Like the majority of you, all of us in the Philadelphia area are staying at home, learning to adapt to our “new normal.” MAGNET is checking in with local musicians to see how and what they’re doing during this unprecedented time. Photos by Chris Sikich.
The members of our musical collective have strived to continue embodying the spirit of the Lazer Viking as we move through our days separately in quarantine. Currently celebrating the release of Return Of The Lazer Viking, our first in 12 years, we had hoped to be playing shows this summer and fall to support it. Despite our inability to play live music or even practice in person together due to the unique circumstances posed by COVID-19, we have each continued to be guided by that radical, unifying, collective energy and have explored new ways to channel it into various creative endeavors.
We released our two-song Return Of The Lazer Viking EP on July 15, available at Bandcamp and most streaming services. We had this record in queue for a couple of months and were fussing around about logistics prior to quarantine. Once the script flipped via COVID-19, followed by the inspiring, widespread insurrectionary force demonstrated by Black Lives Matter in the wake of the police murder of George Floyd, we knew the iron was hot.
From our inception in the 1990s, we have been aligned with radical political ideology and activism. Kat, Eddie and Jay forged their friendship on the frontlines of the Free Mumia, anti-globalization and animal-liberation movements in the early 2000s. “Lazer Viking” in many ways is code for revolutionary zeal and solidarity, and our band has always stood with the poor and working class, with Black, Indigenous and all people of color, with women, with the LGBTQIA and gender-expansive community, with all marginalized groups who struggle against the racist, capitalist police state in the U.S. and around the world. The Return Of The Lazer Viking seemed like an apt fit, the offering of an “OST” for the revolution.
Though scattered separately across the country (this MAGNET photoshoot was the first time Eddie and Kat had seen each other in more than four months), spanning from our native Philadelphia and Wilkes-Barre, Pa., to Georgia, Illinois and New Hampshire, the individual energies of our members shine bright like stars, together making up a constellation of creative prana that rises above the monotony and uncertainty of materialistic, everyday life.
Here’s a peek into what some of us have been up to:
Kat (Philadelphia): I am privileged and grateful to be income, job and housing secure during Corona Time. In the initial months of lockdown, I worked with a group of tenants fighting for rent relief while facing displacement and eviction in Philadelphia. While this is certainly not a new problem in our society, the pandemic has laid bare the undeniable fact that our existing systems fail to support our most basic needs as human beings. I have and will always support the work being done to build dynamic new systems in the ashes of the bloated carcass that is late-stage capitalism. Creatively, I practice classical piano regularly at home to keep my playing chops up (Bach and Chopin are my go-to’s), and I have been tending to my wildflower garden. I have also used Corona Time as an opportunity to do a lot of inner work by deepening my study of yoga and yogic philosophy. I was recently awarded a scholarship to attend a yoga-teacher training program in the fall. I give thanks to my teachers who have guided me on this wild journey, including my spirit sister Amanda Medina, who left this plane of existence far too soon but whose grace continues to burn brightly within our hearts.
Bubba (Peoria, Ill.): I’ve been building modular synthesizers and making video art, same as before and same as I always will be! [Be sure to check out Bubba’s YouTube channel, UBP LSO (the United Brotherhood of Psychedelic Light Show Operators), where you’ll find his video-art creations, as well as the official video for the Return Of The Lazer Viking EP.]
Eddie (Philadelphia): I live in a Shiva temple in Center City, fulfilling various duties. I’ve been wandering around the planet for about a year, and Corona Time forced me to become more rooted, which isn’t a bad thing. I began a running streak in India in February, which has led me through 160 days presently averaging a half marathon a day. I ran through the lockdown, the revolution and the police curfews every night. It provided a unique opportunity to absorb the zeitgeist from the streets. I lay on my back and meditate when I’m not running, eating or working here at the Temple Of The Lotus. If you’re interested, you can follow this journey via my Instagram: @ebgiii. Releasing ROTLV was a highlight of extraordinary magnitude; it was tremendously gratifying to get feedback from fans about our new material.
Jay (Wilkes-Barre): The COVID-19 pandemic is allowing me to give more attention to detail, to think of every action and its symbiotic relationship toward one another and how we can benefit as a whole. Within the new paradigm and forthcoming shortages, food and seeds will be the greatest currency. I have been spending my COVID days with attention to taking care of a large garden. The act of growing food from seed is in line with the formation of beginning a song. The intention and care and—most importantly—belief make for a giant, plentiful crop to share. Community begins at the dinner table with food, conversation and stimulation.
In alignment with gardening, I am also spending much time outdoors in the forest and on Pennsylvania’s abundant and beautiful waterways. Being an employee in the arts, I’m currently unemployed indefinitely with no timeline for when live music and the arts will return. I am using this time wisely as a reconnection to nature and complete inspiration for the seeds of songwriting and other ideas that will speak of 2020. Allow 2020 to be your best work and use of this time, back to the source but with light-speed forward intention. Let’s talk, and let’s eat.