Ahleuchatistas are Sean Dail, Derek Poteat and Shane Perlowin, three sincere, intelligent, hardworking young men from Asheville, North Carolina. Their name refers to ‘œAh-Leu-Cha,’? a Charlie Parker jam, and the Zapatista rebels of Chiapas, Mexico, global icons of native, anti-corporate resistance. And likewise, their music unites indie/punk/hardcore’s discipline and conviction with the atonal, radical spirit of bebop jazz, and maybe some Zappa/Beefheart weirdness along the way. Demian e-mailed them some questions, and the boys sat down after Sunday practice to answer them collectively.
Who are you? Why are you here?
Sean: We are Ahleuchatistas. We’re here to play some southern-fried rock and roll and dodge the draft.
How would you explain your music to a 10 year old?
Sean: Bang! Pow! Ska-Blammy!! Gootchy-gootchy-goo… WHOA
Wee-de-lee wee-de-lee… RRRRrrrr… Shhhhhh… Boi-oi-oi-oing!
Who does what in your band? How do you guys write and create your music?
Shane: I play the guitar, Sean plays the drums, and Derek plays the bass. There is not really one method to our songwriting process. It is pretty chaotic.
Derek: Sometimes one of us will have an idea and we bring that to the other members. Other times, it is truly an organic experience that develops out of a spontaneous idea.
Sean: I’m not sure how what happens… wait… what happened?
How do you, as an all-instrumental band, distinguish yourselves and make sure you stand out?
Shane: I think a distinguishing feature is that we maintain a stripped down sound. We try to be as creative as possible in the absence of effects, to avoid a lot of the conventional song structure trappings, but still play passionate and memorable music.
Derek: There are a lot of pitfalls that can waylay you when writing songs, even with instrumental music, ie prog. While we definitely keep our minds as open as possible to all types of music and ideas, we also keep a vigilant watch to avoid clichÃ©s.
Is there a contradiction in trying to reconcile punk (simple, direct, atheist) and jazz (cool, complex, mystical)? Or is music fluid and flexible enough to transcend its own categories?
Derek: I think that the beauty of our music is that jazz and punk, or any other type of music that influences us, do not have to be reconciled. The practice of categorization has become so engrained in us that we lose sight of how great these apparent contradictions can be when put together.
Shane: The rebellious spirit of punk, when it’s honest, is no different from the radical sentiments that feed creativity in jazz music. I consider artists like Charles Mingus, John Coltrane and others to embody a “punk” attitude in their approach. Their music is about shaking things up and transcending imposed systems.
Your website touches on some fairly serious politics, compared to those of many other bands. Apart from the music itself, how do you act on ideas like agitating the masses, reflecting your surroundings, and transcending niches and categories?
Shane: We do not ignore the political and environmental events and conditions of our time. And we do not deny our culpability in contributing to the crimes of US foreign policy, or the ongoing environmental devastation that is the result of living in our super-consumer culture. I volunteer for a community paper called the Asheville Global Report (www.agrnews.org), which covers underreported news that the mainstream media in the US ignores. One practical thing that we do is perform benefit concerts for causes and organizations that we are in solidarity with, such as Free Radio Asheville, Women in Black, and the Asheville Community Resource Center.
What effect do you hope to have on people who come to your shows? What do you want people to think or feel, as they leave the venue and go on with their lives?
Shane: I hope that we rock people’s socks off and provide a memorable musical experience. I also hope that the audience is as exhausted emotionally and physically as we are when the show is over, and that somehow we have contributed something positive to their lives, since playing music together continues to be such a gratifying experience for us.
Interview by Demian Carynnyk