Germaphobes: The Wavelength Interview

Purveyors of: Theatrical, off-kilter psych rock that begs you to release your inner spastic dancing nerd in front of all your cool friends at the bar.

File next to: The Fleshtones, Talking Heads, Godley & Creme
Playing: WL 698, Saturday April 23 @ Monarch Tavern. Get tickets here!

Paul Elrichman and Neil Rankin are no strangers to the weird and wacky, having been involved in numerous solo and collaborative projects over the years. With their latest EP, Magic Eye, out now on Pleasence Records, Germaphobes combine poppy guitar licks, upbeat drums, and bizarre lyrics that will make sure you’re wiggling in your seat or jiving on your feet. Emily Scherzinger chatted with Paul about their new EP, upcoming show, and the aesthetics of a Germaphobe.

Both of you have been in musical projects together — such as your previous band, Gay — and separately — such as Paul’s solo project, Elrichman, and Neil’s solo project, Bert Sugar. How have all of these different projects filtered into Germaphobes?

For me, all those projects built confidence. I’d never sung in front of an audience before Gay. I’d never played by myself before Elrichman. Being able to tap into all that while focusing on just one thing is kind of a luxury.

Germaphobes tends to force me to imagine a world in which everything is brightly coloured and drenched in dirty floral patterns, like the one from your grandma’s couch, but with a giant red wine stain on it from a crazy house party. If you could describe the aesthetic world of Germaphobes, what would it look like?

I think you nailed it right there. As long as we don’t look like a cool guy band I’m happy.

Neil recently mentioned to me that you two have finalized the Germaphobes lineup with Lisa Carson and Aaron Mariash. How have these two lent their musical talents to the sound of Germaphobes?

Well, Lisa probably has the best voice out of all of us, and we trust her judgement. And she keeps us being less dumb. Neil and I can be very dumb at practice. Aaron is a super versatile drummer and comes up with rhythms that I would never think of, which is fun. He also does a great Ray Romano impression (RIP actress who played Ray’s mom).

Is anyone in the group actually a germaphobe?

Not spoiling our tell-all.

A lot of your band imagery is taken at Handlebar in Kensington Market, such as the video for “Married Girls.” Is the bar a landing pad for the band in some way, or does it serve as inspiration at all?

Neil works at Handlebar, so we end up there a lot for videos, late nights, and quinceañeras. I think that it’s pretty admirable that for a neighbourhood that’s as busy as Kensington Market is, and in a city that’s so expensive, it has all these weird institutions like Double Double Land and Ronnie’s and Videofag that have lasted. So hopefully Germaphobes can become a sort of weird institution too.

As a huge literary nerd, I’m excited to know what is the thinking behind the title of the second song off of Magic Eye, “Michael Ondaatje’s World”! Can you please explain it?

Uh, I’m kind of a dummy and I read Divisadero and it’s very romantic and globetrotting and at the end of it he thanks Jet Fuel Coffee which is kind of funny and jarring. So I just wrote a song about how about how he gets from point A to point B with something like that. But like, it’s not a close reading.

Germaphobes play the Monarch Tavern for WL #698 at the Monarch Tavern, along with Century Palm, Tough Age, and Long Branch. Get your tickets here.

— Interview by Emily Scherzinger