Sam McCarthy’s Top Five American ExperiencesReflecting on his new home Stateside, McCarthy offers up his top five experiences on US soil.
Kids of 88, the synth pop pairing of schoolmates Sam McCarthy and Jordan Arts, were never shy about coming forward. With their sugar-coated, high gloss pop nuggets and dancefloor motivating live shows, the Kids were quick to impact the NZ singles chart and win the backing of tastemakers both here and abroad – most notably in the form of influential blog personality, Perez Hilton. But rather than rest on his laurels as a hometown hero, Kids’ frontman McCarthy threw caution to the wind, relocating to Los Angeles to bring some Californian sunshine to a new psych pop project, Strange Babes, all in the pursuit of the American dream.
1 Rifle Range: When Strange Babes were on tour with The Naked and Famous, we stopped off at a gun range in Kansas City. I’d never fired a handgun before and was paranoid out of my mind about it. Shooting at a human-shaped target wasn’t exactly a highpoint; however I admit I got a thrill when I heard my bandmate fire off a military grade semi-automatic weapon.
2 Alien Contact: I attended a UFO Contact evening out at Joshua Tree National Park in California when I first arrived as part of a ‘weird shit to do in the US’ list. Safe to say it was a profound experience. None of the group got to see any aliens, however they did meet me.
3 Iowa Deliverance: As part of a couch surfing leg of a Strange Babes US tour, we stayed in a house in a forest in Iowa. All I was told about our hosts was that they ‘travel alongside freeways collecting deer carcasses to take home for food.’ I was nervous. However they turned out to be the kindest people ever. It was simply an environmental effort to clean up the highways, and the meat they collected was only occasionally used as winter food – if sanitary enough, of course.
4 Late-Night Buffet: I once attended a show at the Los Angeles’ House of Blues; after the set was over at about 1am, the venue put on a full brunch buffet accompanied by a five-piece gospel ensemble. The white-suited tambourine player in the group looked exactly like Snoop Dogg and was wearing a Bluetooth headset the entire performance.
5 Putting the ‘Om’ in Bomb: I often attend a Vipassana meditation retreat out in Joshua Tree, which happens to be across the road from a US military weapons testing ground. It’s a strange contrast to experience pure and sustained silence in the group meditation hall while every now and then feeling the ground shake from a bomb drop.