“A great fucking slab of 60s garage punk rock. The mono recording and in-your-face wall of sound kicks from the first note to the last.” 
The Hosey Report

"Superb modern Buffalo garage 45" Bernie Kugel "Fantabulous new recording"
 Miriam Linna

Let’s start with some introductions. 

Matt Aquiline (Vocals & Guitars), Mark Norris (Vocals & Bass), Bob Hanley (Farfisa Organ), and Craig Voigt (Drums).

How about some history and how did it get started? 

Thee Isolators began in April 2020 as my (Matt) one-man home recording project during COVID. I recorded a bunch of newly-written songs and covers in my basement, playing all the instruments under the guise of a real garage group. Once restrictions started lifting, my friend Mark Norris (formerly of Girlpope & Doombuggy) took up bass duties and we recruited Bob Hanley of the great Irving Klaws on organ, and Craig Voigt (The Ramrods, OUI 73) on drums. We began practicing and playing out in 2021, later recording our first 45 Crying Eyes b/w Close That Door in March of 2022 and releasing it that November.

Buffalo has a rich history of garage going back to The Rogues & The Tweeds in the 60s and The Mystic Eyes, Jacklords & Splatcats in the 80s revival. Has there always been a bit of a garage scene in the area?

Buffalo and Western New York as a whole, had a vibrant ‘60s teen scene, its sound and energy always seeming to resurface with each passing decade. Once the ‘70s came around, it was evident that Buffalo’s early punk groups such as The Good, The Jumpers, The Enemies, The Blue Reimondos, Pauline & The Perils, and more were actively looking back to the ‘60s while moving the music scene forward. Rock ‘n’ roll visionary Bernie Kugel of The Good and Mystic Eyes kept Buffalo’s contributions to the ‘60s sound alive with his own music and Big Star fanzine.

The '80s garage revival bred incredible groups such as those you mentioned that 
overtly lifted influence from the ‘60s. In fact, our drummer, Craig was a member 
of The Ramrods, (check out their killer EP Jivin’ N’ Twistin), another great revival group from the ‘80s. The ‘90s/2000s spawned garage rockers GirlpopeDoombuggy, and The Irving Klaws.

What is the scene like currently? What are some of the other bands that are active right now? 

Nowadays, an authentic garage sound has less of a grip over Buffalo’s scene, but many of the bands listed above are still active. We’re happy to have Rochester’s, The Low Spirits as a neighboring garage institution. Newer Buffalo rock groups to check out: Matt Smith’s Nervous System, Los Pendejos, Perilous, Roger Bryan & The Orphans, and The Soul Butchers.

Your single Crying Eyes has a dynamite cover of Close That Door by The Tigermen; a classic Back From The Grave punk pounder on the flip. What else might we find in your collections or spinning on your turntables? 

Matt: I developed a severe sickness scooping up rare garage 45s ever since hearing Buffalo’s great Rogues tear up Train Kept A-Rollin. I finally nabbed a copy of Close That Door recently! Aside from the non-stop stream of garage, I’ve been having a moment with the 5 Royales, Del Shannon, Charlie Rich, and Ronny and The Daytonas’ amazing Sandy LP.

Bob: Last purchase - Booker T. & The MGs - Hip Hug-Her 45

Mark: The Weeds

Do you have a preferred recording process? 

Our sole recording outing was strictly a live-in-studio affair as it most accurately captured our sound. The only overdubs on the 45 were my guitar solos.

Are you gearheads? 

Gear is certainly an important aspect of the band. I play a 1966 Rickenbacker 360 through a 1966 Silvertone 1484. Bob plays a vintage Farfisa. We’re happy to let radio interference ring out of our amps at live shows in the name of bona fide garage rock.

Do you have a preference, recording or playing live? 

I think playing live will always be preferred for any garage band. There’s nothing more exhilarating than playing live and walking the thin line separating sonic rapture from total collapse. However, we do try to bring as much of the energy we emit during shows into the studio.

If you could jump in a time machine and go back, are there any bands you’d like to share the stage with and why? 

Matt: Roy Loney-led Flamin’ Groovies circa 1970. They had the greatest sense for true, unadulterated rock ‘n’ roll. My garage answer would be opening for The Remains opening for The Beatles!

Craig: I would love to share the stage with The Bay City Rollers on a Saturday night for obvious reasons.

Bob: I'd say The Sonics circa ‘66. I saw them in their 70s (biological age) and was blown away by their raw energy and would love to have seen them up close in their prime. Them or The Kinks circa '68, original line-up, still super hungry and bursting with productivity with so much yet to come. Or Pink Floyd, circa '66-67, pre-fame but on the edge of something new. Coincidently all right around when this old fuck was born.

Mark: ? and the Mysterians - any period!

What does the future hold for Thee Isolators? 

We’ll be on a small NY “tour” this summer with dates in Rochester and Troy and will likely get back into the studio later this year. We’re always playing out a few times a month around Buffalo.

Any words of wisdom? 

Support local music, study the past, & keep the faith! In the words of the Pink Fairies: “DO IT!”

Born Outta Time