Ideateam funks it up
The Sacramento nine-piece grows with a sophomore record, new vocalist and respectful disagreements
It was a long New Year’s night at the practice studio. As 2012 was just beginning, Total Perspective Vortex had things to discuss.
One order of business: the band’s name. It was a cool-enough idea, inspired by some cosmic device used in A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, but it didn’t quite hit what the gang envisioned. It was also a little hard to say.
Easy to see why they settled on Ideateam instead. They’re a kind of musician’s republic when they write songs, with every member’s voice—nine total—counting for something.
“It’s like you’re molding this sculpture, and everyone’s putting their clay on it,” guitarist Justin Butler said. “It can be frustrating at times, but all of it comes from a place of love. It’s not about the self. It’s just about what’s going to make the biggest impact.”
The fruits of their musical dialogue are a hearty and heady concoction of ’70s funk, hard rock, soul and whatever else inspires them, and proof lies in tracks like “GB Steve.” It’s a four-minute instrumental groove with brass crescendos accented by guitar wah, subtle bass and Latin percussion marching tightly in one line. It sounds like an anthem for sauntering down a bustling street.
“GB Steve” opens the band’s eclectic second record, Moving Still, which took forever to produce, they admit. The album had been near finished since the beginning of 2015, recorded at Transistor Sound Studios in San Rafael, the same studio that produced an album for Bay Area psychedelic soul group Monophonics.
Part of the trouble was that they decided to record it on tape, which eliminated the convenience of buttering up a digital recording take after take. The bigger reason was old-fashioned perfectionism.
“We’re super-masochistic,” bassist Kyle Pulskamp said. “We draw out the process and make it as painful as possible. We’re really good at doing that.”
After a laundry list of tinkering and tampering, Moving Still finally comes to be on Friday, October 28, with an album release show at Harlow’s Restaurant & Nightclub.
“It’s about sticking to your convictions,” Butler said of the album name. “We live in a day and age when there’s more pressure to bow or avoid instances where you come into conflict with that kind of stuff.”
Ironically, Butler said that learning to disagree respectively has been the band’s biggest point of growth. Vocalist Garrett Wildgust is featured on Moving Still but left in January over artistic differences. They’re still on good terms, Butler said, and Wildgust will join them at the Harlow’s show. Julian Cunningham took over vocal duties in April, and things have continued to look up.
Still, working with such a large group remains a challenge. Sometimes, disagreements can play out like siblings bickering over things like tempo, Butler said. Thankfully, it’s impersonal, more productive than not, and often like choosing between “two different kinds of mustard” when it comes to musical decisions, Pulskamp said. Both taste great in the end.
“It can be painfully democratic,” Butler said. “But, it’s the same process that has led to the songs that we play that we’ve really enjoyed.”