Checking In: Zyclops Cooks Up Some Post-Doom Ps-EYE-Chosis

“I’m hoping artists get more creative with the [livestream] format”

Overseen locally by Chico Jones at Estuary Studios, last month’s Inheritance of Ash super collides Skycrawler doom duo Ryan Pankratz and Ed Davis with post-rock and metal mercenaries Cory Brim (Glassing) and Matt Moulis (Unmothered). As Zyclops, their four-song debut EP spasms noise psychosis. Lead doomsayer Pankratz checked in.

Zyclops at Hotel Vegas on February 15 (Photo by Levy Castleberry)

Austin Chronicle: Where are you sheltering and under what circumstances? Who else is there and how’s that going?

Ryan Pankratz: I’m currently sheltered at my younger sister Johna’s place on the Southside of town. It’s just her and I, and her two dogs, doing a bunch remodel/updating stuff. It’s been cool.

We haven’t really “hung out” on any kind of regular basis since she was like 5 or 6 and she’s grown now, successful and happy, and it’s just cool to be able to reconnect with family. I’m super grateful for her help, because things were looking pretty bleak for the first few months of the pandemic.

“Well, I’m a fairly neurotic germaphobe, so I’d say upon first hearing of the potential of an outbreak, I started paying close attention.”

AC: At what point did C-19 shut down operations for you, and what went down with the ship, so to speak, both personally & professionally?

RP: Well, I’m a fairly neurotic germaphobe, so I’d say upon first hearing of the potential of an outbreak, I started paying close attention. If my memory serves, I’d say by the first week of March we started dialing back and readying ourselves for the obvious. We canceled a show we had on March 13 with bands we really wanted to play with at a bar we really fucking love because it felt an unnecessary risk.

I’m a lifelong asthmatic and I’m blessed with a virtual pantheon of allergies, so naturally I live in Austin, but anyway, yeah, we’ve been dormant since March.

AC: As a global culture, people employ music for every purpose imaginable, obviously spanning religion to entertainment and everything in between. What happens to communities like ours when people can no longer access it in person?

RP: Dang, that’s a complex question. Welp, obviously the livestream stuff has been the immediate answer, globally and for local communities. It’s not the same, but it’s something.

I’m kinda hoping people/artists get more creative with the format and explore all you can do thematically and visually within the whole “film a set” and stream it. We’ve started talking about it recently. Maybe we’ll cook up some psEYEchosis soon and let it trickle down the stream.

“My emotions are always sort of vibrating right on the outside of my skin when I listen to music, sensing every emotional ripple around me.”

AC: Everyone’s had to shift or drastically alter their work situation. What does that look like for you?

RP: It has been really tough. I work regularly as a woodworker/steel fabrication within a somewhat niche furniture/build-out type of situation and for the most part, a lot of the more decorative or aesthetic types of builds seem to have become less important to folks, and understandably so. I’ve been lucky to get a few jobs here and there to scrape by.

AC: What’s your soundtrack for the apocalypse and what role does music play for you as a fan and scholar of it in times of hardship?

RP: I love music with heart. The stuff that works, the stuff that holds up. My emotions are always sort of vibrating right on the outside of my skin when I listen to music, sensing every emotional ripple around me.

I don’t really like to talk if I’m listening to music. I can and usually want to just disappear inside of it. It can make me see red and grind my teeth, it can make me question myself, it can make me cry, and it can make me feel like a beam of unbreakable love is shooting straight out of my chest into the clouds.

I love folk music, blues, Americana, classic rock, reggae, and I grew up with punk, metal, and on and on and on. So I guess my apocalypse 2020 jam mix would be, in no particular order and I’m only picking five (full albums) because I’m hungry:

1. John Prine, self-titled
2. Toots & the Maytals, Slaytom Stoot
3. Botch, We Are the Romans
4. Goatsnake, Vol. 1
5. ZZ Top, Fandango

Check out the entire Checking In series.

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