Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Karate Bikini - Sauce Of The Applehorse

The St. Louis super group Karate Bikini just released their first full-length album this week. The album, Sauce Of The Applehorse, has been eagerly anticipated for quite some time. I had a chance to ask frontman Tim McAvin a few questions.

Anti-Formula: Where did the name of the album come from?
Tim McAvin: The name of the album came from a silly idea to have merchandise for our first show when we didn't have any recordings, so I made apple sauce and jarred it and made labels for it. In the process of making the labels, I recalled seeing labels at some international food stores where something went wrong in the translation, so I decided to purposely create an enigmatic translation for 'apple sauce.' The actual chinese translation of 'apple sauce' is 'sauce of the apple,' so I just threw a horse on the end, and decided right then and there that that would be the title of an album if we ever got to that point.

AF: How did the band come together?
TM: The very original version of the band came from me recording songs on my own and creating fake MySpace bands while I was a member of Tight Pants Syndrome. Tom Stephens (TPS) told me I should call one of the bands Karate Bikini, so I did. Shortly after that, Joe Scanlan and I had both parted ways with Tight Pants Syndrome and started playing together. Joe brought Jill Aboussie (drums) into the fold. Jill ran into Johnny Horton (Bottle Rockets) one night at work and told him she was playing with us. He called and asked if he could play. That was a no brainer. Jill knew Michelle Rae from their Ska days. Then I asked Mike Martin to join. And somewhere in all of that decided that Karate Bikini was a decent enough name. We've gone through some line-up changes since then and, as much as I loved the original line-up, the current line-up is the best that Karate Bikini has been.

AF: Are any of the songs on this album autobiographical?
TM: Yes, they are all to one extent or another autobiographical. At the same time, I take some liberties with the facts and use plenty of exaggeration to get the lyrics out. "Breaking Up With You" was written right after a break up. In that one, I'm talking to the old girlfriend and putting on a strong face. I'm definitely trying to hurt her with that, but then admitting that I'm kind of drowning in my hurt about the breakup with overindulgence of food and drink and women. The bridge part of that song is talking to a new girl, an in-between girl, and I'm confessing to her that I am broken, and that this is a temporary thing. I say to the new girl: "Welcome to the lion's den/ Is that tattoo real or pretend?/ Come over here/ It's getting near the end." I consider that pretty autobiographical, but not exactly storytelling.

AF: How did you pick the artwork?
TM: The artwork was kind of a no brainer. I worked on different album covers for months and had a lot of things that I liked, and Brian Mcclellan from TPS also did a few things that were great! But when I saw the photograph of the Asian girl with the makeup, I knew that that had to be the cover. Our first release had a painting of Asian girls, and I like the idea of keeping with the theme of Asian girls in bikinis. That's kind of a silly aspect of the band, and may not be politically correct, but it's also fun to have something that is so evocative. If we had gone with the name of one of my other fake bands, we would have pictures of something completely different: neon ameobas or flying pigs maybe. But we are Karate Bikini for better or worse, and that just screams Asian girls in bikinis to me. I consider it campy. Some people might think it's in poor taste. I just think it's funny.

AF: What inspired "Liar's Parade"?
TM: Hmmm? The inspiration for "Liar's Parade"? I usually have all the music recorded then just sing the first line off the top of my head. So "I don't know how to sing" just sort of came out. In this case, as in all cases, after the first line I step back and ask myself what I'm talking about. That way I can decide to either finish it or not. I was able to finish this one because I truly believe that I am a mediocre singer, and it doesn't really matter, and it's kind of an easy task to point out how artificial people, including myself, are. So many things that we act like are important just aren't. I'm not sure if that answers the question or not. The truth is, I don't really ever get too inspired. I just keep doing it for the sake of doing it, and sometimes I get lucky. I think with this song I got lucky.
AF: What's next for Karate Bikini?

TM: Karate Bikini plans on starting the next record. I have the material, and why not just get started on that? I would also love to do some good opening gigs around town and maybe do some out-of-town gigs in the near future. It would also be great to make a little money from this release, so we can have a proper CD release party and have our friends out for a fun night of music.

Sauce Of The Applehorse is out now on iTunes and will soon be available on CD.