Interview: Father John Misty - Monster Children
“Honeybear, honeybear, honeybear, mascara, blood, ash and cum on the Rorschach sheets where we make love.”
Father John Misty has built an impressive career writing songs about love, sex, and crippling vulnerability; pair that with a set of dance moves that could make a microphone stand blush and you’ve got two diverse, equally impressive albums and a live set not to be missed. Misty’s undeniable knack for adding verbal eloquence to the rawest and darkest of human emotions spans effortlessly from his debut album to his latest release I Love You, HoneyBear.
Congrats on the new album! It’s been out for a few months now, are you at all tired of talking about love?
No, it’s definitely more fun doing love than talking about it but I can intellectualize the fun out of anything, it’s one my main pastimes.
I’m looking at monsterchildren.com here, I see a lot of very good-looking athletic sporty men, in contrast to me, a pale, emaciated cynical wretch.
We switch it up, there’s a lot of love for everyone on the site. But back to you, do you have a favorite song to perform live?
We just did a song by Leonard Cohen called “I’m Your Man” which I enjoy doing. I have pretty weird sensibilities as a performer and for some reason that song felt like putting a glove on. I would kind of terrify a woman every night when I performed that. There’s this whole line in the bridge that involves tearing at someone’s shirt and screaming and it was great. I would kind of try to turn it into an individual psychodrama.
So you just pick a lucky lady from the crowd every night?
Yeah, it goes ‘But a man never got a woman back, not by begging on his knees, but I crawl to you baby and I stand at your feet and I howl at your beauty like a dog in heat and I tear at your heart and I claw at your sleeves, I say please.’ So I would kind of give some unlucky woman a chance to have a man grovel, scream and writhe in front of her.
Have you ever smoked Catnip? I’m smoking Catnip, Damiana and Mugwort it’s very relaxing. For some reason I’m playing with ball of yarn.
I see you’ve got the HUF classic shoe [on your site]. I just got some new shoes a couple days ago, they’re sort of like a fake-snakeskin, I’m looking at them right now, they’re by Dries van Noten; do you know him? He’s a Belgian designer he makes weird pajama clothes for men. I think that’s my next look.
Just like…bathrobe-core. I’ve been wearing all black this year; I can feel that phase moving out.
You’re in the middle of a heatwave, probably a good move.
Well, I have a lot of perseverance, I don’t mind being miserable.
As long as it’s name of fashion?
That’s right, anything for fashion.
So pajama clothes and snakeskin shoes?
Yes! That’s my vibe, that’s 2016. In 2016 everyone’s going to be wearing pajamas and smoking Catnip, you just watch.
Would you ever consider doing a love advice column?
Yeah, I’ve been asked to do some things like that. I was going to do a podcast and I recorded a few of them but I hate, I hate the sound of my speaking voice, so I just couldn’t really deal with it. I think I’ll stay out of that game; it was a podcast about pizza.
You’d never want to write?
I would do that…yeah; should we set it up? Will it be a part of Monster Children? Like a weekly advice column? Fuck yeah, let’s do it.
You can do love and fashion advice.
Yes, and maybe surfing, I’ve never surfed a day in my life, I don’t know anything about it so maybe I can have a refreshing, outsider perspective. Ok so love, fashion and surfing and…apply elsewhere.
Ok, pizza, love, fashion, surfing. Or we could answer questions about two of those four. Like pizza and fashion, what kind of crust will be in Vogue this year? Or is it tacky to put cornmeal on a hand-tossed pizza? We’ll get there; we’re still in the early phases.
You’re coming to Australia this year, in a fight between a kangaroo and a koala, who’re you putting your money on?
Hm, don’t koalas don’t just kind of get stoned on eucalyptus all day long? I think if I was a koala, I would climb into the kangaroo’s pouch and just like hangout in there until the kangaroo least expected it and then I would just go to town on it, I would use his pouch against him. Do male kangaroos have pouches?
I think it’s just a maternal thing.
Oh, well I’m not going to beat up a female kangaroo, come on. Just to be clear, I don’t like bi-species violence any more than the next guy but I think that the kangaroo has been running around with its boxing gloves, intimidating the Australian outback for too long and it’s time for a koala bear to take him down a few notches.
Interview: The Last Shadow Puppets - Monster Children
After a mere 8-year break we welcome the return of The Last Shadow Puppets with open arms and ears. Literally, I tried to hug them, but cordial handshakes were exchanged instead.
I suppose it’s understandable that a duo pulling from the forefronts of The Rascals and Arctic Monkeys might have been a teensy bit busy over the past decade so we’ll let the gap slide. We sat down with the pair over a dwindling plate of sweet potato fries and the largest cup of coffee I’ve ever seen to talk about Everything You’ve Come To Expect and sing Beatles songs.
Hey guys! I love the new album.
Miles: Oh, thank you. What are your highlights?
Alex: I knew he was going to do that, master of the double compliments.
I’d say it’s a tie between “Everything You’ve Come To Expect” and “Used To Be My Girl”.
Miles: Ooh. I love “Used To Be My Girl”, we’re off to a great start here.
Alex: We haven’t talked much about that one, have we?
Do you guys have favorites?
Miles: Right now I’d agree with you.
Alex: Yeah, I dunno.
I’ve heard there’s an interesting story behind the live footage you used for the “Bad Habits” music video.
Alex: Oh yeah. Well, we recorded at a studio in Malibu and were in a bar down there one night; there was a band playing covers like “Sweet Child Of Mine” and I’m pretty sure there was a girl up there at one point doing a cover of Beyonce. Anyway, we were on one and at some point we asked, ‘Can we play a song please? Can we play one of our songs?’ We just got excited; we thought it would be amusing. I think we suggested it and then Lawrence from the label, he really wanted it to happen.
Miles: Yeah, he had just come over to listen to the record; it was near the end I think, and our friend was there with the camera to shoot some footage of the studio. Lawrence was so quick to say, ‘We should film this!’ Lawrence is clever that way, not missing the opportunity to get a free video.
Alex: And there had been a discussion of what the video should be but there was something about this that was real and you couldn’t have gotten that any other way.
Miles: You couldn’t have even if you tried to, I like the way it was off the cuff.
Alex: It was a bit of a mess.
Miles: Yeah, it’s not like we planned to make a video where we go to a bar and do a shoot. I mean it’s a bit shabby and I think it’s a bit cool. The instruments aren’t even ours; they were the cover band’s.
Is that how you approached the record? Off the cuff and natural?
Alex: That is kind of the whole deal really, yeah. It certainly was the approach the first time we did this and we tried to retain much of that attitude this time.
Have you been accumulating songs over the past eight years or did you wait until you were back together?
Miles: We’ve done a few things together over that time, like my first solo record we did some songs on the Colour Of The Trap and then we’ve shared the stage a couple times. And then a couple of years ago we started writing again for maybe, what would be my third record or whatever it would be, and when we wrote “Aviation” and put the harmonies together it sounded so much like The Shadow Puppets that you couldn’t really fight it.
Were there ever any other times when you’d be writing songs for your own, separate projects and you thought you had to save it for this album?
Alex: That never really worked out, no. There were a couple of songs where I thought that that could be for [TLSP] but they didn’t end up making it [on the album]. I think it’s important that we do it together.
I noticed that you two wrote everything together with the exception of “Miracle Aligner.” You had Alexandra Savior come in for that particular track. How did she come to be a part of this?
Alex: Mmm busted! Do you know Alex?
I’ve only ever heard one song and it was a demo of “Risk” but it’s fucking incredible.
Alex: Cool, yeah well she and I were working on something last year and [“Miracle Aligner”] was a song that we wrote that didn’t work out for that project. I remember it started when I was playing it around Miles.
Miles: I remember that.
Alex: Yeah, and then Alex and I worked on it for a bit and that song turned out great. I think she’ll be releasing her own thing this year. But that’s the only song that anyone else is involved in but when were doing that we weren’t writing it for Everything You’ve Come To Expect, it just happened to work out, which is kind of a complete contradiction to what I said earlier about only writing together. [Laughs]
Miles: I was fine with it; not a touchy subject at all. [Sniffs]
You guys are going to tour in support of this album which you’ve never really done before, have you?
Alex: Yeah, we only played two shows in the US last time didn’t we Miles?
Miles: Mhm. I have never really played in the US so I’m very excited to get on the horse.
Alex: You know when Jagger comes out in this sort of American hat like a ringleader? That’s what Miles is going to be like.
Is there anything you guys will play live that’s off the record?
Alex: We’re going to play this record and half of the last one, that’s probably going to be it, maybe, a cover. What cover should we do? Maybe the Beatles?
Miles: We did “I Want You” on the last album so we may do that again.
Didn’t you guys almost get cast as John and Paul in a Beatles film?
Alex: Miles was almost cast as John, I was never in the frame. He passed on it though; do you remember that Nowhere Boy film? That was almost him.
Miles: I passed on it. I would have done it better though, right?
Oh, hell yeah.
Miles: In another life.
[Insert a few minutes of the guys talking in Beatles accents and singing, “I’ll Follow The Sun.”]
Settled then, Beatles cover.
Alex: I don’t know, or do we do something else? You decide.
What was the last metal song you guys remember the cover band playing the night you filmed “Bad Habits”? Do that.
Alex: Oh yeah, fucking hell, “Enter Sandman”.
Miles: I can’t remember anything from that night.
Did you notice any changes in each other when you started writing together again?
Alex: Yeah, I think I definitely noticed an improvement in this one over here (points his thumb at Miles) in you know…
Miles: [Singing] In my voice? [Laughs]
Alex: Yeah, and you know the first time we did this thing it was the first time we’d ever sang like that and I think that with part of [The Age Of The Understatement], what’s kind of cool about it is that we’d fallen a bit short there, where as now we’re both a bit stronger in that department. We tried to experiment a little with it again, you know, singing very quietly.
Miles: Or very loud. I can be a foghorn but I found a whisper that I didn’t think I had.
I definitely feel like coming from The Age Of The Understatement to Everything You’ve Come To Expect, it’s a little subtler, a little softer.
Alex: And that was deliberate, it was something we hadn’t really done before, especially in the vocals. Just like thinking, last time it was a new thing entirely, so what’s a new thing we can do this time.
Interview: Cage the Elephant - LAMusicBlog
The members of Cage the Elephant have danced their way into the speakers and hearts of thousands of fans since the 2008 release of their self-titled debut album.
The Kentucky natives are exemplified (still) by the introductory breakdown to that album’s opening track, “In One Ear.” Anticipatory drums, heavy-handed guitar riffs, and slap-strum acoustics come together in a party-friendly culmination of damn-fine music, and Matt Shultz’s unique voice is just the cherry on top.
Since that first release and amidst tireless touring, Cage the Elephant released Thank You, Happy Birthday, from which radio stations worldwide highlighted “Shake Me Down.” Two years after their breakout, fans found a refreshing wave of new Cage the Elephant that was consistent with the contained, chaotic progressions and lighthearted yet anthemic tone of their earlier work, and the band continued earning more well-deserved fans.
Promise of a new album has arrived in the pleasant package of “Come a Little Closer.” The new track has a darker instrumental foundation, and the band, which usually balances upbeat sounds with darker subject lines, has shed any inhibitions as the new song exhibits a raw, confident Cage the Elephant that has me more than excited for their new album, Melophobia.
First of all, congratulations on the new single. I really love it.
Matt: Oh, thank you so much.
Brad: The new single loves you. [LAUGHS]
So the new album’s about to come out, very exciting. What was the meaning behind the name Melophobia?
Matt: “Melophobia” actually means the fear of music. We thought it was fitting not because we have that fear of music, but because as writers, the goal is to overcome fear-based writing. To project an image rather than to communicate a thought or a feeling. To try to sound artistic, or poetic, or intellectual rather than just being honest and genuine in our writing.
It can come on the other side of trying to write a pop song, too — something that sounds commercial, something that sounds obscure for the sake of being obscure rather than just trying to communicate a genuine feeling. It’s more or less a fear of not staying true to your convictions.
So with this album you guys felt confident enough to be truly genuine and transparent?
Matt: We’re trying to.
Brad: Yeah, trying to. That’s the hard thing. I think there’s so much pressure, like Matt said, that’s put on songwriters and musicians to have that cool image and fit in with a crowd. It’s almost more about a popularity contest rather than songwriting.
Matt: Totally, yeah. It’s like running for president at your high school [LAUGHS], but the thing is, I don’t know if you can totally pin that on exterior forces. I think there are definitely internal draws to be accepted as well.
Brad: Yeah, definitely. It’s stuff like that that creates the fear within the music.
Matt: Back to your question about it being difficult. It’s an easy concept, but it’s a difficult thing to execute. The sentiment that I would love to capture is that moment when you have a loved one that’s on their deathbed and you’re able to say all the things you wished you’d said before. If you could put that into a song, I think that’s something that’s at least meaningful to yourself and hopefully to others.
I think music in its truest form was meant to communicate. It’s a communal thing; it brings people together. Whether it was a circle of people around a fire, banging on some drums and screaming about the qualms of life, or some guy in the Baroque period who’s composing a symphony, music’s meant to bring people together and hopefully communicate honest thoughts that will touch people and strike a chord.
A pivotal moment for me came through an Etta James song. I can’t remember the title of the song, but it’s about when she almost cheated on her husband. I don’t know if she wrote it or someone else did, but it goes through the whole scenario to where she almost lets herself totally fall into it, and then she catches a glimpse of her wedding ring on her finger. I was just like, “Wow, that honesty.” To write a song about almost cheating on your spouse…how many times can you even go home and just say that to someone?
Yeah, let alone sing a song to the world about it.
Brad: For me, the Dolly Parton song “Jolene” is like that, too.
Matt: Begging her not to steal her man.
Brad: Yeah, yeah.
Matt: That’s so vulnerable. It’s very difficult to do. It shouldn’t be. [LAUGHS]
You guys all write songs together. Having been on the road for so long, what did the songwriting process look like for this album?
Brad: Well, we just took a year off, so this was the first chance we had to get away from each other and write separately. It was interesting.
Matt: It was a totally different creative process this time. In the past we were around each other all the time; we were living on top of each other. With that, there’s a general awareness of where the music is moving and where everyone’s kind of going, so it’s an easy transition from concept to completion, but on this record, we had time to explore as individuals, like Brad was saying. When we got back together to record, we were all on polar opposites. It became almost a challenge to cohesively marry these different ideas. Everyone was struggling to find a place for their ideas within the whole project.
Brad: The struggle for our band usually is what kind of creates the magic. It all comes to a head and it kind of stirs, and out of that comes the good stuff.
Well, it’s definitely worked for you guys so far.
Matt: Yeah. [LAUGHS]
I saw that you created and curated a festival last year. It was one of the best lineups I think I’ve seen in a while. What was it like having your hands fully immersed in the creative process behind a festival as opposed to just playing one?
Matt: So fun.
Brad: So fun. This was the second year we got to do it.
Matt: We plan on doing it next year.
Brad: Yeah, we do. For us, we always love to discover new music and share that with people. That’s something Matt and I really enjoy doing, and it was really cool to go out and get some of these younger bands that we were really into to play and also bands that were more established who we were friends with from being on the road.
Matt: Or bands we wanted to become friends with.
Brad: Exactly. I think one of the coolest moments that we had so far as a band was at Starry Nights, and we were backing Daniel Johnston. It was so cool, and he hung out all night.
Matt: The whole concept of Starry Nights was that there used to be this place called the Pirate House in our hometown, and after we would play a show, we would all just sit there and play music for each other really late into the night. Basically the idea came from sharing records with each other and having breakfast in the morning, watching feel-good movies, like The Lion King. [LAUGHS]
Brad: At festivals, we’d go out just as festival goers. We do it just to have a good time, so that’s one thing that we wanted to do with the bands. We just wanted to encourage the bands to hang out and have a good time and actually enjoy the festival. We had a communal backstage where it wasn’t segmented or blocked off.
That’s awesome. So you guys are going to do that again next year?
Brad: Hopefully, yeah.