SEPTEMBER 2005 PRESS
Coming Out Electric: Primed to Sweep
Interview with the Atomic Swindlers
By Chris S. Witwer
The Atomic Swindlers are an out of this
world phenomenon with a cosmic groove,
a hip spacey sound, celestial lyrics,
and a hot front woman oozing sex – not
to mention an animated video that’s
creating sonic waves all on its own. Coming
Out Electric is a remarkable debut
album featuring consistently rock-solid
musicianship, unique style and sound,
and superb production. This psychedelic
glam rock CD gives “the nod” to
the GLBT community, while pleasing sci-fi
and post-punk junkies alike. Coming
Out Electric is like nothing you’ve
ever heard. And you’re going to
We had a chance to chat with the band
recently, and what struck me most was
how funny they are. I guess you’d
have to have a sense of humor to write
a sci-fi concept album with songs like “Intergalactic
Lesbian Love Song”, “Space
Bandit”, “Float (my electric
stargirl)”, and “Planet
of a Thousand Lies”. Still, the
band’s comedic leanings turned
my mildly mundane interview questions
into a truly entertaining exchange:
Q. Reviewers have called Coming Out
Electric a sci-fi concept CD. Would
you agree with that assessment?
Gary Trainer: The CD is a concept
piece, in that that the sum of all of
its parts does make up a whole. The CD
has threads of ideas that weave in and
out, almost like a collage, which becomes
one large whole. The CD does not tell
a linear story, but challenges the listeners
(as all art should) to form their own
concept story. I have always loved all
Sci-fi rock such as T-Rex, David Bowie,
Pink Floyd and Jimi Hendrix. So,
for me, the Reviewers have all been very
on target with this assessment.
Roy Stein: I’m not quite
sure what to call it. Buck Rogers sci-fi… don’t
think so. Unless old Buck was hiding
a thing or two from us.
April Laragy: I think of our
creation more like an adventure… each
song has a very unique personality but
in some way it has a connection with
all the other compositions on the CD.
Many personalities… like a schizophrenic
Q. How did you come up with the names
Atomic Swindlers and Coming Out
GT: The name comes from a song
that I wrote “Murphy Man”.
There was a line “he had the Atomic
Swindle tattooed on his chest”.
I suggested the name to everyone when
we were forming the band, and “voila”,
the Atomic Swindlers were born. The Coming
Out Electric we hope, has many meanings
to many people. We wanted the album title
and the image of April on the cover to
work together. The word “Electric” is
used a lot in the lyrics of the CD, and
of course “Coming Out” does
have a strong meaning in the gay world,
which the “Atomic Swindlers” are
proud members/allies of.
RS: Go Gary!
Q. Just so we’re clear-- the
band consists of April Laragy (vocals,
boards), Scott Ostrowski (guitars),
Roy Stein (drums), Gary Trainer (bass)
and Chris Yockel (guitars). Is Brian
Eggleston also a regular member of
RS: Actually, Brian is a member
of the band, we just haven’t really
told him. But you’re right about
him not being “regular.” I’m
the “drummer”, though the
rest of the band often preface it with “just
AL: Sometimes Brian is auctioned
off at the end of the night so he actually
does serve an important purpose.
Q. Curve Magazine called
April the new Gwen Stefani. How did
you feel about that comparison?
RS: That statement was the first
hard copy national press the band received.
I loved it. What a rip. Now April’s
even more the “princess” of
the rehearsal studio than before. If
that keeps up the rest of us are gonna
have to carry her around a-la Judy
AL: Actually I will be hiring
extras of my choosing to do the carrying.
Q. Roy, as the guy who penned “Float
(my electric stargirl)”, how
do you feel about the depiction of
the song in the video?
RS: Delight and a very nice satisfied
euphoric buzz (think valiums… blue). Joel
Trussell, the director and animator
forwarded some initial sketches early
on in the creative process. We were all
blown away. The storyboards followed
shortly thereafter. We didn’t provide
much input. Joel’s a wonderfully
talented and creative person. It was
like… hey do your thing. My interpretation
of Joel’s video is that it’s
images and messages are very anti-patriarchal/anti-Gilgamesh.
The feelings that arise from that worldview
underlie the feelings that gave rise
to the song. So I couldn’t be happier
with Joel’s vision.
Q. The “Float” video
seems to have done pretty well at a
couple of film festivals. Tell us about
GT: The “Float” video
has gotten airplay on Mania TV, which
is the Internet version of VH1. Maybe
the new “LOGO” GLBT network,
which is a part of the MTV, VH1 family
of companies, will play it. That would
be very exciting to me.
video debuted at the ImageOut film festival
in Rochester, NY. From there it’s
been in four more international film
festivals. It just won top prize at Hollywood’s
prestigious HypeFest film festival. We
were basically the little engine that
could story at that festival competing
against very powerful producers and production
companies. We’re trying to get
it to as many outlets as possible. I’d
like people to have a chance to enjoy
it. Out of the Closet TV was the first
to stream it on the internet and as they
so aptly put it, “When was the
last time you've seen a lesbian/cartoon
AL: That is so not a cartoon… I
really look like that… even in
Q. Has anyone in the band been going
about their day and heard one of the
cuts on the radio? What is that experience
GT: I have heard our song many
times on the radio now. WBER a great
local alternative station added, “Float” to
their regular rotation for months. I
would get in my car after work and hear
the Atomic Swindlers. The CD was made
for radio play. I just hope that we pick
up a fan or two each time we get airplay.
RS: It’s just like... cool.
It really does make you feel good. The
first time I heard the band on the radio
the station played the song “Float” right
after U2’s “Vertigo”.
I was psyched. Not so sure Bono would
AL: What a rush it is... I am
still not used to it… in fact
I was flipping radio stations the other
day and they were playing one of our
songs… but, I didn’t pick
up on it right away… and I immediately
got pissed and said, “oh that is
just great… that sounds just like
us!” My friend said "uh, April… that
is you… you dope!”
Q. Your website says that the CD
has been added to 300 radio stations.
Is this number still accurate?
RS: Over 325 radio stations have
added the band to their playlists. The
fan base is defintely growing, most quickly
it seems in the GLBT community. The video
also recently started streaming on the
world’s largest internet gaming
site, www.ign.com so the scifi
and gaming aficionados are starting to
pick up on the band.
Q. How did you become a band?
band started out like most. Get together
with a few mates, figure you’ll
play out a bit and have some fun. That
happened about three years ago. We took
tunes we had written for other bands
and started playing smaller venues in
upstate NY that allowed bands to play
original music. Most of the tunes had
a psychobilly/rockabilly feel to them.
After about 6 months we started writing
our own stuff as a band. It sounded nothing
even remotely similar to rockabilly.
For the most part it had this huge British/Bowie
sound. I’m still scratching my
head over that. We took almost a year
off from playing out to focus on the
record. Every song was written for this
particular CD with heavy musical contributions
from all the members.
AL: We all are friends first
and band mates second. I think that is
what makes any relationship important
and what helps contribute to the musical
compatibility. I feel very fortunate
to be a part of this… no matter
where it takes us!
GT: All of my songs were written
for this CD with April as the lead performer,
and the Atomic Swindlers as a band in
mind. This effects the keys that I write
in, the voice of the story, etc. The
songs are then filtered through the band
as a whole. At this time it is the most
rewarding part of being a part of a band.
Each member brings his or her own special
magic quality that makes my songs come
alive. I am just grateful that I have
had the opportunity to work with such
talented band members. Each day is a
Q. I noticed that April is credited
with writing 4 tracks, you are credited
with 4, and Gary is credited with 4.
Is this equity purposeful, or did it
just work out that way?
GT: It was a terrific creative
period for me. To write, record, and
produce my songs with such talented co-members,
was an opportunity of a lifetime. We
stopped at 4 each because more than two
years of our life had already passed.
It was a labor of love.
RS: Everyone loves to write so
it just seemed to be the equitable way
to share creative opportunities. It really
worked out great. We had a semi-common
vision thing happening and it was always
a blast to hear what other bandmates
were writing and to contribute to the
Q. How have things gone for the band
since the CD came out?
believe things have gone very well. It
has been a “Magical Mystery Tour” like
puzzle pieces, which continue to fall
together for the Atomic Swindlers. We
have had the help of an amazing abundance
of talented, creative artists, animators,
managers, press writers, and marketing
gurus. It becomes like a fun amusement
park ride, the more creative people that
help us with this project. We hope to
enlist the whole planet before we are
RS: Things have gone very well.
The momentum of the band just seems to
keep building and building. To date we
certainly have had help from an array
of extremely talented and kind people.
We thank our lucky, lucky stars on that
AL: So much work has gone into
this… much of it on the shoulders
of our manager Harvey, and on Roy. Without
that we’d be the Atomic Sinkers
going down with the spaceship! Roy and
Harvey work their little fannies off.
There is work to be done every day… but,
whenever we get any good news it is all
worth it. Writing music is so personal
like any other art… and when you
find out that you are reaching people
in a positive way it is just so rewarding.
We have been very lucky to be surrounded
by such creative and compassionate people.
Q. And you all have day jobs, right?
What’s it like being a performer
while maintaining a career?
believe in keeping my feet in both worlds.
The everyday work world, and my art world.
My weekly paycheck has helped finance
this project. To me, the end justifies
the means. My art, rock and roll, and
the music business are still exciting
to me. I am not burned out by it. Of
course, I would love the opportunity
to write and record 24/7, but this has
taken many a toll on many rock artists.
I am still healthy, with a strong hard
work ethic. I view this as a positive
RS: Well… Gary and I differ
a bit on this. I’d love to have
suffered or currently be in the throws
of that deviant rock and roll lifestyle.
My arms are wide open on that one… please
take a toll on me.
AL: Hmmmm… let me me see… I
work in a museum… yikes… I
am an artist… double yikes… and
I play in a band… good lord, I
never looked at that in writing, but,
maybe I should some day get a real job… nah!!
Q. What's in the works for you now?
Any projects you're working on, or
long term goals to speak of?
GT: In lieu of writing new material,
we chose to put together a multi-media
live show. We would love the world to
see us perform Coming Out Electric live.
April is an amazing live performer. RS:
Yeah…. we want to get this music
out there. So we’re going to do
a lot more live shows and just keep moving
ahead. Our management is also pursuing
some TV stuff connecting and expanding
upon the animated video and the band’s
music. This has been a great ride so
far, so I’m just enjoying what’s
happening and keeping my fingers crossed
that it continues.
Q. So we might get a chance to see
you live, then?
GT: We have a great multi-media
live show just ready to tour with. And
for the record, opening for David Bowie
would be great.
RS: We have just started to focus
on touring. This fall and into next year
we are booking festivals and a lot of
college gigs. The multi-media show that
we have compiled in support of the live
show is gorgeous and a trip in itself.
You can see some stills from it on our
web page. Also, April is an incredible
live performer. She is so assured on
stage it’s almost scary. I know
people are gonna love her when they see
her perform. The rest of us… well
we’re kinda like decorative wallpaper
or a nice piece of chair rail.
AL: That is not true at all… except
the part about me! Just kidding! The
boys are amazing performers and musicians
and we all create an energy on stage
that takes just the right chemistry and
you just can’t fake chemistry.
Q. Overall, what has Coming Out
Electric meant for the
band and its members - both as a
creative work and as a career move?
GT: For me Coming Out Electric is
the best work of my career. It is a CD
that I personally want to listen to.
It is modeled after such albums as Marc
Bolan’s Electric Warrior, David
Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust,
Jimi Hendrix’s Electric Ladyland,
and Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of
the Moon. So many of the press writers
have picked up on our intent here. Communication
is the root of an artist’s work,
and I feel like Coming Out Electric is
working on this level. It is Rock and
Roll, which is my passion. It is electric
guitar’s, words, images and melodies.
A myth for the 21st Century and (hopefully)
RS: Everyone who worked on creating
this CD really came through. The creativity
levels were just so high and people’s
contributions so genuine. And that still
hasn’t abated. In sum, I couldn’t
be more satisfied with the results. As
far as it being a “career move”,
I never conceptualized it in that way
and I don’t think anyone else in
the band has either (much to the chagrin
of our management). I’m proud of
what established music critics have consistently
said in this regard. Ron Netsky, who
wrote for City Newspaper the first
published review of the CD said, “'Coming
Out Electric' sounds nothing like the
mainstream recordings of today. It's
a throwback to a bygone era when the
music industry cherished poetic lyrics
and albums that were works of art." And
GayWired.com said, "Think David
Bowie in his 'Ziggy Stardust' period.
Time-traveling to the days when bands
told stories with their music." It
doesn’t get much better than that.
AL: This has been my happiest
musical time ever. I couldn’t even
imagine writing or playing with anyone
else. Having kind words written about
something I feel so passionate about
is an incredible added bonus. I am very
And so are we, April. Coming Out
Electric is a fantastic album,
even more extraordinary for the fact
that it is the Atomic Swindlers’ debut
offering. Coming Out Electric hasn’t
left my CD player since I got my hands
on it. And I’ll be first in line
when tickets go on sale in my little
corner of the galaxy. Float over here,
my electric starband!
© 2005 Michael Wilke, All Rights
If you wish to see the interview and
comments with photos visit: http://www.gaywired.com/article.cfm?section=10&id=6941
The Cosmically Fabulous
by L. A. Vess
Not long ago, the Atomic Swindlers were
a little known, oddly named, sci-fi themed
band with big dreams of conquering the
universe with their psychedelic sounds
waves. Now the sexy groove of the Swindlers
is starting to swell into a fabulous
roar, thanks to swank national mags and
indie critics alike. Fueled by front
woman April Laragy’s out of this
world vocals, the Swindlers are on their
way to making a Big Bang in the music
galaxy. Laragy, the Atomic Swindlers’ luscious
lead singer, and bass-playing band mate
Gary Trainer recently sat down to answer
some questions for GayWebMonkey.
GayWebMonkey: Who are the Atomic
Swindlers. Better yet, what are the Atomic
Atomic Swindlers: Time traveling,
genderbending poets looking for a new
and brilliant way to express what has
probably been said over and over again.
Oscar Wilde has done it - without music – William
Burroughs has done it in every way imaginable,
and of course, [David] Bowie, Bowie,
Bowie... we had to say it because of
all the comparisons.
GWM: You’ve said your band
members run the spectrum from gay to
straight and everywhere in between. Is
sexual diversity a big part of the band’s
identity or just a nice way to get the
queer media’s attention?
AS: We are a highly sexual band
that appreciates the fact that the queer
media gets off right along with us. Sexual
diversity in the band is an important
part of who we are... however creating
a work of art was more important to us.
GWM: The band’s debut album
is titled Coming Out Electric.
In the queer world, ‘coming out’ has
very specific connotations. Was the title
a deliberate play on words?
AS: It was three words that sounded
good together and captured the essence
of the art, words and music that is the
Atomic Swindlers. Our only hope is that
someday everyone will come out… electric...
GWM: April seems very fond of
running around half naked in leather,
what about the rest of you?
AS: First of all... it’s
rubber, latex and vinyl (much easier
to get off quickly… because it
rolls) and we all love it… some
are more naked than others.
GWM: For those who have not yet
had the pleasure of becoming your slavishly
devoted fans, what would you say to enlist
them to your cause?
AS: All we really need to love
us is a record company president, the
nations largest DJ and Martin Scorsese
(hey, he did put Gwen Stefani in a movie)
and the rest of the world will become
our slavishly devoted fans. Seriously...
please just listen to the CD in headphones
and know that we are just trying to transport