Kalporz X Monolith Cocktail: The imaginative slowcore of Bondo: interview with the band

March 8, 2023

By Monica Mazzoli

IMAGE: Bondo at Rick’s Drive In & Out, vicino al Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles

Continuing our successful collaboration with the leading Italian music publication Kalporz , the Monolith Cocktail shares reviews, interviews and other bits from our respective sites each month. Keep an eye out for future ‘synergy’ between our two great houses as we exchange posts during 2022 and beyond. This month, and featured in review on these very pages, Monica Mazzoli’s interview with the slowcore band Bondo.

Music often speaks in images. Los Angeles-based Bondo, first with the self-produced debut EP 77 (released in 2021) and then with the album Print Selections (released on February 24 by Florentine Therefore Records ), have succeeded with their imaginative slowcore in designing grainy sound scenarios, sandy: emotions, memories and thoughts become impressionist flashbacks shot in slow motion. A sound, that of the quartet, wavering, fluctuating which finds its emotional climax in minimalism: going beyond rock to embrace atmospheric music, an expression of the sound ideas that go round in the heads of the four members of the band.

We talked to the Bondos about their sound poetics, the group’s approach to composition and many other aspects that intrigued us:

Talking about the name of the band, the word Bondo has many meanings but it can be used to mean the people who live in the hilly regions of the Malkangiri district in southwest Odisha, India. Do you feel like an artistic unit isolated from the rest? What does the word Bondo mean to you?

Bondo in the United States is a product for repairing holes in cars, walls, metal, wood, etc. It is a chemical compound that hardens in 15 minutes and can be sanded. It is quite smelly and sticky, but very useful for its many uses.

The versatile nature of the bondo was part of the reason we thought it was a good name for our music. It is an “adhesive” paste, so it takes the shape you want and once it hardens, it keeps that shape permanently.

The choice of two songs like Egoizing and New Brain as singles doesn’t seem random to me. In my opinion, they represent the creative soul of the disc: the desire not to let the individual self and the mind of the single member prevail within a circle of people (as happens in the Egoizing video).

Sure. The lyrical content scattered throughout the two pieces is all connected by the theme of the dissolution of the individual self. As a band we are focused on collective expression: there is a happy chemistry that takes place within the group dynamics, and we do our best to allow all our different individual opinions to naturally come to a compromise on something again. “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts” or something like that.

The black and white covers of your EP and album are an interesting narrative choice. Is it wanted?

Aesthetically we always thought the music looked a lot like a Xerox printer, or the grainy scans you get in the library using older machines. I think these black and white photos also leave room for the music to speak for itself: when we make this music, we are completely focused on how it sounds in that moment and not how it will present.

As for the “Print Selections” cover, I enjoyed using Google Images to track down the source of the image. I didn’t succeed, but the results made me think. Among the corresponding images appear: “Alien antennas in the abyss”, “Ufiti, the ghost of Nkata bay”, “Twinkle of the sun”, and photographs of the sea by Mario Giacomelli. From a mysterious detail, the perspectives can be multiple. One can see many things in that piece of photo. I think this is an interesting fact, right?

The intention behind the cover image is for it to be very abstract and have a sort of Rorschach test feel. People tend to see different things but the image evokes something subtle on an emotional level. Something like music. 

Many of the reference images for the album were black and white scans of UFO books, film photos with lots of light leaks, etc. All evoke similar feelings to what we experienced with music.

The image actually depicts light reflecting off water. We found it very fitting – some very simple things interact in a unique way that is momentarily appealing.

You have been compared to Acetone, and they are probably among the groups that inspired you, but what struck me in Bondo’s music, right from listening to the first EP, was the undulating development of the songs, as if the music were a wave to surf. There is a lot of emphasis on creating sonic atmosphere. The song that best represents this idea is “Pipecleaner”. I think it’s a distinctive trait of your music. What do you think?

I have a lot of respect for Acetones. To me they exemplify the ideal of a true band. Their piece Germs is perhaps the most successful piece ever written and performed. It evokes such a powerful feeling, such a unique and beautiful thing that only those three band members could achieve.

The sound atmosphere is very important to us. Our music (and maybe all music, you can say) has to do with creating an atmosphere, with feelings more than anything else. Feeling is such a subtle thing and to animate the different aspects of feeling one must be both intentional and flexible. That’s all we try to do when we make music, get closer to those sensations and sounds that we imagine in our head.

There are songs like “Container” and “Lo Tek” which, due to their short duration, seem like impressionist paintings: sound brushstrokes in freedom. I am wrong?

I think you are right. Little states of mind, little things that pass and give the sensation of movement without over stimulating.

I find the album title “Print Selections” to be appropriate: I see the songs as sound images printed on the vinyl record. I don’t know if my interpretation is correct.

Well said, I’d say I agree. The name comes from the mixing: our engineer Andrew Oswald sent us the final mixed files, some of which were sent to tape a couple of times and then digitalised again. One folder was titled Print Selections. It seemed to fit the songs well.

Special thanks to Quindi Records

(Monica Mazzoli)


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