By Sarah Bennett
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By Jena Ardell
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Based on reputation and album artwork, the Flying Saucers should be drooling wrecks incapable of speech. However, singer, guitarist, bassist, drummer and pill-bottle percussionist D.A. Humphrey proved more than articulate.
Who are the Flying Saucers?It's always been me and Sean Mulvihill. There have been seven other members, like five drummers. We like to think of it as a three-piece so we rotate it: everyone gets a chance to play guitar and sing. I'll be playing drums, and Sean will play guitar and sing, with Kuni playing bass. We do three or four songs like that, and then we'll rotate—Sean will play drums, and I'll play guitar and sing. I played classical piano for 10 years, and then picked up guitar and a bunch of different instruments. So, depending on how many people we have in the band and who we can get along with—that dictated what instruments we were playing—whatever needs to be played, or just a two-man band.
Did you start with that in mind? Our original drummer started dating my sister, and they moved up to Portland. That's why Sean and I both learned drums. We couldn't find a legit drummer we could get along with, so we just picked it up and switch off.
So you didn't play drums before that?No. Both of us learned it from necessity. For $15, we bought our first drummer's drum set that he was throwing away.
Do you prefer not having a dedicated drummer?We'd like to have a drummer because me and Sean barely get to play up-front together with one of us drumming. It's cool to have a drummer, but we can't get along with any or find one that's simplistic enough and won't overdrum.
Is it something about you guys or something about drummers? Both, I guess.
How well do you think you fit in with Orange County bands?There are not too many bands that have our sound around here. There's garage rock, but in my opinion, we don't even really sound like that. It seems like a lot of bands lock onto a style and go with that. They'll get into their niche and go from there. Our sound just changes. Every show's different for us because the lineup's changing. We did an acoustic show at the Hippie Compound, where Matt McCluer lives.
Matt called his house the Gathering Room. You call it the Hippie Compound?Yeah. Us and the Matachine call it that. They're not really hippies, but we like to give them shit. We're cursed at that house. You could say we're noisy or trashy, but we're not that loud. We don't have big stacks. Maybe our music pisses off the neighbors more than other people, but we always get the cops called when we play there. Maybe it's not that we're too loud, but everyone else at the Hippie Compound plays mellower stuff.
Do you get put on weird bills without many bands playing your kind of garage music?When we play shows, we usually don't fit with the other bands. It's kind of cool to play with bands we're totally different from when everybody's there to see straightforward bands. We've got a standup bass, but we don't play rockabilly. We just fuck around.
Why the standup bass?Any instrument that's cool that we run across, we try to incorporate—random organs I'll find in thrift stores, harmonicas. We've made maracas out of pill bottles.
Your first album,Learning to Fly and Ready to Die, featured a photo of a plane flying into the World Trade Center. Did that get a strong reaction? Yeah, a lot people were offended and wouldn't listen to it, including some of our friends. We put it out right after 9/11. We had it recorded before 9/11, and Sean was washing dishes at a coffee shop and the title hit him and he laughed his ass off. It was just a joke, but a lot of people were like, "That's not cool, man." They just didn't find the humor in that. For a good six months, some of our friends . . . they just thought it was tasteless, which it was.
Do you like any local record stores? I work at SecondSpin, but I don't know if I like it. It's okay. I guess I just say that because I deal with crackheads selling used CDs all day. We get some cool stuff, though.