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STOLEN BABIES


Stolen Babies - Pushing Buttons In A Twisted Dream


Interview By Dr. Abner Mality

Who doesn't like to be surprised? (Well, about 80% of the music-buying public, based on what's popular...but I digress--Dr. Mality) Probably the biggest musical surprise I got in 2006 came courtesy of this most eclectic and bizarre troupe known as Stolen Babies. With their debut "There Be Squabbles Ahead" on ultra-weird and ultra-cool label The End Records, these guys put out the closest equivalent to a child's nightmare in musical form that I've ever heard. Featuring a good deal of metal aggression and punky spite mixed with cartoon-music craziness and avant-jazz gypsy flourishes, Stolen Babies hit on a secret formula of appealing to many diverse interests. I could see fans of Oingo Boingo, Cradle of Filth, Tori Amos, Voi Vod, Kittie and X digging this stuff.

They are also blessed with the presence of one of the most charismatic and wide-ranging female singers in the business (not to mention damn fetching), the cat-like Dominique Lenore Persi, who howls, croons, roars, and cajoles with tremendous force and variety over the madcap musings of her compadres. Often looking like an escapee from "Cats", this gal has "star" written all over her in bright neon letters.

I knew I had to dig deeper into the Tim Burton-ish wonderworld of Stolen Babies and so I sought out pale, gangling bassist Rani Sharone (who, like the rest of the band, plays many different instruments) to get his take on this curious phenomena. Rani was only to happy to oblige, spilling the beans not only on himself and drummer-brother Gil Sharone and keyboardist/multi-musician Ben Rico, but on their artistic brother in arms, Crab Scrambly and their close compatriots the Sleepytime Gorilla Museum.

Let's jump down the Well of Doom and into the Land of Squabbles to see what the Stolen Babies are up to...


WORMWOOD CHRONICLES: To get the obvious out of the way first, how did Stolen Babies come together? What musical background and training do you guys have?

RANI SHARONE: To make a long story short, we all were in a band, The Fratellis, back in high school. When the Fratellis threw in the towel, Stolen Babies came to be some time later. The high school we met at was a fine arts school very much like the TV show Fame, Los Angeles County High School for the arts, AKA. LACHSA, and was on the campus of Cal State, LA.

As far as training is concerned...we all have different backgrounds.

Basically we all study or have studied our craft and take it very seriously. I went to USC as a composition major, but that was only for a year. I took an indefinite leave of absence to pursue the band.

WC: What's the origin of the name "Stolen Babies" and also the album's title "There Be Squabbles Ahead"? The album name reminds me of something a pirate might say.

RS: Stolen Babies was a title of a song/theatrical skit, the Fratellis performed. That was Dominique's brain child. She handled all the theatrical and performance art elements of that band. When we needed a name for our new band we looked at our past for the answer...hence forth we've been called Stolen Babies.

Yes...you would be punctilious to say that "There Be Squabbles Ahead" is reminiscent of something a pirate would say, because that's where I got it from. In a nutshell the title is a reflection of the age we live in. We're in the age of Kali and the shit will continue to hit the fan...so fasten your seat belts!


WC: How much is the band inspired by childhood nightmares? The music and visual aspect reminds me of an evil cartoon or fairytale?

RS: I would say the band is more inspired by present day nightmares! haha. All kidding aside...yes...that's always been an aspect of our aesthetic, the darker side of life juxtaposed with some light heartedness. We like to have a sense of humour about what we do. That can definitely be attributed to the copious amounts of cartoon watching! Dominique and I are especially influenced by the early Fleischer cartoons.

WC: Speaking of cartoons, I detect some Carl Stalling (Looney Tunes) in your unpredictable music stylings. Was he an influence on you?

RS: Very much so. Although his influence is less ostensible in Stolen Babies' music, the Fratellis was very influenced by Carl Stalling and Raymond Scott. We were a cartoon music band! With Stolen Babies we just assimilate what we can from that world, while still staying true to our sound.

WC: Is there one big story being told in "There Be Squabbles Ahead"? The lyrics are kind of obtuse but the art leads me to believe it all ties together somehow.

RS: A bit obtuse and vague yes...but it's all loosely related. That's my comment on that. Dominique being the lyricist, is the only one qualified to really answer this question, but I know she tends to be a bit evasive when it comes to questions like this.

WC: Speaking of art, tell me about your relationship with Crab Scrambly. How did he get on board and will continue working with you in the future?

RS: Crab Scrambly has become one of my best friends. We met at a Special FX shop i was working out of. I was making a stop motion armature at the time, and he had an interest in what i was doing. We talked, I invited him to a show and the rest is history. He's been our artist since 2002 and there's no sign of stopping the collaboration. His artwork is synonymous with our music.

WC: You did an awesome video for "Push Button" that looked like it took a lot of time and money. Tell us a little about how this was filmed and what the shoot was like.

RS: First off, thank you. Well, the opportunity to do the video kind of fell into our lap. It was all last minute. My older brother, Ilan, wanted to dovetail the crew and equipment of another video he was shooting, by shooting a video for us the next day. We couldn't turn that down. Dominique and I had a pretty good idea of what we wanted the video to be like so we just rented some costumes, jumped in front of a green screen and very capriciously brainstormed on the set. For example, I said "let's pretend we're jumping into a well, or some kind of portal to another dimension," and we did. Then we left it all in Crab Scrambly's hands to paint backgrounds that went with our actions.

WC: Do you think future Stolen Babies efforts will continue the visual and musical style laid out on "TBSA"?


RS: Most definitely...We just scratched the surface with TBSA. No pun intended, but we're babies. There will be a lot more where that came from.

WC: How exactly is a Stolen Babies song written? Is it a collaborative effort or does one person drive the song?

RS: It's always been Dominique and I. We've been working like this since the Fratellis. Generally speaking, I'll bring in a song that is pretty fleshed out musically, then she'll help shape the form and write the vocal/accordion parts. But like I said that's a generalization...She's writing a lot more these days.

WC: What exactly does "Swint or Slude" mean? Or does it mean anything at all?

RS: I'll answer this by a visual aid. It all started with the word "Interlude," the song's original title. Interlude...Int er lude...Swint er Slude...Swint or Slude...Swint or Slude?...there ya go... the metamorphosis of the word interlude. Loosely inspired by a Jeopardy category.

WC: I get a lot of New Wave influence from the band. I hear Blondie, Devo and the Tubes in your sound. What are some of your favorite bands from this era?

RS: Well, our favorite band, unanimously, is Oingo Boingo. As far as bands from that era...I would have to say Depeche Mode still remains a very strong influence, even though it may not be so evident in our music. That time period just spawned a lot of amazing bands i.e.. Tears for Fears, Sisters of Mercy, Bauhaus, Echo and the Bunnymen, Joy Division , etc., ad nauseum.

WC: How did your relationship with The End Records come about? It seems a perfect fit.

RS: Andreas/The End got turned on to us by Sleepytime Gorilla Museum . After hanging with Andreas multiple times and him seeing us live, it was pretty obvious to us and him that we needed to work together. So far so good! We really feel fortunate to have crossed paths with Andreas.

WC: How about the metal side of the band, which is definitely there? What do you take from the metal genre and do you think you can win over metal fans to your sound?

RS: To me...metal has always embodied the Fuck You attitude. Someone can just as easily say the same thing about punk and industrial and they wouldn't be wrong, but there is just something about demonic screaming and double bass that resonates with us, and that's how we assimilate metal.

I hope we can win over metal fans! They're so much more durable and better than those cheap plastic ones they sell at Walmart.

WC: What was the last CD/tape that you bought just because you wanted to check it out?

RS: George Harrison's Radha Krsna Temple Album.

WC: What was the last gig you caught just because you wanted to see it?


RS: LA Philharmonic, Green Umbrella series. This particular concert featured contemporary classical Australian composers...really cool stuff. Anything with prepared piano, I'm interested in seeing. I ended up getting seated next to Salonen! the Music Director of the La Phil.

WC: Is there any "Spinal Tap" moment from the band's history you'd like to share with our readers?

RS: Well, we don't seem to have much luck with touring guitarists. It seems to be a cursed position.

WC: Any final words?

RS: Coughs...sneezes...where's the NyQuil?


Stolen Babies's Official Website