Amplif[ie]d | Verses the Octopus
By: Natalie Bates
Verses the Octopus—you are drawn in by the interesting name, but end up sticking around after hearing their experimental mix of musical styles. A little bit indie, a little bit rock n' roll, featuring lots of synthesizers and 1980s influences, the music of Verses the Octopus will have you up on your feet dancing all night. Their music is hard to describe, as it can't be confined into just one category.
The unique tastes, talents, and style of each band member blend together to create something entirely new, and the result is high energy "indie-synth" music combined with philosophical lyrics and killer harmonies. I was able to spend an evening with the fun and talented members of Verses the Octopus and learned about this eclectic band.
Q. So, tell me your names and who plays what in Verses the Octopus?
Peter: I'm Peter. I play guitar and keys.
Rob: I'm Rob. I play the bass and guitar and sing.
Robyn: I'm Robyn, and I play synth and I guess you could say beats? And I also do vocals as well.
Q. How did you all meet and decide to start playing together?
Rob: Me and Peter . . .
Peter: We got together in our first band in our early twenties, around 21 or so, and then broke off for a bit, and then got back together a few years back and started writing again, and that's pretty much how it worked out.
Rob: And then she's [Robyn] my sister, so . . .
Robyn: We're related, so we've known each other about 29 years now.
Rob: So it's like a bunch of stuff just turned into soup. Music soup.
Q. Are you all originally from the Inland Empire?
Peter: Yeah, we're from the Inland Empire.
Rob: I'm from Fontana.
Q. So how did you come up with the name Verses the Octopus?
Rob: Okay, the way I came up with the name is there's a video on YouTube of a shark and an octopus. It was like this aquarium they had, and the sharks kept going missing? And they had an octopus in there and they didn't know where the sharks were going and it turned out the octopus was eating the sharks. So it was shark versus the octopus. And at the same time my friends had a hip-hop band called The Sharks, so I thought it would be clever to call it Versus the Octopus, and then it just became Verses the Octopus.
Q. How would you describe your sound to a first time listener?
Robyn: I would say we're really experimental. Like what I was telling the guys the other day was that we're interesting cause we're kind of like a band of multi-instrumentalists since each one of us is doing multiple things to create our sound.
Rob: But if you were going to say what kind of style . . .
Peter: It's kind of like an indie, synthy.
Robyn: But with rock elements of course.
Rob: Indie-synthy . . . that's safe.
Q. So you guys write your own music, right?
Verses the Octopus: Yes.
Q. And you recently released an album?
Rob: We have demos. But we do have a demo . . . it's called Dropa Stone, and you can get it on Reverbnation.
Q. So what inspired the songs?
Rob: Well, I'm really into philosophy, you know, like the mind. It's really retrospective, introspective music. That's where a lot of the ideas come from. It's supposed to be fun and pop-y . . . but musically.
Q. Are there any bands or artists who influence you?
Peter: There are a few for me . . . Metric, Silversun Pickups, My Despair. Those are a couple of my influences anyways, for synthesizer and guitar. Kind of retrospective music.
Rob: I like Depeche Mode and 80s. I like newer stuff too, but it's like Michael Jackson, you know, like all the classics . . . The Police, Beethoven . . .
Robyn: And then Rob and I growing up together, we had a lot of the same influences in music. He actually got me into Bjork who became a really big inspiration for me experimenting with my vocals. And I've also been listening to Empire of the Sun . . . they're a big influence. We actually got to see them live. And The Beatles. Like even with our name too, since it's like "verses," as in poetry verses.
Rob: Oh yeah, that's a thing too. I was trying to be like The Beatles with that.
Robyn: So The Beatles were actually a big inspiration for both Rob and me growing up. And my dad was really into them.
Q. So what do you guys have planned next for your band? Any recording?
Peter: yeah, we're working on some new recordings and hopefully putting out an album in the future, and just playing more shows really, and kinda getting out there more.
Rob: Yeah, we're going to record an album. That's what we're actually going to do next month. We're renting out a space out here for two months, and we're going to record an album. And hopefully have that out by like March .
Q. Do you guys have any venues you regularly play at here in the Inland Empire?
Peter: In Riverside there are a couple venues. Pixels . . .
Robyn: Mission Tobacco, The Menagerie . . .
Rob: Pixels has the "Animal Cult?" night, and that's kind of like a new, synth scene, indie scene out there
Robyn: Yeah, cause it's kind of like an art gallery in there too. And it's kind of like trippy lights. It's a little dark in there, but the stage is cool. It's a good venue.
Rob: We like that place.
Peter: Mission Tobacco has a really good sound too.
Robyn: Yeah, they have a great stage, great sound and great lighting.
Q. Where could fans go to find out information about your shows?
Robyn: Probably the best thing would be our Facebook page. We usually make event pages. We're going to work on getting a website eventually, but for right now, to get information about the shows Facebook would be the best spot for that. Just general information though, we have like Instagram Twitter and Tumblr.
Rob: We have a blog that we update all the time.
Robyn: And on YouTube.
Rob: YouTube is our new thing. We're trying to do like vlogs.
Q. To wrap things up, is there anything in particular you want to tell our readers?
Rob: Did we get the job?
Q. Haha, yes, you guys totally got the job.
Verses the Octopus: Yes!!!
Robyn: We did it guys!!
Peter: We're just looking forward to making new music and getting out there more.
Rob: Getting out there and talking with the kids, and being with the kids. It's all about the kids and getting out there and making them happy.
Robyn: You know, they're the next generation.
Rob: It's just about getting out there and making them happy and dance. That's all that matters. Making the kids dance.
Want to see Verses the Octopus live? Catch them at one of their upcoming shows! They will be playing on Friday, October 16th at Romano's Concert Lounge in Riverside with Tea Green and A Wednesday Afternoon Fine Arts Club (located at 5225 Canyon Crest Dr; doors open at 9p.m., Verses the Octopus goes on at 10:30p.m; additional information available on the event page.
You can also catch Verses the Octopus on Saturday, October 24th at The Hub in Colton (located at 2001 W. Valley Blvd; show starts at 9p.m., Verses the Octopus goes on at 10p.m.) alongside Kiki Diago and The Lipsticks and Zombie Dressed Hipsters.