Next, on day two, Seattle instrumental funk band Polyrhythmics played one of the earliest but most memorable shows on the Bigfoot stage, premiering several new tracks from a recent band retreat before covering Tears for Fears’ “Everybody Wants to Rule the World.” A couple hours later, DOPE talked and smoked with guitarist Ben Bloom, as well as percussionists Karl Olson and Grant Schroff—stage name Champagne Bubblebath.
DOPE Magazine: I saw you guys premiere a couple new songs during your set. Are you excited to tour with them?
Ben Bloom: Yeah, the last record we put out, we didn’t play much of that music before we recorded it. We recorded it, then started playing it live, which was different from what we’ve done in the past. This record, we’re going back to the old way, introducing new songs and letting them grow into whatever they’re going to become.
DM: If you’re strapped for rehearsal time, how did you find time to work on these new tracks?
BB: We had a writing retreat.
DOPE:Was that the one at the Skykomish cabins?
BB: Yeah, right at the end of the year, we took a few days up in the woods and wrote a whole bunch of new songs that we’ve been getting into more finished states through soundchecks and rehearsals. We have a bunch more than we’re starting to introduce.
GS: Isolation is key. Being out in the middle of nowhere in the snow. No one has to show up late or leave early from rehearsal, ‘cause we’re all there all day.
DOPE: You also did a retreat near Mt. Hood to develop your last album, Caldera. Have you started doing that just recently?
GS: This is the second time we’ve done it. As we were doing the Calderaone, we got more stuff done in three days than we could in months of trying to schedule weekly rehearsals.
DM: What influence does cannabis play on your guys’ songwriting process?
GS: I’ll let these guys take that one.
BB: Here’s the secret—Champagne Bubblebath is the biggest toker in the band. [Laughs] Cannabis is important to us, it’s an active part of our ritual, both for traveling, creative spaces, bonding. We all come from different backgrounds, and some of us come from pretty strong cannabis backgrounds. It’s one of those things that ties musicians together on the road. We toured with the band Ghost Note recently, and one of the things they said right before we went on this two week tour was, ‘Oh you guys smoke weed—we’re gonna get along just fine.’ Sometimes you need to change your perspective, and cannabis does that for us, whether it’s going into a writing or studio session.
GS: I would add to that that it’s very important to self-medicate when in the resentment incubator—aka tour van. That chills everybody out.
DOPE: And what are the different band members’ background in cannabis?
BB: I worked for a company for a while called House of Cultivar, and have done a lot of cannabis-related activities throughout my whole life, mostly genetics. I’d say it’s a little bit self-medicating as well. I’m not a big drinker, I have pretty big attention deficit disorder and don’t take any other medications at all. Cannabis and coffee are the two things that make my day go. Cannabis was one of those substances that, once the door opened for me, it never closed. We’ve written songs about it and we’ve played around the plant as much as we can. Now we just need some of that cannabis industry money.
DOPE: How does the response you get vary touring across the country? Living in Seattle, I’d imagine that’s where it’s hardest to get people dancing.
GS: We have a pocket in Seattle, though, that gets the fuckdown.
BB: I think we started it, actually. [Laughs] It was as much a surprise to us as it was to everyone else that people showed up to our shows and were dancing to that music. I feel like Seattle needed that invitation to dance.
KO: Traveling down the West Coast is interesting, because Washington to Oregon to California, it’s all one thing, but there’s a spectrum of different kinds of hippie all the way down. We’ve got a great response on the East Coast, too.
BB: My favorite places to play so far are in the South. I feel like when we go to New Orleans, Texas, or North Carolina—these places that are so foreign to us culturally and geographically—that the music feels really fresh, and the responses have been really amazing. Overall, I think the country’s smaller than it used to be, because scenes translate through the internet.
DOPE: When you guys tour, do you often have to crash on people’s couches?
BB: Yeah, you got any good recommendations? [Laughs]. With this band and so many people, we try as best we can to make it as comfortable as possible. When we can afford hotels, we do hotels. When we have a host who can put us up, we love to take advantage of that.
KO: There’s some amazing people scattered around. They’re so generous, and they genuinely do it out of the kindness of their heart.
GS: You get to meet some pretty amazing people that have pretty crazy spaces they live. You find yourself in situations, like in some huge warehouse with recording studio upstairs and all this crazy shit you’d never see if you weren’t on tour.
KO: Some are musicians, and some are just music lovers.
BB: They’re people who the switch has been flipped for, and they’re like, ‘Art is important, and I want to support it in any way I can.’ All of us have done that in some way, we’ve realized the value of art—otherwise we wouldn’t have sacrificed all the things we have to do what we’re doing.