Sandi Leeper – Vocals

I haven’t studied enough of Jung’s work, so I don’t think I can really speak on that. Perhaps it’s less like integrating that stuff and more like accepting that it’s there and learning how to work around it. I don’t know if that still counts as shadow work or not. It’s not fiction, it’s about a lovely feature of certain mental disorders/neurodiverse tendencies that triggers outbursts and meltdowns. It’s almost like a form of seizure, where something gets tripped and the neurons start firing rapidly, causing emotional dysregulation and loss of control. It’s an embarrassing symptom to have, and it’s kind of like how a bite from a baby rattlesnake is far more deadly than one from an adult because they have not yet learned how to regulate the amount of venom released. (That’s why I wore a snake shirt in the photos, teehee.) The song is about disclosing the fact that this problem is there, for one. That second verse is about recognizing the signs and offer/suggest something to literally cool the head before the wire trips to maintain control of the self to thwart burning bridges and destroying interpersonal relationships, job status, a stable home, scaring the cats, etc. I mean, I personally wouldn’t burn any places down but everybody’s different.

What`s the creative process like? Is there a dedicated writer or composer that brings the first few building blocks?

Because of COVID, and the challenges brought about by the lockdown, we’ve had to develop a brand-new creative process from scratch. Typically, someone will create a demo (we have stacks of material waiting to be mined), and that demo is turned over to Sandi, who will arrange it to fit her lyrics. Often a demo will incorporate all instruments, sometimes made by chopping up samples and rebuilding them in a studio environment. From there, everyone is responsible for developing their own parts – Jack with synths and programming, Sandi with VOX, bass, and additional synths, Cate with guitars, and Daniel with drums. As we build the parts, we’re reimagining them with own textures and flavors. When the song is reassembled, it still sounds like the demo, but it is uniquely ours, as a group. And it’s all done remotely – we’ve only recently started getting together, in the same room at the same time, and that’s in preparation for our live shows.

Personally I loved your debut single Infiltrate, how do you feel it`s been received overall?

We’re very excited by the warm reception Infiltrate has seen. It has taken off and has been played internationally in clubs and on Internet playlists. I think there is a natural crossover between electronic music and shoegaze, and the response we’ve seen from casual listeners and industry insiders seems to bear that out.

Catherine Hukle – Guitar

Are there any plans for an album or EP, when might we see something like that?

Yes! We do have plans to release an EP, probably later this summer. We had hoped to get it out there before our live shows in July, but it just takes us longer to perfect our recordings.

Youre scheduled to play the Coffin Cub in Portland with Curse Mackey as well as the Star Theater, whats the live scene like where you are and especially now in these plague days? Have you been able to get out and play much at all?

The live music scene is alive and well in Portland!

Now, is COVID still a threat? Absolutely! But I think we’re all feeling like we’ve done everything we can to minimize its effect – vaccinations, boosters, and masks. And for better or worse there is some degree of fatigue associated with COVID. We’ve seen close friends come down with it, even though they’re vaxxed and boosted, so it’s not over. But for those who are vaxxed and boosted, it feels like – at least anecdotally – their symptoms are not as severe. 
As far as Luscious Apparatus live performances, we have two scheduled for July. The first is July 2nd at the Coffin Club, with Curse Mackey and Puerta Negra; it’s also the 10th anniversary party for Songs from Under The Floorboard. The second show is July 24th at The Star Theater, with Stariana (Eugene) and Photona. That’s our entire summer show schedule, as we’ll then retreat into the shadows to finish recording the EP and prepare for more shows in the fall.

Luscious Apparatus

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