The Charalambides. hroughout the last decade, Tom and Christina Carter (occasionally augmented by Jason Bill) have created some of the most harrowing, mournful, sophisticated, soul-searching, and brutally honest music in the comfort of their home. Trading under the group de plume, Charalambides (that's Char-a-lam-ba-deez), Tom and Christina have released six homegrown recordings and one live record between their own Wholly Other imprint and Philadelphia based indie, Siltbreeze. Several compilation appearances, including the side long 20 minute epic "Naked in Our Deathskins" on the triple LP box set Harmony of the Spheres (1997, Drunken Fish; recently reissued as a double CD), round out their impressive catalog.

 Photograph by Libby Beaman

Having recently relocated to Austin and with their new Wholly Other release, Internal Eternal just packed off to the distributors, Tom and Christina spoke with me about their recording process, their disdain of live performing, why their releases are apparently so difficult to find, why the new record, recorded at home on Christmas Eve four years ago was just seeing the light of day now and the story behind that infamous answering machine message that opens Market Square.

The following interview took place on the December 5th edition of my "White Noise" radio program and was broadcast live over WNTI-FM, 91.9 in Hackettstown, NJ ( My questions and comments are identified as NV, representing my nom de radio, the Night Visitor. Tom and Christina's comments are identified individually. As will become apparent, they often complete each other's sentences and thoughts!

NV: Welcome, Tom and Christina. Thanks for taking the time to chat with us. As I mentioned in my e-mail, I did a lot of preparation for the interview, trying to find information about your work and background so I wouldn't ask the same old standard interview questions that you've been asked a hundred times already.   There was a wonderful article that I did manage to dig out of my archives from 1997 issue of a wonderful magazine called Magnet which was an overview of the Texas Psych scene by my good buddy Fred Mills but it's pretty barren ground out there even on the Internet. Not a lot of information is readily available. So, hopefully, the questions won't be too pedestrian or repetitive of what you've been asked before.

Christina: We haven't been asked that much before.

NV: Is Internal Eternal something that you just got together on Christmas Eve four years ago- playing the piece right through, breaking it into segments, and giving each segment a title- or are each of the segments actually individual songs that you strung together and sequenced into an album?

Christina: Well, it wasn't just one long piece. It was separate pieces. But other than that, it's a combination of what you just said.

Tom: It was all improvised…

Christina: …but they were played as different pieces.

Tom: Over several nights, we had recorded several different pieces but that was the only night that actually came out any good. We had the tape around for awhile and always liked it until eventually we decided that we were ready to put it out.

NV: Was Internal Eternal recorded during the sessions for Market Square?

Tom:  We actually kicked around Market Square for maybe a year. It took a while to get the cover together and we were going through a lot at that point. So that was already pretty old at that point when it came out. Internal Eternal came from a time when we were recording a lot of things...a lot of stuff that was different from what we had done in the past. That's actually, strangely enough, one of the few things that Christina and I recorded as a duo at the time.

Christina: We were playing with Jason [Bill] and he was out of town.

Tom: We were doing stuff with Ash Castles [on the Ghost Coast] and others.

Christina: All of the stuff with other people was informal. It wasn't in clubs or for released recordings.

NV: Your first album, Our Bed Is Green came out on Wholly Other. Is that a label you own or is that someone you hooked up with?

Christina: That's us. We do it.

NV: You also have released material on Siltbreeze out of Philadelphia. What attracted you to Siltbreeze?

Christina: We knew Siltbreeze from a fellow named Jay Hinman - who put out a fanzine called Superdope - and he suggested we send Tom and Mac a cassette. We didn't think anything would come of it, but ... they wrote back and said they'd like to put something out and that was Union. Union was on LP and Market Square was on LP, and then Houston was on CD.

Tom: I guess Union was the first thing that was "mass released," and I use that term loosely. Our Bed Is Green was originally a cassette. We didn't even have a label at that point - we just put it out.

NV: Were you offering them at shows or just locally there in Houston?

Tom: Well, we'd only played a couple of shows. A friend of ours did a radio show on KTRU in Houston and he wanted us to play. We didn't want to perform live, so we recorded a 90 minute cassette and he played it on his radio show.

Christina: And we sold a few at the record store we worked at…

Tom: …and we had gone on vacation and we sold a few at some record stores here and there. But, nothing major. There were probably less than…

Christina: …There were probably only about 30 of them all together…

Tom:…of the original cassette version.

NV: How do you decide when you have something that you want to get out that you're gonna give it to Siltbreeze? Do you have a release-to-release contract with them or are you just contracted to give them so many releases?

Christina: We don't have a contract.

Tom: Each time we've done a record, it's been specifically for them. When we put something together, it's been specifically with the idea that it would be a Siltbreeze release. I'm not sure what the criteria is in our heads…

Christina: …It's more like a feeling. Tom Lax from Siltbreeze will mention, "Do you have anything or do you want to think about doing something in the next year?"  We'll start to think about it and we'll put something together for them… We have no contract at all. It's just all verbal agreement….

Tom …Right. I think the Wholly Other stuff tends to be a little more off the cuff…

Christina: …It tends to be more archival. Something that was never intended to be a release to begin with.

NV: When you decided to release Internal Eternal, was it because you wanted to get something out to the listeners and the fans so they'd have some new material even though it's old to you?

Tom: We thought about releasing it because we've always liked it. We actually thought about releasing it before Houston, but I was a little hesitant because I wanted our first release in a while to be, how shall I say, more formulated. I think the new CD is more of a mood….

NV: Yes! I've been listening to it ever since I got it and it's very evocative and visual…cinematic almost. It reminds me of a Polish band you may be familiar with called Atman - that type of ethnicity and multi-instrumentation. It even sounds like there's some Japanese koto music here too. Is it just me? Did you use other instruments or is it just guitar?

Christina: It's all guitar.

Tom: It's unplugged electric hollow body guitars and we just set out a couple of mikes…

Christina: There's acoustic…

Tom: Yeah, there's acoustic. There's bowed acoustic and it was run directly through the DAT machine through a reverb pedal. The instrumentation is pretty stark. There's some chime balls…I had an imitation junk shop (laughs) and those are on there….

NV: I noticed that your cover photos, Tom, for Market Square, Houston and now the new one, all seem to be the same building in different degrees of decay or ruin. Is that a location in Houston that those photos were taken?

Tom: Yes, they were all taken within a two or three block radius of downtown Houston. I guess the front cover of Houston and the front cover of Internal Eternal are taken from the same vantage point, but they're different buildings. That's funny. They're all photos from the same photo session. We just liked those photos a lot.

NV: I noticed that there's quite a distinct difference between Market Square and Houston. The music is more somber and reflective and I wondered if your move from Houston up to Austin was on you mind during that recording in the sense that it sounds almost like a farewell to a city that you loved and now you're ready to move on and away from it. The vocals have an operatic quality that almost sounds like an aria, but then they often drift off into almost anguish cries. Is that reflective of what was going on in your life at the time and the move away from Houston or am I just reading too much into that and hearing things that aren't really there. After all, you did elect to call the record, Houston.

Christina: Not a lot of people, but the people that have commented on Houston mentioned that it sounded like a departure and a lot different to them and from my viewpoint, I don't see that at all, so it's hard for me to comment on that.

Tom: When we were first recording Houston, we were kind of picking up where Union left off. The only difference was that it was just the two of us again instead of a trio or other musicians.

NV: I'm sorry that I'm not familiar with Union. I haven't been able to find it. But with Houston you seem to use your voice differently, almost as another instrument. Was this similar to what you did on Union?

Christina: Maybe I'm wrong, but I think I've done both on every…on each release. I'm trying to think….

NV: Well, I know there are some lyrics on Houston: "? "Song for Always"…

Christina: …and "Voice Within." Those were done completely in the moment. They weren't written out beforehand. But there were certainly a lot of feelings about leaving Houston, that's for sure. Some of the music that's on Houston was written after we left. And we thought of the title after we left, so maybe you're right.

Tom: Some of it was looking back on what our life had been and we sort of took off on that and let it grow from there.

Christina: What usually happens is it's not thought out philosophically beforehand, it's more by feeling and it gets its own momentum as it moves along.  It takes a long time to decide the order…a long time.

NV: You mean the sequence of tracks on the release?

Christina: Yeah.

NV: Are you recording all the time and then going back and assembling your releases from the tapes?

Christina: It used to be that way, but it isn't anymore.

Tom: We used to record things, let them sit around, and then go back and listen to them again.  It used to be that we were recording all the time, but now - fortunately or unfortunately - when we sit down it's more of a thing. You know, it's "We're recording."

NV: Do you have a studio at home or do you record at a local studio?

Christina: We've always recorded at home, but we don't have a studio, either. We just set things up and take it down…

Tom: …fairly low tech for the most part.

NV: I noticed on the recordings that you often break up the record with what I guess I would call "drop ins" or field recordings-  sounds like a radio playing in the background or sounds like on "City Prison" where it sounds like you did some recording at a local prison. The last track, "Finale" on Our Bed Is Green has the recording about the religion of LSD and there's that old scratchy recording of what sounds like parents coaxing a kid into trying to sing on Houston. Is that thrown in as an afterthought to kind of lighten the mood a little bit? Just so people don't take the recordings too seriously?

Tom: (laughing) Uh…I've been responsible for most of those. When I hear tracks in my mind...when we're deciding on the order, sometimes I think they'll sound a little better to me if they're broken up. I'll often run across little bits of things that I want to use. The stuff on Our Bed Is Green I would never use again. That was just a bit of a lark. Some of it, though is thought out - on Union and Market Square particularly

Christina: …Market Square was specifically thought out….

Tom: We just thought it [the opening] was too incredible not to use. We found that on our answering machine one day….

[For those unfamiliar with the piece, it begins with a lengthy message left on Tom and Christina's answering machine where the caller demands that someone "pick up the phone right now or I'm gonna kill myself. I'm gonna drive to Houston and I'm gonna call the police and I'm gonna tell them someone's gonna commit suicide there. I'm gonna do that and you'll have to contend with the police. Pick up the phone or I'm gonna do something crazy…".]

 NV:  That must have been pretty frightening: you come home and flip on the answering machine and that thing's waiting there for you?

Tom: Yeah, there's a little, a very little story with it. I basically had come home and there was a message on the machine…

Christina: …messages over and over…

Tom: No, no. First there was a message from that guy. He was looking for Cliff. So I changed my message saying, "Hi, this is Cliff. I'm not here." So, I left that kind of as a joke and when I came back, that guy had filled up my machine with about 15 minutes of calls over and over again with these anguished kind of pleas for Cliff and God knows what…. The funny thing is, the next day, Cliff calls us (laughs) to apologize!

Christina: I don't know how he knew the other guy was calling. We don't know anything about them.

Tom: It was just a very odd thing and it just fit with the mood of everything [on Market Square.]

NV: I'd like to talk a little bit for new listeners or new fans about the beginning of the project. Tom, you were previously in a band called Mike Gunn, right?

Tom: Yeah.

NV: You were on the first two albums?

Tom: I'm on the first three albums, a posthumous 10" and I'm on two tracks of the live CD and God knows what else! (laughs) A bunch of CD-Roms have come out.

NV: Traded among the fans?

Tom (laughing) Yeah!

NV: Now, the group has disbanded and moved on to something else?

Tom: Yeah the bass player is in…

Christina: …Dunlavy.

Tom: …a band called Dunlavy. The other guitar player is in a band called Project Grimm.

NV: I have the Alms CD [a benefit compilation for British magazine Ptolemaic Terrascope which includes a track by Project Grimm and Ash Castles on the Ghost Coast, along with another Houston band, Dry Nod] and I brought some of my other Texas psych music like Linus Pauling Quintet and Dunlavy and Project Grimm and Ash Castles. You're not connected with Ash Castles on the Ghost Coast, are you?

Christine: That's two other people.

Tom: I think there's a couple of on-line catalogs that list that as a side project which is where I think the confusion started, but that's two totally different people.

NV: When you decided to leave the Mike Gunn, were you already married?

Tom: Yeah, because we were married when Union came out and there's a photo on the inner sleeve that's from our wedding. We were married and Charalambides was well on the way when I left Mike Gunn…was asked to leave Mike Gunn. (both laugh)

NV: The music that's on the first album compared to what I've read about Mike Gunn is a lot quieter…acoustical. In fact, someone had written in [to the DroneOn discussion list] and said that you did  a cover of an Incredible String Band song and a Rolling Stones' song, but I can't find which songs they are.

Tom: They're on the cassette version.

NV: Ah, no wonder I couldn't find them.

Tom: We did do another Incredible String Band song on a 7".

Christina: It wasn't an Incredible String Band song, it was a song they did…

Tom: It was a sort of copy of their version of a song they did….

NV: But there's also some white noise guitar songs on here like "Stuttgart" and "Neutron Decay" and then I have to jump up to Market Square, which is the next record I have so I missed the progression of the sound in between there. But, I've found on the last three releases that you're moving away from  the noisier guitar pieces into quieter improvisational material.

Tom: I think it has more to do with, like on Our Bed Is Green we were more just like screwing around, putting stuff on tape to see what it sounded like with no intentions behind it. Since then, we've thought a lot more about it and tried to integrate things more. The Live CD, actually has more of the noisier stuff, more into that territory.

NV: Do your musical tastes differ in terms of what you each listen to when you're not working on anything?

Christina: Our tastes are pretty similar…

Tom: …we pretty much like everything the other person likes. When we reach for a record from the stack it may be a different record, but….

NV: …But it's the same style or sound.

Tom: Yeah, we pretty much like what the other person plays, basically, and we have pretty eclectic tastes. I think in the beginning I was a little more resistant to quieter, acoustic music. I was pretty much a rock and roller for a long time, but gradually, I've moved away from that. I think Christina was way more open to that in the beginning than I was, although we did listen to pretty similar music when we started working together, because we used to work together in a record store - that's where we met. We were into all the bands of the time, back in, I guess '89…?

Christina: …something like that.

NV: What was the music scene like in Houston about that time? Were you into the indie stuff or the popular stuff that you'd hear on the commercial radio?

Tom: (laughing) We were pretty far removed from the popular stuff even way before that! But, I don't know, the scene in Houston was always kinda funny. It was always kinda…

Christina: (chuckling) Freaks!

Tom: Yeah, I was always into underground music, but there were a lot of people involved in it that couldn't care less about buying records or anybody else's band other than their own.

NV: We're you responsible for the music that came into the store?

Tom: Yeah. It was more like a communal type of store.

Christina: There were no managers. There were a few people like Kurt Brennan who runs Fleece Records and you could tell him what you wanted in the store and he would order it for you. I took it upon myself a few times to order things for certain individuals for something they heard about. Sound Exchange - a good store!

NV: On the Internet - Tell 'em Tom and Christina sent you!

Christina: They're not convinced there's a place for them on the Internet.

NV: That's a nice opening for me to say, in a nice way, that you almost seem the same way. It's very hard to find information on you out there. I know it's not your fault that AllMusic and RoughGuide and UBL doesn't list you, but even when I do a search for Charalambides, all I get are a bunch of Greek University professors!

Tom: Yeah, there's a lot of Greek scientists….[Christina laughs]

NV: I couldn't even find Wholly Other, even though I know you have a web site.

Christina: Ramon Medina who runs Worship Guitars has a link to us on his site. We don't have an adequate computer to do a web site plus the aspect of time and everything. But as far as biographical information, I don't know. We don't go out of our way to ask magazines to write about us or whatever it is you have to do.

NV: An earlier edition of a Swedish magazine, The Broken Face, did an interview with you, but I don't have that issue. And Wholly Other has another artist besides yourself, right?

Christina: Besides Ash Castles, we have a CD by a guy who calls himself Artificial Subterranne. That's a guy name Paul who put out a CD under the name Paul Locasta and Paul Guilford. He now lives in New Zealand where he is originally from.

Tom: We didn't really start the label as a Charalambides label, we just haven't released other stuff besides those. We try to put stuff out by our friends that couldn't get it out any other way.

NV: Are there other artists that you've been working with that, even if there wasn't enough material for a full release, you might consider for a compilation?

Tom: I don't really like compilations very much. Obviously, there are some really good ones, but unless there's a really strong unifying reason, I don't see us doing one. And as far as singles, they're definitely out.

NV: Yeah, I spoke with Jason DiEmilio from Azusa Plane a few months back and he said, basically, the 7" is dead - financially, it's a total loser. Aside from maybe selling them at a show or something as a special rarity for fans.

Tom: They might be OK if you could press about a hundred of them, but inevitably you'd probably be stuck with a bunch of them. There's also problems pressing vinyl and I'd rather go through printing an album than a single.

NV: Is Market Square still only available on vinyl?

Tom: Yes, it's too long for a CD.

Christina: It's about 90 minutes.

NV: I'd like to ask you quickly about your appearance on the Harmony of the Spheres compilation, since you're not a fan of compilations in general. Did Darren Mock -the owner of Drunken Fish which released it- come to you and specifically request a track?

Tom: At the time, he contacted us because he was doing a series of split albums. That's what it started out as. Then he got the idea for the box and that's how we got into that. About half of it was recorded specifically for him and half was other stuff. Actually, there's a long segment from a live show in there.

NV: So your piece, "Naked in our Deathskins" is actually a pastiche of several individual pieces strung together?

Tom: The very first part is something I recorded by myself, the second part is from a live show and that eventually builds to a third part, which is Jason [Bill], Christina and I all playing just for that compilation. About 2/3 of it is new.

Christina: The other stuff wasn't released any other way

NV: Was it understood up front that he would be looking for approximately a whole side, about 20 minutes of material?

Christina: Yes.

NV: Now, when you're working with that kind of confinement - when someone comes to you and says we need 20 minutes- is that a problem for you?

Christina: (laughing, emphatically) NO! That's…not at all! The problem for us is if someone says, "Do you want to do something?  It can only be seven minutes long or six or five minutes long?" We just say, "What are we gonna do?" A lot of times, we just can't do it.

Tom: Especially now, when it's difficult to record anything under 10 minutes long.

NV: You feel more comfortable, then, when you have the luxury to improvise and just let the piece end when it's ready and not be confined by time limits?

Christina: Yes. Obviously, when recording our own stuff we can do anything we want and Siltbreeze puts no conditions on us at all.

Tom: It's a kind of way that we've evolved into playing and stop when it's done. If we map it out at all, it's very rudimentary.

NV: What I like about your material is that it has a lot of that improvisatory feel about it, yet at the same time, I appreciate your self-editing skills - a sense of knowing when to say "This is great! Let's just get it down onto CD and get it out there." There's a form or structure to the pieces, even though they are improvised.

Tom: That [the editing down of lengthier improvs] is one of the reasons why it takes us so long to put something out.

NV: Do you prefer to put out pieces that are more stand alone, in and of itself as opposed to what you have here where it's shorter pieces put together to make one long track?

Tom: With "Naked in our Deathskins," we never intended it to be three parts. It's supposed to sound like one piece. If something stands alone, it's usually fairly obvious to us. If it needs something else, we start thinking in blocks.

NV: You were just recently out here on the east coast. Did you have any chance to play concerts other than the big blowout up at the Abunai! folks house?

Christina: We played at Joe Turner's and it was broadcast live over the Internet which was very nice. We played for Tom's relatives at their house. We played at [Siltbreeze owner] Tom Lax's apartment, which was cool. We played at the Ecstatic Yod Mill Outlet on the New Grass performance stage in Florence, right outside of Northampton [Massachusetts], and Loren Mazzacane Connors played as well. It was actually for him, for his book release and his CD box release. He ended up playing first, which was his preference, but [the event] was really for him.

NV: Yes, Father Yod has just released a 4CD set of Loren's material.

Tom: It's fantastic!

NV: When you think in terms of doing live shows, is it just to get out and practice some new material in front of people - maybe some live favorites that they're familiar with? I read in that Magnet article that you told Fred Mills you weren't too happy with touring. In fact, you said you were quitting touring! Were you quoted correctly?

Christina: (laughs) Yes. We pretty much said we were never gonna tour again. When we play live, we try and do things mostly that we've never done before.

Tom: We don't do our old songs.

NV: Do you get bored with them after you've released them?

Christina: Most of them were written as they were recorded, so we have to go back and relearn them again.

NV: So you have to learn to improvise them again?

Christina: Yes. And it just feels wrong. So most of the time when we play live, we have to come up with what we're gonna do. At least an idea. For this last one, we had to practice. It's because of the quality of the last time we played. We were just terribly, horribly, HORRIBLY bad! So we decided we were gonna practice the set and we came up with four or five new songs and we practiced them. And we came up with a blueprint: this is the first part of the song and this is the next part and this is roughly what's gonna happen next. It seemed to work fairly well; better than it has before. I've had a hard time coming to grips with what exactly the point of being up there in front of people is. When you feel self-conscious about being up there and you don't know what you're doing and you don't know what the audience is there for, sometimes they can feel like they're your enemies. You don't know what they're expecting and it's REALLY difficult to deal with it.

Tom: It wasn't…

Christina: It wasn't like that this time. Most of the people in the audience we knew.

Tom: We're also very put off by the "club" environment. The console and the "rock sound man…"

Christina: The "rock SCENE…"

Tom: Bathrooms with the toilet seats from the toilets, whatever…(laughs)

Christina: And people just making the "scene" with one another instead of being there for the music. Things like that. In Northampton, it was incredible. They were so open, I just felt it.

NV: Have you spoken to Phil McMullen about his Terrastock shows? [A series of annual concerts over the last three years, gathering together many like minded performers in a very non "scene" type setting.]

Christina: No, not yet.  [ED. As of  publication time they are slated for Terrastock IV in Seattle slated for November of 2000]

NV: You did contribute a track to the Terrascope benefit compilation, Succour, that included Jason as well.  Was that specially commissioned for that release?

Christina: That's just Jason and Tom on that track…

Tom: …although it was written by Christina.

Christina: The song was written beforehand, but it was never released.

NV: There's also the Fleece compilation, Drilling the Curve?…

Tom: …which is readily available directly from Fleece.

NV: Is that also an exclusive track?

Christina: Two tracks.

NV: You've said you don't really like to perform live for the reasons stated, but have you ever headlined a show where people were specifically there to see YOU? Do you still get that vibe? That people are really there to be seen?

Tom: We've seldom really had that experience. People don't know who we are…

Christina: …or, they've heard our name MAYBE in association with other people…

Tom: …or, there's four people there…. [Both laugh]

Christina: What I was saying was about my feelings in the past. I don't know what it's gonna be like in the future. I just don't understand it. We don't pursue that kind of thing. It doesn't mean anything to me to be the last band at the end of the night or whatever.

NV: Well, aside from the negative angle, do you not see that as a marketing tool for yourself?

Christina: (emphatically) NO!

Tom: Not really. I consider playing live to be another art form really. You're doing something in real time and you're out on the edge. It's not like you can hit stop on a tape recorder and start over again.

Christina: It's a very difficult thing when you're serious about what you're doing. You don't have things to fall back on like your performance technique. I mean, we're not performers. Since being up in Austin, we've had a wonderful opportunity to see some exceptional jazz performers that a friend of ours is bringing to town.  Seeing them and their ease and confidence in what they're doing and the spiritual meaning that the music has that they're giving to the audience.  To me, that changed my mind about what the function of playing live is all about. Knowing what is possible and how I felt seeing these people, it brought a different perspective to me. And they're doing the shows in non-clubs. They're doing them in churches and halls - that's what we'd like to see more of - where the focus isn't on making money, it's on the music.

NV: What are your plans next now that the new CD is out? How do you feel about self promotion?

Christine: (laughing) We don't do it!

Tom: We just press as many as we think we can sell and then send some to the distributors and let them do their thing. We do send some promotional copies out and we do some ads. I don't see anything wrong in supporting magazines getting by on a shoestring by sending them ads. But we don't spend any money on promotion…We don't take any time to do it. I don't think things would change any if we did do that stuff. I don't think a lot more people would be interested.

NV: You think your audience is close to saturation - those that have been with you since the beginning are still interested in what you're doing, but it sounds like you think it would be difficult to get new fans.

Christine: I don't know how good it is to think about getting fans. I don't know how good it is to get in that mindset. If more people want to listen to us, that's fine. You wrote to us with some questions sent in by the DroneOn list folks about how difficult it is to find our releases, but they've always been there. I know you can't just walk into any store and get them, but they're all available on the Internet if you look for them…except Union.

NV: Yes, several people were asking about that and about possible reissues.

Christine: There won't be reissues because the master tapes were lost.

Tom: Eclipse Records has almost everything…

Christine: …Forced Exposure, Midheaven, which is the mail order arm of Revolver has it.

NV: OK, so people can find your material if they look for it. Now, I wanted to ask one last thing before I let you go and that has to do with the many specific geographical locations and references in your music and album titles: Union, Houston, Market Square, 6th Ward, a song on the new one about the 4th Ward, Stuttgart on the first album, etc. Are these titles meant to evoke feelings about that particular place via the music that accompanies the song?

Tom: Not necessarily. For me, I like the titles because they evoke things that no one else is gonna get but me. No one else is gonna get the same kind of evocation from it. It's gonna have intense, personal meanings for me. Not necessarily intentional meanings, but something that's gonna mean something to me when I hear it later. To somebody else, it's gonna be nobly titled and I like that to a degree. It gives it an extra layer of meaning almost.

NV: Does the title have anything to do with the piece that it's equated or associated with? Like Houston for instance. Are the songs on it supposedly meant to evoke specific thoughts or remembrances of Houston itself?

Christina: It was named after it was completed.

Tom: With the exception of the obvious places, like “Stuttgart,” all of the places are in Houston.

NV: You can choose to skip this one if you like, but was it business reasons or personal reasons that caused you to leave Houston? All of the music and emotions evoked by that record make me think that you regretted, almost, leaving or were sad to leave it behind.

Christina: We just decided we wanted to move. I lived there all my life and Tom was there 10…

Tom: 12 years.

Christina: The album cover of Houston is so much what Houston is like and people who haven't been there or haven't visited there, maybe wouldn't get it or you wouldn't see that. Its a small building and this huge building that's tipping over and maybe…

Tom: Its gonna crash or fall…

Christina: (laughing, agreeing) …crash or fall. So, Houston: there's so much there but it's constantly threatened. Maybe you can only live that way for so long or maybe we've found everything we were gonna find there.

Tom: Its complete chaos, almost. You can find anything you want there, really.

Christina: I mean this in the best possible way, but most of the people of our generation that we were involved with in the music there were total freaks! There was so much…I mean, probably some of the best shows we'll EVER see were some of the local bands there. The environment of just no one cares. You have to do it and the way you're gonna do it is the way you're gonna do it. No one cares and no is ever gonna care. But after a while, people start to grow up and they go on to their….You can't be so free anymore. It seemed like it all just petered out.

Tom: Things just sort of stagnated and we felt like we had to leave. So far, it's pretty good. I have a lot of problems with Austin sometimes, but there's a lot of things going on here. It seems right to be here.

NV: Thanks very much for taking the time to chat. The new release is called Internal Eternal, and if I can read the spine, it's Wholly Other #7?

Tom: Yeah, we skipped 6.

Christina: That one's still out…

Tom: That's still on the burner….

NV: On the CD burner or on the back burner? (laughs)

Christina: In the figuring out….

   Jeff Penczak:

Wholly Other can be found at:


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