Monday, March 31, 2008

April Shows in Chicago

I was kind enough to pen a quick listing of shows in Chicago for this month and I don't even live here anymore. You're welcome. I think concert season has officially begun again; see below for yourself. April will not be a letdown, unlike Juno (I finally just saw that movie. What a disappointing, overrated piece of crap that turned out to be.) Listings for the other cities coming soon.

Tues 4/01

Explosions in the Sky @ Congress Theatre 8pm

(Lone) Wolf an d Cub, The Jefferson Plane Crash, The Wayward @ People Projects 6pm

Today is the Day, Lair of the Minotaur, Mouth of the Architect, Complete Failure @ The Note 9pm

Wed 4/02

Born Ruffians, Cadence Weapon @ Empty Bottle 9pm

Thurs 4/03

Brighton, MA, Cameron McGill, Needers & Givers, The Shackeltons @ Darkroom 8pm

Plants and Animals, Essex Chanel, Barcelona @ Schubas 8pm

Dirty Projectors, No Kids @ Sbuterranean 8:30pm

Fri 4/04

The Record Low, Moxie Motive, Our Friends Electric, Ten Speed @ Double Door 8pm

Yakuza, Rabid Rabbit, Kommandant @ Hideout 10pm

Nada Surf, The Jealous Girlfriends @ Metro 7:30pm

Spoon, The Walkmen, White Rabbits @ Vic Theater 7pm

Sat 4/05

Converge, The Red Chord, Baroness, Genghis Tron @ Reggie’s Rock Club 7pm

Sun 4/06

Vampire Weekend, Yacht @ Metro 8pm

Eels @ Park West 8pm

Converge, The Red Chord, Baroness, Genghis Tron @ Reggie’s Rock Club 5pm

Blitzen Trapper, Fleet Foxes, Blueblood @ Schubas 9pm

Mon 4/07

Scotland Yard Gospel Choir @ Schubas 9pm

Tues 4/08

Grand Buffet, Yea Big, Kid Static @ Empty Bottle 9pm

Thurs 4/10

Bon Iver, Josh Scott @ Lakeshore Theater 7pm

Bon Iver, Collection of Colonies of Bees @ Lakeshore Theater 10pm

The Minus Story, Tre Orsi, Dreamend, The Coke Dares @ The Note 9pm

Fri 4/11

Autechre, Massonix (Graham Massey of 808 State), Rob Hall, DJ Parson @ Abbey Pub 8pm

Unwed Sailor, Ryan Lindsey, Sleeper Car @ Beat Kitchen 10pm

Caribou, Fuck Buttons @ Empty Bottle 10pm

JT & The Clouds, Adam Fitz @ Hideout 9:30pm

Tapes ‘n Tapes, White Denim @ Metro 9pm

Head of Femur, Kid Dakota @ Schubas 10pm

Elf Power, Big Buildings, Michael Columbia @ Subterranean 9:30pm

Sat 4/12

The Black Keys, Jay Reatard @ Riviera Theatre @ 8pm

American Music Club, Canasta @ Schubas 10:30pm

New Model Army @ The Note 9pm

Sun 4/13

Athlete @ Schubas 7pm (second show at 10pm)

Mon 4/14

Scotland Yard Gospel Choir @ Schubas 9pm

Kimya Dawson, Angelo Spencer, L’Orchidee D’Hawai @ The Mansion 8pm

Wed 4/16

David Danero, Tim Kinsella @ Beat Kitchen 8:30pm

Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin, Via Audio, The Silent Years @ Empty Bottle 9pm

Minus the Bear @ House of Blues 7pm

Man Man, Yeasayer @ Logan Square Auditorium 9pm

A-Trak, Sinden, Steve Aoki, Sammy Bananas @ Metro 8pm

Thurs 4/17

Destroyer, Colassal Yes @ Logan Square Auditorium 9pm

Hot Chip, Free Blood @ Vic Theater 6:30pm

The Dodos, Wovenhand, Brendan Losch @ The Note

My Chemical Romance @ Congress Theater 7pm

Fri 4/18

Rogue Wave, Grand Ole Party @ Schubas 10:30pm

RJD2, Dalek, Happy Chichester @ Abbey Pub 8pm

The Death Set, The Fake Fictions, Coltrane Motion @ Empty Bottle 10pm

Saul Williams @ Martyr’s 10pm

Reverend Horton Heat @ Metro 9pm

My Chemical Romance @ Congress Theater 6pm

Sat 4/19

Rogue Wave, Grand Ole Party @ Schubas 10:30pm

Meat Beat Manifesto @ Abbey Pub 9pm

The Fiery Furnaces @ Lakeshore Theater 10pm

The Bravery, Fiction Plane, Your Vegas @ Metro 5:30pm

The Slackers, Bomb the Music Industry, Todd Hembrook & The Hemispheres @ Reggie’s Rock Club 8pm

Century Rocket Building, III Ease, Sad Horse @ Ronny’s 9pm

Bound Stems, So Many Dynamos @ Subterranean 9pm

Quatre Tete, Dropsonic, Miracle Condition, With A Gun @ The Note 9pm

Sun 4/20

The New Pornographers, Okkervil River @ Riviera Theatre 8pm

The Mars Volta @ Aragon Ballroom 5:30pm

The Epochs, District Somnium @ Beat Kitchen 8:30pm

Trevor Keith, Say Vinyl @ Schubas 9pm

Mon 4/21

Kelley Stoltz, Sharks and Seals @ Empty Bottle 9pm

Colin Meloy, Laura Gibson @ Park West 6pm

Scotland Yard Gospel Choir @ Schubas 9pm

Iron and Wine @ Vic Theater 8pm

Tues 4/22

Iron and Wine @ Vic Theater 8pm

Atmosphere, Abstract Rude @ Metro 6:30pm

Casiotone for the Painfully Alone @ Beat Kitchen 7pm

Disfear, Sweet Cobra, Yakuza, Trap Them @ Subterranean 8:30pm

Wed 4/23

Musee Mecanique, Via Tania, Who Cares How Long You Sink @ Empty Bottle 9pm

Atmosphere, Abstract Rude @ Metro 8pm

Thurs 4/24

Constantines, Oakley Hall, The Fall Collection @ Empty Bottle 9pm

Fri 4/25

The Acorn @ Empty Bottle 10pm

Cloud Cult, Mason Proper @ Schubas 7pm

Cloud Cult, The Forms @ Schubas 10:30pm

Sat 4/26

Enon, Love Story in Blood Red, Dark Meat @ Empty Bottle 10pm

Stars of the Lid, Christopher Willits @ Lakeshore Theater 9pm

The Effigies @ Reggie’s Rock Club 9pm

Foals @ Subterranean 9:30pm

Sun 4/27

The Cave Singer @ Schubas 9pm

Mon 4/28

Scotland Yard Gospel Choir @ Schubas 9pm

When Dinosaurs Rules the Earth, Head of Skulls @ Empty Bottle 9pm

Tues 4/29

Northern State @ Schubas 9pm

The Teenagers, Team Robespierre @ Abbey Pub 8pm

Elbow @ Park West 8pm

The Rosebuds @ Subterranean 8pm

Yelle @ The Mansion 8pm

Wed 4/30

The Cops @ Empty Bottle 9pm


Sunday, March 30, 2008

Interview: Jason Collett

Lately, it’s getting harder and harder to keep track of all those talented Broken Social Sceners; but Jason Collett is definitely one man that you need to keep in mind. With the release of his fourth solo album, Here’s To Being Here, in February, Collett has further solidified his role as one of the better underrated songwriters out there. We were lucky enough to get a few minutes of Collett’s time away from his busy touring schedule to chat about his new record, the differences between Canadians and Americans, and, uh, carpentry. If you’re in the Chicago-area, be sure to check out Collett’s shows at Schubas this Saturday and Sunday.

nql: You’re currently on tour promoting your new album, Here’s To Being Here. What was the recording process like for that album? Did it differ at all from your previous releases?

Jason Collett: More focused on my touring band. We'd been playing together since the release of Idols of Exile and I wanted to capture the energy of our live shows.

nql: How did your backing band, Paso Mino, come about and what is the significance of their name?

JC: I really don't know the significance of that name. No one will give me a straight answer. Anyhow, they approached me just after I finished my previous record and had the nerve to tell me they should be my band. When I checked them out at my jam space they blew me away. Not only had the learned the material but they had already rehearsed it without me. It immediately felt like we'd been playing together for years.

nql: You’ve been on hiatus from Broken Social Scene since 2005. Do you think you’ll ever rejoin the band?

JC: I've never really left. It really comes down to the overlap in our schedules. It's a good problem to have though.

nql: If you could collaborate with any living musician, who would it be and why?

JC: Feist. She's a friend and an astounding talent.

nql: Besides musical influences, what are some literary or cinematic influences that inspire your music?

JC: I recently wrote a tune after reading Karen Abbott's "Sin and the Second City". A tantalizing history of the red light district in Chicago at the turn of the last century. A book full of amazing characters; pimps, madams, politicians on the take, hustlers, and all sorts of ner-do-wells.

nql: Which band with whom you’ve played with has most inspired you to evolve as a musician and a live performer?

JC: BSS of course. There's such spontaneity to what the band does it seems to inspire us all to stretch further on our own.

nql: As someone who lives in Canada but tours in America a lot, do you find that the music scenes differ a lot from country to country?

JC: Not that much. Canadians are a little more reserved than Americans. There's a real sense of entitlement to expressing emotions amongst Americans that we lack. It's pretty subtle, but there nevertheless.

nql: I read that you have three children. How do they feel about your music and what you do for a living?

JC: It's a juggling act, but not that different than what most families deal with.

nql: You’re playing two shows in Chicago at Schubas. Have you ever played Schubas before? What are some of your favorite things to do when you’re in Chicago?

JC: Yes I've played Schubas before, it's a great venue. Chicago feels much like Toronto in character, just bigger. It makes me feel at home, so I like to find a good coffee, a good breakfast joint, visit some bookstores, record stores... all the simple pleasures any good city has to offer. I took the architectural boat tour once, I really enjoyed that.

nql: You played the annual SXSW festival a few weeks ago. What was that experience like? Any favorite bands you saw at SXSW that we should check out?

JC: I stumbled upon a great young band from Brooklyn called Via Audio. Great energy, the woman in the band reminded me of Feist, like she was her kid sister.

nql: I read online that you used to work as a carpenter. What was the last thing you built or worked on?

JC: I bought a house in Toronto three years ago. I've been renovating it top to bottom, including all the cabinetry. I'm close to finishing (it), it's been a real pleasure to work on my own place.

--Anna Deem

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

British Sea Power--The Empty Bottle, Chicago, Illinois

When a band titles their new album, Do You Like Rock Music?, they better be able to back that question up. Not only does Brighton, England’s British Sea Power deliver on their word on the album itself, but their live show is sincerely a force to be reckoned with, as evidenced by their raucous set at the Empty Bottle on March 24.

When I arrived at the Empty Bottle for British Sea Power’s second of two shows that night, my expectations weren’t too high, to be completely honest. It was a Monday night, it was still cold out, despite the fact that the first day of spring had just occurred, and I wasn’t particularly in a mood to see a show.

Walking inside the venue, I was greeted with the opening guitar riffs of local Chicago favorites, The 1900’s. I’ve always been a so-so fan of The 1900’s, as in they have songs I really like, and then other songs that completely bore me. Their live show is pretty much the same, the poppy songs killed it, and the not so poppy songs seemed to elicit less of a response from the packed crowd. “Welcome to the sleazy late night show,” exclaimed singer/guitarist, Edward Anderson, who then went on to ask the crowd if they had ever had too much Sparks before. Judging from Anderson’s Sparks chugging and his high level of energy throughout the entire hour-long set, it was safe to say that he had imbibed more than few of the alcoholic caffeinated drinks. But if that’s what it takes to deliver a great opening set, then hell, pour yourself another one, Anderson. The 1900’s gave the crowd exactly what they wanted, playing favorites like “When I Say Go,” “Two Ways,” and the title track from their debut album Cold &Kind. But the song that really drove their ‘60s-inspired pop sound home and turned my anti show-going mood around was “Bring The Good Boys Home,” a live mainstay from their first EP, Plume Delivery, which got even the most bored-looking hipsters in the crowd to at least nod their heads or dance.

At a little after midnight, a recording of “All In It,” the haunting opening track from Do You Like Rock Music? filled the Empty Bottle, as the members of British Sea Power walked on to the stage. The crowd cheered and without much more than a “Thank you,” the sextet launched into the soaring “Lights Out For Darker Skies” and followed it up with a thrilling rendition of “Atom,” the fist-pumping anthem from their new album.

While their set mainly featured songs from Do You Like Rock Music?, including favorites like “A Trip Out,” “Down On The Ground,” “Waving Flags,” and “Canvey Island,” it was the classics that really worked up the already excited crowd. Drawing a great deal from their debut album, The Decline of British Sea Power and a little less from their sophomore album, Open Season, British Sea Power demonstrated their true depth and variety by mellowing the crowd out with a sweeping, melancholic song like “Blackout” and then doing a 180 and stirring up the room with a two-minute punk upstart like “Favours In The Beetroot Fields.”

Perhaps the biggest thrill of the evening though came from guitarist Martin Noble who decided to jump into the crowd towards the end of British Sea Power’s nearly two-hour long set. Noble started off at first riding the shoulders of a bandana-ed hipster clutching an Old Style, as he played his guitar perfectly in sync with the rest of the band. After the hipster almost dropped him several times, he decided to crowd-surf, riding the wave of hands that stretched out to pull him along for several minutes before being pushed back on-stage.

The band continued on with their set as if it was no big deal, eventually culminating in the one-two punch of Do You Like Rock Music’s “No Lucifer” and The Decline of British Sea Power’s “Carrion,” the latter being the infamous single/crowd pleaser from their debut album. During “Carrion,” Noble put down his guitar and started playing air guitar and drums. Grasping his half-empty beer, he proceeded to shake it all over the front row of fans, before grabbing the hand of one lucky fan and pulling her on-stage to play his guitar. As Noble jumped down to crowd-surf once more, the keyboardist/cornet player, Phil Sumner, ran over to the opposite side of the stage and climbed on top of the speaker cabinet and started wailing away on his cornet. Noble eventually made his way back on stage, colliding with the speaker cabinet and vocalist/bassist, “Hamilton” Neil Wilkinson.

As the final guitar riffs on “Carrion” wound down, the song ended in a mess of feedback as Wilkinson carried Noble on his shoulders, both screaming into the microphone together. Noble eventually jumped down and Wilkinson closed British Sea Power’s set by doing a head-stand as drummer, Matthew Wood, slammed down on his cymbals one last time and singer/guitarist, “Yan” Scott Wilkinson (yes, they’re brothers), strummed his guitar violently. It was a truly fantastic end to one of the more energetic sets I have seen in ages. It appears that British Sea Power knew what they were doing when they titled their new album, Do You Like Rock Music?, as was clearly displayed in their dynamic stage presence at the Empty Bottle.

--Anna Deem

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Interview: Eric Axelson of Statehood

Last month, DC-based post punk outfit Statehood released their first album Lies and Rhetoric to impressive reviews. Saddled with Clark Sabine on vocals and Leigh Thompson on guitar, Statehood is rounded out by former Dismemberment Plan members Eric Axelson and Joe Easley, respectively, on bass and drums. An almost elder statesmen of the DC scene, I engaged in a Q&A session with Axelson via gmail chat. (We cover all modes of communication to conduct our interviews at NQL. We're still waiting to hear back from David Yow for an exclusive "text message only" interview.) Now an 11th grade English teacher, the interview actually took place in his classroom while a couple of his students stayed after school to take a test. While molding the minds of our future, he was able to multi-task and dish about Lies and Rhetoric, the virtues of DC, and why he's excited about a certain DC area sports team. (Note: It's not the Redskins.) For all you Chicagoans, Statehood will be at Reggie's this Saturday with nearby land of lincolners Kid, You'll Move Mountains.

nql: Eric, I'm ready whenever you are.

Eric Axelson: One sec...gotta get a student started on a test, 2 minutes...brb.

nql: No problem!

EA: Ok, I'm away.

nql: Ok, I hope you don't become to engrossed in this interview and your students start cheating.

EA: Nah, it's my planning. (I) just have three kids here working; (and) they’re all spread out.

nql: Good deal. So you teach the 11th grade, right? To your students you must be known as either the coolest teacher ever or some weird guy who, rumor has it, plays in a band.

EA: I'm pretty sure it's more of the former than the latter. Don't get me wrong, some kids think I'm bizzare, but I get a lot of rock star jokes and kids who come back to visit from last year. But only a few kids really know what any of my bands sound(ed) like.

nql: What are they listening to these days? Any idea? (I'll get to Statehood shortly.)

EA: Lots of reggaeton - Daddy Yanqui, Wisin and Yandel. Lots of Bachata and Cumbia, though I don't know (which) artists. Kids who are into hip hop like Lil' Wayne, Kanye, Tre Songz (not really hip hop). And then being DC, lots of gogo: TCB, CCB, BYB. They’re all acronyms these days.

nql: Gotcha. Lies and Rhetoric received pretty good reviews which I saw as a good sign, not just because it's a good record, but I thought it showed that rock or post-punk or whatever you want to call it still matters. Is that kind of what you all took from the reviews?

EA: I'm not sure about the mattering point, but it's nice to see that folks still like the DC sound that we bring. A lot of folks pointed out that it sounds a bit singer/songwriter, which is fair. I think the next record will be fairly different. They're all fun songs to play though.

nql: Why do you think DC has always been so nurturing to this particular scene? Is it pretty incestuous with DC bands all helping one another and what not?

EA: I think it started with Dischord being very community based, which fed into things like Positive Force and other small DC labels. Hard to say…sometimes I take for granted what we have here, then I travel and remember that it's a good place to be making music. Though now, being a bit older, I feel a bit out of the loop here.

nql: How so?

EA: We know most of the older bands (Evens, Medications, Beauty Pill, etc.), but there are a lot of younger bands that we just haven't met. With our jobs, I don' think any of us go out that much unless we're playing. So there are bands I read about but have never met.

nql: Clark (Sabine) had written a bulk of Lies and Rhetoric before you all came on board, correct? And did the final cut resemble his original vision? (Sorry, horrible question.)

EA: Yep, when they called me, Clark had a big batch of songs written on his MPC. At first, Joe and I played along to computer guitars and keys while Clark sang. (It was) kind of awkward. Then we started to make the songs less robo, give the beats and bass more breath, more bounce, and we cut the songs back considerably. I think the original versions of most of the songs were 4 to 8 minutes long. Now they're all 2:30 - 4:30, which is more manageable for pop. Then, when we added Leigh (Thompson), the last four songs were written, which I think are obviously different.

nql: I think "Save Yourself" sounds like a total hit song. Any plans for that one? And i really liked how the album ended on a bit of a calmer note with “Jailer's Daughter.” Is that a preview of perhaps things to come?

EA: Actually, "Jailors" is all Clark on MPC. We tried to live track it and it didn't sound as good, so it's all machine, I think. “Save Yourself” is part of those last four, which is more the direction we're headed. I guess it's actually 5, because "Every Single Question" was post-MPC, too.

nql: I feel like Chicago is pretty welcoming to the sound you guys bring. Have you found that to be true in your past experiences here?

EA: With D-Plan, yes. Our publicist lived there, our distribution was based there...both of those helped. Plus we had really good early experiences at the Fireside (Bowl) and the (Empty) Bottle. With Maritime, it was a different crowd / different vibe, more based on the Promise Ring history. Hopefully folks there are into what Statehood is up to. It's a pretty energetic show.

nql: I'm sure they will. I'm actually moving to DC in 3 weeks because a job beckons. I'm bummed because I love Chicago and am reluctant to leave. Sell me on DC. I'm going to love it, right?

EA: Yeah, it's good. Almost all of the galleries and museums are free, lots of cool Federal buildings to check out. (And) it's small, so you can walk almost anywhere. (Also): Great Ethiopian food, free shows in Ft. Reno in the summer, amazing thunderstorms in July / August, the cherry blossoms

nql: I love a good thunderstorm.

EA: I can keep going...

nql: You've done well, you can stop.

EA: Where are you moving to?

nql: I think 14th and U.

EA: Right down the street from me. I'm 13th and Harvard, about a 10 minute walk.

nql: Nice. Good place to be, I assume?

EA: Yeah, it's cleaned up a ton. That's where we bought beer in high school and it was super sketchy. Now there's a gardening store and tea shops and whatnot. Kind of a 180, for better or worse.

nql: Hamilton Leithauser (of the Walkmen) told me last month he was pretty excited to see a new coach/regime for the Redskins. Do you agree?

EA: Not much of a Skins fan. I watch it out of nostalgia, but I'm more of a DC United fan. Season ticket holder / junkie to be exact.

nql: That surprises me. When I go there it's Skins, Skins, Skins, and everything else seems rather secondary.

EA: I'll take you to a soccer game. Great tailgates, (great) atmosphere.

nql: Nice, I would love to go.

EA: I need to tell of my students from last year just came in with his new Ibanez. And he's playing a finger tapping solo in my ear. He’s the one student here into metal. WAY into metal...He corrected me…he’s into everything, “dude”.

nql: Everyone knows that one guy that is really into metal. (But tell him) I’ll quote him accurately. Back on track just a bit, obviously you're moving forward with Statehood and Travis (Morrison) is doing his own thing, but looking back on the Dismemberment Plan, you must have a great sense of pride in the records you put out and influence you all had.

EA: Yeah, I have lots of pride in the Plan stuff. It was a fun 10 years, and I was really happy with the music we made. To me it felt pretty original, especially when we started and everyone was sounding like GVSB [Girls Against Boys].

nql: So with Statehood did it feel like you were starting over from square one or, since you've been around, was it much easier this time around in terms of recording, getting the word out there, etc.?

EA: Hmm. Maritime was more like that. I think we thought with our two old bands that we'd start somewhere in the middle, but it was like starting from scratch in some ways. With Statehood, we never thought about touring much, so it was more low key.

nql: is that because you are all more settled in? Obviously you have another job as you're there doing it right now.

EA: Yeah...with me teaching, I'm loggin crazy hours. Leigh is a lawyer and probably does more hours than me. Joe (Easley) works at NASA on a robotic's kind of nuts. There's only 2 days a week we can even get together. Last year, sometimes it was 1 day a week. So we figured out early on that we'll do this best we can and not to stress out about what we can't do. My goal is to book 3 or 4 shows a month. And if we can make it happen, a short tour here and there. For us to really tour, we’d need to be making more money than our day jobs, which would be hard.

nql: I assume that lends to playing a lot of local shows. Any favorite venue in DC?

EA: Love the Black Cat. Capital L, yes. The 9:30 (Club) is nice, too, but so far off our radar now. Being in DC, there are lots of places nearby, too (with) Baltimore, Philly, NYC, Richmond, etc. (and) lots of college towns in VA, too. It works out.

nql: How long do you see yourselves riding the wave of Lies and Rhetoric before heading back to the studio. Is there more of a sense of urgency to get back in there as a more complete band this time?

EA: We have four songs done now, which we'll be playing on tour and there are more ideas bubbling about. I'm guessing at this rate, we could record again in the fall for an early 2009 release? Hard to say, the writing goes in spurts, but we have some new toys, which always makes for fun writing.

nql: What can you tell us about Kid, You’ll Move Mountains, your opening act this Saturday at Reggie’s?

EA: I know the brothers from when they were in Troubled Hubble. I think I met them at shows in Chicago, and we eventually started emailing back and forth. I don't know a ton about the new band but the stuff I've heard on their site reminds me of Style Council or almost like Joe Jackson (Look Sharp, not Stepping Out). Looking forward to seeing those guys play live again.

nql: Lastly, if I show up to a DC United game wearing a Freddy Adu jersey will I be instantaneously recognized as some sort of interloper who doesn't know the first thing about soccer?

EA: If you're wearing a Freddy jersey, people will probably assume that you're in middle school - maybe you'll get a discount ticket that way? He's playing in Portugal now, you know? I'll track you down a Emilio or Olsen jersey for the game. March 18th, it all begins again.


Friday, March 14, 2008

Interview: Matt Kretzman of Tapes 'n Tapes

Matt Kretzman of Tapes ‘n Tapes was kind enough to take time away from the band's hectic schedule at SXSW to answer a few questions for us. If The Loon was not one of your favorite albums in 2006, then you probably shouldn’t be coming to this site to begin with. (Ed. Unless you just want to help us with our “hit” count, which by all means, please continue doing). Matt explains how the band approached their upcoming album Walk it Off, his fascination with lakes and the late Kirby Puckett.

nql: You worked with famed producer David Fridmann (The Flaming Lips, Weezer, CYHSY, and more recently, MGMT) on Walk it Off. What, in particular, led you to him? And was it different having someone outside of the band having a say in the production of the album?

Matt Kretzman: I think we’re all fans of various things Dave has worked on (esp. probably the Flaming Lips records and the last Sleater-Kinney record). We really like how he records drums too and that was an important part of the criteria we had. Once Josh got a chance to talk to him about making the record it just became really clear that it would be a natural fit. Dave just wanted to help us make the record we wanted to make and be happy with how it sounds and I think we definitely accomplished that.

It was a bit different having someone outside the band having a say in the production of the album, but really only in the most positive ways. Most of the time this consisted of us bouncing ideas off of Dave and then, in his own zen way, he would say what his opinion was, or offer up other options. This was really invaluable and also kept things moving.

nql: With Walk it Off still weeks away from its official release, how have audiences reacted to the new songs?

MK: Really good I think. I mean it’s probably a bit difficult to digest anything on first listen, especially in a live setting, but overall it’s felt really good and has been fun for us as well.

nql: Blogs and other internet music sites became enamored with the band after The Loon first leaked. This captivation obviously has helped in the promotion of Walk it Off, but it also creates the potential for an album to be obliterated by bloggers before it is even released. Obviously such criticism is inevitable, but how does the band keep such worries out of their mind during the creative processes of making the album?

MK: It’s actually easier than one might think. You can’t get into a game of second-guessing yourself if people are going to like something or not. Really the only pressure that we ever felt was just from ourselves in trying to make a record that we were really happy with and excited about and I think we did that and even exceeded our own expectations.

nql: Who would you rather fondle and/or take home to mom, Topanga Lawrence from or Ashley Banks? (NQL note: We could not decide—if that helps your decision).

MK: Totally inappropriate. But didn’t they replace Ashley Banks at some point during the series?*

nql: Hey, you guys are young! You know about computers. Are you aware that people steal your music every day? What is your stance on such activity? (Please note that a frequent character on NQL, Jimmy Valpo, came up to you all after your show in Louisville in 2006 and begged for you guys to take his $10 because he had burned a copy of The Loon. After much back and forth, you refused to accept his money. Ultimately, you agreed to take his money on the condition that he would get an autographed LP of the The Loon, which he obviously accepted. With that in mind, I guess I just answered my question.)

MK: Yeah, we’re aware of it, but again it’s something totally out of our control. I guess we just hope if people really like our record or anybody’s for that matter, that they will eventually pay for it or go to a show or buy a copy for your friend’s birthday or support the band in some other way.

nql: You guys seemed to be booked pretty solid throughout the United States and Europe thru early June, what are your plans for the rest of 2008?

MK: Probably catch our collective breath after the spring touring, hopefully get a little grillin in, then hopefully play some more shows later in the summer or fall.

nql: Was there any conscious decision on your part to separate yourselves and your sound from The Loon or is the new album an example of you building and capitalizing on something that had worked the first time?

MK: I don’t think there was too much conscious thought or calculation going on between records. We played probably a couple hundred shows on The Loon, so I think once we had wrapped touring on that, we just wanted to start fresh. I think the sound of the record probably reflects that our sound had grown or stretched out in some ways, but mostly we just tried to build the songs the same way we always have. The process really didn’t change. Josh does demos, we listen to them on our own, then get together and start playing together and working it out.

nql: Other than the obvious financial advantages, how has the fact that you were signed to XL during the making of Walk it Off made the recording process different this time?

MK: Yeah, I think the biggest difference was having a budget that allowed us to go to work in a proper studio. We still worked briskly (recorded in about 11 days), but working with a great engineer and producer like Dave made it really sweet. XL really gave us the freedom to do what we chose to do in the studio so that didn’t really change the recording process.

nql: When you are in Chicago, what is your favorite place to hang out? You guys have now played Chicago quite a few times. Is there any show that sticks out?

MK: Chicago is always really fun. We ate at Ginos-East once when we played at Schubas and that was good stuff. Really my favorite place in Chicago though is the Lake. ^ Sometimes the grind of city life can just get you down but when you stand out there in one of those huge parks and feel the breeze and you have the view of the lake and the city, it’s pretty unbeatable. I also like the Green Mill on Broadway and Lawrence, and there’s another place called “the best place to eat” or something like that on Wilson – it’s hilarious and the guys that work there are hilarious, but it’s your basic pizza, burgers, shakes – delicious, but probably not very healthy.

As far as shows that stick out though, it’s hard to pick one, but opening the day at the Pitchfork Music Festival was super fun and then we just enjoyed the rest of the day watching bands and hanging out.

nql: So, who has more Kirby Puckett rookie cards, you or Craig Finn?

MK: He seems like he might have a formidable collection, but I’ve definitely hung on to mine too. Not sure if I have any Puckett rookie cards, but I have some other decent ones.

nql: With such a rich history of rock music in Minneapolis (i.e. the Replacements, Husker Du, Soul Asylum), tell us some bands from your hometown that we should keep our eye on.

MK: There’s definitely lots right now – I think I read that there are 17 Minneapolis bands at SXSW this year. Off the top of my head. . . Fog, Vampire Hands, Dosh, The Blind Shake, Halloween Alaska, Happy Apple, Mystery Palace.

nql: Thanks for your time! Good luck on tour!

--Matt Farra

*Note: Matt must have been confusing Aunt Viv with Ashley. The Mrs. Philip Banks was played first by Janet Hubert-Whitten and then later by Daphne Maxwell Reid. While the writers at NQL are unable to distinguish a vegan from a vegetarian, they are well-acquainted with Monday Night NBC sitcoms from the 1990s, as you will soon find out. Keep hitting refresh! Also, in hindsight, “fondle” might not have been the best of words to use. We just thought “sedate” would be inappropriate on a music site.

^NQL could not pass up the opportunity to note the irony in this answer. The band is from Minneapolis, which happens to be in the state of Minnesota, which happens to be referred to as the Land with a 15,291 lakes. Yet Matt still finds the time to enjoy another state’s lake.
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