Deerhunter discusses automatic writing, Monomania, and setting the record straight on Connie Lungpin.
“Keep him in the bathroom! We’re not done yet.” Bradford Cox yelled as I entered the hotel room where I’d be interviewing Deerhunter in just a few moments. On Late Night with Jimmy Fallon this week, Cox, dressed in drag and covered in fake blood, tore through his band’s latest single and album title track, and prominently displayed what looked to be his own dismembered fingers. I was the last of a series of interviews they had done that day. The band was understandably worn down.
Monomania, Deerhunter’s fifth album, is described in their press release as a “nocturnal garage” album, and the description couldn’t be more apt: peaked guitars and distorted vocals evoke such classics as The Stooges’ Raw Power and Royal Trux’s Twin Infinitives in equal parts. From “Dream Captain”s bratty wreckage of a melody, to the serene middle jangle of “Monomania,” every song has the immediacy of a sort of punk rock Everly Brothers cover band, a far cry from their more abstract breakthrough, Cryptograms. Sitting down with the members of Deerhunter, I successfully avoided Cox’s infamous interviewer ire and discussed their recent lineup change, the writing process of Monomania, and the mysterious masked man they’ve been bringing on stage with them.
“You’re not hiding in the bathroom are you?” his press person asked a few minutes later. I emerged. The interview began.
Gary Canino I really enjoyed your performance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon last night. Who was your friend on the side of the stage with the tape player?
Bradford Cox (lead vocals, guitar) Paul! He’s the greatest guy.
Moses Archuelta (drums) He actually messed that up though, it was amazing. He forgot to rewind the tape—
BC I made this cassette, like these motorcycle sounds that are on the record, but Paul was so spaced out by the cosmic NOW of the idea of satellites and shit…he’s a great kid. He’s been with the band for a long time. He’s kind of like our little brother.
BOMBlog talks to singing drummer Neal Morgan, who’s played with the likes of Bill Callahan and Joanna Newsom, about his remarkable new solo album IN THE YARD. Listen to his new single and check out his Mixtape after the jump.
When I found out that Neal Morgan, best known as the drummer (both live and on record) for Bill Callahan and Joanna Newsom, was opening for Bill Callahan, I was in disbelief.
“What an ego on this guy!” I said to my friends. “The drummer gets to open SOLO for the real deal? Who does this guy know?” I expected a Tommy Lee-routine, complete with a drum solo mid-air. Or maybe it would be something like Fred Armisen doing his Jans Hanneman routine.
But, to my legitimate surprise, Morgan’s incredible opening set was just singing and drums (and about 30% of it was a cappella). Now, he is following up his astounding work on 2010’s Have One On Me and last year’s Apocalypse with his second solo record, IN THE YARD, out January 24th on Drag City. Last month I caught up with him fresh off a European tour with Callahan to discuss his drumming technique, dealing with noisy crowds, and his other plans for 2012.
GARY CANINO I understand you just returned from Europe?
NEAL MORGAN Yes, it went great. Playing those songs is such a special honor and so fun for me. And I was able to open a few of the nights, which was great.
GC The first time I saw you perform was opening for Bill Callahan, in Greensboro, NC. That seemed to be a rough show for you, people were talking, there was a security alarm that kept beeping during your a cappella parts that seemed to be messing with your singing. Are audiences in Europe more polite?
NM I’ll say first that I don’t necessarily find people talking over an opening set to be impolite. Well, maybe I do. I guess it all depends. It seemed like people were there to have fun, they were drinking and catching up and that was an incredibly loud room, so I wasn’t at all upset or thrown off by the talking. There were moments when I did a few things up there that corralled the talkers, and that can be interesting during a set that is a lot of improvisation. But you asked about European audiences—I guess I would say that I’ve had more talking over my sets in the states than in Europe, but I don’t know, the sample size is fairly small.
Multi-instrumentalist and composer Nate Kinsella talks about his project Birthmark’s new album Antibodies and shares some soon-to-be classic cute animal videos.
Nate Kinsella, perhaps best known as the MVP of Chicago’s Make Believe (he played keys and drums at the same time!), is preparing his third solo album, Antibodies, under the moniker Birthmark. Though he’s currently based in Brooklyn, NY, the album was recorded in his home state of Illinois, where the recording sessions were funded through Kickstarter.com (Antibodies impressively met its goal of $5,000 last June). Antibodies is lush with strings, marimba, horns and everything else, oscillating in tone between the fragile experimentalism of Arthur Russell and the epic, rhythmic pop of the first couple Peter Gabriel records. With some Steve Reich in there papering over the cracks. I met with Nate in Greenpoint’s McGolrick Park to talk about his approach to composition, how he got started playing drums and keys at the same time, and the persistent and pervading influence of Charles Ives on his music.
Gary Canino Has playing in other bands helped you realize exactly how you want to approach Birthmark, where it’s now 100% you?
Nate Kinsella It’s weird, it makes it easier because I know what the process is like: write an album, record it, release it, tour on it, etc. . . . but without a group of people behind you with their own motivations, you’re really relying on yourself for anything to move forward at all. I could decide tomorrow that I don’t feel like putting any more energy [into Birthmark], but in a band, that doesn’t really happen. Well, it could if I was really stubborn and decided I wanted to end a project! It’s gratifying in a different way when you’re by yourself. When you’re doing solo stuff, it’s just so much closer to you because you’re behind every decision, so if something seems like a bad idea, you have no one to blame but yourself.
John Cale discusses tour drama with with Eno and Ayers, hip-hop comedy, and what it takes to cover Nico.
At John Cale’s performance at the Brooklyn Academy of Music last week – the legendary Welsh musician and producer (most known for his stint in the Velvet Underground) – I was struck by how casual the man seemed performing a lifetime of material. He walked out on stage, blew through his 1970 orchestral-rock classic Paris 1919 with precision, and then returned to the stage to play a set of challenging and obscure (even for Cale) material. It was clear that for Cale, this second half of the show was the focus: “Hedda Gabbler,” “December Rains,” and several other songs from his most recent album, Shifty Adventures in Nookie Wood, proved to be the centerpieces for the night, as the sprawling (and often challenging) orchestral pieces filled the Gilman Opera House. The most audible reaction of the night was very obviously reserved for “Venus in Furs,” with loud cheers greeting the lone appearance of Velvet Underground material. I recently spoke to Cale about the concept for this show, his bizarre one-off 1974 tour with Nico, Brian Eno, and Kevin Ayers, and There’s Something About Mary.
Gary Canino With previous Paris 1919 shows that you’ve done, the second half of the show has been devoted to Vintage Violence. However, the second half of the show I saw at BAM last week was half Shifty Adventures in Nookie Wood material, and half Sabotage-era material. What was your concept for the show?
John Cale Over the years I’ve been trying to add new songs every time we do it, to really take advantage of the fact that we have an orchestra. If we could only have an orchestra every time we want… so we did three or four new tunes the other night. This time we owed the new record some support, so I added some orchestral versions.
Jennifer Herrema weighs in on her art work, fake reunions, Black Bananas, and sweating the Fiscal Cliff—and the Meatloaf/Gary Busey fight.
Jennifer Herrema’s artist’s residency at the New Museum—called “She’s Crafty”—featured the influential frontwoman—formerly of the legendary Royal Trux, currently leading Black Bananas—and several artists taking turns reimagining the storefront window of the New Musuem’s bookstore (several of the items in the window’s storefront are for sale and are, presumably, going to be part of her new Feathered Fish clothing and jewelry line). I met Jennifer on the street, where she immediately asked if I’d like to do the interview over a few glasses of wine next store at the Bowery Diner, along with two of her peers: musician Lizzi Bougatsos (of Gang Gang Dance) and videographer Jess Holzworth. It became clear pretty quickly that Jennifer was one of the least intimidating or pretentious artists I’d ever met. Even those questions that I was a little wary of asking, she answered with total ease. When I asked if she was going to the fake “Royal Trux” showNeil Hagerty’s low-key performance of Twin Infinitives that happened at St. Vitus last month—that, at the time, was only a few days away, she told me she was flying out that night, but gave me her own take on it. I think “The Needle and the Damage Done” was playing as we were seated at the diner. This appropriately loose and laid-back conversation followed.
Gary Canino I wanted to ask about Royal Trux and Virginia. I went to school down in Charlottesville, and have always heard rumors about the ’91 show at Trax . . .
Jennifer Herrema Yeah, I love Charlottesville, it’s just a nice place to live. Conducive to getting shit done.
GC You recorded in Virginia too, right?
JH Yeah, we owned a 15-acre farm with a studio built in. In Castleton, Virginia, right between Culpeper and Little Washington, out in Rappahannock.