At first we called the band “Chariots of Tuna,” thinking this name was pretty amusing and highly indie. When our songs actually took off and we realized people were taking us seriously, we had to think of a less goofy name, but one that would remind people of the old one so they might guess it was the same band, thus kicking off a long and difficult search for another decent band name that involved the word “Chariots”. All the coolest ones, like “Electric Chariots” and “Sweet Chariots”, were already taken!
2. How did this band get started?
We were all playing in this ambitious gonzo classical-theatrical-dance-electronic-rock nine-piece group called the Infinite Orchestra. I had the idea to take the rhythm section of that group and start something more small and authentic – just to record some little indie-pop songs, and we’d learn to sing and record them ourselves. We posted the songs up on myspace in 2009, and, to our amazement, people discovered them across the world.
3. What bands are you influenced by?
The Beatles, Camera Obscura, Talking Heads, Passion Pit, Jonathan Richman, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Puccini – anyone who crafts songs carefully and conveys them with honesty.
4. If you could tour with any bands, past or present, who would they be and why?
Fountains of Wayne – I think we’d learn a lot from them. That, or Thelonious Monk, for the same reason.
5. Best food to eat on tour?
Anything that contains vegetables. Pizza and burgers are tasty, but it sucks to get scurvy!
6. Why should people listen to your band?
We spend enormous amounts of time crafting each song, word, and sound you hear so that they stand a chance to stand the test of time – so that what appeals to you on the second listening will hopefully appeal to you even more on the twenty-second.
7. If you could be any athlete, which athlete would you switch places with?
A cricket player from, say, Pakistan or India – it would just be really interesting to get to live somewhere so different.
8. If you won a Grammy, who would you thank?
The world for completely changing in such a way that our music could win a Grammy!
9. If you could change something about the music industry, what would it be?
We’d return to the days before recorded music, when people made their own music by playing instruments in public gatherings and in their homes, and where “musician” was a viable career. Those days might come back… just you wait…
10. Memorable tour experience?
During the Indietracks Festival in England, going with the guys to a pub for dinner and casual conversation. Afterwards we spontaneously came across a cricket match, which to us was impossibly exotic. Oh, and discovering and reading an oral history of the East Bay punk scene in a record store in Athens.
11. What does AP.net mean to you?
Since the first bands I played in were punk bands, and I used to go to 924 Gilman pretty much all the time, even though I never had appropriate hair or clothes – I’m extremely pleased to still have a small connection to “punk”!
12. What is your favorite song to play?
“Forever Never Ends,” since we get to play quietly for a while and I can hear the vocals, and people often dance. It should be noted however that this is Rus’ least favorite song to play!
13. What is your vacation spot of choice?
Since I’m not a city boy but currently live in New York, I’m ecstatic to go anywhere that’s not urban. Even a parking lot or a mall can do it!
14. What music reminds you of your childhood?
Katy Perry – because we are 8!
15. If you could have any super power, what would it be? Why?
The power to have any super power. That about covers it.
16. Any pre-show superstitions or rituals?
During European trips, I always had a cold and my voice would sink down to the Johnny Cash level, so I used to spend a few minutes before each show yelling in the bar bathroom to get my voice into a higher register. Does that qualify as a ritual?
17. What is something that most fans don't know about you?
I am actually a gerbil.
18. What is your assessment of the current state of radio? Do you think it's a place where your band could flourish?
I never thought I’d say this, but I’m amazed at the positive response our songs have gotten from non-indie non-hipsters… if we had access to professional production, maybe it could!