Stripmall Architecture’s New Take on Retro Sonic Futurism

Suburban Reverb is not only the most poetically and postmodernly cool album title I’ve heard of 2013, but the sounds it contains are also some of the year’s best. ...

Suburban Reverb is not only the most poetically and postmodernly cool album title I’ve heard of 2013, but the sounds it contains are also some of the year’s best.  The album, which drops next Tuesday, June 18th, is the product of Bay-Area-based, retro-electronic, husband-wife duo Ryan and Rebecca Coseboom, also known as Stripmall Architecture.  It’s not surprising to find that the band have a history of working with Depeche Mode producer John Fryer and of Cocteau Twins’ guitarist Robin Guthrie, when you hear the synthetic sensuality and morose moodiness of Suburban Reverb.  While many acts these days seem to be toying with electro-instrumentation of yesteryear, Stripmall Architecture really seem to grasp the profound beauty of their predecessors to a far greater degree than any contemporaries boasting of the same influences, yet without copying their approach to songwriting (Their sound is certainly something that has not quite been done before.)  I recently got a chance to chat with Ryan and I’m really looking forward to spending a night reliving (and reinventing) my teen years nightclubbing to Goth Synth Pop with Ryan and Rebecca.  However, they’re still waiting for some like-minded, ticket-selling act to take them on the road so, do me a favor, and spread the word about Stripmall Architecture.


Izzy Cihak: You’re based out of San Francisco which, honestly, as of recently, seems to be the coolest and most impressive musical city in America.  What are your thoughts on the SF scene?  Do you have any particular favorite local peers?

Ryan Coseboom: There are definitely some great bands coming out of San Francisco, but I’m not sure there’s anything going on that I’d call a scene. We’re actually just north of San Francisco, though, so it can be hard to hear about new things going on sometimes. There are a few great club nights that will always book the best new bands from the Bay Area. I’ve been amazed a few times I’ve been out to be blown away by a local band I’ve never even heard of. It’s definitely fertile here, in that way.

IC: You have an upcoming LP.  How does Suburban Reverb compare to your previous releases?

RC: The new record is more focused than the previous Stripmall Architecture albums. We honed in more on what we wanted to do, which was to make a fairly minimal electronic record, loosely the way they were made in the late seventies and early eighties. We bought a lot of vintage gear to get the sounds we wanted, but then we went about writing the songs in a way that wasn’t necessarily influenced by the bands from that era. The tones and techniques were interesting to us, but the musical style we kept our own. In fact, we really tried to minimize the “craft” involved in making the record and kept things as simple as possible, closely following our instincts, instead of revising things over and over.

IC: What were the album’s biggest influences and inspirations (I don’t necessarily just mean “musical influences.”)

RC: Certain pieces of gear were definitely an influence, or at least important tools to get us where we wanted to end up. We bought a Sequential Circuits Six Track synth that I just fell in love with instantly and that thing is responsible for pretty much every synth sound on “Jetset Friends,” for example. On “Autumn’s Echo,” I wanted to run everything through a reverb that was based on convolutions from the inside of a giant pipe. It gave everything a slightly metallic and cavernous sound.

IC: What’s the story behind your moniker?  I quite like it.

RC: Thanks. We played around with names for a while and, once we came up with Stripmall Architecture, we knew we had it. It’s meant to be sort of humorous, obviously. We both grew up in different California suburbs and you sort of get used to these hideous things lining every road and highway. I’ve never understood why, when planners and architects are dreaming up these buildings, they end up with these anonymous looking eyesores.

IC: What are your plans for the rest of 2013?  Any chance of a full-scale US tour?

RC: We are just starting to tour now. We’re doing some shows along the west coast to start off. We’re really hoping to link up with someone more well-know than we are to do something that covers more territory. We love touring, but it’s not realistic for us to plan a full US tour before people really know how we are – unless we happen to be supporting someone that they’re already familiar with. We’re very much hoping for something to work out.

Band Interviews

During the day Izzy Cihak teaches transgression, subversion, and revolution at Temple University. At night he haunts Philthy's best venues to cover worthwhile acts for Philthy Mag. Morrissey is everything to him and, in their own heads, all of his friends see themselves as Zooey Deschanel.