Ultra Q share indie-synth pop new single ‘Klepto’ with animated video from debut album ‘My Guardian Angel’ out 9th June via Royal Mountain Records.
One of the most fascinating things a music lover can do is witness the growth of a young artist. It starts as an inkling or a glimmer of natural talent and expands into something vast and formidable. Ultra Q are a four-piece from California, made up of Jakob Armstrong, Kevin Judd, plus brothers Chris and Enzo Malaspina, and they are sharing their new single ‘Klepto’ taken from their debut album My Guardian Angel out 9th June via Royal Mountain Records.
‘Klepto’ defined the place where this record came from and glued everything together.
“It had to be on the album”,
says frontman Jakob.
“Klepto was an older track that we resurfaced. When I was making those older demos, I was really into some Eastern European post punk bands. The demo I made was drowned in reverb and the drum machines sounded industrial.”
“I view this track as my jumping off point for the whole record. It’s the emotional thesis. I wrote it soon after several large traumatic events had occurred in my life and having something to work on was very therapeutic.
It’s funny how I pretty much forgot this song existed until Enzo brought up the possibility of recording Klepto for the record. We jammed on it, and everything clicked.
Hearing it again, and especially playing it together as a band, really transported me back to the place I was in when I wrote it."
Ultra Q’s debut album My Guardian Angel was produced by Chris Coady ( TV on the Radio, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Beach House) and it offers a deep sonic palette to match Armstrong’s artistic ambition. Wildly vacillating between widescreen pop-punk (‘Klepto’, the impeccably titled ‘VR Sex’), romantic new-wave (‘Rocket’, ‘I Wanna Lose’), and shimmering synth-pop (‘I Watched Them Go’), the album displays Armstrong’s songwriting talents—along with the musicianship of Kevin Judd and brothers Chris and Enzo Malaspina—conceived and recorded for maximum impact.
Emotional growing pains, sleepless nights, the ethereal allure of romance, and the notion of sound being so closely attached to memory are all wrapped up in clever guitar interplay reminiscent of the band’s formative influences, but delivered in an identity all their own. The words are attached to feelings we think are going to slip away from us in the fading and tarnished pallor of adulthood; truth be told, those feelings emerge just as freshly the older we get.
Armstrong adds about the album,
"I don’t think there is a direct narrative to the album. But I can speak to the place I was in when writing. The record is about loss, and isolation. It’s about dealing with traumatic, life sized events that you don’t know how to confront until you do.
Working on this project was my way of dealing with things. I don’t always know how to put it into words, but it’s the process and the feeling that helped me. Whether it’s yelling my favorite New Order lyrics over and over ("Saturday"), or the double time ravaging of the drums in "VR Sex".
As cheesy as it may sound, writing this album was my guardian angel."
And that is the gift of My Guardian Angel, the implicit understanding that growth is merely a tool we use to better process the past slipping away from us.
Jakob Armstrong—youngest son of Green Day frontman Billie Joe—began playing guitar at seven years old and honed his craft privately until about sixteen, then playing in bands in and around Oakland after meeting friends with like-minded tastes in music. Soon enough, with the memories of Ultraman action figures fighting in his head, he and a group of friends he cultivated from those years playing around and pouring over records, formed Ultra Q. Its name is inspired by an Ultraman prequel series; a deep cut for import action series lovers.
Fusing together the skyward lift of Interpol, the clever guitar interplay of the Strokes, the maudlin romanticism of The Cure, and the often impressionistic narrative gifts of Arctic Monkeys, Ultra Q’s growth since their 2019 EP We’re Starting to Get Along (and its 2020 follow-up In a Cave in a Video Game) has been exponential. A traditional alternative rock sound was baked by the California heat, shards of broken glass gleaming in the sunlight, spanning the distance from Berkeley to Rodeo Drive. Over blaring guitars and thunderous drums, Armstrong’s voice is carried by a very familiar lilt, self-recorded by Armstrong on a whim while quarantined, could easily be slotted between the blown-out, lo-fi tones of early Wavves and the works of intentionally harsh-sounding Columbus band Psychedelic Horseshit.
Ultra Q’s earlier work marked the synthesis of a songwriter’s vision and his band’s ability, forged through an invisible existential threat and an ever-changing world, eager to show what they’ve found while we were all inside. But new album My Guardian Angel soars to heights unimaginable for us lowly, earthbound beings.
My Guardian Angel out 9th June via Royal Mountain Records Pre-order HERE
Live Dates 03/16 - Ventura Music Hall - Ventura, CA 03/17 - Soma Sidestage - San Diego, CA 03/18 - Last Exit - Phoenix, AZ 03/22 - Treefort Festival - Boise, ID 03/23 - Holland Project - Reno, NV 03/24 - Harlow’s - Sacramento, CA 03/25 - The Ritz - San Jose, CA 03/26 - Strummer’s - Fresno, CA