Little Known Fact: BYT’s official ranking of the decades of the twentieth century lists two #1s: both the 1990s AND the first decade, the 1900s, which is also the name of one of the catchiest, sunny-day charming orchestral pop-garage bands around these days.
The Chicago septet (don’t call them a collective!) recently released a fantastic updating of the early 70s style of tune-filled psychedelic folk that equally makes you want to dance and climb up a snowy riverbank while wistfully smoking a pipe. They also are a lot more fun lyrically than most bands of this ilk. Lines like, “My mind is like I-Ching on soda,” from Patron Saint of the Mediocre, or “You said you’d never want to take it from behind from boys, but pride starts wasting away before your youth,” from Georgia, indicate a desire to make music that’s as fun as it is neurotically crafted.
Prior to their show tonight at RNR hotel, we spoke to songwriter Ed Anderson and singer Jeanine O’Toole in series of emails that can only be described as hallucinatory.
Disclaimer: No German absurdist playwrights were harmed in the process of this interview.
BYT: Many musicians don’t like to describe their genre accurately, but your Myspace page calls you “Dutch Pop” which somehow seems perfect, even though I’m not sure what it means (Windmills? Wooden Shoes? Drugs?). Is that a joke or a non-joke? (I know that K-pop line is a joke)…
Ed Anderson: We like Dutch Pop because it sounds like a really kinky, yet amorphous, sex thing. I was under the impression that K-Pop meant Ketamine Pop, which is our favorite drug to take everyday. The Folk Pop one is the joke
BYT: I thought K-pop meant Korean. As far as I know they only take X in Asia. It’s funny how when some people say folk they mean: “just an acoustic guitar” and when some people say it they mean: “Lots of instrumentation and fluegelhorns and farfisas and stuff.” Are there particular 60s-70s guys/ladies from that latter folk period that you all like especially?
JO’T: Folk is the gutsy stuff that has an announcement to make, or a condemnation to put out there, which comes in all sizes, and mostly which doesn’t sound ‘folky’. We might do this a little, but that would be Ed’s arena and not mine. And I like the fruity folk music you speak of, particularly the incredible string band and CSNY if those count.
BYT: You started out a few years ago by writing and practicing and recording for a long time before ever playing a live show…then were signed really quickly. This seems like a great idea, should every new band follow this path to glory?
EA: Things that people perceive as great ideas in hindsight are often mistakes of foresight. So yes/no.
JO’T: I’d recommend it to another band if they were good and had lofty goals. It’s good to come in like a lion sometimes. But it’s not for everybody. You have to be alright with looking like a pretentious fuck.
JO’T: It takes nuts to come out of the gate with a big batch of music you really worked on. it is brave to act like you care and sometimes it’s not ‘cool’ to give a shit. But nobody accuses us (to our faces) of being pretentious fucks – just violent/drunk assholes.
This basically comes down to the ancient “washing vs. leaking” argument, responsible for many of the atrocities in the world to this day. Shit happens, as long as Seinfeld is in syndication I’ll be happy.
JO’T: I don’t even know what you’re talking about.
BYT: Me or Ed? I’m guessing it’s me, I’m never really sure myself. Anyway I’ve heard y’all say of your fancy new album, that the basic structure of each song was done quickly, but then you spent a while getting the right overdubs and mixes on each one. How do you decide when a song is done?
EA: When it sounds like you never made it.
BYT: That’s very profound, I think. Maybe a less inane question though is: WHO decides when it sounds done?
JO’T: The one who barks the loudest.
BYT: OK then. Along the same lines, since you had instruments and people not in the touring group on the album (like Devin Davis, I hear, whose music I love quite fiercely), what’s the process of working out the difference between the live version and the more lush recording. Is there a “Let’s make sure this rocks-out a bit” imperative?
EA: We keep Devin in a gig bag and unleash him when we need extra grandeur.
JO’T: Some songs are grand, no matter how many people you put in the studio or on the stage that day. But I keep Devin in my purse always.
BYT: I keep him in my ipod, the decor is pretty grandeuriffic. Speaking of which, I’ve been obsessing over the Cold and Kind out-take song (Everybody’s Got A Collection ) you gave to Pitchfork a while ago…are there plans to release more of those in some orderly fashion?
EA: There will be a 7″ out in the next month or so with Everybody’s Got a Collection with another unreleased recording from the sessions. A psych-folk song called Age of Metals. Our first time on vinyl!
BYT: How do you think people should say your name: the nineteen hundreds? The one-nine-zero-zeros? I like throwing curveballs and asking my friends if they’ve heard the ‘Aughts.
EA: “Nineteen nineties,” like they most often spell it.
BYT: Haha, yeah I’ve heard people get confused before. Personally I’m in favor of all decades except the 1940s. Didn’t you play a show with them a while ago? How did that go? Everyone end up in the right van?
EA: They cancelled that show. Babies.
BYT: So since you all are somewhat renowned for having several inter-band relationships in the past, here’s a relationship question: Can there be secrets between lovers? Hypothetically if you found out that your lady or man was, say, a kleptomaniac, or something somewhat scandalous that didn’t affect you too directly (a huge Creed fan perhaps?) would it upset you if they hadn’t told you from the beginning? Would it make a difference if they sat you down and told you straight out? (I swear this hypothetical, though I do have a suspiciously Scott-Stapp-looking tattoo…)
EA: I’d check with Jeanine on that one – I think she accidentally dated Scott Strapp once.
JO’T: Who’s Scott Stapp? Did I enjoy it?
BYT: I doubt it! He’s pure evil! Sweet, doe-eyed, lanky-haired evil.
JO’T: I really don’t know who that person is, but I’m sure that we hooked up in Wisconsin last year.
BYT: Wow, we’d better end it on that note, since that’s getting into celebrity gossip blog territory that BYT is way too classy to participate in. Thank you so very much!
JO’T: You are welcome. Cheers!