Fresh off of their stint at SXSW this year, where they were one of Rolling Stone’s “25 Can’t Miss Acts,” Electric Flower Group brought their band of psychedelic rock to an in-store concert at Origami Vinyl in Echo Park, CA in celebration of the release of their second EP, Electric Flower EP II and literally (figuratively) blew the doors off of the place.
Origami Vinyl is a hallway of a store located next to indie mecca concert hall, The Echo, on the other side of Two Boots Pizza (they make one hell of a slice), and it meets all of the prerequisites necessary for the type of place you would find in a neighborhood that has taken the mantle of “Hipster-iest Area in the West” because Los Feliz and Silver Lake have gone too mainstream since they allowed Katy Perry to move there, and where you can get a ticket for parking un-ironically. But perhaps the most ironic thing of all about the place, is that it is genuinely awesome. The staff are insanely knowledgeable, extremely nice, and their selection of vinyl is crazy good. The space was obviously built for something else entirely before becoming a record shop, and their specific re-utilization of architecture and space yield a unique and dynamic juxtaposition. And the in-store concerts they put on feature great bands like Electric Flower Group.
Josh Garza (drums) and Imaad Wasif (guitar, vocals) met under the oddest of circumstances in London while Wasif was a touring guitarist for the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s and Garza was drumming for The Secret Machines (read more about it in the interview below). Five years later, they reconnected and formed Electric Flower Group.
On their own, Garza and Wasif look unassuming enough, but with instruments plugged in, one of the most surprising aspects of their show is just how loud and full their songs are when in reality, it’s only two instruments. Playing from a loft accessible only by wrought-iron spiral staircase, Electric Flower Group treated the crowd below to songs from both of their EPs as well as a new, unreleased track and a cover of Steppenwolf’s “Magic Carpet Ride.” Garza’s rocksteady, pulsing beats drive the songs forward in songs like “Four16” and provide the diving board from which Wasif’s guitar solos can leap off of and execute mid-air moves with daunting degrees of difficulty on songs like “Cocoon.”
Electric Flower Group manages, in only 3 songs per EP, to musically depict the entire spectrum of a psychedelic acid trip. The lead single off of their latest EP, “Eclipsed” is light and bouncy, with 60s-era guitar chord structure and upbeat drums.
Meanwhile, “The Electrician,” is dark, moody, epic, operatic, with Nine Inch Nails meets Jim Morrison vocals and lyrics and a Led Zeppelin “Kashmir” like guitar bridge.
You can listen to Electric Flower Group’s EPs and check tour dates here.
Singer and guitarist Imaad Wasif took some time out to answer some questions about the band, what got him into music, and cryptically comment about SXSW.
How did you two meet? We met at the BBC. We were both performing on Top of the Pops. Rumor has it we got trapped on an elevator while trying to get to the stages but we were really trying to break into the archives to find the lost Bowie/La Düsseldorf acetates.
What is the songwriting process like? It’s like taking drugs to make music to take drugs to. Music is the gateway to the ecstatic state. Much of our music comes from spacial exploration within a specific vision. I bring in these songs and plug in to the electric flower and then Josh finds the beat that basically brings the song back to its most primitive form, then all the guitar parts are twisted around. But the lyrics and vocal melody rarely change. They remain at the core. The songs have deliberate purpose even in their acid freak-outs. When you write you find it’s easy to get free but it’s harder to get grounded. For us one chord is best.
Where and how was this latest EP recorded?We recorded and mixed the EP ll in three days with Kenny Woods at Bright Street Recorders here in LA. We limited ourselves to a certain amount of tracks and time and made decisions based on a commitment to the vibe of the songs. Once we felt they were captured, we were done. There’s a brief window in the studio where you are between magic and hitting a wall, hopefully that’s when the tape is rolling.
What was the SXSW experience like?HAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAH(two boxes got smashed to shit. Right now there is a blender repair shop with a stack of comic books they don’t want.)
What are your biggest (musical and non-musical) influences?Things that keep me questioning existence.
Things that tear me open and keep me that way.
Things that are ever-circling.
Things that distort, diffuse and catalyze negativity into change.
Fear and Paranoia.
Memories of drugs, both lived and borrowed.
Certain forgotten heroes of music and literature.
Who would you play with on your dream concert bill? Hendrix fronting Neu!, Spacemen 3, Terry Riley performing The Harp of New Albion, The Velvet Underground doing White Light White Heat, Kuni Kawachi with Flower Travellin’ Band.
What are plans for Electric Flower Group for the rest of the year?Finishing our album, touring.
Which do you prefer? Playing live or recording in the studio?Playing live.
What got you into music? When did you know you were going to pursue it as a career?I knew I’d follow it when I realized it was the most abstract idea possible. It doesn’t have a fixed shape, it is an energy, a storm, passion, existing not in a single moment but in a succession of moments. It rises above the level of words. It can’t be painted or made into an object. It exists but it doesn’t. It’s quietest echo reaches the sleeping ear. I stopped being able to sleep soundly because of it. Live it by day, relive it by night, as it fills dreams it can make you leap up in the middle of the night for fear of forgetting it. It comes to you in moments of great rapture. It is truly the obscure object of desire.