Two years after releasing their debut EP, Detroit quartet Siamese is heralding their first full-length with a new song and accompanying video paying eerie homage to classic horror films. “Tarrare”, named after an 18th century Frenchman infamous for his ravenous appetite that (according to legend) may have involved instances of cannibalism, retains Siamese’s ’80s post-punk influence of angular guitars, throbbing bass, and darkly sprinkling synths. At the same time, that touchstone is downplayed as Siamese emerges more into a sound that’s distinctly theirs. It simmers with menace in the verses, then sweeps into a driving urgency in the cathartic chorus. “If I want it / I’ll get it”, Champagne belts with a biting tenacity.
The video is inherently creepy and ominous, opening with a Rod Serling-esque host introducing the viewer to its protagonist’s plight. With its stark black-and-white palette and narrative of a woman being pursued by a shadowy stranger, it welcomes comparisons to Carnival of Souls and Night of the Living Dead. A palpable dread already established, the urban noir setting adds some of that industrial anxiety reminiscent of Eraserhead. Breaking up the tension of singer Johanna Champagne’s flight from her unearthly predator are shots of the band performing in a smoke-laden, industrial warehouse.
Champagne took a few moments to speak with PopMatters on the song and video’s conception and to tease Host, the forthcoming album “Tarrare” has a home on.
First, tell me about the title’s significance. How did the historical Tarrare’s legend connect to the song?
The song is about obsession and insatiability. They chorus says “If I want it / I’ll get it / I won’t stop until I make it mine.” It’s about an obsessive trait I have, relating to things that I want, goals, or ideas I get in my head, and how I try to manipulate a situation until I get it. Haha, not always the best quality to have… Anyway, I had read about Tarrare and his appetite, and how nothing seemed to ever be enough, and it seemed to relate, in a way.
What was the inspiration behind the video’s conceptual narrative?
Steve (Thoel, Siamese guitarist) and I sat down with the folks at Obscura Broadcasting Company to talk about ideas for a video. We knew we wanted something completely different from what we have done in the past, but had no idea what. As the night went on we found that we all shared similar interests in old horror movies, The Twilight Zone, and Hitchcock. We decided to kind of merge our interests and make a video that incorporates pieces from some of our favorite films, as well as new ideas, of course.
Where was the video filmed and do you have any weird or funny stories from the shoot?
The video was filmed in a parking garage in Detroit, as well as Chris and Hillary’s apartment (from Obscura Broadcasting Company). The day of the murder scene was a hilarious shoot. We used chocolate syrup for blood, and I think we went through at least four bottles of it. It was spread all over their apartment walls and poured onto the actors’ clothes and hair. That day was really hot, and we were unable to use the air conditioning due to it causing movement in the sheets that were covering the actors’ bodies. It was muggy, sweaty, and reeked of chocolate syrup. It was disgusting. After the shoot we had to scrub down the walls for a long time to get the stains off. We thought we might have to repaint the walls. I wonder if they ever got that chocolate smell out of the apartment.
How has Siamese’s sound and aesthetic grown or changed since releasing your debut EP in 2016?
Our music has become a bit more aggressive overall. I think we all got much more comfortable writing and performing together. There has definitely been a big evolution in both the live show as well as just how we all work together.
Tell me a bit about the album “Tarrare” hails from. Is there a consistent or recurring theme throughout Host?
This album has a good mix of dancey songs, angry songs, and a couple soft, melodic ones as well. I think this album is more well-rounded than our EP. We were in a totally different mind frame with writing this one, and we are all pretty proud of it.
Siamese is having their record release show the night of Friday, July 27, at the Loving Touch in Ferndale, Michigan, supported by Tart and WOMB.