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Return of An Albatross.

June 29, 2012

Text by Brittany Thomas. Image by Kyle Fisher.

They take their name from the bad luck bird. And some say 2012 is a bad luck year. But thirteen years and six albums later, these guys haven’t seen much in the way of misfortune yet.

After a nearly two year hiatus, the experimental/psychedelic/grindcore Philly via Wilkes-Barre band An Albatross is gearing up for a reemergence.

They’ll play their first show in two years at The Barbary on July 4th, performing the fast, heavy carnival/saga-soundtrack-on-acid spectacle they’re best known for.

“Albert Einstein once said that ‘insanity is doing the same thing repetitively and expecting a different result,’ and I think that makes us pretty much fucking insane,” says front-man Edward B. Geida, III.

An Albatross’ past tours included shows with everyone from psychedelic rock legends Blue Cheer to noise-core icons Melt Banana and Lightning Bolt.

In Philadelphia, they’re well known staples of The Barbary crowd, their sort of home base here. Drummer Steven Vaiani works there, guitarist Jake Lisowski makes DJ appearances, and Gieda tends bar and DJ’s regularly.

“The Barbary employs about two fifths of the band so, we’re all intrinsically linked to the place,” says Gieda, “I’d say it’s got its finger on the pulse of what’s really cool about the underground scene, DJ culture and just bands in general in Philadelphia.”

Over the years they’ve never stopped working on the project that Gieda and Lisowski started in late ’98 in their hometown, Wilkes-Barre. Bassist Jason ‘Jay’ Hudak joined early on. Since 2005 they’ve had Vaiani on drums and Fisher, a Philly native, on keys.“We’ve always been writing in spurts,” says Hudak, “but after doing close to 200 shows a year for a good six or seven years straight, just by default things had to slow down for a while.”

Gieda and Lisowski were only 21 and 19 respectively when they took the band on its first U.S. tour in 2000, which was cut short when their van blew up outside of Chicago.“The cool thing about our first tour, though, was that we beat the curve of the internet saturation by like about a year or so,” says Gieda. “If we actually started what we were doing about a year or so later, it would have been significantly harder to pull through the weeds and actually become a band that could exist on the road.”

Since the band started during a time when you actually had to call land line to land line to book shows, Gieda remembers An Albatross being able to make a tour happen when they were still basically kids.

“Even though it kind of ended up disastrously, we were able to get our foot in the door,” says Gieda. “Playing a show in Chicago was a huge deal. Fuck yeah! We made it almost half way across the country with a cassette demo.”

Recognition was pretty much immediate for them, too. On that first tour they sold every piece of merchandise and every cassette demo they had to offer.

“Blue Cheer, touring with them was us being able to tour with basically idols of ours,” says Gieda. “We had played a show together in NYC during the CMJ music festival in 2006 and then they personally asked us to do the tour with them.”

Over the last five years, the majority of the band has made Philadelphia their permanent residence, which has helped them keep at it even after more than a decade of An Albatross.

“It’s so much easier to live the kind of bohemian lifestyle that’s necessary to make a record happen here than it is virtually anywhere else,” says Gieda. “Philly’s really cool in that sense. On the eastern seaboard, Philadelphia is like probably one of the very few cities where you can actually afford to get by doing what we do. Let’s face
it, we’re making really fucked up avant-garde music that doesn’t necessarily sell tons of records and we’re not living a lap of luxury from it, so you need to be able to work or do anything in between to be able to keep your careers moving.”

“Whether or not music is our career, we are musicians for life,” Lisowski concurs. “That’s how crazy we are. We need to create. We just need to make it happen. And we do.”

An Albatross performs at The Barbary on Wednesday, July 4, during a free show featuring The High Five, The Midnight Beat and Mean Streets (all of the bands feature Barbary staffers).

  1. June 29, 2012 2:34 pm

    woohooo! great reads! good pics! very excited

  2. July 6, 2012 10:07 am

    my ole roomies. im sure they killed it!

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