Monday, November 24, 2008

Book Review: The Pitchfork 500

The Pitchfork 500: Our Guide To The Greatest Songs From Punk To Present
Edited by Scott Plagenhoef and Ryan Schreiber
Rating: Flip through its pages at a Borders while waiting for the magazine section to clear out so you can look at a Hustler.

If indie rock were a sport, Pitchfork Media would be ESPN. Both are the heavy-hitters of their respective craft and the competition is not even close. And you may curse both of them for playing favorites, pretend they can be ignored and not relied on, but deep down you’re happy that they’re in your life. You can’t be a sports fan and turn a blind eye to ESPN, and you sure as hell can’t be an indie-rock aficionado and have no idea what an 8.3 means.

All that being said, the world-wide leader of indie has recently released The Pitchfork 500: Our Guide To The Greatest Songs From Punk To The Present. From David Bowie to Panda Bear, Pitchfork writers team up to tell the tale of the last 31 years of music via the songs they finds important. Notice it’s not “the guide” or “a guide,” but rather it’s their guide. And in the world of indie rock, their endorsement means more than anything. I started reading Pitchfork every morning some years ago and it didn’t take me long to figure out where the battle lines were drawn, and discover who was cool (Stephen Malkmus, Britt Daniel), and who wasn’t (Billy Corgan, Ryan Adams). So when I sat down to read this book, I wasn’t expecting many surprises. But with the dawn of the fresh and fantastic Pitchfork TV, I was still openly optimistic that it would be an enlightening read.

My initial instincts were correct.

The most stimulating and informative part of the book is located within the short introduction written by Pitchfork founder and president, Ryan Schreiber. It’s amazing to think that Pitchfork has been around since 1995. You really have to give Schreiber credit. He created an influential and trailblazing website that focused on independent music that was either being ignored or undiscovered by the mainstream press. And like so many of the independent rock bands he admired, he did it with the same do-it-yourself ethics. A 19-year-old with no college education or writing background created what would become a behemoth of a music publication. That, my friends, is punk. When the site was in its infancy, he probably never imagined he would ever be in a position to release a book of his favorite songs and that just having his brand plastered onto the cover meant instant credibility in some circles.

Starting off with the burgeoning punk scene of the late ‘70s, The Pitchfork 500 meanders all the way until yesterday, leaving not a single relevant genre untouched. The book attempts to do a pretty good job of covering songs that the average music fan probably doesn’t have in their regular iTunes playlist (“The Greatest Gift” by Scratch Acid), while still paying lip service to deserved songs, no matter how many times they went platinum (“Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson).

As mentioned, the book attempts to do a good job of inclusion, but when you’re talking lists, someone is going to be left out. This list is no different. It’s also true whenever you’re dealing with a large glorified list, what’s omitted is always more conspicuous than what’s included. So to that end, I was a bit put off that not a single Pearl Jam song was included, especially when you consider that other deserving alternative major-label acts like Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, and the Beastie Boys were represented. And I have never even been that big of a Pearl Jam fan. But to try and tell the story of rock and roll the last 31 years through song, while paying heavy attention to the ‘90s and not have a single smash hit from Ten is at its best elitist, and at its worst just downright inaccurate and dishonest. (I would also rant about the Jane’s Addiction snub but that would add 1,500 words to this column.)

I read Pitchfork’s daily album reviews knowing the first couple of paragraphs will comprise of the reviewer masturbating all over the computer screen with word-play. That’s fine because I know in a 1,000 word review the writer’s point-of-view will eventually show its face. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work as well when you’re talking about a 100-word entry about a singular song. In most instances, the writer does the normal Pitchfork song and dance, and before you figure out what you’re reading, they skip along to the next song.

Take this entry of the Walkmen’s “The Rat,” written by Brian Howe:

New York City’s the Walkmen have an ear for grandeur. Their glacially jutting arrangements and the scenery chewing of singer Hamilton Leithauser make them sound like an uptown version of U2, with prep-school smarm subbing for ecopolitical earnestness and Brooks Brothers peacoats for wraparound shades.

Huh? “The Rat” might be one of the best rock songs written in the last ten years. And that’s how you let those who may not know in on the secret? Prep-school smarm subbing for ecolpolitical earnestness? You serious? To be fair, I am cherry-picking, but those are the opening two sentences, and what follows isn’t much better. And even if it was, I am fairly certain the reader would lose interest before they even have time to hang up their stupid peacoat.

That’s a problem, and here’s why. Of the 500 songs, I’m guessing I own 35-40% (I didn’t feel like counting.) Some predate me and some I just missed. But after reading the book, I don’t have a huge desire to go on a search and destroy mission to locate “Dirty Talk” by Klein + MBO. I just don’t. And I have no doubt it’s a great song. But if it finds me, it won’t be because of this book. After I read Our Band Could Be Your Life, I wanted to listen to Big Black over and over. After reading The Pitchfork 500, all I wanted to do was set a thesaurus on fire.

That’s not to say there aren’t a few bright spots. Brent DiCrescenzo’s entry on the Jesus and Mary Chain’s “Just Like Honey” had me at “Dum. Dum dum—bam! Dum. Dum dum—bam!” But then it veers off course as he unnecessarily compares the band and Poison as opposite ends of the spectrum in the mid-80s. Oh, well. Whatever. Nevermind.

It’s by no means a horrible book, but it’s not a must-read either. I’ll also give the book credit for its immediate release in paperback. It’s good to know if you choose to buy The Pitchfork 500, you won’t have to spend $40 on a book whose inevitable final destination will be in your bathroom resting on top of the Onion book and Jon Stewart’s America.

And for all my grievances, I am still happy Pitchfork is in my life. A contingency of songs on my iPod are probably there because of that site. Pitchfork at its core is an asset and positive force to the ever-evolving music scene. As Schreiber writes in the introduction, the 500 essential songs of the next thirty years are already being written. I just hope the next book isn't.


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Everyone Has One...: The Inevitable Solo Album

The solo album is a multifarious beast: It can appear after your band has broken up, after your band has "broken up," while your band is on hiatus, or while your band is still active. Solo artists likewise come in all colors and flavors: a guy and with a backing band, a lone songwriter couched within a larger collective, or an artist sprung from a larger collective.

There you have it: every single possible scenario under which a solo album can occur. My questions, then, are these:

What makes a solo album a solo album? Is the solo album the result of restless creativity, is it the result of ego, or is it simply the desire to do something unfettered? Can one consider a Britt Daniel solo album without looking at it through the prism of Spoon? How different would James Mercer's first go-alone be from, say, Chutes Too Narrow? Does it even have to be different? Whom would you most like to see release a solo album?

--Brian Herrmann

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Smashing Pumpkins--DAR Constitutional Hall, Washington, DC

Smashing Pumpkins were recently in DC at the DAR Constitutional Hall for two shows featuring two completely different sets. The first show was called “Black Sunshine” and the second “White Crosses.” I was at the White Crosses show. I have no idea the backstory or significance to these two respective titles, so let’s just skip all that. I covered a lot of this ground over the summer, but let me give a quick disclaimer: I am a fan of this band and I am not really objective when it comes to discussion. As far as allegiances go, they're right up there with Michael Jordan, A Confederacy of Dunces, and those UPS commercials featuring the guy with the weird haircut utilizing the dry erase board. I'm unapologetic in my fondess for all those mentioned and I will barely entertain even rational arguments to the contrary. And although I don't listen to Smashing Pumpkins nearly as much as I used to, they're cemented into a list of my all-time favorites and are not leaving. I've seen countless Pumpkins shows, sat through a set from the short-lived Zwan, and been in the audience for one of Billy Corgan's solo shows from The Future Embrace days and feigned enjoyment. So now that my credentials and my biases are of the way, let me just say this was probably the best Pumpkins show I have seen since Corgan actually had hair.

(Speaking of which, I can't believe how long he has had that shaved head. When you first saw that, how long did you think he could keep that up? Two months? Maybe three? To put things in perspective, President Clinton was still serving his first term when Corgan last had a head of hair.)

After a couple of cantankerous shows in New York (and one the night before in this very building), I was half-expecting to walk into the auditorium and have the air already filled with tension. I even thought of throwing my hat into the ring. Although instead of yelling out "Where's James!" I was thinking of bombarding the band with loud shouts of "I want the drum machine back!" You see, I'm old school. And it was hard for me to forgive the band for ditching the drum machine in favor of Jimmy Chamberlin back in 1988.

(I have a group of friends from college that I exchange emails with every week day. Whenever one of us wants to convey a message with sarcasm, but is slightly worried the sarcasm will be lost over a monotonic email, the selected passage will be surrounded with the # sign. Therefore, had I sent the last sentence before the parenthesis to the college panel, it would have looked like this: #And it was hard for me to forgive the band for ditching the drum machine in favor of Jimmy Chamberlin back in 1988.# I just wanted to clear that up. Side issue #1: Anyone still upset that James Iha and D’arcy aren’t in the band needs to move on. This has been the reality for well over a year now. They aren’t coming back. I don’t know what else to tell you. But hey, at least you’ll always have that Let It Come Down album to hold on to! Side issue #2: In reference to the two links in the paragraph above, Andy Warhol's famous quote was, "In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes." Unfortunately, he didn’t have the foresight to realize something like Youtube would one day be in our lives. Fifteen minutes seems a tad short now, doesn’t it? Warhol had a nice run, but it’s time the pop culture vernacular catches up with the 21st century. For now on the quote will read like this: "In the future, everyone will be world-famous for acting like a complete a-hole on Youtube for about an hour-and-a-half." Please cite me accordingly.)

I'm not sure what happened but I think I was actually supposed to be writing about this supposedly great show I saw. Alright, here we go...

With no opening act, the lights dimmed and the beginnings of "Ava Adore" started playing. Corgan emerged in his customary ridiculous outfit, sans guitar, holding a plastic Halloween jack-o-lantern and dancing around the stage in a manner that can’t be described. Actually, that’s not really true, it can be described. Just envision Billy Corgan trying to imitate Elaine dancing on Seinfeld. That about sums it up. “Cupid De Locke” was next, followed by a stirring “1979” and Corgan was still empty handed. Not that he didn’t have adequate backup. Chamberlin was his usual self and Zeitgeist-era members Jeff Schroeder, Ginger Reyes, and Lisa Harrington were joined by a trio of enjoyable horn players.

The setlist was simply superb. Early on, while still in slow-down mode, the band played “Sunkissed” from the Zeitgeist add-on American Gothic and a new song called “99 Floors” which might be the best Smashing Pumpkins song I have heard in quite some time. They visited enough old material, but it never seemed whore-ish and crowd-pleasing. Corgan finally got around to picking up an electric guitar and they belted out “Soma” and “Cherub Rock” in succession. The most unexpected part of the night was what didn’t happen. Other than urging the crowd to clap along during “I Of the Morning,” Corgan didn’t say a word to the audience the entire night. There wasn’t any “We’re happy to be here” or “Hey you in the third row, you want a piece of me?” None of that. It was just the band playing, and us listening.

That’s not to say there wasn’t the fair share of polarizing spacey jam sessions and seven minute guitar solos. However, they were relegated towards the end of the set, and those who paid a hefty ticket price to hear Mellon Collie and Siamese Dream tunes had already been appeased. (Most notably during a pin drop rendition of "Disarm.") After an encore that kicked off with an acoustic “That’s the Way (My Love Is),” the band turned it up a notch and sent the crowd packing with a long, sprawling alternate version of “I Am One.”

Overall, they spliced together a perfect blend of heavy guitars, and frail and gentle melodies, which is where I always felt Zeitgeist slightly missed the mark--a lot of the former, almost none of the latter. But if a song like "99 Floors" is any indication, I think the band has reclaimed their identity. And that's why the evening was so enjoyable. For the first time since the band got back together (and yes, if Corgan and Chamberlin are involved, saying “the band got back together” is a completely fair statement), it seemed like we were not only watching the Smashing Pumpkins we all once knew, but also the Smashing Pumpkins that we should all be happy to know again.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Wolf Parade--The Vogue, Indianapolis, Indiana

When Jim Powers went to see AGAINST ME! a couple weeks ago, he was the oldest guy there. When Wolf Parade played the Vogue in Indy, I was pretty much the oldest guy there, too. If I had to guess, I was at least five years older than 80% of the crowd, but, unlike Mr. Powers, I didn't contribute to the delinquency of any minors. Because the Vogue is a 21 and over club.

I arrived fifteen minutes late by which I mean thirty minutes before opener Listening Party--from British Columbia, Canada's "good side, the warm side, Lake (something)," according to Lindy, their singer/drummer--took the stage. Their rough-hewn style is an odd, interesting mix of Hot Hot Heat's emo leanings and The Dodos' folky tribalism. After a few nice enough but negligibly impactful songs, the band upped the banter, and what better way to engage your audience than with tales of the open road: "You know those little books," they asked, "that they have at diners? Like at side-of-the-highway diners? Well they have these joke books, and one of them is all these 'bad day' scenarios," they continued, "like if you're at the bank machine, and you put your bank card in the machine, and instead of money, you get covered in a hundred tons of gerbil poo. That's a bad day!" Yikes. I have one: What if you're at the Vogue waiting for waiting for Wolf Parade to come on and you have to listen to Listening Party? That's a bad day!

That's also unnecessarily harsh. Listening Party were fun and congenial, and their guitarist could be a stand-in for Seth Rogen. Ultimately, their set was unremarkable, and the songs suffered from a samey-same quality. Each one employed the same canned beats, for example, and ended in guitar feedback and vocal nonsense (oohs and ahhs and the like). Interesting, though, was the Lindy's unorthodox kit--a regular tom, a crash cymbal, a trash can, a bucket, and a cowbell--from which he wrung an astounding amount of percussion. And if indie rock needs one thing, it's more cowbell. When Listening Party's set ended, a lone piece of confetti* floated down from the ceiling somewhere--a fitting end, and a mirror to the minimal fanfare the crowd afforded their exit stage left. Such, I suppose, is the curse of the opening band.

Between sets was the usual melee, and from where I was standing I could see the stage door, where musicians and crew came and went, under the watchful eyes of a couple bouncers. The bouncers at the Vogue have a reputation for being pugilistic hardasses, and they maintained their vigilance all night--backing people off the stage, defusing drunken shenanigans, shining flashlights in people's faces--a vigilance which came in handy once.

A few minutes before Wolf Parade started, some guy and his girlfriend came in the stage door. Naturally the bouncer asked to see their badges, and when they couldn't produce any, the dude claimed he was "with the band." The bouncer told him "Prove it," so this dickhead had the brass to jump onstage during setup/soundcheck and ask the road crew to vouch for him. Of course they told him to go to hell, and he and his girlfriend were summarily ejected from the premises, out the stage door whence they came, into to the cold Indianapolis night. What kind of shit is that? Trying to cheat a band you're ostensibly a fan of, and then having the audacity to get on stage and ask the sound guy and gal to big up for you? You're telling me that a $16 concert ticket is so exorbitantly expensive that you have resort to dishonesty? It's hard not begrudge you this transgression because you were just trying to beat the system. And you failed. You, concert sneaker-inner, deserve every bit of embarrassment and shame that public failure at such a ludicrous stunt surely provided. Asshole.

And then Wolf Parade came out. And they brought the pain. In a whirlwindish, breathless set that was much longer in retrospect than it felt in person, Wolf Parade basically played the entirety of their discography, minus a few songs. From opener "You Are a Runner and I Am My Father's Son" to closer "Kissing the Beehive," the band only let up twice, both times because of Spencer Krug: first because he had to bandage his "precious little pinky finger" (his words) after the second song, and again because his "piano became unplugged somehow" during the first verse of "California Dreamer." For the record, Krug "hate(s) when that happens," he "fucking hate(s) when that happens," and despite the false start and do-over, the song killed. The aforementioned "Kissing the Beehive" also killed, and confirmed my suspicions that it (and every song on At Mount Zoomer) is meant to be heard live. In person, "Beehive" is titanic, its chaos and loudness almost unbearable. Arlen Thompson and Dante DeCaro held court during the outro, anchoring Krug, Dan Boeckner, and Hadji Bakara while they freaked the fuck out. Manic keys, guitar squall, and electronic filigrees bounced off the walls and ceiling, and just when it all threatened to collapse into an incomprehensible mess, Thompson pulled everything back together and closed the number and the set. It was amazing, and for my $16, doesn't get much better.

For the rest of the set, their first in the Circle City, Wolf Parade meandered between albums, including favorites "Fancy Claps," "Grounds for Divorce," "Shine a Light," "Same Ghost Every Night," and the oft-requested "This Heart's on Fire" (albeit most-oft-requested by some wet fart who kept yelling "My Heart's on Fire," and whose female quarry simply yelled "Wolf Parade") from Apologies to the Queen Mary. From At Mount Zoomer, we were treated to "Fine Young Cannibals," "Call It a Ritual," "The Grey Estates,"and a scorching version of "Language City," after which Boeckner was most satisfied, exclaiming "yeah" and pumping his fist once in well deserved self-congratulation. For the encore, Krug announced the band would play "a few old songs," and they ripped through three songs off Apologies, most notably "I'll Believe in Anything." Destruction. Sadly absent was "Dinner Bells," my favorite Wolf Parade song, but its absence did not detract one iota from a show that was every bit as ecstatic as I hoped it would be. Plus I learned three things: (1) Girls love Spencer Krug. Inter-song shouts of "Spencer!" cascaded down upon him throughout the night. (2) Dan Boeckner loves to rock, and he loves whiskey. (3) Hadji Bakara is far more important to this band than I ever realized. Dude is a wizard.

With Wilderness playing Jake's at the end of the month, and if The Walkmen ever goddam come to Indiana again, I can die peacefully with a drawerful of wicked awesome ticket stubs, all, apparently, beginning with the letter W.

*Should this be confetto? If graffiti is plural graffito, then shouldn't the same rule apply here? One confetto, many confetti? Curious.

--Brian Herrmann

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Decemberists--Mandel Hall at University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois

Living close to a university campus has many advantages, one of which is the occasional act subsidized by the school offering discounted tickets to students. Such was the case for the Decemberists on November 1 at the University of Chicago at Mandel Hall offering this “student” a ticket for $15. This was the third show of their “Bridesmaid Revisited” tour. Upon entering the theater, we were instructed to choose whether we wanted a seat or a bracelet to allow us into-but-not-back-from the 200 person standing room section at the front of the stage. It is a very small theater, and we chose seats seeing that the theater had a wraparound balcony. We went upstairs and secured the balcony box closest to the stage on the right side. Our view was close and birds-eye. “Well done!” my rabid best-seat-finder persona said. “Yes. Thank you very much,” replied my concert-viewing persona. They always travel together and make a smashingly good team.

The Decemberists are definitely a band with a front man: lead singer and songwriter Colin Meloy. Meloy is excited and passionate. Yet, as they started up, I had the sneaking suspicion I had seen these stage mannerisms before. As he closed the first song it became clear that I had seen something very similar at the Enchantment Under the Sea dance at the end of Back to the Future. However, Meloy seems to embody one part Marty McFly, one part George McFly. He holds himself as most of us would, with a slight awkwardness, true enthusiasm, and a tendency to stagger around in an “intoxicated-by-the-music” fashion. He overplays it a bit, but it is real. Like Marty, it was as if Meloy was on the stage for the first time making a dream come true that he had been practicing since he was nine years old with a tennis racquet in the mirror. I would do the exact same thing. I suppose no one ever really knows how well we will be able to pull off the classic rock star repertoire of stage moves until we are there.

Notwithstanding the appealing on-stage antics, the crowd proved a problem all night. The folks in the 200-person standing area were slightly doing their part. The seats were divided into a left and a right section. The left section never stood throughout the concert. The right side did. This left for an odd, disjointed visual of lacking enthusiasm. When Meloy started chiding the left side, I thought they would give in. But they held strong despite repeated requests from the singer that they stand. Now I am all for sitting. But when the lead singer has specifically asked you to stand up three different times during the show, and it is obviously fucking with him, I think you are obligated to stand. The whole evening had the feel that perhaps I was surrounded by people who don’t often go to one of these here “rock and roll shows.” Meloy commented that the crowd was “very polite…unsettlingly polite.” While the crowd was mostly undergraduates, the University of Chicago attracts the type of intellectual students who appreciate Meloy’s interpretation of ancient ballads rather than his rock sensibility. The calculus-equation-to-bong-hit ratio in this crowd was easily 80-to-20. The crowd appreciated Meloy’s vocabulary, intellectual kinship, and alliteration when he said the band was there for our “entertainment and edification.”

Here, though, is an interesting point. Meloy desired in word and deed that the place be filled with a rollicking, rocking energy. He encouraged the crowd to “turn this theater into a roadhouse.” He then hilariously said, “So for our part, we will play one of our sad, mid-tempo love songs.” Here was the tension present all night: Meloy wanting to be a rock star equipped with “The Crane Wife 3.” Meloy seemed to take it in stride, though, often making fun of the material's morose subject matter: “That song was about child, male prostitution. This is a song about rural infanticide…infantastic!” “We’d like to play a song about killing people now.” And he didn’t take himself too seriously proven by the odd Pink Floyd lines dropped in a “space jam” during “Chimbly Sweep” which was framed as a conversation between Sarah Palin and John McCain. Meloy did succeed in getting the crowd “into it” when he made a Get Out the Vote PSA with an audience member’s camera during “16 Military Wives.” He went political and smart. Know your audience.

Most importantly, Meloy proved why they are on the stage. The quality of the music and songcraft is great. Meloy’s melodies are original and compelling. Another problem with the crowd, I suspect, is that the Decemberists tend to be one of those bands that “all kinda sounds the same” until you give it proper repeated consumption, and then the band's originality and depth open up. I imagine many there were new to the band altogether. Multi-instrumentalist Chris Funk, played the notes exactly where they should be, not too many, not too few, mastering a subtle or overt sense of texture. I was surprised to find that a lot of the vocals I thought were keyboardist Jenny Conlee were actually drummer John Moen singing in a falsetto. They played three new singles which were all as good as past material: “Valerie Plame”, an upbeat, pop catchy highlight of the night; “Days of Elaine”, the only song of the night with Meloy on electric guitar; and “Record Year for Rainfall”, featuring always great banjo dissonance.

While the evening never descended into the Led Zepplin atmosphere the band was hunting for, those of us that know the Decemberists and enjoy their music had a nice evening. And to be honest, in going to see the Decemberists, an evening of nice music was all I was really looking for. I enjoyed my balcony seat. I stayed seated all night like the rest of the fuddy duddies on the left side. But I will tune in if Meloy ever gets a Les Paul and a three piece (well…four piece, cause he is still gonna need a lead guitarist) to see the face melting, acid-rock show he creates.

--Scott Rudolph

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Interview: Chris "Arch" Archibald of Illinois

The next president of this great country is going to be the junior senator from Illinois. Therefore, we think it's only appropriate that we bring you an interview with Chris Archibald of the Pennsylvania-based band Illinois. Set to release their next album The Adventures of Kid Catastrophe by chapters (Chapter One was released today), Archibald answered a few emails to further explain the idea behind the album and how he celebrated the recent Phillies' World Series title.

NQL: First off, did you guys get any royalties from that Sufjan Stevens’ album? I feel like you should have.

Chris Archibald: Hahahaha not at all! We did have people coming up to us saying congrats we read about you in Entertainment Weekly, or we saw you on Leno and really enjoyed yer stuff. He definitely helped our record sales.

NQL: Without giving away too much, what can you tell us about these digital shorts called Kid Catastrophe that will debut once a month.

CA: It’s a romantic comedy that drifts between fantasy and reality and my day to day insanity. You’ll see my obsession with opposite sex and the idea of love.....starring a goldfish.

NQL: You guys are doing an album and releasing these shorts. How do the two relate to one another?

CA: There’s some sad songs, some happy, some angry. It’s up and down and a perfect soundtrack to my life.

NQL: I’ve listened to the Chapter 1 so far and I really enjoy the songs (especially “Irish Whiskey”), but I’m not sure I’m picking up the theme yet. Can you point me in the right direction? Or do I need to give a few chapters before it all comes together?

CA: That was just the beginning of the day, me waking up, next month the story starts to develop. And thank you very much!

NQL: What compelled you guys to release this album by chapters? And when you collectively decide to do something like that, does it inevitably involve having to convince your label that it’s a good idea or that it will work? How receptive was +1 to the idea?

CA: I handed +1 a 114 song CD, and said I don’t care which ones you use or which order they will be in, but I believe there is a record on this disc. or perhaps 4 records...They listened to it and tried to put the LP together, but we all found ourselves being like, "What about this song? Er...this one!" There were so many songs that I felt helped round out our sound and helped tell our story that we couldn’t throw them aside. +1 came up with the chapter idea and we kinda pieced it together collectively. The video idea seemed like a no brainer because the randomness of the songs would be better recepted if people saw the hermit freak that wrote them. I don’t know who I am, Monday I’ll wear an Adidas track suit then Tuesday I’m out in tight jeans and snakeskin boots. Im a lil bit country, Im a lil bit old school rap-hop.

NQL: I saw you guys last year at the Metro when you were touring with Menomena. Like you guys, they are pretty creative and fun to watch on stage. Is it pretty important for you guys to tour with other bands with similar energy?

CA: No, not necessarily. We have been friends with them for awhile. We had played together in Philly four years ago and always kept in touch. It don’t matter to us who we play with, we just love doing it and we’ve been blessed to have had such great tours with great bands like Menomena, the Kooks and the Hold steady.

NQL: I told anyone who would listen to pick up last year’s EP What the Hell Do I Know? (I really love that “Screendoor” song.) I noticed the temperament of a lot of the songs seem to be a bit more up-tempo in a live setting. Do you view being on stage as an opportunity to experiment with some of your songs?

CA: Absolutely, for us, we like the live show to be upbeat. Unless there was a demand for the ballad-y songs we prefer to blow peoples’ heads off. Nowadays I think it’s more about the songs than the gimmicky rowdiness banjo punk rock show. So kind of a change of heart. I like the slower songs.. personally.

NQL: As I am typing these questions, the Phillies are three outs away from a World Series and barring some unfortunate jinx, by the time you read this they will have already won. That’s pretty exciting stuff for a couple of guys from Bucks County. How did you all celebrate? Better yet, how do you think Frank Stallone celebrated? I have my money on him nervously pacing around his living room in his underwear during the final outs and then cranking up “Far From Over” at maximum volume when the Phillies closed it out.

CA: We had a ritual here at my house with my roommates. When they won we ran thru Hatboro. it was pandemonium. there were riot police marching in our lil town. People drinking in the streets. Everyone was high-fiving. It was great! Everyone I know is still recovering from that week. Life kinda stopped, jobs were excused, school was out. Streets were closed. Pants weren’t worn. I love Philly!!

NQL: You all will be hitting the road very soon in support of Kid Catastrophe. Any cities or venues that you’re particularly looking forward to?

CA: All of them. The first few months were just sticking to DC, NY, Boston, Philly. Doing residencies at clubs we’ve played before. We’re excited to see the growth..(heh) of this project in these cities. We can’t wait for it to extend out west.

eXTReMe Tracker