viernes, 20 de marzo de 2009

Interview: Alex & The Horribles (english version)


-First of all, tell me what have you been doing since we last spoke with you, and the details of the recording of 'Sleepwalking into the future' (details include the musical ones, personal ones, if you went into bed with many girls, if you stole some beers in the grocery shop... anything!!). I like having very different songs in the album (fast ones, furious ones, pop ones, melodic...)

Alex: Hey, Alex Goldstein, vocalist, frontman, whatever, here. Now I am not really sure if this album was supposed to happen. School and other obligations can put a lot of pressure on a band, and certainly did for this one. Over the summer, we were not able to play for the better half of it, due to like... work, vacations, whatever. Come the school year, we made a strong effort to play, meeting up every Friday, writing new songs, re-working old ones, and playing shows at Death by Audio in Brooklyn and Mercury Lounge in Manhattan. But as they say, all good things must come to an end, and school got the best of the band. For about two, maybe three months, we weren't able to practice, and it was in this time I wrote most of the lyrics to the album. If the album exudes some idea of optimism in the face of losing the thing(s) you love, I guess this is the reason why. So come December, our plans to record an album had come to a halt, when Derek, the lead guitarist, mixer, the guy whose house we play at, decided he didn't want to play anymore. After a discussion I had with him, we decided that we should just record the songs we have for the sake of how much we like them. This is why the album is such a ramshackle affair, as "Make Out Like Japanese School Girls" was intended as a single, as was most likely to be the fate of "Dig Up My Soul", and some of the songs on the album aren't played with the full five piece band. Our band is stil trailing on, but this album wasn't meant to happen.
Thom: Greetings Leppards! Since we last spoke there have been some traumas and some great moments. I am still in college and it is going well. I've been writing a bunch of songs that I'm not sure what I'm going to do with yet. Possibly they will appear on the next Horribles album?! I'm glad that you like the songs.
-Is it true you recorded it in an attic? Where? Why? How about the listening party on a friday after recording?

Alex: Yeah, Derek recorded us in his attic, where we used to play, for mostly the economic purpose of it. We were offered a pretty good budget by a local studio, but due to all this drama that was happening, whatever... we decided to do it ourselves. Basically when we were recording "Mouth Jazz" and "O Jin!" with 2/5 of the band not present, we kinda jerked around because we thought there wasn't going to be a band anymore. We had the listening party minus Ramy driving around in our friend's car on that Friday.
Thom: Yes we did record it in an attic. Well we practice in Derek's attic so that is the base of our operations. We recorded both albums up there. I personally wanted to go to a studio to do this album, but I think the album came out sounding great (there are still changes I would make but I love it regardless). We used amps on this one so that helped the bass sound a lot.

-I read in your blog that one of my favourite songs of the record, 'Coming Down', is based on a Tibetian book who discuss about the dangers of hedonism. Do you think hedonism is dangerous? Do we have to change our ways of living? (Maybe I'm too old and used to it to change now...)

Alex: Hedonism is defintiely a dangerous practice, and I wouldn't advise living your life for that purpose. It is great for your soul to have fun sometimes, and to take your life lightly, but living without care and only for pleasure is something that will only help yourself. Live lightly, but consider others.
Thom: I was really surprised when I first started reading The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. Alex had recommended it to me and I got an old copy of it from my Dad. Every page of that book is a real eye opener and I really suggest picking it up. As far as hedonism goes I think its terrible that society has fallen into a point where all we seek is pleasure. I don't think all pleasure is destructive but we must really watch ourselves.

-The record is full of references to fucking great bands (Pulp, Blur, The Kinks, Nirvana, Thin Lizzy, Sonic Youth, Radiohead, And You Will Know Us..., Joy Division...) and to many poetry. Are these your main influences? (Not only in music, but in life as well)

Alex: Well, first off, thanks, it is an honor to even be in the same sentence with those bands. As far as the Horribles go, our influences vary from song to song, or even within the song as this album has many cases of. "Mary X" is meant to sound like a combination of Cap'n Jazz, Dinosaur Jr, and The Band and "O Jin" is meant to be a fusion of early Creation Records greats like The Boo Radleys or Teenage Fanclub with a Skynyrd coda. As a songwriter, lyrically, I am influenced by... I don't know.... everything! haha! My lyrics are just references to movies, authors, musicians, poets, etc. that have influenced my life. Associate me with Stephen Malkmus only though. Please.

Thom: Yeah all those bands you mentioned were really big influences on the album. Also like the week before we started recording I got into The Fall and I'm sure people can hear the Mark E. Smith influence on Alex's vocals on "Sleepwalking". William Wordsworth is an influence on my life, but it is kind of hard to really appreciate nature when its so cold outside haha. I don't know if we are influenced by Radiohead; to me they are on a totally other level then everyone else and it's kinda hard to be directly influenced by something so intense but I did listen to countless hours of Radiohead so I guess they are an influence. 

-What the hell are you talking about Manchester City FC. in that awesome song called 'Make Out Like Japanese School Girls'? (I bought a Manchester City t-shirt when I went there last year!!!). Do you like soccer? (Which teams and players?) Do you understand it? (I went to New York last summer and did'nt understand nothing at all in a baseball game of NY Mets!!! It was so boring that I left the stadium before the game was over). Is this really a porn song about asian teen women?

Alex: I don't know what I think about soccer. I love Oasis, Blur, Pulp, those kinds of bands, and referencing Man City as a lot more of a reference to the Adidas wearing British New Labour youth of the mid 1990s then to any team. haha. I used to be a pretty big Mets fan when I was younger, but I don't really know much about baseball now. I like sports, but it's really just a pastime to me then anything to be taken seriously. Hahaha, I don't know if this is a "porn song" as much as it is about a shallow relationship just based upon the fact of dating for the purpose of having things in common (ie, "Hey! I also have some Cathy Park Hong novels!",  "Whatever's Cool With Me" is so underrated in Dinosaur Jr canon!")  and wanting to perform lewd sweaty acts involing the tounges.
Thom: haha The lyric was originally "and when my football team starts to lose", but Alex being such and Oasis nut changed it to Man City because Liam and Noel Gallagher always wear their Man City kits and are fans of the team. Yeah I like soccer I play every now and then so I understand it. Teams I like are Bayern Munich, FC Zurich. My favorite player is Philippe Senderos. It is a porn song but it contains an awesome reference to the film Roadhouse a favorite of ours. Please Leppards GO WATCH ROADHOUSE! 
-Title of the album makes reference to the current crisis? How human people may wake up from this sleepwalking that is becoming a nightmare? What do you usually dream about? Do you have wet dreams? Who with?

Alex: "Sleepwalking into the Future" is a reference to the article "The Long Emergency" which is a pretty frightening depicition of a future without a major power supply for America. I hope that people don't wake up from this "sleepwalking" when oil is depleted and nuclear power stations run up and down the coast, but it seems to me the election of Barack Obama is a sign that we are waking up. My dreams vary so much, I can't say what they are about at all. Nah, I have never had a wet dream.
Thom: I'll let Alex answer the first part (he named the album). I usually have very strange dreams when I am not in control. After seeing Waking Life I wanted to be able to lucid dream (wikipedia link?) so I read up on methods to induce a lucid dream and I was good at it for a few weeks but then I just had no time to sleep and forgot about. I usually stay up very late. "Everybody had a wet dream" with myself?

-What dou you think of Obama? (He can't be that perfect!! So I'm afraid he may be a white racist, creating a Black Klux Klan, or something like that...)
Alex: Haha, I guess you could say there are associations that are pretty much the same as the "Black Klux Klan", but in all seriousness,  I think it is great that this guy was elected over McCain, someone who really just was a reiteration of old world logic. I guess we will have to see if Barack proves himself with time, but I am definitely optimistic. We have a president that likes Wilco, Lil' Wayne, and Bad Brains! I am practically in the White House.
Thom: I think Obama is great and I'm really proud to have used my first vote in such a historic presidential race. He faces a lot of problems but I feel as though he can at least set us on the right track if not improve our country. He must feel an insane amount of pressure. Also he has The Boss and Wilco on his iPod so he's alright in my book!
-Now I become serious: is it true that the future of Alex & The Horribles is not clear? Why? You can't do this to us, bloody bastards!!!! We want more records and great songs!!!! What's wrong?

Alex: This is a bit shakey, but we are definitely going to keep making songs in the future. The band is going to be a lot different eventuallly, as Derek was a big contributor to our sound, but his departure will make for a very interesting change within the band's overall presence. 
Thom: Well the future was not clear for a while, I myself was very frustrated with the way things were going. We were never really able to play so like 'whats a band that doesn't play?' I thought. But we managed to record an album with only playing together once haha so I guess it worked out. But Derek just the other day left the band, which makes me very upset but he did tell us ahead of time he wouldn't be able to play once school started again. Its gonna be interesting to see how things play out from here, cause Derek was such a key member of the group, we're gonna have to do a lot of practicing to get things right without him. Derek wrote a lot of the songs so now I think I am gonna have to step up and write more but luckily my songwriting has gotten better. I am hopeful though; things will turn out alright I'm sure. Hopefully once Derek is done with school or isn't so busy he will come play in the band again, cause he can shred! You will most certainly be getting more records and more songs Leppards do not fear!

-Tell me about parallel projects like Alex Goldstein & The Quakers (I can't download the songs of your blog here in my office, so I still haven't listened to that). Do you have any other projects or bands?

Alex: Haha, the Quakers are a total joke. As are any of my endeavours into Auto Tune which I post on the blog. I love Auto Tune, I don't know if it is saving hip hop, but there are some guys out there like Kanye West, T-Pain, whoever produced "Lollipop" by Lil' Wayne; and I really just wanted to pay tribute to those dudes. As of now, there is a side project in electronica called "Bardozzz" but that's all I am going to say. There is a lot of fog around our band right now. 
Thom: I have a project with my friend Vin who is a really great guitar player and the stuff is really great. We aren't letting anybody hear it till we are finished with a record but when we finish it I'll be sure to send it over to you. I wrote a bunch of songs for this band I was supposed to start with my friend from school but we have nowhere cheap to play in Brooklyn so maybe we'll try them out in Horribles when the time is right. Also I just got Logic which is an awesome program and I have been making a bunch of electronic stuff with it but likewise I'm not gonna post anything till a record is finished.

-Which bands that you are listening lately would you recommend to leppard's readers?

Alex: "Rock Bottom" by Robert Wyatt is a really cool "oceanic" album, I definitely recommend listening to it if you like ambient, "watery" music. As far as "watery" music goes, Animal Collective's latest album "Merriwheather Post Pavilion" is a fucking awesome pop record, and is most likely going to be a landmark for this decade as far as independent, or just flat out inventive music goes. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart are going to be a breakout act this year for sure. Titus Andronicus are the best New Jersey band since The Wrens, and speaking of my home state... "Born In The USA" by Bruce Springsteen is an amazing record.
Thom: Blur, Grateful Dead, The Byrds, Can, Beefheart, Yes, Titus Andronicus (go see them if they come by you they are great!), and XTC is my new band man they are amazing!

-Some curiosities: 1) What's that 'No Homo' video that you uploaded in your blog?  2) Who's that man in your Myspace profile? (The one of the picture in 'influences')  3) I did the Quizzer test and I'm suposed to be Ramy. Is it good or bad for me?
Alex: 1. "No Homo" is a movie Ramy made. 2. The guy in the influences section is "Tilghman" from Road House, who is referenced in "Make Out Like..." 3. Haha. 
Thom: Its a video Ramy made! Iggy Pop or Van Morrison. I don't know what its like to be Ramy hahah.


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