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Interviews

Jacob Turnbloom of Mrs. Magician Discusses the Band’s New Album, ‘Bermuda’

The Mrs. Magician frontman says "every song on 'Bermuda' is about being confused and lost"

mrs magician interview

Mrs. Magician (Turnbloom is second from right)

Mrs. Magician are a surf-tinged rock band from San Diego who fuse catchy, sun-drenched songs with lyrics about death and “despicable things.” You can hear that juxtaposition of light and dark on the band’s new single, ‘Forgiveness,’ when frontman Jacob Turnbloom vows, “no more smellin’ flowers while I’m in the weeds.” The band’s sophomore LP, Bermuda, dropped todayBermuda follows their 2012 debut Strange Heaven and a collection of b-sides in 2013. I spoke with Turnbloom about making Bermuda and working with local legend John ‘Speedo’ Reis.


Dan Redding: Is the triangle shape on the cover of Bermuda a reference to the Bermuda triangle?

Jacob Turnbloom: The guy who does our record covers… I would just pick through his artwork and pick things I thought worked well with the songs. The only record he ever actually did for us, [that was specifically designed] for the album, was for the B Sides record that we did. But Strange Heaven and Bermuda, I literally just looked through his artwork and picked something that I thought worked well with the songs, visually.

mrs magician bermuda

The ‘Bermuda’ Album Cover

Am I the first person to connect that triangle shape with the Bermuda Triangle?

You are, and I think that’s a subliminal thing that works well with it. Somebody asked me yesterday about Bermuda – about the title – and I was just telling him, it’s kind of poking fun at our band. For a long time, people lumped us in with all these different bands, ‘surf pop’ and stuff like that. Bermuda – it’s a perfectly kind of generic term for a record. But also, every song is about being confused and lost – which are kind of themes of the record, so I thought it worked perfectly. It’s in the same instance making fun of our band, and working with the lyrics.

It sounds like a similar juxtaposition of bright and dark that you guys have worked with in the past.

Absolutely.

Your last LP of new material with Mrs. Magician came out in 2012. How has the band changed in those four years?

Nothing’s really different. We kind of just kept writing and recording music since then… The band’s kind of the same. I would write a batch of songs, and the only thing that’s really changed is the subject matter for me; I think the structure’s all pretty much the same. Sonically, we intended on making it sound different from Strange Heaven: no reverb on the guitar, fuck around with the drum tone, make it sound a little bit more power pop as opposed to big sixties rock ‘n roll. Things like that – stripping away a lot of things.

That theme that you mentioned of feeling lost – where does that come from, personally, for you?

For me, a lot of that came with struggling keeping the band going… a lot of bands nowadays realize that it’s hard to tour. You’re constantly juggling work, and no job is cool with you taking time off… Half the time, you have to fucking quit your job. The kind of jobs you have to work to be able to leave them are always kind of demeaning. We all kind of work in coffee shops or record stores. Customer service jobs. It also has to do with drinking too much and having an addictive personality – all that stuff mixed together is a recipe for depression. I tried to get all of that out, and I think everybody’s in a super good place now. For [Bermuda], I was venting a lot of my frustrations with my life situation.

What does this year represent? Is 2016 a big new opportunity to take this new record out on the road and reach a new level?

Totally. We have a lot of shows. We didn’t do that for Strange Heaven… Everybody’s like, ‘Let’s really go on tour for a long time.’ Let’s try to make some videos that are a little bit better than we’ve done in the past. Just try to be a lot more proactive with playing for people. It’s something I think we fucked up on Strange Heaven – we didn’t play as much as we could’ve… We’ve pretty much planned out a whole year of what we’re going to do. It’s definitely exciting for all of us; I think this is a better record than Strange Heaven. I think it’s way more solid. I’m super proud of it. I’m excited.

For those who don’t know, what is Swami Records and who is Speedo Reis?

Swami Records was started by John Reis who was the singer of this band Rocket from the Crypt from San Diego. He also plays guitar in Drive Like Jehu, and he plays guitar in Hot Snakes – he’s got a lot of different projects. I think that that label started out as a way to put out his projects and his friends’ projects… He told me one time that he wanted Swami to be San Diego’s Dischord. It’s really DIY, it’s really just him and a distribution company and us trying to help push things along ourselves… You have to put a lot of love into it, and he really gives a shit about it. I feel like it’s gonna be around for awhile, but it’s a very slow-moving enterprise.

He produced this record – is he kind of a mentor to you guys, or a friend that you work with?

He’s both… His job was to make us a good band.

Got any good tour stories?

There’s one that’s kind of cool. We opened for METZ in Hollywood at the Troubadour, and Keanu Reeves came to see them play. Everybody was afraid to talk to him, and I was the only one that wanted to bother him.

He’s fucking sad – he needs somebody to go talk to him!

Yeah, he seemed really sad. He was dressed kind of like Neo. But he was actually really nice. It’s funny, because the only thing I could think to tell him was how much I loved Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey. I couldn’t think of anything else.

Was he down with it?

He was super appreciative! He was like, “Dude, thank you! Thank you! Appreciate it!”

That was a pretty good Keanu voice right there.

Well thanks. It was kind of cool that he was there to see METZ. He’s gotta be a pretty fuckin’ cool guy.

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