Thursday, May 21, 2009

Nichole vs. Chairlift

Chairlift Interview Audio

Nichole vs. Chairlift
40 Watt Club Athens, GA
April 27, 2009

Patrick Wimberly: Before we start this, can I just read a quote from Dr. Dre?
Ethan Silverman (Tour Manager): She already started it.
PW: Can I use a quote from Dr. Dre?
Nichole Bennett: Let’s do it.
PW: In 1993, Dr. Dre said “Everybody has something they can do in the studio. I can take a fuckin’ three year old and make a hit record on him. God has blessed me with this gift.”
NB: So, I’m Nichole, and I’m here in Athens, Georgia at the 40 Watt Club with Patrick of Chairlift.
PW: Hi.
NB: We were just starting off with a Dr. Dre quote that we are all still recovering from. I guess to start us off, if you could kind of describe the story of Chairlift would it be a pop-up book or would it be a graphic novel?
PW: Oh definitely a pop-up book. That’s an easy question.
NB: Would it have pull tabs? Like interactive pop-up books?
PW: Yeah. There would be pictures of us dancing. There would be pictures of us meeting each other, with big smiles on our faces.
ES: I picture a pop-up mountain with a chairlift with the two of you sitting on it.
NB: With a little wheel to make it go around?
PW: This is Ethan, he takes care of us on the road.
NB: You guys have a pretty varied sound. For most people who have just heard the iPod commercial, they get this “Bruises” poppy sound. But you’ve really got more of a darker sound as well. How would you say it all ties together? Or how would you describe your sound to a five year old? Or maybe that three year old that Dr. Dre was hanging out with?
ES: Patrick is really good at talking to three year olds.
PW: First off, I’d like to say that I really like three year olds. “We’re in a band called Chairlift, and we play songs for dancing and for having fun. And for exploring your own mind.” We did play a show recently for a bunch of three year olds, and they got up on stage and danced. It was really cute.
NB: So, if you could take five albums on a desert island…
ES: On a deserted island?
NB: A desert…well, you can have your friends.
PW: Do I have a stereo there?
NB: Yeah, you’ve got a stereo.
PW: I would take Sexuality by Sebastian Tellier because I can’t stop listening to it. What else would I take?
ES: You would take a Rolling Stones record, but I don’t know which one.
PW: I would take a Led Zeppelin record. I would take III.
NB: Three of them?
PW: No, I would take the third one. That’s only two. I would take Abby Road. That’s kind of like a standard. I would take the new YACHT record. I don’t have it yet, and it comes out July.
NB: Hopefully you’re not deserted by then.
PW: Yeah, hopefully I’m not getting deserted on this island until after July, and the YACHT record comes out. And one more: I would make a new one and take it with me.
NB: Just take a blank disk with you.
PW: Yeah, I would record it on the island.
ES: Just bring a four-track.
PW: And I would call it All Alone.
NB: What is your favorite dinosaur?
PW: This is another easy question because I would take the…wait. If I could take any dinosaur to a desert island, it would be a brontosaurus.
ES: I would take the new YACHT record.
NB: My favorite dinosaur is the new YACHT record!
PW: Next question.
NB: So you guys are touring. What is the most annoying thing about touring? You guys just came from Austin, and you are zooming around.
PW: The most annoying thing about touring is…
ES: All these free drinks we get.
NB: Oh, how terrible!
PW: No, that’s not that annoying.
ES: It’s being in cool places but not spending much time in them.
PW: Yeah, that’s it. It’s not having enough time in areas that you want to spend time in.
NB: Do you ever read press or reviews about yourself?
PW: Never. Some other members of our band do, but I never do.
NB: If you could replace your arms with anything, what would you replace them with?
PW: Other arms.
NB: Other arms?
PW: Because I need my arms. They’re important to me because I’m a drummer. I would replace them with Al Green’s. He’s got nice arms.
ES: You should replace them with another drummer’s arms.
PW: Well, maybe if I had his arms, I could sing that well.
NB: Crunchy or smooth peanut butter?
PW: Crunchy because it has peanuts in it.
NB: What is one question you wish interviewers would ask?
PW: I wish they would ask…Are you going to ask this one in your next interview?
NB: Yeah, maybe. And you can answer it if you like. If it’s good, I’ll steal it.
PW: Probably not. I’m not that good of an interviewer. I would ask me on this desert island…
NB: With a brontosaurus running around.
PW: …I would ask “What would you name a brontosaurus if you had a brontosaurus on a desert island?”
NB: That’s a good one.
Caroline Polacheck: I’m just going to hump into this interview
NB: Sure.
PW: Caroline is here.
NB: Caroline just arrived.
CP: Is this for radio?
NB: This is for college radio.
CP: I should not have said hump. Hi guys, I’m Caroline. I’m in a band called Chairlift.
NB: Thank you for joining us. Well, we should probably catch her up on the important questions. Mainly, what is your favorite dinosaur?
CP: Definitely a pterodactyl.
NB: That’s a good one. Let’s see, I guess the only other good one is: If you could replace your arms with anything, what would it be?
PW: I take that back. It would be Stevie Wonder’s arms because he can do everything with his arms.
NB: This is true.
CP: So it can be other people’s arms?
PW: Anything counts. I would put one hairdryer on one of your arms.
CP: I would probably have a giant snake coming out of one arm…
PW: And a hairdryer.
CP: No. Wait, yeah how will I dry my hair? Well, the snake can be trained to hold a hairdryer. In its mouth. It would be really long. It would be way longer than an arm size. It would go from here to there. But it would learn to coil for transportation purposes. And then the other arm would be some kind of moving light show with speakers in it.
NB: I’d want to hang out with you. Party time, Caroline’s here. If Chairlift had a catch phrase, what would it be?
CP: We have so many. “My dude.” “It’s on.”
NB: What is the most embarrassing CD in your collection? Or are you not embarrassed by anything?
PW: I’m not embarrassed by anything. I have music that people say I should be embarrassed to have, but it’s not embarrassing.
CP: I have some CDs at my mom’s house that are pretty embarrassing.
NB: Do you guys prefer performing in bigger venues or smaller ones?
CP: I like playing in place with good sound and good lights because that affects the show more than size. Playing in an intimate place and the lighting is really moody and the sound is really spectacular and submersive. That makes for a good show.
NB: I asked him earlier: Do you read reviews about yourself?
CP: Yeah, probably more than I should. Less and less. I think it’s interesting. I don’t take it all to heart. It’s like throwing a ball back and forth. It’s interesting watching your reviews consistently change. Like if all of them are saying the same thing at one point in time and all of them are saying another thing at another point in time, then it’s like “Okay, that’s a legit point you made.”
NB: I was talking to Matt of Matt and Kim last night and he said “I want more haters.” The more haters you have, the more people are paying attention. It changes the way I thought about criticism.
CP: To me the most brutal thing isn’t press because you can take that with a grain of salt, but for me it’s live videos. It freaks me out to see myself play live.
NB: What can we expect to see from Chairlift in the future?
CP: Probably Aaron, Caroline, and Patrick. A lot of those people.
NB: Those three.
CP: Yeah sometimes instruments….sometimes clothes.
NB: I will let you guys go grab dinner, but I have one more question: If you were any animal, what would it be?
PW: A monkey. Easy question.
NB: He was ready. He needs harder questions next time.
PW: Next time you come back why don’t you challenge me a little bit, okay?
CP: I think I would be a killer whale. It seems like it would be fun to be a whale.
NB: That would be really fun.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Nichole vs. Tokyo Police Club

Tokyo Police Club Audio

Nichole vs. Tokyo Police Club
The EARL Atlanta, GA
March 5, 2009

Nichole Bennett: Just introduce yourself.
Greg Alsop: I’m Greg Alsop. I’m in Atlanta, and I play drums in Tokyo Police Club.
NB: Thank you so much for joining me. So I guess just a little bit of background on the band. If you could describe the story of your band, would it be a comic book or would it be a pop-up book? And maybe fill in the details.
GA: I would probably choose a pop-up book. I’m not as familiar with graphic novels as some. I sort of grew up on pop-up books. I had a great version of “The Night Before Christmas” that my mom bought in the seventies that saw me through year after year.
NB: Yeah I make my parents read mine every Christmas.
GA: Yeah, same. We formed in January of 2005. We were all friends in high school. So you could picture us all there drawn in mostly pastel colors. And there’s a little slide arrow of us waving in front of our high school. We’d all just been friends in high school. The other three had known each other since elementary school, and we all just kind of bonded over similar taste in music. We were the only people we really knew in our small town who were into a lot of the new bands that were coming out around that time. You know like Interpol, The Strokes, Arcade Fire… Everyone else was, kind of strangely, into hip hop. It was a bunch of really rich white kids. Just like…beating each other up for no reason. And we were like “I don’t want any part in that.” So, our thing to do on Friday nights was just to gather in somebody’s basement and just play music until our parents told us to stop. Eventually, that brought us here.
NB: Where did the name Tokyo Police Club come from?
GA: There’s no good story.
NB: Is it just words mashed together?
GA: Yeah, it really is just words mashed together. That’s the best description. We should come up with a decent story for it because people ask us that all the time. We’re not a band full of mystery. That’s the problem…very open. And we’ve got nothing to say about our name. We wrote the song “Cheer It On” in May of 2005 and it came to be our first show, and we were like “We need to call ourselves something.”
NB: So how is this tour going?
GA: It’s fantastic. It’s the best. Yeah, we are touring with all incredible bands that we are great friends with. Ruby Coast from our home town in Toronto. Born Ruffians from there also. The Harlem Shakes, who are amazing. Ra Ra Riot, who we’ve been out with before. If I’m missing somebody, then I apologize, but it’s just all incredible bands.
NB: Yeah, I saw that all of your openers are fantastic.
GA: Yeah, we wanted it to be that way. We haven’t toured in a while, and we’re not going to be touring again for a while, so we wanted to make this as fun as possible. Going out on tour can be very exhausting, but when you get to the venue everyday and there’s a bunch of people there that you’re really excited to hang out with it’s much better.
NB: How would you describe the sound of the band, or even maybe the sound that you guys are looking for, to a three year old?
GA: To a three year old? We’re music you can jump around and have fun to, I’d say. You don’t have to cover your ears. We don’t have too many swears. Hopefully they aren’t words that a three year old would be familiar with anyway so it doesn’t really matter. Even if, there’s nothing that you would be shocked to hear a three year old say. It’d be a little more cute.
NB: Three year olds cover Tokyo Police Club.
GA: Yeah, yeah, you could do that. If Kidz Bop or whatever that was decided to do one of our tracks, they wouldn’t have too much trouble choosing, sifting through the lyrics.
NB: Do you ever read your own reviews? I always wonder, as a musician, if you read your own stuff.
GA: Yeah when the album first came out, I did. But eventually it became too difficult separating what they are saying as an actual critique from just journalism. You can’t take it to heart. Sometimes you find reviews that maybe do offer very good criticism that you can use to make better songs in the future. Some publications are just about tearing bands up, and some publications are just about puffing bands careers up. I don’t know. I feel like it’s good to find a middle ground.
NB: I feel like reviewers should also be reviewed sometimes.
GA: Yeah.
NB: They’re never criticized for their writing.
GA: That’s the one thing. That is the one part of the music industry that is completely unnecessary. It’s kind of the easiest job out there.
NB: Yeah, nobody is looking over their shoulder.
GA: Exactly. Maybe that will be my thing…writing in just letters to the editor week after week. More counter-reviews.
NB: What is your favorite flavor of jellybean?
GA: In just the regular variety, yellow.
NB: Yellow-flavored.
GA: Yellow lemon I guess. Or white, I guess. I like white beans sometimes. But if you’re going to go all the way to the Jelly Belly gourmet flavors, Dr. Pepper. We had a bunch. I got a bunch for Easter last year, and they were all nicely laid out in a tray, and within a few hours they all just spilt and were all over the floor. So every once in a while, you could just reach down, grab a couple up and just make a cocktail.
Matt Crisler (WSBF-FM): Do you eat the black ones? That’s the big question as to whether or not they like jellybeans?
NB: Yeah, I like the black ones.
GA: I do, yeah.
NB: My friends would all hand me the licorice ones. And I love food, so I was always like “Give me all of yours.” So, I gradually grew to love them.
GA: Yeah, I will take all of the other ones. But if I reach down and grab one, then I’ll eat it. No problem.
NB: So you guys have a Candyland van with jellybeans all over the floor.
GA: Yep.
NB: So I was thinking about this the other day that pop music, when you think about the word “pop” it has become something totally different in especially the minds of young people these days. Do you have your own personal definition? Or has it become a bad word? It used to be like pop and that meant Brittany Spears.
GA: I definitely agree that it used to be something to approach rarely, and if you were labeled as pop music it was just stuff that was very trite and easily digestible. The definition has become much for vague and all-encompassing. I mean, what do you really consider not “pop” music these days? Clearly if it’s not jazz and if it’s not composed in a modernist classical sense, then everything else can really fall under the pop category. I mean, we label ourselves as pop music. I don’t like assigning genres. Oh it’s like trip-electrocore or something. What are you talking about man? It’s just music, and if you like it, then listen to it. It shouldn’t be something that you try and find a label for and then listen very strictly to that.
NB: One more, and this is the one more and this is the one that I ask all bands. If you were an animal, what would you be?
GA: Me? Maybe a turtle because then when I tour, I can bring my home everywhere with me.
NB: That would be nice.
GA: That’d be the best actually. That would be really great. I don’t think it fits with me any other way.
NB: Thanks so much.

Nichole vs. Eulogies

Eulogies Interview Audio

Nichole vs. Eulogies
The Ranch Austin, TX
March 19, 2009

Nichole Bennett: My name is Nichole. I’m the music director for WSBF in Clemson, South Carolina, and I’m lucky enough to be here with Eulogies’ frontman.
Peter Walker: I’m good. I’m great.
NB: Great. If you could describe Eulogies’ sound to a three year old, how would you do it?
PW: It’s loud. Definitely for a three year old
NB: Like, cover your ears, little baby.
PW: Yeah, you are covering your ears. Our stuff is pretty driving, but it’s not death metal or anything. It’s like driving coming from a folk…maybe runway.
NB: Driving folk.
PW: Yeah, driving folk.
NB: A lot of my DJs and myself loved your EP. It’s kind of a teaser. We are really excited about the CD coming out. Can you tell us anything about it?
PW: Yeah, three of the songs on the EP are on the LP. Thank you. We love it too. We are so excited about it. Um, what else can I say. It really works as an LP. That might sound pretentious, but for the EP we just grabbed a few songs. The first song on the EP is actually the last song on the record, so it was a little weird. I feel like with the record, it’s all there ready to listen to.
NB: So if the story of your band was a coloring, book, what themed Crayola box would you use?
PW: What themed Crayola box?
NB: You know, like neon…they’ve got glitter. They’ve got the twenty four set…they’ve got the mega set.
PW: You know what I’d do? Primary colors. That’s it. Just red, blue, yellow.
NB: Would it be a pop-up book or a comic book?
PW: Probably a comic. You know, straightforward.
NB: Do you like crunchy or smooth peanut butter?
PW: I like both. I’ll eat them both.
NB: What question do you wish interviewers would ask more, and which one do you wish they would ask less?
PW: I know our less right off the bat. It’s “Why is your band called what it is?”
NB: Every says that. They hate that.
PW: I’m okay, actually. It’s just that the repetition is hard. More, I don’t know. That’s tough. Just more meaningful stuff.
NB: Do you ever read your own reviews?
PW: I try not to seek them out, but if someone give me a good one, I’ll read it. That’s pretty much it.
NB: I can imagine. I’m sort of self-critical, so it would be…
PW: Yeah, it’s hard. You have to be doing it for the right reasons, I think. We’re not really trying to please certain people.
NB: If your band had a mascot, what would it be?
PW: It would probably be…it’s actually right there. It’s our van. That old van right there is called “Gus”. He’s our mascot for sure.
NB: Oh man, I wish this was a video interview because Gus is quite impressive.
PW: Yeah, that’s Gus. Gusty Winds is his full name.
NB: If you could replace your arms with anything, what would it be?
PW: Wings, for sure.
NB: Is there anything else that you would like to say?
PW: Well, we have a record coming out on April 7, and we’re going on tour. The next seven, eight weeks we’ll be on the road. So hopefully we’ll get to play some shows for some of your listeners.
NB: Yes, you should stop by Clemson. South Carolina, we are a great stop in between North Carolina and Georgia. There aren’t any venues there but there is the college radio station.
PW: I love doing college radio stations, that would be fun.
NB: What do you eat on your French fries?
PW: Ketchup. Pepper, and black pepper.
NB: Everyone is saying pepper today! It’s such a new thing for me. If your band had a catch phrase what would it be?
PW: We melt faces.
NB: Melt faces, I believe so. Here’s a more serious question. This is kind of an age of the internet and an A.D.D. musicality. Everyone’s just looking for “the next big thing.” The good things they’ll write these longer reviews. But the new things, they’ll write short things and they may or may not persist. How do you guys play into that? Or how do you feel about that?
PW: We made an album. We didn’t make a bunch of singles and a bunch of b-sides. We have a whole record, and we feel like it’s a piece of art, you know? That’s where are, and that’s not necessarily where a lot of bands are.
NB: It’s a very single culture lately. With Hypemachine and blogs posting mp3s.
PW: I mean, I think that’s all cool because it’s great to get excited about a song, but I like having the whole record to choose from if I’m a listener. I can grab what I want to grab.
NB: Are you guys big vinyl people?
PW: Yeah, definitely.
NB: I really got into vinyl lately as soon as I stole my parents’ record player. I just think that this is in some ways very good for smaller bands, but at the same time it’s a very A.D.D. culture. We are like “oh, give me a single…okay, that’s good.” But at the same time, I was talking about vinyl’s a piece of art. It’s something you can own. Whereas a CD, you can put it in the microwave, and it’s still fine.
PW: I think live music is a good antidote to all of that. When you go to see a band, they hopefully aren’t just playing one song, and it doesn’t always sound on the record. So it’s cool to go see live music.
NB: I think that’s one reason it will still persist. On that note, I will go let you eat your pizza. Thank you so much for joining me.

Nichole vs. Dappled Cities

Dappled Cities Interview Audio

Nichole Vs. Dappled Cities
The Ranch Austin, TX
March 19, 2009

Nichole Bennett: This is Nichole. I’m here with Dappled Cities here in Austin, Texas for South By Southwest, and I was lucky enough to talk with these guys. How are you guys doing today?
Dappled Cities: Good, good.
NB: And they are playing today at The Ranch. So if you’re lucky enough to catch them. I’ve just got a few questions. We are going to do a quick interview with them because they’ve got a set to do. My first question is something that I’ve been talking about with my friends. Is “pop music” turning into a bad word? Or do you think it is turning into something new? What does “pop music” mean to you?
DC: I think pop music is any sort of music that is accessible to a large amount of people. Either that or music that makes you feel good about yourself. If you think of the nineties pop music it wasn’t really something, there’s no doubt it wasn’t something that I’d like. And Michael Jackson is pop music.
NB: Yeah, I think in the nineties it became something of a bad word.
DC: We certainly have intentions of putting it back into the psyche of cool. Pop is cool.
NB: Do you guys ever read your own reviews?
DC: Yeah.
NB: Yeah?
DC: Well, we know they’re all going to be good, so there’s no problem there. Well, if you’ve got a bad review, you can always just blame the internet.
NB: Yeah, he’s not who we are trying to reach anyway.
DC: Yeah, yeah. He’s not who we are playing to anyway. Reviews are good though, in terms of finding out what people think of what you’re doing and so on…how people interpret it.
NB: So, we’ve got a weird age coming on. We’ve got the internet coming into play and this almost A.D.D. musicality. How does this affect a band?
DC: I think that it’s great that we’re getting fans. I think the industry’s been turned on its head since the internet came in. And the only people who seemed to have benefited from it all are the artists. We say, bring it on.
NB: I’m all for that. What do you like to eat on your French fries?
DC: Pepper, lots of pepper. Oh, so much pepper. That’s what we do in Australia.
NB: If Dappled Cities had a catchphrase, what would it be?
DC: Calm down.
NB: If you could describe your sound to a three-year-old, how would you describe it?
DC: Um, you’re at three year old…
NB: If you could tell the story of your band, would it be a pop-up book or would it be a comic book? And then, how would it go?
DC: What was the first option?
NB: A comic book of a pop-up book.
DC: Oh, it would certainly be a pop-up book. We’re a very three-dimensional band. We have depth as well as excitement…and revelation.
NB: With pull tabs?
DC: Definitely.
NB: If you could replace your arms with anything, what would it be?
DC: Flying V guitars.
NB: You guys have thought this out.
DC: We have thought this out. Octopus tentacles.
NB: If you were an animal, what would you be?
DC: An octopus.
NB: I’m losing it. Crunchy or smooth peanut butter? Or just Vegemite, right?
DC: Yeah, we just eat Vegemite.
NB: I tried Vegemite the other day.
DC: What did you think?
NB: It was very different. It’s going to take a little while.
DC: It’s pretty salty.
NB: I think I expected more like Nutella. So how do you guys like Austin?
DC: It’s a beautiful place. I really love it. Do you live here?
NB: No, but I want to. I’m from South Carolina.
DC: I think it’s been describe to us as a black hole in the Bible belt. That was just a funny description.
NB: What question do you wish interviewers would ask you guys? So you can spill. Or which one do you wish they would not ask?
DC: Certainly a question that we really hate answering is where our band name came from because it’s a really hard question to answer. Well, most bands alcohol and drugs are involved in the conception, so no one can even remember where it came from. As far as questions we love being asked: What size is your waist for these free Levis? What size are your feet for these free shoes? What are your favorite sunglasses for your free sunglasses?
NB: Whoa, whoa, not that type of interview. We’re a small town here. Um, free…toothpicks!
DC: We might need to wrap this up in a second because we’re on soon.
NB: I really appreciate you guys hanging out with me.

Nichole vs. Matt (of Matt and Kim)

Matt (of Matt and Kim) Interview Audio

Nichole Bennett vs. Matt (of Matt and Kim)
The Masquerade Atlanta, GA
March 26, 2009

Nichole Bennett: Cool, I’m Nichole. I’m here with Matt, half of Matt and Kim. Thank you so much for joining us.
Matt Johnson: My pleasure.
NB: They just put on a rocking set here at The Masquerade in Atlanta, Georgia opening for Cut Copy. It was really rad.
MJ: This place is cool. It feels like warehouse style shows in Brooklyn.
NB: Did you know that each of the levels have a name?
MJ: I heard there was Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory.
NB: Yeah, you guys just played in Heaven.
MJ: Oh really? Yeah it was weird. We were handed all that press for The Haunting, this movie. I don’t know.
NB: You have a notebook?
MJ: I got a notebook! It’s a sweet deal, right? But they had a card that was about…last night we were over at The Drunken Unicorn…on one of the these cards on the back it said that this place was haunted and it’s been falling apart. I was like, “Oh damnit, we gotta go there tomorrow.”
NB: They always say that they are no longer going to have shows. They always say it’s going to collapse, and sometimes it feels like it might.
MJ: The way the equipment goes up and down is so bizarre. Did you see that lift? The way to get everyone’s stuff upstairs…there’s this weird, really janky thing that’s on two wires. I don’t know about that.
NB: So if you were to describe the story of Matt and Kim, or at least the Matt story, would it be a graphic novel or a pop up book?
MJ: I’d say pop-up book only because I’m much more familiar with pop-up books. Actually we’ve been very intrigued by pop-up books. One of the first projects Kim and I did together, before we even tried playing music was that we used to make rock show posters for our friends’ bands in New York that were all pop-up, that had pop-up elements. You could open windows or spin little dials and things like that, and they were all silkscreened. They were awesome except that they would get stolen the first day you put them up. They were a lot of work for the look.
NB: That would be cool for house shows.
MJ: Yeah, depending on the spot. We also didn’t realize that if you put posters up on the street in Brooklyn, it’s a crime. So the cops busted us the first poster.
NB: Man, I didn’t know that. I saw posters all over New York.
MJ: Yeah people, do it, but…
NB: Underground poster putter-uppers. Do you guys ever read your own reviews?
MJ: Well, to begin with, I did. Because when we first started getting reviews and things like that, I was very intrigued. But the thing is we’d get a good review…we’d get band of the week on some website or whatever and then the comments would be hundreds of just haters.
NB: Yeah, only haters comment.
MJ: Yeah those are the ones you want to read. You just want the drama. The nice ones are boring. But all the same, it’s weird because we put so much of ourselves and so much of our time, you know all of our time, into doing this. And it’s not just like hating on the band, it’s like hating on us. But it’s one of those things now. Now Kim gets upset when there’s not enough hate comments. Like on Brooklyn Vegan, it’s the most talked about bands that get the most hate. I realized this when I was looking at an issue of Spin magazine, and it was the reader-voted best and worst bands of 2007 maybe. The lists were almost exactly the same. I think My Chemical Romance was number one on it. They were reader voted best band and reader voted worst band. The list was like exactly the same. Whoever was talked about the most was the most hated and the most liked, whoever was talked about the second most… So, we actually saw a Katt Williams sketch or it’s his standup act. It was actually from here in Atlanta, and he talked about needing haters. “If you only have 15 haters now, you should try to have 20 by summertime.”
NB: I think I’m learning that too. It’s kind of weird the way the internet treats music. It’s kind of an A.D.D. musicality, where you’re like “I’m going to hop on the Hypemachine and see what’s popular this week.” But hate, that’s the key I guess.
MJ: I don’t know. We’ve gone and embraced it. But all the same, it kind of cuts a little deep for me. So I decided it would just be easier to not read it.
NB: How would you describe your sound to maybe a five year old?
MJ: To a five year old? Well, it’s funny because before the band, Kim was a nanny. At the time, I think they were three and four. Now they’re about six and five, but we still go and visit those girls all the time. They’re awesome. They’re the first thing that made me understand parenting. Like, why would anyone want to be a parent? And these two girls are just so cool. And they also love Matt and Kim. I don’t know…how would I describe? Parents come and tell me that they and their kids sing and dance to it. I think it’s funny because the parents like it, and they come to our shows and talk about their kids liking it. So, I think it’s like a sing-along dance party.
NB: That’s a good one. It’s one of the few bands like that.
MJ: Yeah, on the end of the first album, the last track is just us in the studio. I was sick, so I was taking nasal spray and other cold medicines just to keep my nose clear, and I was totally flying on a kite of cold medicine. But it’s just us talking because we were thinking of starting the album with…because we used to always start our shows with “This is Kim and I’m Matt, and we’re Matt and Kim.” But it’s that, and I swear or something. And Kim says, “You can’t swear, Chloe’s going to hear this.” Just because of those two girls she used to nanny she didn’t want us to swear on the album.
NB: Our radio listeners can’t see this, but we are in a magnificent super red van.
MJ: Super red yes!
NB: Oh, is that carpeted wall?
MJ: Oh yeah, that’s a pro job right there, carpeted these wall myself. Kim painted these candy stripes on the back.
NB: Yeah, this is one of the more fancy vans I’ve been in. What do you guys listen to when you’re driving around?
MJ: Well, if you notice, we do not have a CD player or any way to plug in an iPod. We don’t turn the stereo on. That’s a band rule. We don’t listen to music. Everyone has their own iPod. But if you have five people in the van, it becomes a source of a lot of anger having to listen to what other people like. So we decided when we bought this van that we were just not going to put a stereo in.
NB: That’s probably a really good rule. That’s one of the better rules I’ve heard.
MJ: Yeah, so we all listen to our own thing.
NB: What is your favorite dinosaur?
MJ: Dinosaur? I guess the stegosaurus is kind of rad, right?
NB: That’s a good one.
MJ: It’s pretty big. Wait, stegosaurus is the one that has the tail with all the spiky stuff on it?
NB: Yeah. It’s got spikes. I guess we talked about the internet earlier. I know the internet has played a big role in you guys getting your music videos up, which are really fun to watch by the way. Were they as fun to make as they are to watch or is there a lot of work going into that?
MJ: I don’t know. It depends on who you ask. If you ask me, I’d say “yes.” If you ask Kim, she’d say “no.” We just shot another video a couple of weekends ago before we went on tour for a song called “Lessons Learned,” but the last one that has come out was for “Daylight.” Every situation in that was like Kim’s most hated situation. We play inside a dumpster, and we were told the dumpster would be a clean dumpster. But that didn’t really mean clean as much as the large garbage was pulled out. There was this thick inch of grime on the walls, and she was just hating being in there. But if you watch, she’s smiling. There’s different forms of Kim smiling. If she’s very uncomfortable, she smiles. She’s happy, she smiles. When she’s terrified, she gets this crazy squeaky wheel laugh. We went to go see some horror movie in the theater, and as someone’s getting sliced and diced and chopped up—that stuff freaks her out—and she just started laughing hysterically. And people are like, “Who’s that messed-up girl laughing at this stuff?” Oh yeah, so she hated being in that dumpster. She hates getting water in her face. We played in the shower. Whenever she goes swimming—have you ever seen a cat try to swim?
NB: Yeah I hate that too.
MJ: They’re just trying to keep their head above water at all cost. She hated getting water in her face. She’s kind of claustrophobic. She hated being in there. Yeah, so it was her nightmare. Our “Yea Yeah” video was fun to shoot for the three and a half minutes that we actually shot it for. And then the six hours of cleaning up with weird stuff in our hair…it was just the grossest smell.
NB: You guys just came from Austin, Texas didn’t you? From South By Southwest?
MJ: Sort of. We’ve been to Austin twice in the last month. We started this tour with Cut Copy in Austin and then looped over to the west coast. We had a day off between Chicago and Toronto, and we were like “Days off are for weak people.” So we decided we would fly back down on that one day off for South By Southwest.
NB: Yeah, I was like “Where are they coming from?!”
MJ: And then we flew back up to Toronto. We flew Toronto to New York, then over to Boston. We had to drive over night back to New York. And then D.C. It’s been really crazy. But we had the day off yesterday. We just got to hang out in Atlanta.
NB: You guys are sticking around for a little while. There’s some Athens and some Asheville action going on.
MJ: Yeah, well we’ll be back and then we’ll be in the area. We go from here to Orlando, then Miami, then Tallahasee, then Gainesville. Then I think we’ll be back up.
NB: A lot of people skip Florida. I bet they’ll be really happy.
MJ: Yeah, it’s one of those things that to get to the tip is sort of out of the way. But you can also do a lot of shows in Florida. We’re excited to be where it’s warm. Like here.
NB: If Matt and Kim had a catchphrase, what would it be?
MJ: It would be “You can’t threaten me with a good time.”
NB: And I’ll leave you with this last question: If you could be any animal, what would you be?
MJ: I’d have to be a dog. Kim and I are both nuts about dogs. Even though we couldn’t have one because we live in an eight foot wide apartment in Brooklyn, and we travel nine months out of the year. But, we’ll go and get cups of tea and coffee and go to the dog park and just lurk.
NB: Like a child predator, but with dogs.
MJ: We don’t really know the policy. Like when Kim was a nanny, you’re not supposed to go into a playground unless you’re with a child. So are you not supposed to go in the dog park unless you have a dog? Yeah I think we’d both be dogs.

Nichole vs. Pretty & Nice

I've got audio for this one, but the band members ask that I only post the transcript.

Nichole Bennett vs. Pretty & Nice
New Brookland Tavern Columbia, SC
May 11, 2009

Nichole Bennett: This is Nichole, and I am here at New Brookland Tavern with a couple members of a band called Pretty & Nice.
Jeremy Mendicino: Hi, I’m Jeremy.
Holden Lewis: I’m Holden, the other one.
NB: Alright, we’ll start off the bat talking about what hit people. I think a lot of people got introduced to you guys on this latest album. You guys fit a lot of sound space? Your secret?
JM: We have a machine that takes large sounds and compacts them.
HL: We call it our Music Crammer.
NB: Music Crammer. I knew it. I knew there was a secret.
HL: Or MC.
JM: A supa-MC.
NB: And at the same time, it’s not too sugary and not too in-your-face antagonistic. And one of the biggest labels from everybody that has written about you has been “pop.” For some bands, this is a bad word. For some bands, they’re okay. Pop has become a sort of vague thing. I didn’t know how you guys felt about being labeled that way.
JM: It’s a word.
HL: We were probably the first ones to use that, to call ourselves that. Unfortunately most people associate “pop” with Brittany and not The Beatles.
JM: And not Justin you mean? We’re more Justin than Brittany, it’s true.
HL: So no, the answer would be that we do not despise that.
JM: We don’t dislike any word really. We’re word acceptors. We’re word crunchers. It’s a by-product of the Music Crammer.
NB: It really encompasses more. It’s almost ironic sometimes to say pop.
JM: Well, we don’t use it ironically. We are a hyper-ironic band.
NB: Post-post ironic. Pretty & Nice.
JM: Yeah, I hadn’t seen the term post-irony written before I said it. Maybe I came up with it, but you just used it so…
NB: It’s a good word.
JM: We’re post-ironic pop…junk. It’s like if you have too much information, and you try to spew out a cohesive sentence, it either rambles or it’s just entirely off topic. That’s our music. It’s either rambling or entirely off topic.
NB: I like that. So, if you were to make your sound into a sandwich, what kind of sandwich would you make?
HL: Oh God.
NB: If you hate sandwiches, you can do a wrap or something.
JM: If our music was a sandwich, what sandwich would it be?
NB: Yeah.
JM: That’s hard. That’s easy, actually. It would be peanut butter and jelly with something inside, like chips…with chips inside of it.
HL: Crunchy peanut butter. And on toast.
JM: Toasted peanut butter and jelly with chips in the middle.
NB: We’re getting specific. What kind of bread?
HL: A simple wheat,
JM: You know how Fry Hoppers makes a country white?
HL: Oh yeah, that’d be good. Canadian white or country white…a thicker white bread.
JM: A thicker white bread so that when you toasted it, it doesn’t get all flimsy. I like to think that our music isn’t flimsy.
NB: I wouldn’t say so. You have an almost-familiar sound, like something that people forgot they liked and it comes up. And I know you guys have always been barraged with “You sound like this person…you sound like this person.” Probably another one of those questions that you guys hate having. I guess as far as your sound, has it been something you’ve planned or has it just happened organically?
JM: It’s pretty organic for the most part. The songs are written independently of the recording style. Often, we will go into making a record with certain concepts in mind, if not actual audio concepts then vague overarching, nonmusical concepts.
HL: Yeah context and feeling.
JM: Oftentimes a song will be written organically. We’ll kind of mash things around and edit things up. Holden will write some weird part that will go in the middle. And then, there’s it’s done…it’s a song. When we get to recording, it takes on a more specific personality.
NB: Do you guys tweak things a lot? I know you spent six months on this last one, was it? Is that true?
HL: Six or seven, yeah.
JM: It depends on what you mean by tweaking. When we have an idea, it is dedicated to tape. We don’t record everything clean and then decide what we want it to sound like later. It’s a very organic process insomuch that we make decisions on the fly, and they are printed to tape. And they are stuck…we’re stuck with it. If something ends up not working a month later, then we just get rid of it. So something that was once a cornerstone goes away, and everything on top of it is sitting on top of nothing.
NB: I think people can hear that when they listen to the album.
JM: There are parts of the record where things will just get yanked out of the mix and everything else just hovers above it. We’re not scared of excess. Not like Broken Social Scene excess. Not like 117 tracks excess. Not like My Bloody Valentine fucking excess. But if we have an idea, we’ll push it and push it and push it until it’s like way the fuck over the line. We like where things sit when they are over the line.
NB: If you could replace your arms with anything, what would it be?
JM: Robotic arms.
HL: Oh, one tentacle with suckers on it.
NB: Left or right?
HL: That would be my left arm, and then the right one…that’s tough.
JM: Soft robotic arms, I’m revising.
NB: Like cushioned? Or people-like?
JM: Like bionic arms. Red-velvet coated bionic arms.
HL: My right one would just have a shoe at the end of it.
JM: A tentacle and an arm with a shoe?
HL: Yeah, it would be a normal arm. I would just wear a shoe on the end of it.
JM: He’d replace his arm with that of another person.
HL: I do it already, and I like it so much. It’s worked so well.
NB: So your recording process, we were talking a little bit about it earlier…I’ve heard, and I want you guys to confirm it was all analog right?
JM: Yes.
NB: And also I’ve heard you use a lot of interesting equipment…junk.
HL: Yeah, we buy a lot of cheap guitars, cheap amps, and cheap keyboards. You know, kind of junky stuff and then play with it until it sounds nice.
NB: I like the sounds that come out of it.
JM: It’s cheap gear. It’s expensive gear. It’s analog. Certainly there are a lot of sounds that originate from digital sources. It’s a combo of everything.
NB: You guys have this basement lair in Boston.
JM: The last record was definitely recorded in a basement. Maybe for the next record we’ll venture out of the basement into the living room.
NB: You guys have such a more expansive sound. It’s almost like you made this one in a room with windows or something.
JM: Yeah, that’s honestly, literally what might happen. It might actually sound a little larger sometimes. And those moments would have been moments that would have been captured there.
NB: You’ll have all of the reviewers all over that. They’ll love that. So, you guys tour quite a bit.
HL: We try to. We didn’t for a while after the record came out and while we were working on it and that was kind of frustrating, but now we are. We have lots of tours going on.
JM: And no time to record.
NB: So if you could replace your tour van with a dinosaur, which one would you choose? Or you can keep your van as is.
JM: Our van is a cross between a raptor…
HL: I think a stegosaurus.
JM: It’s got a little bit of a raptor feel in the paint job, and it’s sort of a stegosaurus shape. But it also might just be a cockroach. They’re dinosaurs.
NB: Yeah, they’re dinosaurs. I guess. And you said originally it was tough touring all the time?
HL: Oh no, it was tough not touring. We were frustrated that we weren’t out more.
JM: Either we feel landlocked and bored, or we feel over-toured, like we’re getting nothing done but driving from city to city. It’s twelve one, half a dozen the other.
HL: Ebb and flow.
NB: Any fun stuff to keep you occupied while you drive around?
HL: We’ve played Yahtzee a little bit for the past couple of days.
JM: I listen to music. I can’t read because I get carsick, and I don’t like playing Yahtzee.
HL: My mom got me a gameboy.
NB: Oh man.
HL: We were watching The Venture Brothers for a day.
JM: We watched the entire first season in an evening.
NB: My favorite cartoon ever. So, I think Holden called me when you were doing press stuff for radio, and you were walking dogs.
HL: Oh yeah, cool.
NB: So, do you guys still have day jobs?
JM: Not at the moment.
HL: Yes and no. I might start doing that again a little bit in the middle of the summer, but I won’t for the next month and a half because we are touring and taking care of other business and family stuff. I think in the next two months, we’ll each be home for like a week and a half.
NB: I always find it fascinating when people have real lives outside of magical tour lives.
JM: Yeah, we’ll get some home stuff done. The intricacies of our schedules are really boring.
HL: We use the g calendar though.
NB: Yeah, I didn’t have a computer for a day, and I missed everything. So, your website says, that with every purchase, you get free pins and loveletters. Is that true?
HL: Um, it was true.
JM: When did we not?
HL: We haven’t been sending out the love letters as much.
JM: The love letters happen specially when you request them. But there are some people that we just don’t love. And we’re not liars.
NB: Yeah, I wasn’t sure if there were ranges of love.
HL: There are definitely ranges of love. Why shouldn’t there be? Should we love everyone equally? We’re not God.
JM: When Gorbachev ordered that T-shirt, I didn’t send a love letter with that one.
NB: Touching on the day job stuff…since this last album, you guys have been getting a lot more press. Has that changed anything?
HL: Some. Sometimes.
JM: I’ve changed my underwear.
NB: That’s good.
HL: Touring’s a little easier.
NB: Yeah, I imagine that getting booked is a little easier.
HL: Yeah, getting booked is a lot easier.
JM: Yeah, that’s it. It’s getting booked. There’s a notoriety that we’ve gained since the last record. But I wouldn’t say that anything else is going much easier.
HL: We haven’t exploded or anything like that.
JM: I’ve exploded.
HL: We only explode at each other, occasionally. But we’re still just a little hard-working band.
NB: And I’ll leave you with one question. If you could be any animal, what would you be? And possibly why.
HL: I’d be a dolphin. They swim and have fun all the time, and they’re pretty smart.
JM: I don’t know. I’d probably want to be a wolf. Like a timber wolf.
HL: Be a malamute, those things are huge.
JM: No, I just want to be a spry, mean. So I’d want to be a wolf still, though. And I’d have lots of wolf sex in the timbers.
HL: But they wouldn’t be having sex for fun because only dolphins do that.
NB: Bonobos…the chimps do.
HL: I thought that was more of a socialization thing.
JM: Yeah, that’s for fun. Any animal that has hot sex—that’s what I’d be. Because I just love the hot sex.

Nichole vs. Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit Interview Audio

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit
The Handlebar Greenville, SC
May 15, 2009

Nichole Bennett: Alright, my name is Nichole, and I am lucky to be here at The Handlebar in Greenville, South Carolina with Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit. How are you guys doing?
Jason Isbell: Hey, we’re good. You good?
NB: Would you mind going around and doing introductions?
JI: Sure. Yeah. I’m Jason.
Browan Lollar: I’m Browan.
Chad Gamble: I’m Chad.
Jimbo Hart: I’m Jimbo.
Derry deBorja: I’m Derry.
JI: I’m Browan.
BL: I’m Chad.
JH: I’m Derry.
JI: I’m Jimbo.
NB: Good, now that we’ve confused everyone…how has this tour been going?
JI: It’s been pretty good, you know. We had a weird week when everybody was afraid of the swine flu. Because we were in Texas and that was a little strange. You’d be surprised about how many people that affects. There was some rough weather out there too. For the most part it’s been good. It’s been a short one. We’ve only been out for a couple of weeks.
NB: Yeah. Because I know last year was a bit hectic. You had some stolen equipment and a drummer…
JI: …just take off.
NB: So this one’s just getting on it’s feet…so no craziness yet.
JI: Nothing that bad.
NB: Just the swine flu.
JI: Nothing that wasn’t just temporary. Nothing we had to plan around.
JH: Nothing that wouldn’t pass with time and dead nerve endings.
NB: You guys are going to do a little bit around the south, and then you are going to the U.K., right?
JI: Yeah, he and I [points to Browan]…we’re doing the U.K., and we’re doing Holland. And we may do a couple of shows in Spain. We’ll be over there for a couple of weeks. Between now and then, we’ve all got some shows with Gomez in the northeast and the midwest a little bit. And we’ve got a few full band shows between now and then too. When we get back, we’ve got a lot of festival stuff.
NB: Busy busy.
JI: I guess so, yeah.
NB: Do you guys have a good following over in Europe?
JI: Well, we’ve been over there once with this band, and we did really well. I remember a lot of good crowds. It depends on the city, really. It’s just an individual thing. If we play somewhere that is a smaller town that doesn’t have a lot of access to music, then they might not know what’s going on. But in the big cities, we’ve done pretty well.
NB: Yeah, I’ve heard your brand of music does really well. They tend to like the genuine, southern-fried.
JI: Yeah, there’s a lot of copycats over there. Like Norwegian country bands and stuff that are pretty comical. You can find them on myspace. You’ll have a real country twang and then in between the songs they say something in Norwegian.
NB: Your songs, both of your albums are very story driven. I was wondering if maybe these came from real life experiences or maybe your imagination.
JI: It’s a mixture of all of that. I usually take like three or four people and pack them all together into one character so nobody can recognize who I’m writing the song about exactly…and go from there. They all have something to do with things that have happened to me or to us or to my friends or family or something like that. But I try to stay away from being extremely literal…because you don’t want to make anybody feel too bad or too good about themselves.
NB: Have you ever had anybody recognize themselves in a song?
JI: Oh yes, always. They always figure it out.
BL: Virtually all of the songs are written about me.
JI: Yeah, that was a low point for both of us.
BL: Yeah, every track that didn’t make it on the album.
JI: Yeah, auto tuned and all.
NB: Oh man, I can’t wait for that one. Jason Isbell remixed. I’m not even sure I can wrap my mind around that one. So in your songwriting process, do you have a common thing or is it kind of different for each song?
JI: It’s different always. I pretty much just take it however I can get it. I’d like to be sitting somewhere by myself with a notepad and a laptop, but that doesn’t always happen. Sometimes I’ll sing into my phone. Sometimes I’ll sing into one of their phones and record it. Luckily now, we’ve got voice memo on mine. The last one of mine, very often I would have to borrow one of theirs and call my answering machine and sing into my answering machine.
Dd: I thought you were just sweet talking me.
JI: Yeah, all of these messages rhyme…
Dd: He’s so creative with his messages…
NB: Oh, now everyone knows. So, this latest album, from all of the reviews that I’ve read, I heard that the whole band was more involved with this one. Is that true?
JI: Yeah, y’all go ahead. I’ve answered that question a bunch.
BL: Jason would bring us a demo usually either on his computer or something he had done in Garage Band or something that he had had around for a long time. We are in the studio, and none of us had heard any of his songs before that.
CG: It was all fresh. It was like, here, here’s this baby, raise it. But it worked out. We all sort of did our thing. If we weren’t sure, we’d ask around “Hey what do you think about this..does this suck…is this good?” We didn’t really have one guy that was like “You do this.”
JI: It was nice to not have it that way. It was more fun for me. Sometimes you need that. If it can work in a way where you don’t have to have that, it can be a lot more enjoyable.
NB: It has a very nice organic feel. You can almost tell in the album that it wasn’t that way.
Dd: Plus, having played together on the road so much before going into the studio, we could bring that energy from having played together on stage and bring it into the writing and recording.
BL: There was definitely a dynamic that we had from playing the same songs over and over and over again. We had a style, but we didn’t have any songs to back the style up. We had the songs that had been written and performed by other bands or by another collection of musicians, but we really didn’t have a chance to go in there and play some of our own stuff. So, we were all ready to do that.
JI: I think we knew where we all fit too. Touring a lot really showed us what parts were best, what sort of places in the frequency we should position ourselves and who we should play off of and who we should listen to.
Dd: Yeah, we all sort of instinctively started looking around the room at people for cues for building the song.
JI: Even though nobody had heard the songs before.
BL: Jason and I—having two guitarists…two lead guitarists in the band. I think it was kind of unspoken but we both, neither one of us, wanted to make a guitar album.
JI: Yeah, yeah I always do somehow. I feel like all players should be able to show out at some point without making the record sound…masturbatory. It could have very easily gotten to that point. But yeah, I love guitar rock. At the end of the day, I like guitar-driven rock and roll. Even though I did write a lot of these songs on piano. A lot of them, after he plays piano on it, I would have to go in and learn it on guitar because I’d never played it on guitar before. That was a little weird. But it was good. It was a really easy experience for me.
NB: I think that comes out in the album that you guys had been playing together on the road and it just comes together. It’s a really natural sound.
JI: Good.
NB: I usually don’t ask bands where their name comes from because it’s usually a very boring story. Or they just look and me and say “We just put words together.” Usually it turns out very badly if you ask that question. You guys, I’ve heard, have a very interesting story. I was wondering if you would share that with me.
JI: Does somebody want to do it? I’ve talked a lot.
Dd: Let Chad do it.
NB: I like this group dynamic, we can have popcorn story time.
JI: Yeah, we need a fire.
BL: Chad has the flashlight.
CG: In our hometown of Muscle Shoals, the fourth floor of the hospital is the mental health ward. It’s called the 400 Unit. And once a week, every week, they give the patients fifteen dollars, put them in a white van, and send them out to the town to get lunch or whatever. And it’s very close to what we do everyday. We get a fifteen dollar per diem. We ride around in a white van. The only thing that we do that they don’t do is rock out on a pretty consistent basis.
JH: We don’t know that.
NB: You guys don’t get nametags, though.
JH: Well, we do have laminates.
NB: It’s getting closer and closer the more we talk about it.
JH: I think they get better drugs than we do, though.
JI: On a regular basis, they probably do. They probably need them a little more than we do.
NB: You guys have a lot of influences, that I’m sure you’re probably tired of being hammered upon. Coming from Muscle Shoals, which is one of the most unassuming music capitals of America…while you do have your influences, you seem to always have something new, and it seems like you have your own vision. I was wondering if this was something that just came about organically with your band or was this something planned? Do you have a direction?
JI: I think we all probably plan that individually. We don’t really discuss it, but it’s a big part of just putting these people together. I think that’s one of the biggest parts of putting a band together. You want to find people that each have a vision that works into the whole. I don’t want to say that we want to be any certain kind of band. We’re just a rock and roll band, but I do think we all have some very similar influences that probably accentuate each other really well. I think we’re all familiar with the music that was made at home, but I think we are also constantly listening to things. And we try to pay attention to that as much as possible. And I think it’s pretty important to everyone in the band to not wear their influences too directly on their sleeves. I think it’s very important to cover a broad spectrum with the things people hear in the music.
BL: I try to play guitar like Robbie Robertson if he could play guitar.
JI: That’s a good way to put it.
BL: End of story.

Nichole vs. The Thermals

The Thermals Interview Audio

The Thermals
The Masquerade Atlanta, Georgia
May 16, 2009

Nichole Bennett: I’m Nichole. I’m here at The Masquerade in Atlanta, Georgia, and I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by members of the Thermals.
Hutch Harris: So lucky.
NB: So lucky! Would you guys mind introducing yourselves?
HH: I’m Kathy
Westin Glass: I’m Hutch.
Kathy Foster: I’m Westin.
NB: Thank you. Okay so, Hutch and Kathy have been together almost forever and a half, and then we’ve added Westin lately. So, if you had to write your band’s story would it be a pop-up book or a graphic novel?
HH: It’s pretty graphic.
WG: A pop-up graphic novel.
NB: A very graphic pop-up book.
HH: Definitely an adult pop-up book.
NB: With swords in each other’s sides and pull tabs?
HH: With a centerfold.
NB: A centerfold in this pop-up book?
HH: Yeah.
NB: Nice.
KF: Westin.
WG: Yeah, I would be the centerfold, let me tell you.
HH: This would be like the Burt Reynolds centerfold of the seventies:
WG: There would be quite a bit of “popping up” on that page.
KF: Har har har.
NB: (joking) I don’t get it.
WG: Drumsticks.
NB: They’ve already got me, and it’s the first question. This is terrible. Okay, let’s see we’ve got a new record, a new label, a new drummer. We’re not going to go into the new label because you can read about that anywhere on the internet.
HH: Nice.
KF: Thank you.
NB: I’m sure you guys just take turns telling the story.
KF: Yeah.
NB: But Westin just got added recently. What is it like being with these dudes?
WG: It’s totally amazing.
NB: He has to say that doesn’t he? If this was just a Westin interview, if we get him alone, would he say differently?
WG: They let me off the leash for an hour a day.
NB: Aw, do you have a curfew?
WG: They don’t always make me sleep in the kennel. Sometimes I get to stay in the bed.
NB: They feed you don’t they?
HH: Two square meals a day!
NB: Yeah, these guys are much better than how other people treat their drummers. I’m just saying…oh man I can’t speak words.
WG: They give me treats when I’m good.
HH: Me and Westin share a big bag of bachelor chow every morning.
NB: I really wish this was video because [Westin’s drink] is so pink. That’s all of the vitamin C coming out. 14,000 percent.
HH: Yeah looks like it’s coming out too.
NB: So, the new album—it’s not quite as political/religious as the old one, but it still borrows a lot musically and lyrically from The Body, The Blood, and The Machine.
HH: Yeah.
NB: And you’ve got some recurring images: you’ve got the sea coming in and sight/vision coming in a lot. Was this something you guys intended (with the theme), or was that something that just kind of happened?
HH: We just kind of fell into it. We try not to be too premeditated or whatever…not to plan too much and just to see what comes out. But I think in a lot of our songs, there’s vision and water and death in a lot of the older songs as well.
NB: So that was a theme, that just sort of came out of it. You weren’t like, we’re going to write about death!
HH: Well we knew we weren’t going to be as political and try not to sing about religion. We knew what we weren’t going to do.
NB: Yeah, I think that comes across in this new one.
NB: So, if you could break one world record, what would you break?
WG: Besides the ones we’ve already broken?
NB: Besides all of the many that you have.
HH: Probably the…javelin.
NB: Just having one? Or throwing one?
HH: Yeah, yeah biggest collection of javelins in the world. I have like, 730. If you plucked every hair from your head, one at a time, how long do you think it would take? How many hairs are on a head—does anyone know? A million?
WG: No way. Ten thousand? A hundred thousand?
HH: I’d like to beat the world record for plucking. World record plucker.
WG: How about most ripped abs? That would be a good one.
NB: That one has to have a picture with it in the Guinness book. Like, you get one of the really crappy pictures beside it.
WG: That would actually be a centerfold in Guinness book, as well.
NG: Yeah, you might get a whole page.
HH: We’re going to make the world’s longest burrito when we get home.
NB: Worthy record.
KF: La Bamba, The place where we grew up made the biggest burrito in the Guinness book.
HH: Yeah, it was just a big, stinky burrito overheating in the California sun. Well, once it’s been sitting out and it’s been handled by everyone…you know.
KF: A lot of people.
WG: How big around was it?
HH: It’s like a rectangle. They have all these tables lined up.
WG: Was it just like a long snake? Is it like a bean pipeline?
HH: What record is Kathy going to break?
NB: All of them, one by one.
KF: Well the first thing I thought of was sprinting because I used to run track in high school.
HH: Running fast.
NB: Okay, so we have a few new world records to break. Ah, do you guys prefer stage or studio? You do a lot of both.
KF: Stage.
NB: I saw you guys twice at South By. I think I may have seen your first show and your last show, but I’m not sure. You guys played eight times. Was that tiring and a half or what?
KF: It wasn’t too bad. It was really fun. We played mostly during the day.
HH: Yeah, it wasn’t too exhausting. And they’re short shows, so they’re easy. Like thirty minutes tops.
KF: Yeah, they’re usually about half an hour.
HH: It wasn’t too hard. But if we did any more, it would have been exhausting. Two a day, and we were usually done by six or seven at night.
NB: Yeah, it’s the bands that do three or five in a day that go around saying “I think we’re gonna die.”
NB: I think I caught the Terrorbird one.
HH: Yeah that was the first one.
NB: And then I caught Waterloo…the park.
HH/KF: That was really fun.
HH: It was like a festival…really big.
NB: Yeah, I love going out there because it’s like…ooh here is this band that I forgot I wanted to see. I was like a little kid.
HH: We saw Circle Jerks, and they were really good at that show. And Monotonix were really good.
NB: Oh my god.
HH: (Imitating Monotonix frontman Ami Shalev, complete with Israeli accent) “We get kicked out of every show we play”
HH: Yeah, like no shit because you won’t stop.
NB: I was talking to a friend of mine who books festivals in Florida, and he said they had to be really really careful when they book them because they do all sorts of illegal shit.
KF: Yeah they trash the place.
HH: Their mustaches are just huge…they’re like bigger than their heads.
NB: Everytime I see them, their mustaches have gotten bigger. I think it’s getting out of control.
HH: Yeah, they need a separate green room for their mustaches. Yeah, you like my accent?
NB: The Thermals do Monotonix here live at the Masqerade!
HH: (More Israeli accent) “Don’t be ridiculous, we’re the Monotonix!”
HH: They do the dance of joy…they do do the dance of joy.
NB: Yeah, I was in New York, and my friend and I were having a silly string war in the Music Hall of Williamsburg. And we were getting in trouble from the bouncer, and they were saying “You kids are going to pick that up right?” And then Monotonix start coming on and dumping trash, and I’m like “Nope! Not anymore! They just covered up our mess.”
NB: You guys seem to have a lot of fun on stage….and I got that a lot from you guys at South By. What are some of your favorite songs to perform or favorite places?
HH: I like playing all the new songs. By the time you’re playing a song for the first time on stage, you’ve already played it like a hundred times practicing and recording it. The newest songs are always the ones I’m most excited about.
NB: Yeah, I was really excited about hearing the new stuff. And you guys just got added to Pitchfork [Music Festival]. Are there any bands that you are really excited to see there while you’re at the festival?
HH: I hope I see Tortoise. I don’t know if we will, but I really want to see Tortoise because I’ve never seen them.
WG: Yeah, that would be really rad.
HH: Flaming Lips will be rad. They’re always good, Grizzly Bear. A lot of the bands, I’ve seen. Grizzly Bear, we saw at ATP. They were really good. Flaming Lips, we saw at Sasquatch, and they were really good.
WG: I want to be a furry for The Flaming Lips.
NB: Yeah, that’s a good goal. That’s noble.
KF: We’ll have to look at the lineup.
WG: I’m sick of only being a furry in the bedroom, you know.
NB: That’s also the centerfold of the novel.
NB: I read a lot of your reviews, and they call you “punk.” How have you guys felt with that label?
HH: I could do without it.
KF: Yeah, I don’t really think it’s so accurate. Maybe the first two records were more punk.
NB: Yeah, the first two records were more lo-fi.
KF: Kind of noisy.
NB: And we’re getting more polished.
HH: We’re indie rockers.
WG: What does that word even mean anymore?
NB: I really like the face that comes along with the word “indie rockers.”
HH: I mean, punk means you’re in prison, and you’re someone’s bitch. You’re a punk.
NB: Definition of punk, by The Thermals.
WG: Everyone knows that indie rock doesn’t really mean anything.
HH: What, what does indie rock mean? I mean, we are indie…and rockers.
KF: How about we just settle on “power pop”?
HH: I like power pop. I like alternative.
WG: Postpower pop
NB: Power pop makes you feel like a super hero. I like it.
HH: Yeah, totally.
WG: I like whatever is not alternative. The alternative to alternative.
NB: Alt-alt.
WG: Unalternative.
HH: Unalternative?
WG: First option…primary option.
HH: I like anti-punk too.
WG: Anti-punk, yeah. That’s a really good one. That’s even better than post.
HH: Yeah, anti is the new post. The cup runneth over of bad fake genres.
NB: Speaking of press, do you guys ever read your own reviews or read press about yourselves?
HH: Yes, I do. I write most of it.
NB: It’s like Wikipedia, you just edit it…put better pictures up.
HH: Yeah…iTunes, Wikipedia…”The Thermals are the best band in the world”!
NB: I saw that today for about five minutes, and then it got edited again.
NB: The internet is playing a weird role in music these days..we’re almost A.D.D. Something comes out, and you’ve got everybody and their mother writing on their blogs about this new record and then it kind of fizzles. Do you find that press helping you?
HH: Yeah, I don’t know.
KF: I feel like there’s a lot of people constantly reading stuff.
HH: But does it help? There’s a fine line between getting good press and then getting over hyped. Because that’s what makes people stop liking you. And that can make people not get into you if they’ve just heard about you too much, you know? People get turned off.
NB: That’s true. I never thought if it that way.
HH: If they feel like your band is over-hyped, that’s when the haters come out. But that’s cool too. The haters add to the hype.
NB: I think the more haters you have, the better.
HH: Yeah, that’s when you’ve arrived.
NB: When you start making enemies, you are a real superhero.
HH: Totally, you need a nemesis.
NB: You guys turned down a Hummer bit. I like to talk about bands that take a stand for their personal politics. I guess talk a little about that. Most people can read on the internet about how you turned down that bit.
HH: That’s a good way to put it because it is personal politics. It just comes down to what we want for this band, what we want people to think about us. It’s less of a stand and more of us just making a very personal choice about just not wanting to be associated with some things.
NB: Yeah, I got stuck behind a limo Hummer on my way here, and I was like “This is so perfect…I’m going to ask them about Hummers.” I’m glaring at this cherry-red Hummer.
NB: But I find it interesting when bands are more than just a musical unit, they actually take their brand and their personal name and use it for bad or for good. Like, if I turn down a Hummer ad, for some reason, then I’m not going to get that. But if you guys do, then you might get it written about.
KF: It’s funny because we turned it down, and someone did a story for the Associated Press like a year and a half later. And that’s when people were talking about it. No one was talking about it right when we did it. It was just that Sub Pop asked us, and we said “no.” And that was the end of it. We didn’t really talk about it.
NB: Yeah I found very little on it. I find that more interesting than reading a million album reviews.
KF: Yeah, and then a year and a half later this guy was doing a story on bands that had turned down Hummer because they had asked a lot of indie bands, a lot of underground bands. Then, that’s when people heard about it, and we actually got a lot of really positive feedback. People wrote us and told us they were going to buy our album even though they had never heard of us just because we had turned down Hummer.
NB: That’s cool! It works almost in a backwards way.
KF: Yeah, it was unexpected.
NB: If The Thermals had a mascot, what would it be?
HH: That little doll? There’s a girl in Chicago who made dolls of all of us, and she also made Mr. Beardsly. She makes this doll that has a little disguise.
KF: He’s like a gnome.
HH: It’s this weird little red, faceless guy. Mr. Beardsly would be it. He’s been in one of the videos. He’d be the mascot, I think.
KF: I think he’d be wearing a little floral thermal.
HH: Hmmm, he’s gay too.
NB: Alright, and we will end on everyone’s favorite dinosaur.
WG: Sexasaurus.
KF: Someone else asked me that question, and I said Dinosaur Jr.
HH: I think the genital-saurus.
NB: We’re all like four now, I love it.
HH: This is the Kathy look.
KF: This is my constant look on tour.
HH: I also like the Pterodactyl. I named my ex-girlfriend Tara-dactyl. Let me describe Kathy’s look to the tape recorder. She has her hand over her…she’s doing the “I have a headache” look.
NB: It’s like a centralized headache. Right between the eyes. That might be where her soul hurts. Sexasaurus?
WG: Well, we were just listening to R. Kelly in the van on the way here, and there’s the song “The Zoo” and he says “it’s like Jurassic Park, and I’m your sexasaurus.” He also says a lot of other great stuff in that song. I highly recommend it.
NB: I’ll look into it.
WG: *monkey noises*
NB: No dinosaur for Kathy?
KF: Dinosaur Jr.
NB: Perfect. Thank you guys so much for taking the time out of your day.