sexta-feira, 18 de setembro de 2015

Reproduction with Cantalouper - An Interview

O quarteto estadunidense Cantalouper em seu mais novo álbum, Reproduction, faz uma verdadeira ode aos 90´s desde os primeiros acordes de Parking Lot até a derradeira All Grown Up.

Uma aura de college rock permeia o álbum, com suaves imersões e conexões com melodiosos clássicos como Big Star, Violent Femmes e outros.

Reproduction é daqueles álbuns que viajam no tempo com sabedoria e nostalgia sem soarem datados, um trabalho pra ser degustado sem pressa.

***** Interview with Cantalouper *****

Q. When did Cantalouper starte? Tell us about the history...
Cantalouper was just an idea for a band for a long time. I wrote songs and recorded them on tapes, put the tapes in shoeboxes, and put the shoeboxes in a drawer. Eventually I gave a tape to David Bazan, who was in the band Pedro the Lion at the time, and he encouraged me to develop it into a full blown project. I got a group of guys together, and we started learning to play some of the songs.
I had zero experience playing out before Cantalouper. Our first idea for a show together was to play at an open mic. I got to the bar early, put our name at the top of the list, and waited for a couple of hours. When they posted the lineup, we weren't on it at all, and they said to try again next time. I felt really bummed out, and thought we must be such an awful band if we can't even play a weekly open mic in our home town. But that night we hung out together instead, and I think that's when we started to become friends as a group. And we started learning that playing a show isn't just about the band that we're playing in. And little by little, we learned to book shows and tour and improve our skills. We're slow learners, but we keep on looking for what matters about making music. Being in a band is often a story of unawareness tinged with despair, periodically interrupted by vivid places and good people who make it seem possible that someday you won't be so naive and you'll be doing this thing the right way.

Q: Who are your influences?
Stuff with lots of slow chord changes, weird noises, and walls of sound. Lots of contrasts between something pretty and something gritty, or something sweet and something spooky.

For example, shoegaze has been a big part of my life for a long time, and I'm really happy to be in a moment when it's so rewarding to have that. Next week, Swervedriver is going to play in my hometown of Columbia, Missouri, which is hard to believe. It's great that in the last few years, so many of us shoegaze fans have had opportunities to see some of our favorite bands reunite and play songs we've listened to for such a long time. And we've gotten to see each other at shows and online, and know that we exist together. Music that used to draw me in partly because of how it could affirm isolation, or maybe even disembodiment, now draws me in partly because of how I can feel it reaching for something beyond the limits of ourselves. And how that can make it a kind of music that attaches people. It's a great thing to feel shifting for me as a listener. When people who've been interacting with music internally find greater meaning as they find each other, there's a visceral satisfaction that comes that's really important. In that way, it's a great time for a lot of music that could be labelled with a niche genre name. We know that we shouldn't fetishize the comfort of nostalgia for historic music at the expense of current music. But the reality is that as the accessible supply of music gets bloated far beyond the capacity of any one person to interact with it, those of us who want to be fans have to make choices about how to filter our interactions. And one of the reasons that shoegaze is having a real moment in this environment is that it's got a very strong focus on some of the most wonderful places that popular music can go. It's always been super cool, but having specific descriptors for a clear core catalog with fuzzy edges around it is great for its resiliency. If we support each other, it's going to keep growing. I used to tell people that Cantalouper was influenced by shoegaze in order to explain what that meant (and also because we were growing into a sound that could show its influence). Now it seems like they make the connections themselves much more often, to shoegaze as well as to other names that describe other music I love like new wave, post-punk, and slowcore.

I don't personally have any band friends who have a rule that they are allowed to play only one narrowly defined type of music. But on the other hand, numerous bands have made sure to tell me that they can't be confined by any one genre tag. If the music we're making really can't be confined, it'll break out of whatever box people put it in. If it can fit in a box, who cares if someone points that out? I need to write a different song, and go a different direction if I want to change that. The fear of being pigeonholed is obsolete; finding joy in someone hearing our music and wanting to give it meaning is a more vital and rare thing than ever.

Q. Make a list of 5 albums of all time…
Pet Sounds
OK Computer
In the Aeroplane Over the Sea
These are the albums I think about the most.

Q. How do you feel playing live?
Usually really good. We've played together enough that there is a noticeable level of trust in our band, and that lets me put a lot of focus on nuances and things unique to the time and place that the music is happening, which is how it's supposed to work. It's a humanizing place to be when you can get there. But your brain wants to analyze and keep things at arm's length, and it's good at winning that battle. Sometimes it separates you from life. Looking for ways to connect through the tendency to disconnect is important. That sense of searching for connection to what exists around you is important. Even if you can't get to a place that seems quite right when you turn toward that feeling, you have to turn toward it to play rock and roll. You have to be willing to do the woodshedding, and then you have to be able to count every single moment of preparation as nothing when there is a better thing to give your attention to. You have to build everything with great care, and then abandon all your cares instinctively when it's time to surrender. You have to do lots of work as if it all really, really matters so that there can be a split second where none of that matters at all.

Q. How do you describe Cantalouper sounds?
Lots of noisy sounds with interlocking guitars on top of singer-songwriter melodies. For fans of 80's and 90's dollar bin records. I think I will always bow before the god of songwriting, but I also love distinctive sonic character.

We're from the middle of America, but musically we identify most with stuff that was made somewhere else before we were old enough to be listening to it. So there's both a sense of musical vocabulary and musical displacement for us. For me, it certainly has a lot to do with growing up in a very insulated environment without a sense of shared cultural connection to most of my peers. I was homeschooled, my family kept our television in the attic, and we turned off the radio if we got in the car (which I might do if I had kids today, for different reasons). My parents were doing their best to raise me in a way that would line up with a specific version of Christianity where it was really important not to be influenced by things that were not made by Christians, for Christians. They worked extremely hard at this as an expression of love to me, which is really amazing to think about. But it didn't line up quite right with me being a kid that loved to make things and hear things and imagine things. Where it did line up, all was well, there was security and room for joy. But where it didn't line up, you ran into the barrier, and the only conclusion allowed was that the barrier was in the right place, so you weren't. So something was wrong with you, and you were guilty of something, and whatever impulse wasn't in line had to be removed, or at least suppressed so that it appeared to be. As I started to leave that setting, I started to look for my own cultural identifiers, and was drawn to voices that came from an interior life that also didn't line up quite right, with sounds that supported the emotions that come with that. And that made me want to make music a lot more like The Smiths than Aerosmith. The fact that The Smiths teach you about one of the great approaches to pop songcraft and performance just makes it that much more fun.

Q: Tell us about the process of recording the album?
Our album Reproduction was recorded by me over a period of about five years. Originally the idea was to release an EP, but the cover image of a sperm meeting an egg really seemed like an Album cover to me, and also I kept writing songs. No sizable chunk was ever recorded in any one session. By which I mean no more than three or four final performances in one day. So it was a very deliberative project, assembled layer by layer. But many of those layers were improvised, like when we recorded the drums for the song "All Grown Up", I realized that one of the mics I'd set up for the previous song wasn't being used anymore, so I grabbed the stand, opened the studio door, and walked outside as far as the cable would reach. It was in November, on what turned out to be the last warm night of the year, and the frogs were singing. The very last few seconds of the record came from this microphone picking up our drummer Chuck's wife and daughter talking and laughing, because they came outside right around the end of the song. I knew instantly that was going to be the end of the album, but up until that point I had no plan to use anything like that at all. But it was a song I had played over and over for several years, and I knew it wasn't supposed to be a guitar-driven song. I'm very happy with the end result, but I also hope to condense the recording process next time around.

Q. Which new bands do you recommended
We played a show last month with two bands that I really love, Tamarron (who you've interviewed here), and Oko Tygra, a killer dream pop band from Denver, with an arresting stage presence, very immersive sound, and plus they are good dudes. And their band name means "eye of the tiger" in Czech.

I've been listening to a record called Keep it in the Dark by the band Motes for the past couple of months. Sometimes it makes me think about The Jesus and Mary Chain, and sometimes Slowdive. It also makes me wonder what the word would be for the skyline of a small town. A silhouette, but a special kind of silhouette. More complex than a single object, so some kind of little world. Their music feels like whatever that word might be. It's the real deal.

Q: Which bands would you love to make a cover version of?
Recently we've covered David Bowie's "Heroes". It took a long time to learn to sing the all the words in the same order as the album version. It's kind of funny to try to learn a lyric structure with a very static goal in mind, when it appears to have had a much more fluid basis. I mean, Bowie certainly sang lots of the words in different orders in other performances. But I'm not David Bowie. I like the push and pull effect that creates in our version. I like how the album version is one of rock music's introductions to a certain kind of vibe that I really dig.

Also, my next Cantalouper job is to record a cover of my favorite band of all time named Starflyer 59. We'll be one of many acts recording covers of their songs for a fan tribute project. I'm really looking forward to getting that all tracked. Starflyer was the single biggest signpost for me towards all the kinds of music we've already talked about here, so I'm really proud to get to be a part of acknowledging their influence as ambassadors of good music. They were on a label in the 90's for kids who bought music at Christian bookstores, but unlike almost everything else you could get there, they were a really kickass band. They still are.

Q: What are your plans for the future?
This Fall, I'm going to start working on a new EP for Cantalouper. I think that it will be named Rounding Error, but that could change. Our plan is to release it as a split 12" with our friend Nathan Conrad's new band named State Parks. That's our current plan for a release next year. I'm also playing bass in my brother Andrew's band named Milk of Human Kindness, and we are going to be working on a full length album for that. He writes and sings the songs, and it's an analog synth-based band, so I'm there to keep things chugging along and add some punch. I like playing with him in that project very much; bass guitar is usually my favorite thing to play. Also I'm exploring a way to support other current music that's in the same corner of rock as Cantalouper. It's in the embryonic stage right now, but hopefully we'll be doing an event next year that's all about that. I'm also working on setting up a studio where I can work on my friends' music more effectively. I really like the recording side of music, and I want to develop a better method for that.

Q: Any parting words?
I'm so happy that the name of your blog is The Blog That Celebrates Itself. That's such a good joke. I hope you keep it up for a long time. Thank you for providing this space for people like me to talk about our music, and thank you most of all for listening to our music. I'm really thankful we could do this together.