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By Amanda Savage
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It's impossible to tell the Hypno-Twists story without touching on the band's home base. The sextet began its Wednesday night Emerald residency when bands were still bunched up in the front room and pool tables still resided in the back. Once classified as a dive bar, the Emerald has been upgraded to a funky cultural mecca, no small thanks to the Hypno-habit of projecting kitschy go-go movies and Mexican wrestling flicks onstage to compete with the clouds of nicotine swirling overhead for airspace. "It's the only bar I know where the smokers complain about the smoke," Joel jokes. "But God I love that place. The regular Wednesday night gig affords the band the advantage of swapping gigs with out-of-town bands who almost never find good Wednesday nights on the road."
"Pipeline" isn't just a cover song in regular rotation (check out the original by the Chantays), it's something the band is striving toward building, an interstate, intercity band network where bands swap gigs and sleeping accommodations. But are there enough like-minded bands out there to network with the Hypno-Twists?
"We don't really wanna play with bands that are like us, necessarily," insists Storm. "We'd rather play with good rock 'n' roll bands. One of our favorite bands is Devotchka from Denver. . . . They're like us in some ways and not like us at all. They have a Middle Eastern vocalist and cello. We had the coolest show we ever had with them in Flagstaff."
Already, the Hypnos have tapped into the aforementioned garage psychedelia set. Some new ardent fans of the Hypno-Twists include Rudi Protrudi of the Fuzztones and James Lowe of the Electric Prunes. Both penned blurbs for Wicked Eye, and Lowe filmed one of the band's echo-bombarding, sensual sets for inclusion in a "history of psychedelia" video he's working on. Plus, Protrudi invited Joel and Storm to play on the next Fuzztones album. When the Prunes and Chocolate Watchband played the Bay Area's Great American Music Hall on November 16, Storm was invited to play organ on the Prunes' second hit "Get Me to the World on Time."
"We saw the Prunes do their first show in 32 years in Riverside, California," says Storm. "They were amazed at how we were so into them. They only played a half-hour but they were mind-boggling. We partied with them all night and then drove back to Phoenix." Then came the dawn and they were gone!
Kicking back and listening to the Hypno-Twists live, it's easy to be of two minds. It's a cultural high in an age of radio apartheid to hear an Ennio Morricone cover like "Aces High" and then have the band launch into "I'm Rowed Out," a punky steal of the Who's "Can't Explain," made even more obnoxious by the fact that the Eyes were the Who's contemporaries. Yet what place is there for the music Wicked Eye celebrates in an era where the commercially viable instrumental music is techno (where individual instruments aren't even discernible)?
"When there's no singer, people don't know what to think," says Phil of the band's 50/50 policy of vocals and instrumentals. "It's just been so beat into them that you gotta listen to this person saying a bunch of words you've heard 100 times anyway. But, hey, you're always gonna get instant gratification with a song like Cold Slaw.'"
Adds Joel, "My favorite part after every show is when people come up to us and say, What's that song called when you guys yell out "hey"?' And I get to tell them it's called Hey'!"