12 Apr

If Mind Spiders didn’t exist, one might posit that they would be created in a lab.

We tend to agree, although when considering the sharply schizophrenic sounds of these Texas-based spectacular spiders of the mind – as represented best on their most recent album, “Meltdown” – we don’t think of a sterile laboratory environment.

Mutated and multiform, the Mind Spiders sound is too infused with chaos, with escape, with the creepy and the crawly to emerge from a controlled environment. Mind Spiders expose the power and explosive potential of science, but science that’s been left in the hands of silly, shy teenagers who spend as much time in the garage as the laboratory, where’s it’s only a matter of time before they’re bitten by a radioactive spider.

But our spider-sense tingles when we think of Mind Spiders – and it might be because of what when we heard in songs like “Fall In Line,” “Join Us Now” and “Wait For Us” while reading the book “Mutants and Mystics: Science Fiction, Superhero Comics, and the Paranormal,” by a fellow Texas-based weirdo, Jeffrey Kripal, the Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at Rice University. Ruminating on the alien-like eyes of Spider-Man, Kripal writes:

“The slanted alien eye, after all, has been a standard has been a standard feature of sacred art in South Asia for centuries, where it can easily be traced in any number of goddesses, including the sexually aggressive tantric goddess Kali, one of whose classic poses [is] standing on her prostrate husband, Shiva, who is variously portrayed as a corpse, in ecstasy, sexually aroused, or asleep, but always on his back … The black-almond-eyed Kali – known for her violent and redemptive ways, mounting a sleeping Shiva and bonding with her devotees through mystical union – more than resembles the black alien suit taking on the physical form of a sleeping Peter Parker.

And it gets weirder still. That Kali is usually portrayed with six limbs makes her look even more like a spider (okay, a spider has eight). Moreover, in west Bengal, where Kali traditions as especially active, there are actually two major forms of Kali: a blue, gentle, motherly form and a black aggressive sinister form … sound familiar?”

In advance of their appearance at Austin Psych Fest 2012, we feel more than fortunate to present this interview with central spider Mark Ryan, and to be caught in the growing web of Mind Spiders. Enjoy.

Can you recall the first time in your life you can remember concretely thinking that you are a musically-minded person? Not just that you enjoyed music – rather, that your mind wouldn’t operate properly without being able to express yourself musically. Is that even the case? Or do you view your musicality (for lack of a more pompous-sounding term) as an equal among an array of interests?

When I was about five years old, I would carry around a portable record player, play Elvis and Buddy Holly records, pretend I was singing. Also, I was obsessed with “Star Wars” and monster movies. My interests have not changed much since then. I started playing guitar when I was about eleven. From that point on, music was by far the most important thing in my life. I don’t function well without music. I get very depressed, especially if I have not been recording anything new. I have a strange drive. I almost always feel that I should be working on something.

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How do you think your mind has evolved since you first became involved in writing and performing music, in ways apart from strictly music-related endeavors? Can the wordless communication necessary for playing with a band make you a better communicator in your outside life?

I think it’s more of a de-evolution, but recently I have developed the power of telepathy which is pretty cool.

In a related question, how do you think your mind has evolved from a musical perspective over perhaps the past decade? Can you think of a musician or band that you hold in very high regard today that you simply didn’t appreciate in the past? What do you think changed in your perspective to allow you to find the enjoyment in that particular music?

To me, music is about mood. I have always loved old rock-n-roll and still do. It’s an attachment that won’t go away because that’s what really turned me on to music in the first place. I picked up the punk bug later. For a long time, I didn’t have much interest in anything else. That was good, I think, because it kept me focused. But that can only last for so long. I’m still very picky, though. Now, I do listen to some things that I would have hated in the past. I love Harmonia and Cluster, for example. I think movies are what changed my taste in music. It goes back to being a kid and loving science fiction and horror movies. It’s the atmosphere, like the score from “Forbidden Planet” or a John Carpenter movie … also, after leaning about Joe Meek and all of his craziness, I fell in love with the album, “I Hear a New World”.

There’s an undeniably infectious energy and sense of controlled chaos throughout “Meltdown,” which led us to wonder about the choice of that word for the album title. Is there anything symbolic to your about the word or perhaps your mind’s state during its creation? Or was it more a matter of its organic connection to the spider-centric, riotous rock-n-roll radioactivity?

I recorded the song “Meltdown” after buying a toy keyboard at a garage sale for five bucks. The batteries were run down, so it made the keyboard sound sick, which I liked. It was a really nice spring day here in Texas. It was March 2011, right after the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. My friend Jeff Burke from the Marked Men was in Japan at the time. He lives in Mito, which is pretty close to Fukushima. I was worried about him. On that relaxing, beautiful, spring day, I was imaging a literal nuclear meltdown. That’s what the song sounded like to me. It was originally titled “Springtime Meltdown.” I used the song title for the title of the album because it flowed that way, progressively getting noisier and darker.

What can you tell us about the origin of the shortest song on the album, “On the Radio”? We hear a instantly memorable, “Rocket to Russia”-esque bit of lightning in the song – is it laughable or sad that this is exactly the type of song that we would love to hear on the radio this summer, yet are confident that we will never hear on the radio this summer?

It is sad. Maybe in a different time. It’s just my take on a simple rock-n-roll song with a paranoid twist.

What music have you been listening to lately? If push comes to shove, what is your favorite Buddy Holly song of all-time and why?

Favorite Buddy Holly song is “Dearest” from “The Apartment Tapes.” “The Apartment Tapes” have some of my favorite music of all time. So creepy and sweet. We just got back from tour, so I feel like all I’ve been doing is listening to music … Troggs, Trio, Cluster, Panther-Man, Roy Wood, Dick Hyman, Dow Jones and The Industrials, Sparks …

Would you care to comment on the rumor (the rumor that we are attempting to start right now) that you are going all-out in your effort to attract a new group of musicians to play on the next Mind Spiders release, including but not limited to, Neil “Spider” Geraldo from The Pat Benatar Band, Peter “Spider” Stacy from The Pogues and the re-animated corpse of Mick Ronson, circa leading Bowie’s band, The Spiders from Mars?

Actually, I have been thinking about kicking all of those losers out and flying the Lime Spiders in from Australia to be my backing band.

How did you first hear about Austin Psych Fest? Are there any bands in particular that you are excited about having the chance to see play over the weekend?

When we were asked to play. I hate psychedelic music. Only kidding. I’m from Texas, so of course I know about Psych Fest. I am really excited about being asked to play this year. It’s a different kind of show for us, which I like a lot. I really don’t want to say who I want to see because I know the other bands will get super jealous.

E.B. White – himself a huge fan of “Rocket to Russia,” we’re confident – wrote the following his book, “Charlotte’s Web”:

“After all, what’s a life, anyway? We’re born, we live a little while, we die. A spider’s life can’t help being something of a mess, with all this trapping and eating flies. By helping you, perhaps I was trying to lift up my life a trifle. Heaven knows anyone’s life can stand a little of that.”

Your thoughts?

Bullshit. No spider has or will ever be that thoughtful. We are cold and calculating. Humans are much too sentimental. A thoughtful spider… Pffff!!

What’s next for Mind Spiders?

A 7″ that should be out very soon. Another album soon after that. Shows … you know – things that bands do.

Mind Spiders on Facebook


One Response to “MIND SPIDERS”



    […] months, since our first reading of “Mutants and Mystics” (seen most directly in this introduction to the Texas sci-fi maniacs of Mind Spiders, which also references the origin of Kripal’s complex Spider-Man […]

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