Infected Mushroom Soldiers On
Fifteen years on, LA-based psy trance act managed to stay in the game with their latest album, ‘Army of Mushrooms’
The Israeli psytrance group, Infected Mushroom, made up of producers and DJs, Erez Eisen and Amit Duvdevani, have been banging out albums since their debut titled Gathering in 1999 with pop savvy sentimentalism that would make Madonna proud. Their latest, Army Of Mushrooms experiments with everything from minimal house, glitch rock to techno to the biggest crowd pleaser ”“ dub step.
Over the phone from his Los Angeles home, a night ahead of their multi-city US tour, Duvdevani defends the group’s constant need to latch onto musical trends. “If you ask for a definition then we are a psychedelic electronic act. Erez is the star producer and I am the rock star. But our roots are very much in electronica,” says Duvdevani. Psytrance, a hippie rave wave that was born in the Sixties, has gained a following that continues to believe that the alternative genre is a way of life, Portugal’s Boom Festival being a case in point. But Infected Mushroom is casting a wider net. “We still want to play to psytrance crowds, but at a festival, more diverse crowds who listen to rock, hip hop, blues and electronica come for our shows. How can we then remain static?” says Duvdevani adding, “Our oldest fans are now 35 plus with kids. They don’t party anymore and go for parties, but we are still behind the console. We need to keep changing.”
This is also why Army Of Mushrooms is their loudest yet. Eisen and Duvdevani took nearly three years to produce the album at their LA studio, publishing a video blog on their YouTube channel every two weeks that allowed fans to watch Army of Mushrooms take shape. “Unlike most bands and producers, we only write in the studio. We have tried doing songs on the road, but it’s never worked for us. On some days, we walk into the studio with no ideas at all and just start a beat on a BPM of 145 and keep adding layers starting with something as basic as a kick and a bass line. Those are moments when our subconscious kicks in where we put in all our current references and influences,” says Eisen.
There’s no denying that Infected Mushroom got to the dubstep party late, but Duvdevani argues that their instincts didn’t lean towards the genre in the past. “We go by instinct and though earlier we didn’t care much for dubstep, now we love it. All these new kids like Skrillex, we’ve known since they rolled in the neighborhood on their skateboards and used to chill at our studio. Even Bassnectar records in our studio sometimes. We learn a lot by simple observation and we need to appeal to our current fan base, which is now into drum ”˜n’ bass,” says Duvdevani.Â
Another more commercial influence in Army Of Mushrooms is an angry remix of the Foo Fighters’ 2007 Grammy-winning track “The Pretender.” “As producers we are always looking for something to challenge our skills and this is one such complex song, which everybody told us couldn’t sound more angrier. Dave [Grohl] is a friend and he was really open to us taking his song and changing it. It is the angriest song we have ever made,” says Eisen.Â
Duvdevani also credits their evolving sound, particularly a shift towards rock and metal, to their move to the US in 2007. “We moved to USA just before Vicious Delicious released and it’s hard not to be influenced by heavy metal. We love listening to bands like Tool, Korn, System Of A Down and Linkin Park. It’s very easy to be inspired and blend that into what we are doing,” says Duvdevani. Vicious Delicious included heavy guitar distortions in the nu-metal inspired track “Artillery” featuring underground hip-hop artist Swollen Members and the downtempo grungy sounds in “In Front Of Me,” that recalled Linkin Park’s orchestral ballads.
Their last studio album, Legend of the Black Shawarma released in 2009, went into electro-rock territory with collaborations featuring Korn’s Jonathan Davis (“Smashing the Opponent”) and Jane’s Addiction’s Perry Farrell (“Killing Time”). There was also a remix of The Doors’ “Riders on The Storm,” complete with guitar snarls.Â “If I can give you a metaphor, then Infected Mushroom is now a tentacle-d, robotic alien. Our sound has become really complex because both Erez and I are constantly exposed to so much new music that we unknowingly put that out when we are putting down ideas and building a song,” says Duvdevani.
Not wasting any time after the release of their latest album, Infected Mushroom have already begun writing material for their next that is slated for a late 2013 release, unlike the nearly customary two-year break they maintain between releases. The first single “Where Do I Belong,” a a collaboration with Israeli ska band Hope 6, will release sometime this year, in September, on their label Dim Mak recordings. “It has elements of reggae and glitch rock and it’s the perfect track to showcase what we are exploring currently. The album on a whole will have a lot of ska, reggae and glitch. But it could change again, you never know,” says Duvdevani. Change to appease chart-following crowds.