Current research indicates that within 2 years of use, a pillow’s weight increases by 30% due to the accumulation of dead skin cells, dust mites, and their droppings. In a similar fashion, Free Salamander Exhibit has gradually augmented its own weight through an accumulation of musical and literary droppings, distilled these into creative impulses- -impulses committed to memory and subsequently forgotten.
Originally called the Rock Springs Six, Free Salamander Exhibit makes no bones about being influenced by the early work of Sleepytime Gorilla Museum. “Yeah, we all have that first record,” they mutter nonchalantly. Their new name is taken from the Sleepytime Gorilla Press’s 1916 leaflet distributed by Pentecostal snake-handler George Went Hensley of Tennessee, wherein the gospel dictum “They shall take up serpents and salamanders” was treated to more or less literal interpretation. “Yeah, we all handle them, salamanders that is,” they confess. Yes, they have renounced their snake handling ways in favor of the modern hair-shirt, i.e. the burlap gown. Certainly their outfits are uncomfortable and make playing difficult, especially for the non-rock instruments they sometimes employ, but what price beauty?
It seems the past is something this band of burlap brothers would rather put to rest. Free Salamander Exhibit gained some notoriety in the early 2000s by impersonating the members of Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, even going so far as insinuating themselves into the SGM members’ households. When it was announced in 2010 that SGM had been “subsumed” into the very bodies of Free Salamander Exhibit, the music press understood this to figuratively refer to a simple regrouping. Boy, were they wrong.
Currently based in Oakland, CA, Free Salamander Exhibit continues to shed its dead skin cells, casting off an accumulated detritus of metal, prog-rock, and art-rock influences. Nils, Dan, Michael, David, and Drew (at least these are the names they claim) meet regularly in an underground concrete shelter. Here they sit at an oval-shaped table in a spirit of constructive argumentation, poring over the nature of memory and the illusory promise of free will. Eventually they emerge, ready again to absorb the environmental stimuli that nourish their world-view. Through this circular process of absorption and molting, Free Salamander Exhibit hopes to augment the mass of your own pillow as well.
Shed some skin with Free Salamander Exhibit in your town soon!
FREE SALAMANDER EXHIBIT is:
Nils Frykdahl – vocals, guitar, flute
Dan Rathbun – bass, sledgehammer dulcimer, vocals
Michael Mellender – guitar, trumpet, baritone, tangularium, spleen, double-bladed cat sneeze, percussion-guitar, vocals
David Shamrock – drums, glockenspiel
Drew Wheeler – guitar, glockenspiel, theremin, waterphone, vocals