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SPINDRIFT » Bio

Bio

LINEUP: 

KIRPATRICK THOMAS: VOCALS, GUITAR, CONCEPTUALIST

BECCA DAVIDSON: GUITAR, BACKING VOCALS

JOE ZABIELSKI: DRUMS, ELECTRONICS

MICHELLE VIDAL: VOCALS, BASS/BARITONE GUITAR

SPINDRIFT is a psychedelic western influenced cinematic rock band created by singer-songwriter-composer-producer-actor Kirpatrick Thomas. Founded in 1992, the band originated in Newark, Delaware along with such other local bands of the period including Jake and the Stiffs, The Verge, Boy Sets Fire, Zen Guerilla and Smashing Orange. Heavily influenced by such bands as The Doors, My Bloody Valentine, Hawkwind, Bruce Haack, and Chrome, Spindrift’s early stages were heavier, experimental, and differed greatly from their present Ennio Morricone inspired sound. However, the bands unique, ideal, creative  DIY style, and knack for a hard working tour ethic has always remained. Throughout the 90’s, the group performed mostly in and around the East Coast (CBGB’s, Star Bar Atlanta, The Stone Balloon(DE), Khyber Pass(Philly), Mercury Lounge NYC) while evolving their sound to have a more 60’s psychedelic garage/punk space-rock style influence. As guitar player Chris Andrews and drummer Paul Budd left the band to start SUNFLY, other members joined the ranks. Original bass player Pete Van Kouwenburg and keyboard player Jay Caddle would remain involved throughout later years as the band still continued to do reunion shows showcasing earlier material. Kirpatrick and drummer Z. Miles Hansen were known in local circles for inventing the “Hansen Guitar Mic”, essentially a cheap microphone routed and wired into his guitar with an on/off switch enabling vocals and feedback through guitar effects. Earlier 90’s albums by SPINDRIFT include the heavier but catchy debut Strange Range(1996), the Hawkwind influenced We Come From the United States(1999), and the space-punk upbeat sound of 10 Million Asians Can’t Be Wrong! (2000).

After a quick run of shows in Japan in 2001,  band members Kirpatrick Thomas, Joe Baluta and Zachary Hansen made an eye opening trek  relocating to Los Angeles where they re-formed to include Bobby Bones of Psychic TV, Dave Koenig, Dan Allaire, Frankie “Teardrop” Emerson and Rob Campanella of The Brian Jonestown Massacre and Jason “Plucky” Anchondo of The Warlocks. Inspired by their new desert locale, the band began a new stylistic approach evoking the spirit of the Old West as mythologized by Western Cinema, “Spaghetti Westerns” in particular. Both styles of East meets West Coast melded together on the album “Songs from the Ancient Age“, which was independently released in March of 2003 and is currently awaiting a repress.

By 2005, Kirpatrick Thomas along with filmmaker Mike Bruce began production on the independent feature film The Legend of God’s Gun, inspired by the same classic Western Films that influenced their music, most often those directed by Sergio Leone and scored by Ennio Morricone. The band’s style was coined as “Psychedelic Spaghetti Western”.

During this period (2005–2009), the lineup consisted of David Koenig on rhythm guitar and harmonica, Julie Patterson on vocals, organ, and lap steel, Jason “Plucky” Anchondo and Dan Allaire (also of The Brian Jonestown Massacre) on drums. The group was rounded out by now longtime member  Henry Evans on double neck bass and baritone guitar, and Kirpatrick Thomas on vocals and guitar. Tours with Dead Meadow (Kirpatrick filled in for an ailing Jason Simons on guitar during one tour), The Black Angels, and The Dandy Warhols followed until November 2009 when the band suffered a major lineup change due to tour burnout and financial difficulties. They had been living in Los Angeles, touring non-stop for several years straight, with a hefty studio schedule.

It was around this time that SPINDRIFT began performing electro-acoustic shows with a more intimate, stripped down campfire atmosphere under the name of “BLUNIFORM” and “BOY SCOUT JAMBOREE” with Koenig and Thomas taking the lead harmonies and performing tunes written by the likes of the “singing cowboys” such as Johnny Western, Johnny Bond, Tex Ritter, The Louvin Brothers, Frankie Laine, The Sons of the Pioneers, and Rex Allen. This proved to be a strong building block to later endeavors.

In December 2009, Henry Evans and Kirpatrick Thomas began reforming and rebuilding SPINDRIFT once again while rehearsing and writing new songs in the Gram Parsons death room of Joshua Tree Inn. Added were Luke Dawson (who was innkeeper at the time) on psychedelic-pedal steel and rhythm guitar, the amazing Sasha Vallely on vocals, organ, and Native American flute, and Salt Lake City native James Acton on autoharp, vocals, and drums. This lineup went on to perform at SXSW 2010, Psych Fest III, and toured the USA with The Black Angels & Dead Meadow. They immediately returned to Europe to support B.R.M.C. in 2010 and Black Mountain, and performed with Chrome frontman Helios Creed in 2011. In December 2010 after a 7 week U.S. Tour and following a successful Kickstarter campaign, the band recorded Classic Soundtracks Volume 1 at Hicksville Trailer Palace in Joshua Tree, CA.

Soundtrack and Television

In 2008, Spindrift contributed to the soundtrack of the feature film Hell Ride produced by Quentin Tarantino.

The motion picture The Legend of Gods Gun was inspired by the Spindrift’s 2002 album of the same name which was released three years prior to the making of the film. The movie’s soundtrack features work from that album as well as tracks by GRAM RABBIT and Mike Bruce’s own band the Low-flying Owls. The film is best described as a “Western version of Dante’s Inferno”. The album, The Legend Of God’s Gun, was updated and re-released in 2007. In 2008 TEE PEE RECORDS re-released the soundtrack and the band toured the United States, opening for The Dandy Warhols who under their Beat The World record label released the Spindrift album “The West” Nov. 2009. A Victorian-Era influenced psychedelic concept album and in a sense, a companion album to “The Legend of God’s Gun.

In 2010, Spindrift went on to supply the score to Mike Bruce’s next feature “Treasure of the Black Jaguar“, an action survival story loosely based off The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (film). Spindrift has also contributed to the VBS.tv VICE documentary series “Coffin Joe” and the songs “Ace Coletrain” and “Girlz, Booze, Gunz” were featured in the HBO Comedy series ‘Eastbound & Dow”.” The band has also scored a restored version of “Tecumseh’s Curse”, a film about the Curse of Tippecanoe by director J.X. Williams.

DUST UP” (Directed by Ward Roberts and starring Amber Benson) proved to be Spindrift’s first chance to score to a locked picture in the studio. With Engineer Riley Bray, Kirpatrick Thomas and crew conducted their way around the film which was released worldwide in the digital realm in 2012.

Spindrift has cited the Sergio Leone film Once Upon a Time in the West as a influence on the cinematic outlook for the band’s music and overall look.

Classic Soundtracks, Vol. 1. Vol. 2, & Vol. 3

In Spring of 2011, Spindrift released Classic Soundtracks Volume 1 on Xemu Records. The album featured 14 theme songs to various film scores they are set to and up to 9 different directors participated in the project. The film clips, music videos, and movie trailers were all premiered on IFC and featured films by Burke Roberts, J. X. Williams, Abigail Bean, Simon Chan, and many others. The music crossed genres such as Bollywood songs, Science fiction, Exploitation films, and Film noir. The album was engineered by Ethan Allen (of Gram Rabbit) and mastered by Howie Weinberg. The band went on to tour Europe for 2 months supporting Black Mountain, Dead Meadow, and Kurt Vile in Europe. The rest of the year proved to be a busy tour schedule into 2012 as the band toured the U.S. supporting The Black Angels and performed again at Austin Psych Fest 5. Classic Soundtracks Vol.2  was released by the Japanese label Party Ga Hajimaruyo in Nov. 2012 and contained many outtakes from this era. It is said that Vol. 3 is in “the works”.

SPINDRIFT: Ghost of the West

Since the release of the band’s 2011 recording Classic Soundtracks Vol. 1, SPINDRIFT had been hard at work crafting an album — and film — about their fascination with the past, present, and future of the American West. The origins of the Ghost of the West album started when Kirpatrick Thomas and bassist David Koenig (ex-Brian Jonestown Massacre) would entertain remaining stragglers with old acoustic campfire ballads after SPINDRIFT shows in Joshua Tree, California. Pappy and Harriets in Pioneertown, CA to be exact (the birthplace of Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, and The Sons of the Pioneers).

While SPINDRIFT’s previous album and film combo The Legend of God’s Gun (2008) was known as Grindhouse Psychedelic Spaghetti Western, Ghost of the West picked up on the more factual “real” forgotten past of the old West, bringing that ghostly history back to life.

The record was inspired by the group’s 2012 “Ghost Town Tour“, a five week, self-guided tour through more than 20 of America’s most distant western ghost towns. During the trip, many landmarks, tourist attractions (Deadwood, South Dakota), western museums and monuments (such as Cathedral Gorge State Park and Arizona’s Sonoran National Desert) were also reached and at every stop along the way Director Burke Roberts, Cinematographers J. T. Gurzi, and Rich Ragsdale captured the group traveling, performing, and visiting each destination. It was a heavy, rigorous, daring journey which saw the band and crew up before sunrise then camping in the desert most nights. At one point, the band van had to be towed out of a dried up lake bed in the Sonoran Desert which was a “high illegal drug and immigration trafficking point”. They also uncovered an engraved signature carved by non other than Charles Manson when they inspected some finds at the old abandoned county courthouse in Beaumont, NV.

In the Summer of 2012, the band performed “Ghost Riders in the Sky” live with Jello Biafra (of Dead Kennedy’s/Guatanamo School of Medicine). This was to be Sasha Vallely’s departure show and longtime musician/friend of the band Michelle Vidal was introduced shortly after on vocals, keys, and percussion. Her castanet skills quickly adding to the bands new flare for mariachi inspired rock.

The teaser trailer for Spindrift – Gost of the West was released in Jan. 2013 and the band went on to tour the US with desert cohorts GRAM RABBIT in the Spring performing at SXSW 2013, The Knitting Factory(Brooklyn), and One Eyes Jacks(NOLA). The band found difficult times on this tour as they had to replace their trusty tour van mid-tour in New York City. However, all prevailed and the shows went on.

By the end of 2013, they had headlined Europe for their 3rd time overseas(with special guest guitarist Thomas Bellier aka “Espiritu Sanctu” of Blaak Heat Shuuja and Tour Manager/bass player/percussion player extrordinaire Robert Turner-Dronestar joining them onstage), performed a reunion show with all of The Legend of God’s Gun ex- band members, headlined San Frandelic Fest with Vincent Gallo, and supported the legendary punk band X to a crowd of 7,500 plus at an outdoor gig at Pershing Square in downtown Los Angeles. The year finalized with one more headlining US Tour(supporting Nik Turner of Hawkwind in Charlotte, NC) pushing the Soundtrack album release of Spindrift – Ghost of the West which was released on Tee Pee Records 10/23/13.

As the band moved in to 2014, guitarist Thomas Bellier(hailing from Paris, FR), has been added to the lineup to replace Michelle Vidal as they had been wanting to concentrate more on aligning guitar melodies like in the past. Even more nonstop performances on the West Coast pushed the impending feature film release of Spindrift: Ghost of the West, encapsulating the new Soundtrack. During a tour of the Southwest in Jan. 2014, the band performed at Slamdance Film Festival in Park City, UT screening an 8min short of the film. In April 2014, SPINDRIFT signed a publishing contract with the major licensing company Chrysalis/BMG.

Tours of the West Coast USA (August 2014), Europe and the UK (September 2014), and the rest of the USA have finished out the year coupled with screenings of SPINDRIFT: GHOST OF THE WEST. The Los Angeles premier took place at the Downtown Independent Theater on July 24, 2014. The film was screened (with live performance) at The Almeria Western Film Festival 2014, Columbia Gorge International Film Festival, and Weird West Fest 2014 (Giddings, TX) amongst other special screening across Europe including the Liverpool International Festival of Psychedelia and WOS INC Festival (Santiago De Compostela, Spain). The screenings in Spain helped the song “The Matador and the Fuzz” achieve airplay on Spanish Radio 3. Amongst other 2014 highlights, the band performed at festivals such as Levitation, Reverence Festival(Valada), Incubate Festival w/ GOAT and Wovenhand, Oslo Psych Fest, Aarhus Psych Fest, and Future Days Fest.

Discussions are currently at hand for the distribution of the film SPINDRIFT: GHOST OF THE WEST as SPINDRIFT are getting ready to perform at Austin Psych Fest “Levitation” 2015 and continue writing for the next album “Classic Soundtrack’s Vol 3”. A re-release of 2009’s “The West” will come out later 2016 via Xemu Records. Newest jams and local gigs (Kirpatrick has been hosting his monthly CAMPFIRE JUBILEE at BIGFOOT LODGE EAST) have seen the likes of previous ex-members such as Dan Allaire(of The Brian Jonestown Massacre) rejoining on drums, Bobby Bones back on guitar, original member Joe Baluta back on bass, and Julie Patterson back on keyboards. In Dec 2014, while on vacation back on the East Coast, Kirpatrick reunited the original Delaware lineup to record and visually document the recording of the 90’s written song Cabin Fever”. As well, in February 2015, the band reunited in Portland to perform a sold out show at Dante’s with the 2005-2009 lineup including Jason “Plucky” Anchondo and David Koenig. With the addition of guitarist Becca Davidson (from Portland, OR), the band went on to perform at Pioneertown’s Desert Stars Festival 2015. With the further involvement with BMG,  the band landed a tune in the feature film “Diablo” starring Scott Eastwood, several tunes in Viceland’s “King of the Road”, and oddly enough, their first single recorded “Surround Sound” (released originally on 7″ Single via Neck Records in 1993) was featured in the 5disc box set “Still In A Dream: A History of Shoegaze”. The informative booklet format set was released by UK label Cherry Red Records in Jan 2016 and placed Spindrift amongst their rightful peers such as Swervedriver, Lush, Ride, Pale Saints, and The Jesus & Mary Chain. Thus, the earlier analog East Coast recordings have now been digitized and are being set for re-release.

Recently, as of Summer 2017, Kirpatrick finalized the newest version of the band with key player Michelle Vidal now returning on lead vocals and the classic doubleneck bass/baritone Danelectro. Becca Davidson (since 2015) on 2nd guitar and backing vocals, as well as new drummer (from The Whispering Pines) Joe Zabielski. After a good many West Coast gigs (one performing for the Burning Man Crew I Gerlach, NV) as well as Oakland’s UPTOWN Theater, the band headlined their 5th European Tour in the Fall.2017 taking them to Barcelona Psych Fest, returning to The Almerian Western Film Festival, Portugal, Madrid, London, Paris, Manchester, Brighton, and all over Germany.

Winter 2017, Kirpatrick also joined forces once again with the original East Coast lineup from the 90’s Delaware heyday. The band performed all the early material in support of the newly recovered and remastered first 8 tracks they recorded called Space is between the Years Vol 2: 91-95 at 1984 in Wilmington, Delaware on 12/23/17. While Vol 1 covered 96-2000, this volume truly touches on their more innocent, yet amazingly formative, shoegazed offerings.