Curious Comet: Cosmically Bound
Written by Liam Sweeny on November 27, 2020
Necessity is the mother of invention. So they say. But maybe invention was birthed in a commune of causes; maybe it has many mothers. Is the invention of a sweet ass groove, a need fulfilled, or a desire expressed? Whatever causes us to create new from old, or better yet new from nothing, the people doing the creating seldon ask these
Curious Comet (Bob Donald and Niki Kaos) could arguably be a mother of invention. And Zappa reference aside, they exemplify the creative temperament. With a long list of attributable songs, and a spirit to test the bounds of genre, CC balances life and art with finesse. I sit down with CC and we talk showbusiness.
RRX: We interviewed Bleak Little World almost at the very beginning of this publication. So having you back is almost a ‘coming full circle’ for us. It feels like ages, especially with time slowing down this year. What have you been up to and through, in music, in life, in the past two years?
NK: Bob and I moved up north to the Cambridge, NY area about two years ago. I got a drum kit, and our combined instrument collection gave us lots of options. The Argyle Brewery welcomed us with open arms, and we’ve enjoyed a few gigs there. We were working with RadioRadioX
hosting a popular open mic at Corcoran’s Towpath Tavern when COVID kicked in, and it was a real drag to see that pause.
We had a lot of options for recording. That was really exciting for me! So after a year of Bob and I noodling around, I said – let’s record an album where we play all of the instruments ourselves!
BD: With COVID putting the kibosh on the open-mic and other gigs, it seemed like a good time to woodshed. Doing it all ourselves has been challenging, but rewarding. It’ll be great to work regularly with other musicians again.
RRX: You just finished building a home studio. There’s a lot more of a push for personalization in home studios, because it’s also living space, Aside from the technical requirements, every studio is unique. What have you put into it to make it unique, both technically and in terms of decoration?
NK: The most unique thing came with the house. A window-wall that looks down onto the Battenkill Valley. It’s a rustic, but unique space. The neighbors are far away. It is very peaceful.
BD: It might be unusual that we have yoga space carved out in the studio. The studio space is dedicated to recording, so our studio decor is acoustic-treatment minimalist. I like to keep it sparse and organized for moving mics around for whichever instrument is being recorded. I wish we had enough mics to keep a mic on everything all the time!
RRX: Your new band, Curious Comet. Where did you come up with the name, and what’s the band all about? Who’s in this band? Do you have an album out yet, especially from your new studio? Give us all those sweet details, won’t you?
NK: I wanted a band Bob and I started together, since Bleak Little World was Bob’s concept. So when I got the idea to record this album in our home studio, I thought we should come up with a new band name for the project.
We listen to a pretty wide variety of music – from The Wall to Goodman at Carnegie Hall to Ornette to Spektor to Minaj – and lots in between. So while Curious Comet is solidly alt rock, our influences are all over the place.
BD: The new album was done in the middle of November, and is available for download and streaming in time for the holidays. I’ve been surprised by the number of requests we’ve had for physical copies, so we’ll have CDs after that. I also have a soft spot for vinyl – maybe as a perk for a Patreon campaign!
RRX: I liked your previous band, Bleak Little World. It had a very fun, apocalyptic singalong kind of feel to it. Is Curious Comet an evolution, so-to-speak, of Bleak Little World, or is it an entire reinvention of your music? Will BLW fans recognize either the music or the lyrics as being reminiscent?
NK: Curious Comet was an evolution – a way to escape and explore. BLW fans will definitely recognize some old favorites! There are a few rarely performed songs too. We spent a lot of time choosing songs and arrangements that would make you want to listen to the album from start to finish.
BD: Many of the songs will be familiar, but the reinvention came in the details we were able to polish from the ground up in the studio. The production is more sparse and pointillistic than what we’ve tried for in the past.
RRX: You have a lot of music that you’ve created that you have “in the bank.” And now you have the studio. Do you ever write music that far outpaces your ability to get it out there?
NK: YES – we have waaay more music then we can handle. Bob and I recorded a ton of improvised keyboard and drums jams last year that we are mining for ideas. Bob has a few newly composed songs we are learning, and I have a back catalog of about 50 songs. I’m not sure which will make the cut.
BD: We’ll start writing and recording new material almost immediately. We want to co-write some new songs from scratch – most of our material was written separately, or within a band. The home studio creates an exciting opportunity for co-writing.