Ian Graham and band hope to not bore you on new album of psychedelic garage rock
Before Ian Graham moved to Columbus from Marysville about two years ago, he set a goal for himself.
“I want that immortality,” Graham said on a recent weekday morning at a Clintonville cafe. “I don't know if I ever will have children, so I wanted this thing to be laying around long after I'm gone.”
The “thing” he's referring to is the new self-titled record from Terrestrials, one of several bands Graham has started or joined since coming to town. After fronting two-piece trash-pop act Tasty, the 23-year-old now plays bass in Bloody Show, guitar in Ouija Boys and drums in Thee Thee's, a newish project with Myra Power, formerly of D.C. punk-rock trio Slant 6.
But in Terrestrials, a trippy garage-pop five-piece, Graham is solely a frontman — a role he was initially nervous about, though you wouldn't know it watching the red-faced singer bounce and gyrate and shimmy across stages in low-lit rock clubs. “I like being able to do and say whatever I want,” Graham said. “I think I'm pretty OK at it.”
It's also a welcome role for Terrestrials bassist Jason Womeldorph. “I'm so happy that you can be the frontperson and I can fade into the background, because you have so much personality, and I can just play,” said Womeldorph, seated next to Graham.
Womeldorph, who previously played in Between the Devil & the Deep Blue Sea, Lauren Hospital and Moons, helped launch Terrestrials in 2014 with a different lineup, though original guitarist Dave Treneff (Night of Pleasure, Turquoise Feeling) and keyboardist Steve Broeder (Outer Spacist) remain in this Graham-led version (drummer Rich Meara rounds out the lineup). The band will celebrate its new Heel Turn Records album with a release show at Ace of Cups on Friday, Aug. 17.
“I wanted Terrestrials to be better than any other band that's around right now, because a lot of bands bore the shit out of me, and I just want this to not be a boring band,” said Graham, who initially made a name for himself in town through the beloved but short-lived Rock and Roll Radio Show on 1270AM.
Graham is the baby in Terrestrials (three out of the five members have kids), but that's nothing new for him. “Everyone I surround myself with are 10 years my senior. And I've been told pretty much my entire life, ‘You're such an old soul.' It makes me feel ancient,” he said. “I never got the chance to be young and dumb. I'm too smart for that, I guess. I'd see friends get in trouble, and I'd just rather not go through all that. I'd see people destroy themselves, kill themselves.”
For the self-titled album, recorded by Bloody Show's Jah Nada (also Graham's duplex neighbor), Graham set out to make a space opera. And while the finished product is rife with layers of psychedelic synthesizer and astronomical tangents (“The dads like to jam,” Graham said), he changed course from that initial vision.
“The more I thought about it I was like, ‘No, stay grounded. Write about Earth's issues, Earth problems.' And there are a lot of them,” he said. “Thematically, it's about taking care of shit at home.”