January 2004 PRESS
Gannett's Rochester Insider Weekly Magazine,
January 21, 2005
nightlife: Swindlers need their
It was a dreary, slushy, miserable January day
when I interviewed April Laragy of the local quasi-futuristic,
alterna-pop outfit Atomic Swindlers. I had too
many appointments to meet with her in person,
so I called her instead.
She made me regret the decision.
“I was planning on doing an all-nude interview,” she
revealed. “Nothing but baby oil and a smile.”
If only I had known, perhaps I would've shifted
my schedule — blown off a meeting, called
in sick, stolen a bike from a nun.
It's this kind of power — a sly, so overt
it's almost subliminal sexual power — that
the leggy Laragy casually wields as the frontwoman
of the coolly sci-fi group.
Laragy is a veteran of the Rochester music scene,
as are drummer Roy Stein, bassist Gary Trainer,
keyboardist Brian Eggleston and guitarists Scott
Ostrowski and Chris Yockel. They've played in
such bands as Jet Black Berries and the Raw MaGillys.
The Atomic Swindlers first hit the street in
2001, and in 2003 the group began work on its
debut album, Coming Out Electric — a
concept piece that revels in retro, space-age
sonicscapes originally brought to life by Ziggy
Stardust -era David Bowie and Iggy Pop.
“I think we take what was cosmic about
the past and try to springboard it into the future,” says
Laragy. “It's sort of a celestial ride.”
In keeping with the feel of the album and songs
like “Intergalactic Lesbian Love Song” and “Planet
of a Thousand Lies,” Laragy herself becomes
a leather-clad star girl of sorts — like
a flight attendant aboard Major Tom's ship in
Bowie's “Space Oddity.”
“It's a caricature of me,” she says. “The
album kind of features that character going through
time and space.”
Combining other-worldly lyrics, Laragy's breathy
vocals and lush, multilayered instrumental tracks,
the sound is one that drummer Stein describes
as “big” and “British.”
“We put (the band) together to be psychobilly,
and then as soon as we started to write our own
stuff it didn't sound anything like that,” he
says. “You've got to let it be what it's
going to be.”
Among other things, the band is visually stimulating.
Aside from the futuristic outfits of Laragy and
the band, the animated video for the single “Float
(My Electric Stargirl)” debuted in October
at the ImageOut Festival, and plans are under
way for a multimedia backdrop at live shows.
“When people come, each time they can see
a whole new show,” says Laragy. “Not
that I'm not completely entertaining myself.”
But really, she and Stein say, the music is speaking
The Swindlers' songs have been in steady rotation
on WBER-FM (90.5) since the fall (see Page
32 for a story on WBER), and “Float” cracked
the top-20 list on the nationally broadcast XM
Radio show Unsigned . And for now, Laragy
says, the band is prepared to do whatever it takes
to be heard.
“If a tampon commercial wants to use our songs,
put it there,” she says. “Just make
them shaped like a rocket.”