It's a well-known fact that most band names are essentially gobbledygook, but here at Rocks Off we're trying hard to find meaning in the oddest monikers.
Craig Hlavaty called us into his office, which is little more than a refrigerator box with Lady Gaga lyrics scrawled on the sides and an iPad we're 90 percent certain is made of an old Atari, and demanded that we get our skinny rear in gear and find out why a band would call itself the Illegal Wiretaps. We saluted and left him to his puppet show.
When we heard the name we said, "Punk band. We bet the little finger on our left hand." Well, it's really hard to type between the bandages and the painkillers because if there is anything the Illegal Wiretaps ain't, it's punk. Point in fact; we have no idea what we're dealing with.
Part of what a track like "Promises" calls to mind something like the Church, but not nearly as soothing. Instead a buzz and harshness always tingles in their songs like the pain of an amputated limb. It's no less beautiful for all that, but it does lend a certain unsettling quality to it.
Most of what we've heard from the band's EP, A Secret I Can't Decode, released earlier this year, does indeed unsettle. As head of the Gothic Council, we think we're going to go ahead and induct them to the dark side. Somewhere between the esotericsm of Bauhaus and the slightly more eye-rollingly dark moments of the Cruxshadows is where the Illegal Wiretaps seem to make their home.
That name though... the Illegal Wiretaps? You can't call yourself that unless you are going to impotently rage against the machine. You're album cover needs to have George Bush's face defaced upon it. That just makes since.
Usually, we go directly to meet the band and harangue them about their name, but it seemed much more appropriate this time to just call Stephan Wyatt and do a phone interview to see which one of us later got picked up by the NSA.
Rocks Off: Where did you come up with the name the Illegal Wiretaps?
Stephan Wyatt: An enormous gentleman with cheeks like fish gills was yelling at non-assuming pedestrians crossing the street by Main and W. Alabama one evening in 2006, "The government can hear everything we say! They can hear everything we do! They can see what we think! They have illegally wiretapped our minds!"
I stood and listened to his rant, from a comfortable distance, and wondered, "If I could have access to the innermost personal thoughts and scenes of someone's life, would I be invasive and look? Heck yes!
Our own lives are boring; the lives of others are far more interesting than our own. The failures of others can be both comforting and entertaining. So, the idea stuck. It was between that name and The Pregnancy Farts. I believe we have chosen wisely.
RO: What does the Illegal Wiretaps mean to you?
SW: Some nights - good nights - it means free tasty adult beverages. During our more paranoid episodes, however, it means people are laughing at us when we are not looking. We have collectively cried on stage because of this; yet, our sobs soften when our paranoia wanes and we see that people were just busily concentrating on their smartphones.
RO: Is eavesdropping ever justified?
SW: Privacy is an illusion. Eavesdropping is an art - a necessary art. Part of our survival instinct is predicated on our ability to trespass moral boundaries. Yet, given the information that we pry into, do we fully understand the depth and meaning behind the conversations of others without the full context?
Keyboardist Dylan Barnes and I come from a family (we are cousins) that prides itself on making a mushroom cloud out of a molehill. If the suspicion of someone mentioning a family member's name surfaces, he and I have to get the family embroidered strait jackets out of the closet.
RO: How likely do you think it is that someone is listening to our conversation?
SW: I am sure the NSA listens to our Ambien-inspired conversations a sleep therapy: "What do you want for dinner?;" "Don't forget to pick up the kids!"; "Did you know that Mrs. Pennington is making a pipe bomb in her kitchen?!"
RO: What is the worst thing you have ever overheard someone saying? The best?
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SW: The best was at a restaurant, "There wasn't any toilet paper in the restroom, so I used some of our money to wipe." The worst was written on a sheet of paper, '"Dad forgot to take his medication. We are in the closet, if you are looking for us."
Illegal Wiretaps (n): 1. [Definition redacted.] 2. [Definition deleted.] 3. [Definition omitted; definer arrested.]
The Illegal Wiretaps play with Darwin's Finches and Only Beast tonight at Rudyard's.