The Sprinkle Genies


Andy Ras Vegas - vocals, guitar
Ananda Sunshine - vocals, buckets, violin, tambourine, harmonica, various shakers
Erika Simonian - vocals, guitar, mandolin, buckets, bass
Steve Bag - vocals, bass
Richard Heaven - drums

Catching a band 97 times in three years might seem like a lot, but that's how many times I've seen the Sprinkle Genies - and I'm a busy guy. For some strange reason, this loose group - maybe the most casual collection of rockers in New York City - is worth each and every trip.

Why? It must be because their shallowly soul-searching jams - an unabashed conglomeration of rock, blues, strangeness and 21st Century folk-never get old. Not for their many dedicated fans, not for the casual listener, and certainly not for them.

"I'm not really the mastermind: I'm the overseer," clarifies Andy Ras Vegas, who founded the band roughly a million years ago, or 1995 to be exact. "In the Sprinkle Genies, you can do whatever you want. Where I come from, white guys play crappy reggae, but we do it the way we like to do it. If we want to play disco-influenced songs followed by Led Zeppelin, that's cool. People here don't feel constrained by rules. We don't kowtow, and we don't follow a system."

For a generation seeking low-key rebellion, Sprinkle Genies are the ideal outlet. Their live shows, happening everywhere from Brooklyn to Manhattan to a medieval fire pit in the forest (I saw it myself), are a place where anything can happen. Ras Vegas might throw attendee's names into the insulting lyrics of the dub-heavy "Trust Fund" and indulge nostalgia with some tongue in cheek spinal tap moves on guitar. Ananda sexes it up opium-den style as she sings and wails on the buckets in songs like 'It's so Fun'. Erika's punchy ethereal vocals and virtuosity on anything with strings is the perfect counterbalance. Richard Heaven just bashes out that delicious pocket, and Steve Bag threatens to overwhelm everything and everybody, each and every time, with his potentially earth-shaking bass. Guitar, that is.

And if nothing special seems to happen at the gig, that's OK too, because Sprinkle Genies songs stay lodged in your head for days, months, and years after the beer has been drunk and the show is over. Just try forgetting the everyman struggle of 'Office Blow Boy', ("I've/become/the office blow boy/She's/become/the office blow girl") the blue collar greeting of "Hey Fuzzy, What's Up?" (figure it out), or the white-trash wastoid pleasures of "I'm In the Barn" ("I'm in the barn/hittin' on the bong/thinking about Elvis").

"I don't really write songs - they just materialize", says Ras Vegas. "I don't believe in writing. You just play, and the song happens. I think the quintessential Sprinkle Genies tunes are 'Chesters' and 'Dirty Couch'. They incorporate all different aspects of our musical tastes: percussion, atonal stuff, punk, rock, dance, Appalachian, disco and '50's pop."

The craziest part about this group is that after slogging it out in the underground for almost 10 years, they're jacked to start their 2nd decade in similar fashion - as long as they do it together. "It's effortless for all of us to get along and create together," Ananda says. "The Sprinkle Genies are like finding a soulmate. That kind of chemistry is either there or it isn't. We're like family except nothing sucks."

Nothing at all. That's why I'll be at show #98 in a week or two. Wanna come with me?

David Weiss, Editor Mix Magazine