It’s been interesting to watch over the past decade as West Coast garage rock titans Ty Segall and John Dwyer dig further and further into obscure corners of their local record shops, fully shifting their musical output along the way to interpolate a newfound love of everything from Krautrock to soul. It’s been equally interesting, though, keeping up with Chad Ubovich, who’s consistently been chasing a singular vision as the frontman for Meatbodies (as well as in his work with Segall’s Fuzz outfit) where the heavy-psych take on garage rock heard on the band’s 2014 debut record has worked its way into a sound that’s more reverent toward early heavy metal and more spaced-out stoner rock.
Only three albums deep in their nearly decade-long career, the return of Meatbodies for their latest project 333 appears to have been so hotly anticipated that even Tinashe aimed to draft on its hype (well, maybe not). Proving to be their most diverse offering yet in spite of its mere seven-song track list, the album opens with the band’s familiar scuzz injected, surprisingly, with an apparent homage to the neo-psych drone of Spacemen 3 and a title honoring drone-metal monoliths Sunn O))). By the final track, as Ubovich notes, they’re already parodying the lyrics of the record’s lead single while providing instrumentation essentially mocking the guitars of the self-serious intro. The snake consuming its own meat body. Or something.
With the record out today, you can stream the full project below, and read on for more words on each track courtesy of Ubovich.
1. “Reach for the Sunn”
“Reach for the Sunn” was a song that was sitting around for awhile that I made when I was making a bunch of droney-type songs. There’s definitely a big Brian Jonestown/Spacemen 3 influence on it. I liked that flange sound that the Spacemen 3 got, and I wanted to do a song like that. When I was writing these, I wanted there to be these silent homages to the bands that were helping me get through everything at the time. I was going through a dark time mentally—lots of drugs, lots of numbness, breakups, self-isolation. I sort of was on the edge of giving up music entirely, and the only thing that I found real solace in were these albums that I couldn’t stop listening to that didn’t make me feel bad about feeling so numb.
A lot of the bands I was listening to were blatantly making homages to other bands that influenced them. I liked that, and I figured if I was influenced by the guys coming right out and saying, “We’re influenced by these people, listen!” I should continue the line and make my own. Spacemen 3 couldn’t be the only ones to claim that sick flange. Just like The Stooges couldn’t be the only ones to claim the riff to “TV Eye”—it’s all rock ’n’ roll. Hip-hop gives continuous nods to itself. I don’t see how rock should be any different. It all came from the blues, which was constantly reiterating itself. If there’s respect and intent behind it, let the monster grow. Side note—people keep asking me if the “Sunn” is a nod to Sunn O))), and yes, it is.
2. “Let Go”
This is a very LaVeyan/Crowley-ish song. Sort of “the regaining of self-power” sort of thing. Also a lot to do with self-discovery. It has a very Zeppelin/Tyrannosaurus Rex/Visconti kind of thing going on, but that was the intention, and those are all artists that support the theme of the song.
3. “Night Time Hidden Faces”
This song is heavily inspired by a very weird night in a strange hotel room out in the desert with my girlfriend. A lot of the lyrics are sections of a poem I wrote that night about seashells on the ceiling. It started out as just a jam between me and Dylan. A lot of this album was written between different times I got Dylan in my bedroom (which had a drum set and mics for a while) and I would go, “Play drums to this!” And then we’d record it, and go to the next song. The second half of the song was a different recording session when me and Dylan were in a studio and I would say, “Play this kind of beat” and then record him for four or five minutes.
I always loved the end of “Spiral Architect” where it ends in applause, or how “Spirit of the Radio” has a crowd in the middle. Live shows were such a big spectacle in the 1970s. There were so many “Alive” records. I have a deep love/hate relationship to the live show. It’s molded me, and also broken me at times. I think a lot of musicians feel this way. But it’s a very important, special way of life. Anyway, I wanted to add a crowd to a song, and if you listen closely there’s a very special someone talking about one of his live shows.
Another song I had written the riff for, and one day got Dylan at my house and said, “Play something to this.” I remember he wrote this very distinct, disassociated beat and I was like, “Damn, this changes the whole vibe,” and thank god it did. I think the guitar-monies came later. It was just going to be this long circular mantra type song, but then I thought it needed something else. I’m definitely stoked how the drums came out because they really were just mics thrown up in my bedroom, and I think I sang the song on the spot and never re-recorded the vocals.
5. “Eye Eraser”
This is a song that I wrote with all these parts and lyrics, and one day I showed it to the band and everybody kind of shook their heads and said no, and that was the end of that. Later when I was making this album in the pandemic I came across this song on my tapes, and I just still liked it. So I muted the vocals, doubled up on some parts, and made our first instrumental. Later on when me and Dylan were in the studio overdubbing drums to it, he said “This one’s my favorite.” He had totally forgotten, like, a year before he had said no to it.
6. “Hybrid Feelings”
Another jam between me and Dylan, and another plug in, press record, and sing kind of thing. I think this style of song was definitely an itch that really wanted to be scratched. Through the years playing with Meatbodies, we’d play these fast, bombastic, unrelenting songs night after night. Sometimes to no one. I was definitely starting to lose sight on playing that kind of stuff, and I’d always get in the van and listen to these mid-tempo kinds of bands. I had to try it.
7. “The Hero”
This is a funny song that kind of came out of nowhere. I made the drums pretty fast, and then just started playing the guitar to it, and I recorded it in one night. I think the lyrics are a good bookend to the first song “Reach for the Sunn.” I was making all these moody songs, and I was in a “moody” sort of mood, as I had stated earlier, and it just felt right to make more of a sardonic song for how I was feeling. I was very low, but it all just felt silly after a while and instead of actually going there and indulging in myself more, I decided to be more lighthearted. The lyrics to “Reach for the Sunn” are very earnest, gruff, and to-the-point in the most bone-headed sort of way. These lyrics are supposed to be almost making fun of that. The real secret sauce to the song is the ending guitar is not a guitar—it’s a MIDI keyboard, so it just adds another layer to the satire.