Rei Clone Set to Demolish Denton Scene, and Your Nearest Anime Convention

Where were you when you first heard the otherworldly opening track to My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless? How about when you first absorbed the kaleidoscopic chords of Souvlaki by Slowdive? The ranks of these classic, opulent shoegaze opuses that whisk you away on shimmery clouds of reverb could very well be joined by the self-titled EP of an emerging, ambitious Denton act: Rei Clone. 

Young, hip, funny as hell and sharp as tacks, these are the kids you’d want to sit next to at the cafeteria lunch table. Rei Clone is a five-piece that marries shoegaze and punk to an unexpected influence — anime. Everything they do is inspired by the Japanese style of animation; their band name is a reference to Rei Ayanami, a clone of Yui Ikari from the show Neon Genesis Evangelion, and samples from choice anime episodes are peppered throughout the opening songs of their debut EP. Nods to their favorite cartoons even embellish their live performances. “You should see our stage show.  We have anime body pillows and figurines,” Abraham Hill, rhythm guitarist and vocalist, explains. “We actually just put a whole bunch of manga on our cabs, our guitar amps.” Plans for incorporating cosplay are in the works, too; Crystal, Rei Clone’s bassist and second vocalist, playfully adds, “I wanna dress like Master Roshi while y’all wear schoolgirl skirts.”

Even more amazing than their inventive aesthetic are the ways in which founding members Hill, Zach Palmer (lead guitar) and Jonathan Domingo (drums) recruited Crystal and their violinist, Nirmal Madhavapeddi. After many frustrating months of waiting to get picked for macho, muscle-obsessed rock bands, Madhavapeddi had nearly thrown in the towel: “Violin doesn’t fit in a lot of genres. Classic rock is not a place for a violin to be.” But after stumbling across Rei Clone’s Craigslist ad for a synth player, Madhavapeddi gave auditioning for them some thought. “I didn’t actually want to be associated with them for a while, because I was like, ‘They’re making anime music?’ ... I mean, I like anime, but I wanna be a rock star. And then I realized that I would probably like their music, so about a month later I was like, ‘Fine, I’ll go with them.’ And then it turned out to be great.” Oddly enough, he was the only person who responded to the synth-player-wanted ad, offering, “I play electric violin, is that close enough?”

Crystal’s introduction to the band was even more bizarre; they drafted her through OKCupid. Rei Clone created an account on the dating site specifically to find a bass player, it being a convenient way to sift through one’s interests: singing, punk music, bass guitar, etc. “Abe messaged me, ‘I don’t mean to be forward, but would you like to be in an anime/punk/shoegaze band?’” Crystal remembers. Although she hadn’t picked up a bass guitar in over five years, Rei Clone’s unusual approach and mutual love for anime piqued her interest, and they tested her chops at a nearby Guitar Center. “We were just trying to convince her it wasn’t a very veiled gangbang,” Palmer chimes in, sweetly. “Yeah, we weren’t just making a very complicated euphemism,” Madhavapeddi adds.

Through some of Hill’s old bands — like Anger House and Good Hank — Rei Clone was able to secure studio time with Macaroni Island founder and DIY maestro Michael Briggs, and after a two-day, cyclonic recording session, their self-titled EP was in the can. Both the writing and recording processes went incredibly smoothly, Madhavapeddi says, with so much “momentum in [the EP]” that it “kind of wrote itself.” Hill laughs, agreeing, “We spent more time choosing pedals than we did writing the songs.”

The band practices once a week in Hill and Palmer's home.
The band practices once a week in Hill and Palmer's home.


With support from Denton indie titans such as Briggs and Parker Lawson (Mimisiku, Whimper), the road has been a buttery smooth one for Rei Clone. Help from their Hawaii-via-Houston label, Smoked Cheese Records, has also proven to be indispensable. Serving as a sort of Louis Pasteur to the microscopic anime punk scene, label founder Crona Aukerman’s band, Smoked Solid Dairy, has paved the way for Hill and Palmer’s unfettered expression and creativity. “If they weren’t there, we would have never been influenced to do this,” Hill says, with Palmer adding, “They’re essentially the seminal anime punk band.”

Rei Clone’s sound — a lush, harmony-rich and melody-driven potion of punk and shoegaze — perfectly parallels the prismatic, fantasy-filled world of anime from which they draw so much inspiration. In the same way their songs were effortlessly written, almost transcribed by ethereal helpers, the band magically came together, finding the perfect members in the strangest of ways. The future is wide open for this optimistic quintet, with plans of touring the Midwest, West Coast, and eventually, Japan. “And I wanna play an anime convention,” Crystal says, to which Hill adds: “If the director of A-Kon Anime Fest, and any other ones, are reading this…” Palmer finishes, “Please, call us. Boss, please.”

Learn more about Rei Clone via their Facebook page:

And listen to their excellent EP:

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