For many people the idea of progressive rock might bring to mind grossly self indulgent guitar wankery or Nordic-themed concept albums, but JetPhil, guitarist for Montreal Krautrock revivalists Kosmos, throws the P word around without shame.
The man’s enthusiasm for vintage prog sounds is infectious, and encourages us to look past the showy excesses of Dreamtheater and Yngwie Malmstien to a time when progressive music was about weird psychedelic grooves and goofy German dudes rockin’ Moogs.
“Prog is a bit scary for a lot of people, especially those who come from punk and that sort of rock,” said JetPhil. “They’re scared of that word.”
With a lineage that includes Voivod, Tricky Woo, Paradise, and Grimskunk, this Montreal super group has more than enough experience in garage, thrash, metal and punk to win over even the most fearful exponent of three chord rock ‘n roll. It might seem surprising to Montreal’s rock community to see this crossover into more avant-garde territory, but to the band it seems completely natural.
“A lot of people are surprised to hear us play this weird spacey shit,” explained JetPhil. “But to me it’s not surprising at all, because I know we’re all into weird progressive rock. We love metal, but we don’t really listen to that any more, except for the classics like early Maiden, Motorhead, Judas Priest. Now I listen to a lot of Krautrock from around ’68 to ’80, bands like La Dusseldorf, Hawkwind and Van Der Graaf Generator. It’s nice to be able to mix the two styles.”
JetPhil got his introduction to ’70s avant-psych from a surprising source. “Jello Biafra got me into weird psych music from Germany, Eastern Europe, and Hungary. He told me what records I should get and where to look for them and everything. He’s an absolute black belt when it comes to progressive avant-garde psych music.”
If the singer for one of the most iconic punk bands of all time can embrace the experimental indulgence of prog, then anyone can.
Kosmos plays Sala Rossa with Mongrels and Wizardtron on Friday, March 28.