Local music veterans Spin Cycle Lava light up 4/20 concert

(Photo by Keith Collesides)

The Avalon welcomes a line-up of the area’s freakiest, furthest out rock bands on 4/20. Sure to be a night to (barely) remember, the show is headlined by kings of mountain psych/alt rock Spin Cycle Lava. SCL have been reigning supreme as mystical Palenville ambassadors for nearly three decades, the epitome of cathartic music and personal id purge theater. Shadow Witch, Sonic Blue, Leave it Behind, Icebox Cake, Of The Atlas, Lurking Class and Phantom Sleeze will join the fire-breathing clay man and friends to celebrate the highest of faux-holidays.

ME: How does it feel to still have SCL opening new minds decades into the existence of the band? You are such a pure, trippy, poetic and real source of Hudson Valley rock that transcends trends, hipsters and gentrification. To me, SCL are like Catskill lore embodied in a psychic fireball surge of community love. Eternal hails. 

Carl Peters (guitar): I appreciate people still digging the music and coming out to the few and far between shows. But at the end of the day we are just regular guys that love to make music together.  

Michael Billera (vocals): We thank you for such a kind description of our contribution to the local music scene. 27 years performing together; I guess we do have a little touch of folklore surrounding us. We’re not sure how many new minds we are opening up to band’s sound these days, as we haven’t played a show in a little over a year. Still, you gave us a good laugh in rehearsal while we were reading these questions.  All kidding aside, it has always been a great pleasure of ours to turn on new listeners and see new faces joining us for the first time. That’s what this has always been about.

ME: How does it feel playing this 4/20 show coming up?

MB: We are playing on 4/20 at our favorite local music venue in Catskill, The Avalon – owned and operated by Liam and Laura Singer. The room has two floors with a separate music venue inside and they serve Korean Cuisine. It’s pretty incredible. Most of the bands on the bill are fellow musicians and friends so it should be a great evening. My son Joey, (bass guitar) in the punk band Phantom Sleeze, put together this show. With doors at 4:20 and the first act on at 5:10 it’s gonna be a great day.

ME: What can you tell readers about how it has been recording two fiery new singles? These songs are beautiful, streamlined to the essence of the band but still take you places. Moody, danceable and yet also personal. And we discussed Bowie and The Cult influences. How was it to have the Brian Goss and Daniel Goodwin full circle involvement? What places were you pulling from inside and what was going on with the band during the writing or recording?

MB: We recorded over the last half a year at 3 Academy Studio in Catskill with Brian Goss and SCL bassist Colin Almquist. The process was a lot of fun. We started with just simple bass riffs Colin had recorded on his phone for us. He and Brian began formulating the parts and changes and then added a temporary digital beat to hold the tracks together. This allowed me to walk away with the songs and begin writing lyrics. Our next session reconvened and we tracked the bass and drums and rhythm guitars live. After final guitars and vocals we had the songs put together and reached out to the producer of our full length album Pilot – Daniel Goodwin and asked him if he would mix us down, and he did. The final results are the songs “We’re Even” and “2 Worlds”, releasing this month on 4/20.

ME: As someone who has adapted to many strange situations in this world, how do you know when to get the ego out of the way and let things unfold versus trying to assert a certain creative or performance outcome? Also, are you a fire sign? Lol. 

MB: Stay out of your own way at all times. Listen to your fellow musicians when they have ideas. The chemistry of the band as a whole unit is more important than the individual player by themselves. Also yes, I’m a Leo! So are (SCL drummer) Dan Cartwright and Colin Almquist. The ” 3 Kings” line in our song “Fear of God” refers to that.

ME:  Could you talk a bit about the recently departed Owen Swenson and what he meant for the band and area music in general? 

CP: To say he had a massive impact on my life and career is an understatement. It was cool that we were able to hang out with him on the level that we did . 

MB: Owen Swenson of The Turning Mill studio; producer, engineer, musician and friend. Owen was my rock ‘n roll father. He introduced me to the guys which I formed Spin Cycle Lava with before we had a name to begin with. He also helped name the band once we got to playing together.  We had the Spin Cycle part which came to me in a dream, and I was looking for something that flowed with that. I remember Owen looking right at us and saying, “Flows like lava!” Light bulb. So not only did he introduce us to one another, he also helped name the band. He played violin beautifully on the final track “Smothered” on the Pilot album we did. He would also show up randomly at shows and just jump up with us, which was great. He spent many years working out of WDST on Sunday mornings with The Woodstock Round Table, which he took a lot of pride in. His passing was a tremendous loss for us. Still he’ll  live within my heart forever.


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