Steve “Gordo” Gordon, Steve “Aiwass” Trouzdale, Herschel Tambor Brillstein and Lapland “Lapdog” Miclovik – one of these four men may be Les Claypool. Ask one of them about that Claypool guy, best known for his band Primus, and he will say “he’s not here, only we are here.”
That “we” is Electric Apricot, a self-proclaimed enlightened band from Northern California that played at WOW Hall Aug. 25.
The show finished up a weeklong tour, during which the band prepared for “Festeroo,” a music festival “either in Northern California or Oregon sometime in September,” according to the band’s manager Don Klienfeld.
The music festival will be the culminating event for a band that began five years ago with Gordon and Trouzdale performing at coffee shops around Berkeley, Calif., as Steve2. With Gordon on the guitar and Trouzdale on bass, Miclovik, a high-school friend of Klienfeld, soon joined the band, cramming his massive drum kit into tight coffee-house quarters and encouraging the band to seek larger venues. Not yet complete, the band recruited Brillstein, the keyboard player in a Huey Lewis cover band, to round out the four.
“We used to mock him,” Trouzdale said of Brillstein, “but he scored a lot of blow at his shows,” so they brought him on. “It’s been an evolution,” he said. “We grew from an acoustic Ani DiFranco meets Mariah Carey to this.”
To describe the band’s music as Phish on acid is appropriate because that’s how Trouzdale conceptualized the band. While at a Phish show in Las Vegas, Trouzdale dropped a tab and came up with “Electric Knectarine,” a band with the goal to enlighten people through its music. When band members learned that their fans were referring to them as Electric Ko-nectarine, Electric Apricot was born. Which is just as well, noted Miclovik, because the band’s logo, a piece of fruit emblazoned with a lightning bolt, is actually an apricot, not a nectarine.
Their music is mossy, according to Gordon, whose main goal in the show is to not blow up an amp.
“It clings. It’s furry, green, slick; sometimes it gets a little wet. We got a song about an ancient, silent god and a song about pancakes.”
As an alleged character band, Electric Apricot is bursting with character. If each member has his own flavor, Gordon’s flavor would be cheese.
“I could quit smoking weed, quit drinking, quit eating meat,” Gordon said through a mouthful of Swiss cheese. “I couldn’t quit eating cheese.”
He said that his unhealthy obsession with cheese springs from the life-giving qualities of a mother’s milk; be it cow’s milk, goat’s milk or even yak’s milk. Gordon described himself as Garcia-esque, and noted that the late Jerry Garcia has an ice cream named after him: Cherry Garcia. And ice cream comes from milk, too.
While Gordon is lactose obsessive, Trouzdale is the band’s sexual aura.
“Women throw me their undergarments (during shows), wedding outfits. One woman even threw her spleen.”
Trouzdale also said that instead of throwing light sticks, which might be done at a Phish show, his fans throw batteries, “which are a power source, too.”
Trouzdale said he drew the name Aiwass (pronounced aye-waz) from Aleister Crowley’s Holy Books of Thelema. According to Trouzdale, the name is that of a spirit who spoke to the renowned Satanist.
“I’ve got a bit of Dom DeLuise in me, too,” Trouzdale said, “especially when I eat.”
Like any enlightened band worth its weight in hemp, Electric Apricot has a spiritual leader, keyboardist Brillstein. His goal in life, according to his Web-site bio, is “to enrich and enlighten the world through music.”
During the show he burns incense, but the real magic happens before every show begins, when Brillstein walks the stage with burning sage “to keep the evil spirits away,” said Miclovik.
Of course, the band does its best to summon evil spirits.
In the song “Yogsogthoth,” the band performs a ritual that invokes the nameless sleepers underneath the earth. The demonic verse incanted to raise the beasts lies in a library in Michigan in a chest made of skin, according to the song.
While the other band members find themselves immersed in cheese, sexuality and enlightenment, Miclovik is their anchor to reality. He likes to keep the pulse of the fans in his pocket, so he reads various pop culture magazines such as “Popular Mechanics.” Also, he noted, the “dog” in his name has become a cool way for kids to refer to each other.
However, Miclovik has too much respect for the English language to submit to a status quo and change Lapdog to Lapdawg. When the band was coming up with its original name, he opted for Vaseline Groove rather than the phonetically challenged Knectarine.
“This is us,” he said. “Here we are. There’s no pretense. What you see is what you get, for good or bad.”
During the tour, the band has been filming its efforts, and members plan to put forth a documentary during spring of 2006 to accompany the band’s upcoming debut album. A preview of the film is available at www.electricapricot.com.
While the band members put considerable effort into their personas, it’s their music that gets most of the attention. The show, which opened with a potent set by local singer/songwriter and music producer Diego Delorean, began with what may be Electric Apricot’s most popular song, “Burning Man.”
“This is definitely the biggest crowd we’ve had,” Klienfeld said. “The place is really racing, and the band is definitely festival-ready.”