Photo credit: Brian Rozman

Something is stirring in the lysergic spectral swamps of supernatural Detroit. That legendary city’s significance in the evolution of wild and heavy music through the ages is beyond dispute, but there is always room for another revolution. Purveyors of a uniquely vibrant strain of balls-out psychedelic turbo-rock, Octopus are about to blow open the doors of perception and invite everyone in for a party. Formed in 2008 by guitarist J Frezzato (ex-Electric Six) and vocalist Masha Marjieh, this ten-legged groove machine began as the channelling of a nocturnal hallucination…

“I was having these recurring dreams about a giant spaceship/submarine shaped like an Octopus,” says J Frezzato. “It was navigating the ocean after Armageddon, this massive iron octopus. Then I came across this book, called The Octopus by Kenn Thomas and Jim Keith and around that time I was writing some subterranean psych stuff…”

“…and I thought the stuff he was recording was cool,” adds Masha. “I told him he should keep doing it, and he was like, ‘Maybe it should be a band? You can be the singer.’ I said, 'Don’t you wanna know if I can sing?’ I had sung in church, you know, once, as a kid… and I didn’t like it. They told me I was singing too loud! He said, ‘You sang in church? This’ll be great!’”

If the music on Octopus’ debut album Supernatural Alliance tells us anything, it’s that the spirit of low-slung and bowel-rattling psych rock is alive and well. After years of paying their dues and letting the spirit of invention propel them forwards, the quintet are now on blistering collective form and beyond ready to conquer the world. Veering from thunderous, Sabbath-fuelled rampages like Beyond The Center and the album’s mighty title track to the piano-driven, old school rock’n’roll clatter of Strike (While The Iron is Hot) and the woozy, kaleido-blues of the wryly titled Fleetwood Mac, it’s a bold and supremely confident opening salvo from a band that seem to be achieving great things powered only by instinct. With a line-up completed by Matt O’Brien (bass/formerly of Detroit fuzz-funk crew Big Chief), Chuck Burns(drums, also a member of Speedball and Seduce, formerly of Universal Temple Of Divine Power) and Adam Cox (keyboards), Octopus are already firmly connected to the cosmic musical mainframe.

“We never once sat down and said, ‘What’s our direction? What’s our sound?’” Masha notes. “It was never a discussion. We’ve always known what it is and what it isn’t and what it was supposed to be. If we have an idea and we like it we try to make it happen. We try not to fuck it up. We’re off in our own little world.”

“Adam, Matt and Chuck are all fucking dynamite,” adds J Frezzato. “There’s some overlap in our frames of reference. We like some of the same stuff, we like some different stuff, but we know what this thing is without ever talking about it.”

Where many other like-minded bands adhere rigidly to an ethos of total-retro-or-die, Octopus sound neither like the past nor the present. Instead, this is a wholesale rejuvenation of psychedelic rock’s life-affirming essence. From the album’s dazzling, synapse-tickling artwork to the songs’ cerebral but surreal lyrical conceits, it’s an enthralling soundtrack for a magical world gone wrong.

“Everybody lives in the face of this huge, cosmic beauty and terror,” states J Frezzato. “I like stuff that comes out of that… Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, Jack Kirby, David Lynch, Joe Coleman, Alex Grey, underground comics. That’s the shit. But I’ve tried to sit down and go, ‘Now I’m going to write a song about some specific thing…’ and it never works. It’s more like, you’re changing the strings on a guitar and, ‘Hey, there’s a riff!’ Now you’ve got a riff and it wants to be something. What’s it gonna be? The riff will fucking tell you.”

Newly signed to legendary UK label Rise Above Records, Octopus have found a natural home for the launch of their first slab of supercharged psych-metal splendour. Their new mission is to take their riff-heavy third-eye detonations on the road, bringing psychedelic fury to the masses and, if the planets align, bringing the art of blowing minds and bucking the rock’n’roll system back with a reverb-drenched bang. Next stop, the red planet!

“I remember being a kid, hanging out in video game arcades,” J Frezzato recalls. “Those arcades, they were all dark, with blue and red neon lights. Smoke. Drug deals. You went in there as a kid, and you were like, ‘Fuck yeah! I’m on Mars now!’ There were always Blacklight dragon posters on the walls. That was the image that kept coming to me when we were working on this record. Rock’s been turned into a beer commercial, a sporting event and museums and it’s been broken into a million orthodox subgenres. I’m not into that. Rock is an underground thing. That’s where it belongs.”

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