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The Inva-ssion of the Ssion

What do you get when you combine homemade animations synched up to crazy dance music, throw in a little theatrical flair, and some barnyard animals? Well, my friends, you have The Ssion.

Before we go on, I have to make something clear. Ssion is not pronounced "Sis-son," it is pronounced "shun." How you ask? As Cody Critcheloe (Lead Vocalist/Animator/Cow) describes, "It's like mission, passion, etc… It was a joke between us that just sort of stuck."

The "us" he is referring to are his band mates, Taylor Painter-Wolfe and Shannon Michaels, who in the band are back-up vocalists, as well as during the live show a chicken and a lion, respectively.

The Ssion, (who are influenced by the likes of The B-52's, Madonna, Meatloaf, Queen, and Pussy Galore), recently kicked off a mini tour by invading New York with four shows in a mere six days.

In case you missed these shows, let me get you up to speed. The Ssion's shows consist of pre-recorded music, an animated film that Critcheloe previously composes to synch with the music, and zany costumes and props, which are instrumental to the live performance. Painter-Wolfe (an ex-fibers/textiles student) creates the costumes and Michaels makes the stage props, completing the goods necessary to put on an entertaining show.

When the Ssion put on a full show, they normally have a whole set consisting of a barnyard scene (complete with garbage truck) where they begin the show by jumping out of a barn. However, since this tour was a mini one and they were traveling in a Honda, they decided it would be best to leave the barn at home in Kansas City, MO.
These shows actually started out as a class project that just kind of grew into what it is today, in fact, their first show took place in an art gallery. That is fitting because their act can be interpreted as sort of a performance art, being the nature of their show and the almost theatrical manner in which it is executed. They try to stay away from the "P.A." label because of the assumptions people tend to place on such an act. They consider themselves first and foremost a rock band, and hope to someday expand the live act to where there are live musicians playing in the background. For now, their concentration is on the performance of their live show, stating that "Madonna used to perform in the clubs with recorded music to focus on her performance, we are doing the same thing."

So what happens if the video and the music go out of synch? Cody explains, "We improvise. In a way that makes it more punk-more real."

If you are intrigued by the nature of The Ssion, you can find out more information and download videos by hitting their site at www.ssion.com. They also have live videos for sale, as well as their EP out on Version City Records.

-- Shara Sprecher

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