Old Time Relijun’s power and passion
Inevitably the conversation with Old Time Relijun guitarist and vocalist Arrington de Dionyso returns to both the primal roots of sound and mankind itself. Consider this along with the fact Dionyso conducts his end of the interview from a tent (at the Helsing Junction Sleepover, the annual music festival put on by K Records on an organic farm), and one might confuse the man as a ‘60s throwback. What this son of a Methodist minister is instead is an idealist with a passionate, well-spoken world view.
For the past 10 years, Dionyso has commanded Portland, Oregon’s Old Time Relijun, whose aesthetic mirrors a fiercely mutated cousin to both The Cramps and Captain Beefheart, with an instinctual improvisational drive held by the Jazz Giants of the 1950s.
Dionyso spoke with the CN&R about the band’s newest album, Catharsis in Crisis (due Oct. 9 on K Records), the psychedelic powers of rubbing one’s eyes, and garnering a decent grasp of Spanish, French and Italian languages, while seeing the world with backpack in tow.
How important has world travel been to your perspective as an artist and musician?
I like to be able to move in and out of perspectives—it’s not so much that I want to burn up tons of fuel just to get to some other place—I want to be able to see the world from multiple vantage points. I might see things in one particular way based on where I’m from and where I grew up, or whatever. Traveling around, going to different countries, speaking different languages, is just kind of one step in being able to do that.
What from your childhood do you think might have prepared you for what you do now as a musician and artist?
I just had to sit around in church a lot, and I was really, really young, so it was kind of boring. I would rub my eyes a lot. When you squint your eyes really hard and kind of rub them you can see different colors and stuff. So it’s kind of like I taught myself how to trip out and, you know, for a child, it’s the equivalent of having a visionary experience. I could see animals, like little circuses marching around, lights, and the sun and the moon. I really went into this imaginary realm. I still try and maintain close contact with that imaginary realm in my adult life as well.
How does the band want to affect an audience?
People talk about the energy. I like thinking of music in terms of vibrational qualities. If you understand the true nature of the vibrations of sound, you can use that for healing; you can use that to kind of transcend the limitations of the ego in the present moment. I’ve had people come up to me after shows and say, “I don’t know what it was about that music, but I just feel like you cleaned me or something.” To me that’s very complimentary. I would like that to be an element that people come away with.
With attention to vibrations and sound, can the band’s mood affect the outcome of those, and is this something you’re aware of?
Anything can affect it, if you let it … We have a very high standard we strive for onstage, and at the same time we’re very honest with our stage presence. And it’s not that we would ever pretend things are something other than what they are, but I feel very clear when I’m onstage generally. I know what I’m there for when I’m out there in front of people.
With the release of the new album, what do you see for the coming year?
Well, there’s going to be a lot of touring. It’s like going to work, but I mean that in the best possible way; I’m satisfied with my life in that regard. I feel like this new album is going to reach a lot of new people and it might take us to the next level, so to speak. And we might start having bigger turnouts at our shows … we get to be the band that all the yuppies have on their iPods or whatever. It’s exciting, and you can get a little carried away thinking about all the good things that might be when you really put yourself into your music.