Last year, Lost Tribe received an impressive degree of buzz for a punk band. The dark, apocalyptic quintet play a unique mix of ’80s California punk, deathrock, and UK anarcho-punk. Lost Tribe’s discography so far consists solely of cassette and vinyl-only releases. So, whence the notoriety? I asked the band what they think about all the buzz. And I got them to spill the beans about their upcoming tour.
Stereogum cited Lost Tribe as a “dark band to watch” in 2011. This came after the Richmond, Virginia band had released their The Dawn demo tape that year. Last Fall, the hip-to-a-fault Mishka NYC blog said “you should be listening to” Lost Tribe. On that assesment, I do concur: You should be listening to them. Lost Tribe is bringing a much-needed, innovative urgency to underground punk rock. Most recently, Lost Tribe issued their second cassette-only release , a 5-song, self-titled juggernaut of hard-hitting dark punk that joins their debut LP (which is also self-titled) as being among the finest punk rock made in recent memory.
The band’s gloomy, hard-hitting music recalls Samhain’s 1984 Initium LP. But it also manages to summon – and admirably so — the ghosts of Black Album-era The Damned, and even more obscure British postpunk acts, like Vex and The Dark. This new style of deathrock-tinged punk has recently gotten a major kick in the ass from bands across the US, but the biggest kick may be coming from Lost Tribe’s recent releases and live shows.
Lost Tribe’s particularly captivating brand of punk necromancy incorporates a few other noteworthy elements. Creepy organs swirl about foggy, dirgey guitar riffs, perhaps unintentionally reminding of dark ’60s garage psychedelia like The Music Machine and The Del-Vetts. Lost Tribe keyboard player JK’s Farfisa-style organ playing is something that sets the band apart; it helps create a creepy atmosphere you won’t find in many other bands nowadays, let alone artists working in this particular DIY punk underground milieu. The Damned had a dark ’60s, proto-goth side project called Naz Nomad and the Nightmares; that sort of spooky punk influence is stamped all over Lost Tribe’s sound.
As well, Davey Bales’ vocals — couched in Lost Tribe’s overall goth-like atmosphere — recall The Doors, or even Glenn Danzig. There is a stubborn Misfits (1977-1983 era) influence that no one else seems to want to acknowledge. I will. Sure, the Misfits legacy has been irreparably tarnished vis a vis the countless Danzig-less, cash-in “reunions” that have occurred since the 1990s. But there is something of the original, 1979-era Static Age LP impact of the Misfits in Lost Tribe’s work. All that was good about the early ’80s era of experimental, and deathrock-esque hardcore punk bands like 45 Grave, “Dance With Me”-era TSOL, and Amebix, is encapsulated in Lost Tribe’s sonic approach. Of course, Pyhaat Nuket/Holy Dolls, and other solidly leather-and-bristles Scandinavian hardcore bands, are also there, too, hovering spectrally in the wings.
Lost Tribe’s music has another great quality. You can imagine it being the soundtrack to a graveyard scene in a black and white George Romero film just as readily as you can imagine it being the perfect soundtrack for armageddon. I’ll let the band speak for themselves below, but the “tribal” element of so much great British positive punk – by which I mean bands like the Virgin Prunes, The Mob, and Killing Joke — is there, too. And consciously so. They even cite Mad Max 3 as an inspiration. The band’s label, Blind Prophet – run by the punky US neofolk band Cult of Youth — describes Lost Tribe’s sound as “apocalyptic post-peacepunk darkwave but with a solid d-beat & crust backbone.” This sounds preposterous until you try to figure out the band’s sound for yourself. Then you realize the label’s seemingly heavy-handed description does actually make sense.
Lost Tribe were interviewed in June, 2012. Special thanks to Shravan Deolalikar, Lost Tribe’s bassist, and an all-around great guy, for making the interview happen.
Oliver: How long have you all been around? What year did you start, and in what city?
Shravan: We started in May 2010 in Richmond, VA.
Oliver: Who’s currently in the band, and what instruments do they play?
SD: Kyle plays drums, Cory plays guitar, JK is on synth, Davey sings, and I play bass.
Oliver: Who thought up the name “Lost Tribe” and what significance does it have?
Cory: I thought it up. It’s a late-era Discharge song called “Lost Tribe Rising,” and it’s also a reference to the Mob’s “Let the Tribe increase.” And Mad Max 3.
Oliver: If you were trying to describe your sound to someone who’d never heard you before, what would you tell them were your influences, or what you all sounded like?
Cory: Dark punk…
Kyle: It’s hard to describe because we have a wide range of influences. One tour we exclusively listened to Prince’s Purple Rain LP, Roky Erickson’s The Evil One, and the first Musta Paraati LP.
Shravan: It seems a lot of different people draw a lot of different references. I could name a bunch of different bands but…
Davey: I would say a mixture of UK and Scandanavian dark punk bands, and ’80s UK postpunk and goth bands.
Shravan: Yeah, that sounds about right, but I don’t think we sound like any one band in particular. Musta Paraati, Discharge, Hawkwind/Motorhead, Killing Joke, Vex – those have always been strong main influences to all of us. But I could name more bands I suppose.
Oliver: People do seem to hear a lot of different things in your sound. I personally hear some TSOL and Samhain. Blind Prophet, who put out your debut LP, describes you at their web page as playing “apocalyptic post-peace punk darkwave but with with a solid d-beat & crust backbone.” Phew! Do you think that about sums it all up!?
Kyle: Well, actually there is not a single, proper d-beat on our LP.
Davey: I don’t think we really fit in as a peace punk band. My lyrics have always dealt with personal issues, not political. I have always been more influenced by punk lyrics that are more personal in nature.
Shravan: I really like how people make so many different references to our sound. Some I don’t really see, but I think most people will agree it’s unique.
Kyle: We always get compared to bands that we love, but I don’t think we really sound like any of them.
Oliver: 2012 seems to have a lot of good things in store for you guys. Playing Chaos in Tejas and with bands like Antisect and Iceage, and others — any plans on touring this year, and if so, where to…?
Shravan: We never played Chaos in Tejas. We just released a self-titled demo cassette of our new batch of songs. October 25th through November 5th we will do a tour down to Texas, up through the Midwest, and back to Richmond. (Tentative tour dates below.)
Oliver: If you could take three, and only three, records to a desert island, forever, what would those LPs be?
Shravan: Musta Paraati’s Peilitalossa, Varukers’ Another Religion Another War, and Chaos UK’s Short Sharp Shock.
Davey: Prince’s Purple Rain, The Chameleons’ Script of the Bridge, and Upright Citizens’ Open Eyes, Open Ears, Brains To Think & A Mouth to Speak.
Cory: Seats of Piss’ City of Bastards, Discharge’s Hear Nothing, See Nothing, Say Nothing, and Musta Paraati’s Peilitalossa.
Kyle: The Headcleaners split with Kurt vi Kuvos, Motorhead’s s/t LP, and the Adverts’ Crossing the Red Sea with the Adverts.
JK: Hawkwind’s Space Ritual, The House Sound of Chicago compilation, and Yawning Man’s Rock Formations.
Oliver: What are some other bands that are currently around that you feel deserve more attention from fans of this style of music?
Cory: Moral Hex and Cemetery.
Shravan: Pleasure Leftists.
Oliver: One last question: Do you all feel you are participating in a “trend” of punk music now that veers more towards a deathrock sound? And, is there any kind of punk music that is not, in the end, apart of some “trend” somewhere? For example, garage punk revivalism, or lo-fi, new wave stuff – isn’t this all a trend to some group of people, somewhere, in some part of the world?
Shravan: Sure it is a trend. But I think a lot of the newer bands that are doing the dark punk/deathrock sound are sincere. Starting a band is a lot of work, and there is not a lot of pay-off. You do it because you love the music you play, and participating in the scene you are in. I am thrilled with the new surge of interest in this style of music, and most of the bands reviving the sound. I like the way things are going.
Oliver: Where can folks go to buy your records and patches and other merch?
Shravan: You can pick up merch at our shows, or can email firstname.lastname@example.org. Hopefully we will have a website in the future.
Oliver: Thanks. You guys are definitely one of the best bands out there nowadays, and I am completely stoked to be interviewing you.
Shravan: Thanks for the interview, Oliver, and all the blogging and writing you have done on dark punk!
Lost Tribe Fall US tour (as of July):
Asheville, NC Thursday Oct 25.
Atlanta, GA Friday Oct 26
New Orleans, Lo Saturday Oct 27
Houston, TX Sunday Oct 28
Mc Allen, TX Monday Oct 29
San Antonio, TX Tuesday Oct 30
Austin, TX Wednesday Oct 31
Denton, TX Thursday Nov 1
St Louis, MO Friday Nov 2
Chicago, IL Saturday Nov 3
Cleveland, OH Sunday Nov 4
Pittsburgh, PA Monday Nov 5
Photographs courtesy of Lost Tribe