DR: How would you describe yourself?
DS: Compulsively apologetic.
DR: What is your greatest weakness?
MD: I would say we’re not very good business people? I would say we’re not good at making the tight connections and things like that. Like we kinda just do what we think bands should be doing and kinada just do it. We’re kinda just axe to the grindstone as a result the whole time.
DR: It’s because you are from Olney…
MD: Why do you say that…
DR: Why do I say that? I don’t know, I feel like every band I’ve been in, we play music we get stuff done but we don’t know how to interact with people. Olney is such an isolated place, you know its just this crossroads and if you are in Olney you don’t go outside of Olney.
MD: I think that’s interesting in the sense that Olney slash a lot of those towns in Montgomery County that are out there from the city. A lot of kids from Olney play music and there are a ton of bands and people with pretty high aspirations in terms of music, but so very few people really understand, that its just not about sitting at your house and getting amazing at your instrument or even like practicing with your band, but you have to go to cool shows in the city and find out what the cool stuff is…making the scene…maybe we’re in the learning curve there for a while, when I think of the band starting, our first show we played was at the Grog and Tankard in Washington DC, and I mean all of us had played in bands prior to that which had done some bigger stuff than that, but its just an example of just starting literally at the bottom rung, we could have, if we were smartest businesspeople we could have gotten on bigger and better shows, a lot better, in that sense, at least within DC we’ve paid our dues, played all of the shittiest venues, you know consistently kept moving up and up in terms of types of venues, types of shows…,
DS: So to paraphrase what you are saying, we are not social enough to be successful as musicians. Too socially inept that’s our greatest weakness
MD: In a sense…yeah….sort of…
BH: We’re not savvy enough…
MD: We’re not networky enough
CS: It also goes with what’s going on right now…which is overthinking…maybe not to a fault.
BH: Maybe overly analytical
MD: But I thnk it takeks a long time to learn that stuff
BH: You can’t learn cool
MD: But you get better at knowing the right types of shows to get on and the right kind of people to get involved with, in the last year I’ve been happy with everything we’ve done as a band in terms of like I mean there’s shows here and there that I’d rather not do, but for the most part, the shows that have been awful, if you think about it, I don’t know if I can talk for everybody, but, I don’t know what’s today, from April 18th 2008 until now…there are not too many shows that I thought were terrible.
BH: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
MD: Well that was on a tour, and there are going to be some duds on tour, but I think that tour was really good.
BH: Let’s move on then. So what did we decide? Is that enough? Concise enough?
DR: Yeah. What is your greatest strengths? The flipside….
DS: I’d say being socially awkward and overthinking things. It’s true. I really do.
Being overly analytical. Everything is a double-edged sword according to [????] Even a single edged sword
MD: I would say that when it comes to music and the process of writing and recording and those kinds of things, I’d say we’re pretty damn critical you know in some ways that pays off huge but that’s also sort of a weakness too, at times it hinders us, but I think for the most part it helps, you know on the last record some of the highs we’re really happy with, I think overall its not a perfect record, and there are weaknesses about the record, but the high points on it I’m very confident about, and I’m not very confident about many things, and I think that’s due to being pretty critical about what we’re doing.
DR: It’s a pretty awesome thing to have a record that you record and are proud of it
MD: We’ll yeah I think everyone’s proud of it…
BH: We’re also very ashamed of it
MD: I don’t think any one of us thinks it’s a perfect record, and there are things here and there that we would have done differently, but I think everyone sees high points of the record that everyone’s pretty happy with. Its hard to have a record you make and you keep looking back on it and you see certain aspects of that you’re like wow that’s pretty awesome, and I think there is some of that on this record.
DR: Some of these questions are pretty ridiculous and not really applicable.
CS: Let’s do them.
DR: What are some of the major problems in your career and how have you solved them?
CS: What about our van? That’s a major problem. We haven’t solved it?
CS: We have a big tour coming up and our van just died
MD: My dad actually started it the other day…its got problems…we have a really shitty tour van. But career wise…not a big deal.
DR: Would you rather do a job, design it, evaluate it, or manage others who are doing it?
DS: I’m a grunt, I’m a career grunt, so I would rather do it.
BH: I guess I would say do because if you say manage it you kinda come off like a douche, am I right?
DR: I think for Kiplingers the clear answer is manage it.
DS: We’re not good at delegating…we kinda do it all ourselves and it shows, our shirts are really sucky, cause we design them ourselves and print them ourselves for the most part. We’d like to be managed actually, we’d like somebody telling us of what to do so we don’t have to shitty jobs of it themselves.
DR: What people influenced your life and how, you can say bands you can people, you can say anybody.
CS: We’re playing with a band tonight that’s fucking awesome and it’s an honor to play with them, the life and itmes, they’re fucking badasses, and they’re duders, and it’s an awesome experience to play with them
BH: J. Robbins
CS: J Robbins, there you go.
DR: J. Robbins isn’t in the Life and Times?
CS: No, no, he’s recorded their first LP, but we got to record with J. Robbins
DR: Did you get to record with J. Robbins?
CS: Yeah, we did the basic stuff, like just drums, guitar bass at J’s studios, two weekends, and it was awesome, he’s one of the coolest guys ever, as well as one of the most badass musicians ever.
DR: Yeah he’s one of my heroes
BH: Yeah he’s perfect in every way.
MD: Yeah I mean we recorded part of the record with J, and we recorded the rest of the record with this other guy, who goes by the name of L Skell – the letter L, and the last Skell – S – K – E – L – L. But he basically used to be in this band called the Rude Staircase which released a pretty big record for my life, you know you have certain records that are big for you, and it definitely was, and for Dan too, and everyone sort of got into it, and we asked him to be a part of the recording process, and he basically ended up being the producer slash mixer. He’s a pretty hard to read character, kind of eccentric character, but eccentric in a reclusive way…
MD: But he’s pretty influential in terms of how we approach things now as opposed to before doing that record.
DS: He taught us a lot about attention to detail in recording, and how to take risks in terms of recording…we just finished a cover of Smiths that’s going to be available soon and we approached it totally different than we would if we hadn’t worked with him, because we were stuck in the studio with him for about 9 months because he’s sort of obsessive…and we’re sort of obsessive, he taught us how to obsess in a very good way.
DR: Those are all of the Kiplinger’s questions. I’m going to ask you questions straight up – what sort of stuff do you listen to in the tour van. I feel that every interview asks this question.
DS: Hot Lava. Lavology. It’s this band from Richmond and they just slay. They are like the Unicorns but a girl singer. Similar but just great.
CS: Life and Times – tragic boogie. Awesome. I’ve only listened to it like five times. This is their cd release tour so we just got it the other night.
BH: But it’s perfect
CS: It’s pretty awesome. What else. Dirty Projectors.
BH: Haven’t heard the new one. Have you heard the new one? Meshuggah…yeah Meshuggah definitely gets a lot of plays.
CS: Burning Airlines…
DR: You know its funny…I just got…you know I got Mission Control the day that it came out, but I didn’t get Identikit until like last week…and I saw Identikit in the record and said how do I not own this record?
BH: A good question
CS: We’ve had many a discussion about which album is better.
DR: You know some of my friends say the second one is better, but even after listening to the second one I still think the first one is better, maybe because it is burned into my being
CS: Give it some time. Mission Control is more direct – it gets you – Identikit, give it a little time, but for me it’s a little up in the air.
DR: You gotta love the woodblock on that one song, that’s the slow jam, with the triangle and the woodblock. You gotta have some balls to put that in.
BH: There’s definitely some extraneous percussion on that.
CS: What else? I’m trying to think of newer music that we’ve really listened to?
MD: Is your question newer music?
BH: Led Zeppelin
CS: What makes a good drive?
DS: The Hot Boys. Dude…Guerrilla Warfare. That’s got more spins than anything else.
MD: David Bowie. I feel that is sort of applicable to some of the stuff we do. In terms of older stuff.
DS: Jesus Lizard.
DR: OK…last question – what is your songwriting method like?
CS: Well, most recently, the songs come from these two guys. Dan and Fatty. And its never really been the same, but it comes from one of them, they sort of get together and work it out and then they bring it to a full band setting, and then we just hammer it down and get something that sounds good. It’s a pretty long process.
BH: Oooh. Hammer no more the fingers. Oh yeah Hammer no more the fingers, the last one.
MD: I mean primarily Dan’s the songwriter, and that’s how the band started with the songs they wrote and I just try to help hone them structurally and production ideas and stuff. For the last record there were some song ideas I had that ended up working with the full band setting. The way we go about songwriting is kinda old school. We have to get something in a very set structure before even like thinking about performing it. A lot of bands I think will kind of just jam on something. We never do that. Which nowadays is kinda weird. I think that a lot of the stuff that has gotten big in the indie scene is kinda jam stuff, people like to do random jams, we’re kinda old school in that sense, it has to be a very set structure, and we’re very meticulous about we structure songs.
CS: The structure usually changes quite a few times. We’re overly analytical. We take transitions very seriously. I think that one thing that I like is that if anybody doesn’t feel comfortable with a song, then usually we won’t play it until everybody…So that takes us forever
DS: That’s another key point, it takes a long time.
DR: How long does it take?
MD: It varies from song to song, but I would say from the inception of an idea to it being playable, it has to be six months.
DS: Because there’s a few components, there’s the feel, and that often comes up as the initial feel, the basic beat, and then the chord progression is important, and then the lyrics, and of course the structure, and it takes so long because we’re not naturals, we aspire to write these pop songs where everything needs to be there, like a Beatles song or something like that, so the fact that we’re not very good at it just takes a long time.