I must admit to being bewildered by Chicago weirdo noise-folk-punks EGO, but I get the feeling that’s how they like it.
Their latest full-length release – Economy – is their 8th record this year. Yes that’s right 8th! EGO are planning on releasing an album a month in 2015 based around the signs of the zodiac and themes in classical literature pertaining to the number 12. The series will be released on very limited edition cassette tapes in a limited edition box set from our friends at Maximum Pelt Records that includes all 12 tapes, as well as an exclusive 13th tape, a limited-edition t-shirt, and zine!! Got it?
To complicate matters, EGO decided to drop Economy, which is an additional record not part of the zodiac series, before they release their 9th (based on Leo), hot on its heels at the end of this month.
And you thought Robert Pollard was prolific!
Nevertheless it would be foolish to dismiss EGO’s output as a gimmick even though the sheer amount of music begs the question. But with EGO there IS quality, not just quantity. As a trio of multi-instrumentalist/songwriters, EGO rummage around in pretty much every corner of the music spectrum, from garage, punk, folk, psych, country, noise rock, indie rock, prog to whatever else you can come up with. It’s all here.
A bit of background: EGO is composed of Majik Aeon, Dan Rico, and Fumo Stromboli – who met as teenagers in Chicago’s northside. They formed a band called Snacks in 2007 and started Massive Ego in 2012 (not the UK version – hence the shortened name change).
We hooked up the boys to answer some questions – which didn’t really clear anything up, so just enjoy the music. I’m waiting for Virgo.
How and when did EGO form?
To answer this question, we turn to our resident historian, Bud Wizer. Dr. Wizer says “Ego was formed out of the ashes of a number of equally egotistical projects the members were engaged in prior. The fossil record is incomplete but seems to suggests that these groups included but were not limited to: No Comply, Foster, Caw Caw!, Aesthetic Sense, Ian Cermak and the Astrophysicists, Tender, Close Hits, SNACKS, and a few others. They have not been observed in the wild in the modern era, and the consensus of the scientific community is that these forms all were driven to extinction some time ago, likely at the onset of the internet.”
Why the name change from Massive Ego to just EGO?
We decided to turn to our good friend, Marc Massive, of Massive Ego (“UK Edition”) to get his thoughts on this question. But he didn’t get back to us.
We all chilled out.
I find it almost impossible to describe your sound. Sometimes I hear the Velvet Underground (Little Bird), then the next song sounds like The Mothers of Invention (Shore of the Fallen Star) and then The Modern Lovers (Never Love Another), and even bluegrass (Flood Vows) and maybe even Neutral Milk Hotel (Sun Kissed Brow).
Is it post-punk, or just un-classifiable? Should we even try to define and label music.
Yeah, you really hit the nail on the head with that one. We like to think that in a world without time, we are humankind’s most influential band. The truth of the matter is far more depressing, however: we were cursed with the arduous task of creating an ark that contains the breadth of American music. Whom it is for we know not, yet day and night tirelessly we toil, assembling the library and preparing for departure.
EGO is releasing an album a month in 2015 tell us about the inspiration for the idea and how the signs of the zodiac.
We stopped a random Chicagoan on the street to answer this question. Bill Satek, 61, of Jefferson Park had this to say:
“Well, originally, dey were gonna write em all about migratory birds but dat’s pretty dumb, ain’t it? At dis point it’s probably just some twisted series of escalating dares dat have gotten way out of hand dat dey all find demselves locked in; da zodiac seems more tertiary, ya know? Not like a veneer, or anyting, more like some kind of a symbol, a calling card maybe. An edict.”
Bill: “Get outta my driveway, I’m trying to get to work!”
What literature influences you lyrically?
We keep an extensive library at our secure mountain compound. We collect more books than we can read because they are practically free these days. Trashy science fiction is quite tasty but we can’t live on glitter alone, so there’s Pynchon and Yankovich and the cereal boxes Fumo collects. A lot of people write songs about books, but not many people are writing books about our songs. Think about it.
If EGO was making dinner based on your sound, what would we be eating?
Goose-liver pate at Rahm’s house. That’s your half-priced app. Then we take a walk and steal a pie cooling on a window sill, take it to Chinatown, then trade it in for some duck confit (offloading pies in different neighborhoods of the city has proven quite profitable these days). But it was all an illusion, you were hypnotized and we were feeding you saltines and telling you it was all of these things. Now your palate has been neutralized and we will teach you how to experience food like EGO experiences sounds as we walk through the crowded patio sections and swipe tater-tots and cherry tomatoes.
Tell us about each member of EGO – what they play – what they bring to the creative process – what zodiac sign they are.
Each member of the band plays every instrument. Long ago, the band stumbled upon a charmed piece of jewelry that held part of the ghost of Buckminster Fuller, but an evil part of his ghost. He deceived the boys into building a dark-matter reactor deep underneath the alley between Wally’s World and the Ottoman Empire with plans to use it to reconstitute his physical form and wreak havoc across time and space. Fortunately for everyone, EGO lost the piece of jewelry and now uses the reactor to record each song in all possible configurations in the 10th dimension, to account for all permutations past present and future.
Rico is a Taurus, an explosive expert, and bound by oath to protect a man who saved his life as a child. It doesn’t come up very often.
Majik is a Gemini, and usually drives.
Fumo isn’t real but if he was he would be a Gemini. The band uses him as a catch-all scapegoat, and as a fake identity to send all their junkmail to.
How does this project translate live? Do you plan on a live performance (maybe at Pompeii!?) based on the series of releases?
It’s funny you should ask, we actually played there back in 79 and it didn’t end well. No, 79 AD. You’re thinking of 1972 AD, when we had a different band name. The complicated thing about this project is that we do play it live, every time you listen to it. We have been shrunk down and when you put the tape in the cassette player we have a tiny set of amps and drums in there and we play them for you as often as you would like, it’s kind of like the seminal piece of children’s cinema from 1997, The Borrowers starring the great and unmistakable Sir John Goodman. Lord Goodman, I believe.
What do you guys do for fun?
There’s a bar around the corner. We also play in a band called EGO.
What band/artist would be the best fit for EGO to tour with?
If somebody and somebody had a baby and the baby married this person and then you came to a different conclusion entirely, we wouldn’t say you were wrong. Best tour fit so far has been ourselves from 10 minutes in the future in an alternate reality where they try to influence our decisions and change their own lives. Never works, and it’s a gas to watch them try!
What will you do in 2016?
We’re planning for our album-a-day project. And then there’s the month where we plan to play music continuously for 30 days without sleeping and getting fed through tubes. Sooner or later, this whole music thing is gonna blow over for everybody so we’re just trying to get our shots in. And boy do we take a lot! Of shots! Thanks for all the questions, this has been a most odoriferous sesh, and you have become a sage. Enjoy the responsibility.