Seattle Weekly: You started Talkdemonic by yourself, right?
Kevin O’Connor (programmer/drummer): Yeah, in spring 2003. I bought a Yamaha R7000—it’s kind of like an [Akai] MPC3000 [sampler], but it’s like a studio at the same time—and started making songs on it. I was really into instrumental hip-hop at the time, so I wanted to make beats. It started to morph into something that was probably rooted in my indie-rock background and my electronic tastes, so it became something totally different. It was kind of a reflection of not playing music for a couple years—I went abroad and traveled a bunch, and stored up a lot of energy.
You had already released your first album, Mutiny Sunshine, on Lucky Madison prior to Lisa Molinaro, who plays viola, joining you, right?
Yeah, May ’04. She played on four or five songs on the first record. That summer, I started getting her to play shows in Portland with me, and there it started to grow. She came on full time last November.
How did her joining change the chemistry of the live shows?
Before, it was me playing drums with a laptop, which was cool, and people enjoyed it. But it became more of a show with both of us. We have this nice chemistry together, and we both get to kind of rock out. It changed the dynamic live quite a bit. [Our next album] is finished—it’s called Beat Romantic, and it comes out on Arena Rock in January.
You guys were named Portland’s Best New Band by Willamette Week earlier this year. Are you a native Portlander?
I’m actually from southeast Washington originally. I’ve been in Portland three and a half years. When I went, it was January 2002, when Portland’s unemployment rate was third-highest in the nation and no one had a job at all. At first it was daunting. But I have my teaching degree, so I could substitute teach. I still do—mostly high school, sometimes middle school.
How many of your students know you make music?
A lot more now than before, because they all read the weeklies, and the Willamette Week [cover story] was pretty cool for them—”Oh! It’s our teacher.” Before that, whenever they asked me, I’d say that I played in a band. I usually have CDs around if they want to listen to them. Sometimes I sell them to ’em at a discounted price. Some of the first responses are, “There’s no vocals.” I’m like, “You don’t need vocals all the time.” It sinks in.
Some of the kids came to our show at [Portland’s] Aladdin [Theater] a couple weeks ago and kept asking me if I smoked weed. “Uhhh—I can’t answer that. You listened to the music, right?” They’re like, “Well, do you want to come smoke weed with us?” [laughs] And I’m like, “No.”
Talkdemonic play Crocodile Cafe with the National and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah at 9 p.m. Thurs., Sept. 29. $10 adv./$12.