Every once in a while you discover a band clearly crafted by sophisticated music lovers for sophisticated music lovers, but it turns out they are so good even regular folks love them. In Austin, that band is 35MM. Do you love Ennio Morricone, Lalo Shifrin, Hazelwood and Sinatra (Nancy, not Frank)? Fantasize that Stereolab existed in 1962 and was jazzier? Then this is your band.
It all started when longtime collaborators Claude 9 ( Charanga Cakewalk, Supercreeps, his own solo electronic work, Afrofreque) and Fumihito Sugawara (two solo records, Cilantro Boombox, Afrofreque, etc.) were extolling the virtues of 60s lounge and spy movie soundtracks and decided to create an album in that realm themselves. So the duo assembled a lineup of like minded souls for recording and eventual live performances. That lineup would cement 35MM as a band instead of just a project and included Alan Uribe on bass, who Claude 9 had played alongside in the cumbia lounge act Charanga Cakewalk, as well as award-winning drummer Masumi Jones ( Jitterbug Vipers). In a James Bond-like twist, it turns out Masumi and Fumi are both from Hiroshima, but didn’t connect until they had relocated to Austin. The self titled album was released in 2014 by Ropeadope Records (Snarky Puppy, Medeski Martin & Wood, King Britt), and was right at home amongst the label’s repertoire of everything from jazz to hip hop.
From there the band took off, landing a licensing deal with Camp3 and a five year long (and counting) residency at downtown Austin’s Firehouse Hostel to a regularly packed house; as well as even bigger performances at The Austin Asian Chamber of Commerce Gala and the 35 Denton Festival alongside their heroes, The Zombies. When not playing live, the band began writing new songs for 2020’s forthcoming Heartache Is Such A Dirty Business (Ropeadope), which utilizes more vocals than in the past as well as “modern electronic influences merged with our signature 50s-60s sound,” says Claude 9. The album is darker than the band’s playful debut, with Claude 9 fighting his way through challenging times during the album’s creation. “Music and therapy helped me put it all behind me,” he explains. “But the impact of this time was definitely part of the songs on this album.”
Exquisitely produced, Heartache was recorded and mixed at Brown Recluse and Wire Studios and the production team included the band itself and Brown Recluse owner Michael Ramos, good friend and Charanga Cakewalk bandmate to Claude 9, as well as a member of the BoDeans, the Rembrandts, and a session and stage musician for John Mellencamp, Paul Simon, Patty Griffin and more. The excellent musicianship shines through, as do the songs themselves. “Every song has a story,” muses Sugawara. “Sometimes we would start writing with a certain color or imaginary scene in our minds. We wanted listeners to be able to feel the excitement, sensuality, fun and sadness of the songs as if they were watching a 60's noir movie.”
We would expect nothing less from a band named 35MM.
released December 4, 2020
Fumihito Sugawara- guitar and vocals
Claude 9-keys, harmonica and lead vocals
Alan Uribe- Bass and vocals
Masumi Jones-Drums and “go” vocals
Lisa ganache Rodriguez- Backing vocals on Fingerprints
The Tosca String Quartet- strings on Red Sunset
Recorded at Brown recluse Studios in Austin, Texas Produced by Claude 9 and Fumihito Sugawara
Engineered and mixed by Joey Benjamin
Mixed at Wire Recording in Austin, Texas
Mastered by Mark Hallman
String session engineering and a lot of other important stuff by Michael Ramos
All songs written by Fumihito Sugawara and Claude 9 and published by Cheap Tango Music, except for Bang Bang written by Sonny Bono published by Chris Marc music
Photography by Kenny Braun
Album cover design by Fumihito Sugawara