Atomic Swindlers


Atomic Diva: April Laragy
Interview with Atomic Swindlers' ultra-hot lead singer
By L. A. Vess

She’s been called a “space cowgirl,” “as hot as a railroad track penny” and “unbearably sexy.” She’s been lauded as the new Gwen Stafani by Curve Magazine’s Diane Anderson-Minshall and compared to David Bowie, Janis Joplin, Blondie and PJ Harvey

Her band, the Atomic Swindlers, has garnered rave reviews from such luminaries as Rolling Stone senior critic Barry Walters and George Smith, Senior Critic for the Village Voice.

Meet April Laragy, the girl-next-door turned Atomic Diva, out to thrill your soul – and break your heart.

You’re strolling through your favorite nightclub, or better yet luxuriating on a fabulous cruise, and what do you see - a lesbian themed video featuring an über-sexy ray gun totting chanteuse, her gentle robotic stargirl comrade and their death ray dealing side kick owl? No way you say! Well, keep your eyes open because you’ve just had your first taste of the Atomic Swindlers.

The band’s music video, "Float (my electric stargirl)" was recently added to Promo Only, the nation's largest subscriber-based music and music video service. Now, you can see and hear the Atomic Swindlers, and their gorgeous lead singer, in the hottest nightclubs all over North America, on the best commercial radio stations, at various cool retail and hospitality establishments, and even on major cruise lines.

A dance remix of their song “Diamond Dreamer”, done by Grammy nominated DJ/Remixer Julian Marsh, appeared in Promo Only's ultra-hip Mainstream Club music compilation this month. And in May, the Atomic Swindlers' song, "Float (my electric stargirl)" will appear in Promo Only's Alternative Club music compilation. To top it off, Promo Only Canada has also added the Atomic Swindlers’s music and video. These are just the latest conquests in the Swinders quest to take over the universe with their unique and delicious sound.

The Atomic Swindlers - who have been described as a “United Nations of sexual orientation" - finished off 2005 and blasted into 2006 on a wave of good vibes. Barry Walters, a senior music critic for Rolling Stone Magazine called their CD, Coming Out Electric, “utterly sublime” in a recent review in Out Magazine. George Smith, a senior music critic at the Village Voice placed their CD at number 1 on his “10 best CD’s of 2005” list. Not bad for an unsigned/indie GLBT friendly band from Rochester, NY.

In addition to being the frontwoman for the incredibly hot up-and-coming indie band, Laragy shares song-writing duties with her bandmates Roy Stein and Gary Trainer. Her lyrics infuse some of the band's hottest tracks and she plays piano, electric keyboards and guitar as well. Last, but certainly not least, Laragy is also an accomplished painter with a growing following. Truly, like lesbian warrior princess icon Xena, Laragy is a woman of many talents. 

But then, her band is filled to the brim with talent, producing everything from gorgeous sci-fi glam rock tracks such as "Into the Strange" to beautifully haunting ballads like "Susan Jolie" that will simply break your heart - and is one of the most lovely tracks you're likely to hear this decade. (Download both of these previously unreleased tracks here by clicking on the song names!)

The Atomic Swindlers are fueled by extraordinarily intelligent, evocative lyrics, graced with one of the most expressive and versatile female vocalists you can imagine and backed with a cadre of amazingly talented musicians - Roy Stein (drums),  Gary Trainer (bass), Scott Ostrowski (Guitar, vocals), Chris Yockel (guitar) and Johnny Cummings (keyboards, vocals). The Swindlers have all the building blocks of a superstar band with all the tasty flavor of cult icons in the making. (Think Scissor Sisters fronted by a female Ziggy Stardust era Bowie - and you're only half way there.) 

We cornered Laragy to find out what she thinks about all the attention being bestowed on the Swindlers, and what her hopes are for the band’s future.

You’ve been compared to some pretty amazing musicians, such as Bowie, Blondie and Stefani. How does that kind of comparison make you feel?

I would have to say being compared to pretty amazing people makes me feel pretty amazing!!!! YIKES!!! what an honor that people think of the band that way.

There have been several references in the press to the “lesbian-fronted” Atomic Swindlers - and the band has acknowled that the members ‘span the gambit of sexuality’ - yet, as far as I know you’ve never publicly stated your sexual orientation. Do you think the Swindlers lesbian-themed video has influenced the media’s perception of you?

Ahhhhhhhh... the sexual mystery of it all... I like just where the media has put us!  It feels good and comfy!!  I also would like to think that some day I could actually be with a girl as hot as my animated lover in the video!!  Kosmic purrrrrrrrr!!

The GLBT media has given the band a lot of positive coverage, do you have any fear of the Swindlers being ‘pigeon-holed’ as a gay band?

I have no fears... only love and admiration for anyone who embraces the Swindlers!!  The GLBT media and community obviously has awesomely grand taste... yummy!!  Now I am just being silly... We reach out to whoever listens and enjoys... pigeon-hole us away... we love em!!

You recently hooked up with former DJ Julian Marsh to put together some dance remixes of Swindlers songs. How do you feel about the resulting tracks?

Julian's tracks are soooooooo different from the original versions of the songs!! WOW!!!  They are wonderful!! So is he... he is insanely spectacular!!  How can you not dance to this music???  We are so lucky to be working with such talented people...

What’s the hardest thing about being part of an indie band without label support?

Hmmmm... let's see... that would have to be... being part of an indie band without label support... EVERYTHING!!!! AHHHH!!!

What’s the coolest thing you’ve heard said about the band this past year?

I honestly would have to say when someone told me that they had my cd in their player for months because it was the only thing they were listening to... holy bajeebers!!!  This is definitely not an ego thing... I just know how I feel when I hear something I love and it puts me in an incredible place... I want to hear it over and over again... wellllll.... If the Atomic Swindlers' music had that effect on anyone... even one person... that is what does it for me... I don't even know what to say... it leaves me kid of speechless!!! If you can believe that??

How do you feel about the image of you as this ultra-hot, ass-kicking, latex-clad, glam goddess? Is that something you enjoy – and cultivate?

Oh I just loooove it!!!  you should see when I do my grocery shopping dressed like that!!  I think sometimes it might frighten small children... but they're really not my target audience!!

You have some great guys sharing the stage with you in the Swindlers, tell us about your band-mates.

The guys... the guys... me... surrounded by testosteronia... I can handle it... what can I say? They are sexy... talented... beautifully poetic and... able to move big speakers... a glam girl has got to love it!!

Besides being a rock goddess, you also happen to be quite an amazing painter. Tell us about your art, and which came first – the music or the painting?

Well, I am pretty sure I was equal parts noisy and artistically messy when I was a child... but, the art came first... I was obssessed in kindergarten with drawing animals with knees!  My teacher would say "oh honey dinosaurs and kittys don't have knees."  I mean what a freak she was... it was so obvious that I was a nine year old trapped inside a five year old body... couldn't she see the genius in me???  Now i can't get enough of either... it is just me.  It's who I am and what I do... and I do so enjoy making people happy with it... that is why I'll keep doing it until those kitties and dinosaurs need knee replacements!!

What would you most like to see happen with the band this year?

I would love to have all the hard work that everyone in the band and close to the band has done to be rewarded somehow.  Just to get to some other level.  We are all so passionate about this... to have it be successful on any level is rewarding.

Where do you see the Swindlers in five years?

Well... There really is no top to the ladder of success... so I hope whichever rung we are on finds us happy, writing and still together... and alive...



City Newspaper
"I Scene It"
April 12, 2006

Saturday night and *The Atomic Swindlers* were swindlin' about 200 fans at Milestones. They played crowd favorites like "Space Bandit" and showcased a few new tunes. The fresh material still has the band's pop, wit, and groove but exhibited an emerging serious side. I guess the sign of a good song is when it sounds simple despite its complexity. And bottom line, this is just a really fun band to watch. Sure, everybody's watching singer April Laragy do her thing up front, but equally mesmerizing was guitarist Chris Yockel. Yockel braved new frontiers picking out soundscapes full of delay and phase, even pushing to a full feedback sustain reminiscent of Mick Jones on /London// Calling. /Yockel is truly what drives this band's incredible sound.

--- Frank De Blase



DragonFlyEye (
The Atomic Swindlers: Coming Out Electric
April 22, 2006

Drinking cool martinis with the mayor of the stars

It’s been a while since any band really put genuine theatrics front and center in their priority list, both in terms of their music and their performance.  I think that in the pursuit of that perfect sound, bands sometimes forget that audiences go to shows because they want to have a good time.  But get ready.  One of the most genuinely unique bands to hit Rochester in a long time is bringing the fun to the stage in spades, with a groove-laden, sexy, rock-n-roll ride through the cosmos: The Atomic Swindlers.

A curious and listenable mix of mid-seventies, early eighties and late nineties influences, a fully multimedia experience and a positively rock-and-roll persona are what make the Atomic Swindlers such a great band to watch live.  Their music betimes takes on shades of light and dark from The B-52’s to U2, from Ziggy Stardust-era Bowie to a distinct Rocky Horror Picture Show vibe, contributing to what is a very thematic and stratospheric sound.  Meanwhile, video projectors flood the band and the curtain behind them with trippy images, live shots of the band and even some pictures submitted to their fan site (including one from yours truly).

What stands out the most about this band is the sheer mass of sound they present.  Their live performances really do sound just like their album, Coming Out Electric, which is itself chock-full of sound.  The band’s sound positively fills the room, rich guitar, keyboards and effects all immersing every corner with a wonderfully spacey air. 

It’s no accident that this band sounds so good live: the musicianship of this group is top-flight.  Lead guitarist Chris Yockel uses some absolutely amazing effects on his guitar to add to the cosmic intonation, serving the kind of guitarist role formerly served only by Steve Hackett.  Rhythm guitarist Scott Ostrowski, while also singing great harmonies, lays down an equally solid groove along with bassist Gary Trainer.  Johnny Cummings is a killer keyboardist, rare in the Rochester rock scene.  Roy Stein provides drums, electronic percussion and looping, and presiding over it all is the space girl herself, April Laragy.

Stein also contributes about a third of the songwriting to the band, and as a drummer, I can say I really admire this.  Especially since he hasn’t yet pulled a Phil Collins, so far as I can tell.  In total, the songs are written by Stein, Laragy and Trainer, all of whom display a great range of songwriting ability.

The genres of music that the band plays are as eclectic as you could imagine while still maintaining a sense of unique sound.  “Progressive” is another word for it; in fact, that is exactly what they bill themselves as in their profile.  At first, listening to the relatively small sampling of music available there, I had my doubts as to the accuracy of this label.  However, once I had a chance to listen to the entire album, I realized that they are very much a progressive band in the great tradition of David Bowie, Genesis, and to a lesser degree, Marilyn Manson. 

Again on this level, the band surprises and impresses.  Too often, the label of “Progressive Rock” is reserved for what I regard as entirely non-progressive, predictable, loud and overreaching metal music like Dream Theater and knock-offs thereof.  Really, if every song is twenty minutes long and never has four consecutive measures in any one key or time signature, is that really progressive?  The glory days of progressive rock were filled to the brim with unique characters that wrote and performed music which did not necessarily have anything to do with rhythmic or tonic acrobatics.  Rather, they used those tools where appropriate in pursuit of a higher musical and artistic expression.  Yes’s Close to the Edge, for all it’s complexity, is primarily written in 3/4 time, as one example.

The Atomic Swindlers are mature and talented enough musicians to understand this, and also that there is such a thing as a good or a bad song, regardless of its genre or complexity. Diamond Dreamer, for example, sounds like Frank N. Furter and Ziggy Stardust’s love child.  At once heavy-rocking and tuneful, there is a piano part that exactly mirrors the rhythm guitar, giving it that Rocky Horror feel, to which April’s drawling, theatrical vocals add the Bowie impression.  Other songs on the album just plain rock, like sex66, or groove in laid-back style like the aptly-named Float, Jupiter’s Falling or Stars in My Pocket.  Meanwhile, the great harmonics of this band are prominently displayed in some of the best ballads I’ve heard in a long time, such as Drag, and Underground Love.

The hardest thing about writing this review thus far has been getting enough time in to write it between hours of listening to the album.  In terms of the flow from one tune to the next, the album does a good job of sufficiently placing one tune next to another in a way that naturally leads you down the path, or should I say, through the cosmos, from one planet to the next, lamenting Jupiter’s fall one minute and dancing on volcanoes the next.  In the end, the carefree, lazy persuasion of Stars in My Pocket gives way, like the transition from In the Rapids into it on Genesis’ Lamb, to an explosively happy rock-n-roll ending that caps a great album.

Every once in a while, there comes along a band in Rochester that positively defies all precedent in the local music scene.  There’s plenty of good music to listen to here, but by and large, it tends to fit comfortably into one of maybe four or five genres easily recognized as Rochester standards.  In truth, the same is true for popular music in general, but on April 8th of this year, I caught an early show at Milestones Music Room of a band that steps outside those normal bounds and into space: The Atomic Swindlers.  I cannot wait to go see them again, hopefully before they become big enough that I can’t afford the tickets anymore, which may be very soon, indeed.



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