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Interview: Philly rockers Ceramic Animal on touring, the red suit uniform and their master plan

Psych-rock band Ceramic Animal had years of experience as a local band in the Philadelphia area before gaining notice with their first record The Cart, eight tracks blending the psychedelia and indie rock we’ve come to love from Tame Impala and related artists. Currently on their Nasty U.S. Tour of Truth, Ceramic Animal will stop by Valley Bar for a night complete with their signature matching red suits.

While in transit in their van, Ceramic Animal answered some of Atlas’s questions about breaking out as a band newly in the spotlight.

Atlas: What’s your musical background for everyone who can’t find info about you online?

Ceramic Animal: We’ve been Ceramic Animal for two and a half, three years now. We released our first album two years ago called The Cart and we just released our second album a couple weeks ago [Hit or Miss]. Our original bassist that we had left, but we had a friend in the music scene in Philadelphia where we’re from, so we played festivals and shows with other bands with him. It was great timing and a great fit.

Atlas: How’d you come upon the name Ceramic Animal along the way?

Ceramic Animal: We really just liked the sound and the aesthetic of the sound. It wasn’t anything specific; it was just sort of this white space out there. We wanted something that didn’t mean something already that we could give meaning to ourselves with the project.

Atlas: Now that everything’s coming together, who would you say have been some of your influences?

Ceramic Animal: Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Tom Petty, The Doors, David Bowie. Those are the big ones. The Beatles obviously, too, and The Rolling Stones.

Atlas: How was your experience at SXSW this year?

Ceramic Animal: It was awesome. It was a little bit of a blur. It was a bigger party than we expected. It was our first time going down there, but we were down there for the whole week basically. We had our first showcase that first Sunday, that night, and we also had a showcase on the Saturday. We basically took Thursday off to chill in the Airbnb because we had been trying to see as much music as we could. There was a lot of partying going on and showcasing at night, which is a lot of work. We lived it hard and fast, and we’re recouping a little bit. We’re definitely looking forward to going back, probably this year. It’s a great time. Have you ever been?

Atlas: No, it’s a bucket list destination, though.

Ceramic Animal: What part of the country are you in?

Atlas: Phoenix, Arizona. It wouldn’t exactly be a walk down the street, but it’s close enough.

Ceramic Animal: I think we’re driving on through San Antonio after the Phoenix date. It’s a good little drive. But if you get the chance, you should definitely go.

Atlas: Austin is amazing, so it’s a plan. What’s the deal with the matching red suits, by the way?

Ceramic Animal: I think we all just thought it would be neat to do, and we did it. And we liked the results. I think it’s a nice ritual before the show, that we all change into our suits before the show. We get mentally prepared, and it’s bonding. It reinforces the fact that we’re a team, like they’re uniforms, and I think it looks pretty good as well. It simplifies what we’re going to wear, so we don’t have to spend that mental bandwidth.

Atlas: What do you like best about touring?

Ceramic Animal: There’s so much to like about tours. There’s so much every day, having a great time.

Atlas: Is there a sort of identity and niche that you’re settling into as you grow as a band?

Ceramic Animal: I think this is ever evolving for us— we certainly feel the second album was a bit more cohesive than the first, had a little more of a theme, pulling form some western sounds- but we certainly won’t sit there very long. What we have in mind for the third album will again be quite a bit different than anything we have released yet. It will always sound like Ceramic Animal, but we will continue to pursue projects or ideas that sound interesting to us.

Atlas: How is social media playing a part in your growth?

Ceramic Animal: It should be no surprise that social media is really important for any band. It lets us help keep fans up to date, and it’s a great way to interact with people all over the world. The social elements of Spotify and YouTube are really important as well. People sharing our music through posts and playlists has been great to see.

Atlas: What are your grand plans, if any—or are you winging it?

Ceramic Animal: We have some lofty long term goals for ourselves that we keep close to the vest for now. A lot of what we have accomplished so far just starts as an idea that sounds fun or interesting— we start putting some energy behind it and all of a sudden we are there. There certainly isn’t any grand plan, it’s really about setting ourselves up to do some cool shit that people dig.


Interview by Taylor Gilliam

Photo by Sara McKenna-Mill