Category Archives: Interview

Maserati, Majeure, Trotter Riles at Zanzabar, Friday, November 16th

LEO Weekly ran my interview today with Coley Dennis of Maserati:

B-sides
By Joel Hunt
Give the drummer some

Maserati’s latest album, VII, is a tour-de-force of danceable rock grooves recorded in Louisville with engineer Kevin Ratterman. They play Zanzabar Friday. Guitarist Coley Dennis answered LEO’s questions.

LEO: In the nearly three years since the tragic passing of (drummer) Jerry Fuchs, what have you learned about living life?

Coley Dennis: The most important thing I’ve learned through all of that is to live every day like it could be your last, tell your friends and family you love them, and do what makes you happy, because you might not be here tomorrow.

LEO: How easily did new drummer Mike Albanese mesh into recording with Maserati?

CD: We’ve known him for over 10 years, so when we were thinking of who to ask to interpret the drum parts from the demos, he was first on the list.

LEO: How was your experience recording with Kevin Ratterman?

CD: Kevin was working out of the church where he recorded the last My Morning Jacket record. The studio was set up next to the church in the house where the priests lived. It’s a huge old house, it felt like recording a Zeppelin record.

LEO: Did Kevin’s experience as a drummer bring anything special to working with Maserati?

CD: Kevin being a drummer definitely helped a lot. Like the drum solo in “Abracadabracab.” We had the basic idea that we wanted this Cerrone/Phil Collins-style drum solo section, but we were not sure how to do it. We mentioned the idea to Kevin, and he said, “Oh, I have some Ludwig concert toms that would be perfect!” We ran the cables in the sanctuary in this huge room. Mike did a bunch of passes of the drum solo, and we said, “Kevin, you should try a take, too, dude!” His eyes lit up, and he did a couple of takes. After that, we all did takes of the drum solo. It was pretty hilarious.

You can catch them this Friday night at Zanzabar with Majeure and Trotter Riles, who are making their Louisville debut.

THE PHANTOM FAMILY HALO, BALACLAVAS, and ALCOHOL PARTY at ZANZABAR, Tuesday, April 3rd

Cropped Out and The Other Side of Life are proud to present:

THE PHANTOM FAMILY HALO (Brooklyn-via-Louisville; on Knitting Factory Records)
BALACLAVAS (Houston, Texas; on Dull Knife)
ALCOHOL PARTY (Louisville, Kentucky)

Tuesday, April 3rd
at ZANZABAR
2100 S. Preston
8 PM Doors, $8, 21-and-over


(Photo of The Phantom Family Halo by David S. Rubin)

Since their relocation to Brooklyn, THE PHANTOM FAMILY HALO have announced the release of two records in 2012 on Knitting Factory Records – a “dark” and a “light” album.  When I Fall Out is the first of the releases, issued on February 14, 2012. The second of the albums will be released in the fall of 2012. THE PHANTOM FAMILY HALO has shared stages and/or toured with Slint, The For Carnation, Guru Guru, Hawkwind. Black Angels, Black Mountain, Bonnie “Prince” Billy, and Roky Erickson, and are about to commence on a tour with Acid Mothers Temple. Read an interview with THE PHANTOM FAMILY HALO here: http://leoweekly.com/music/phantom-family-halo%E2%80%99s-future-now.

BALACLAVAS are from Houston, Texas where everything is eternally blistered, chemically altered, and forlorn. They are a band in the realest sense — they come on like a gang, play with one mind, hunt in one pack, party and fight together in a flat wild nowhere. Unlike the common livestock being unloaded into music, this is a band of predators. Perpetual outsiders; there will always be a wrong side of the tracks and they’ll always be from it. Ennio Morricone and scratchy noise guitars on storm-dub rhythms like if the heaviest incarnation of 1970s Pink Floyd were a future punk band invested by Jodorowsky to score Dune. You can hear storms approaching and sandworms underfoot. It’s an evil dance they’re bringing.


(Alcohol Party photograph by Bryan Volz)

Conjuring an intense, claustrophobic ‘more is less’ framework where every moment is scarred with pummeling bass, jagged guitar and ADHD drumming, ALCOHOL PARTY is a three-headed noise rock project from Louisville, Kentucky.

Find the Facebook invite here: http://www.facebook.com/events/240466442709508.

To join our email list, send an email to hstencil AT gmail DOT com.

Boogie Knight — Paul Major on Toy Tiger, Hikes Point and points beyond

(Photo by Jeff Winterberg)

A short interview I conducted with the one-and-only Top Dollar, aka Paul Major of Endless Boogie, ran in this week’s LEO Weekly. Check it out here:

Louisville native, record dealer and guitar genius Paul Major of Endless Boogie chats with LEO Weekly about growing up in Louisville and about Endless Boogie’s second full-length record, Full House Head, due out July 20.

LEO: Talk a little bit about what memories you have of Louisville, especially concerts you saw or buying records.

Paul Major: One of my earliest memories is the sadly gone Toy Tiger sign at Bardstown Road and Goldsmith Lane. I grew up near there. I was in grade school (when) I heard my first fuzz guitars in 1966. As a kid, I went nuts, and my entire gear shifted. So every Saturday with my lawn-mowing money, I’d head up Bardstown Road and go to the head shops and the used record stores. Like Rivertown Records, I remember being one of the first ones. Just went up there and bought every obscure, weird-looking record I saw that might simulate what it was like to be trippin’ out. I remember getting my first copy of (the 13th Floor Elevators’) Easter Everywhere for 27 cents.

But the main difference back then was radio. That was a time when every genre of music competed on Top 40 radio, and you’d hear Deep Purple next to Frank Sinatra next to the Mamas & the Papas next to Claudine Longet. I remember that (Texas International recording artist) Bubble Puppy had a No. 1 hit in Louisville with “Hot Smoke and Sassafras,” and that was kind of a dud elsewhere. I used to sit with the AM transistor radio with little notebooks, and I had all these different categories for tones of the fuzz guitars.

LEO: Tell us about the new record, Full House Head. It’s not a huge departure from the first Endless Boogie record, Focus Level, which means it’s a good rock record.

PM: (One difference with Full House Head), it builds up a little bit with the guitar parts. It’s a little more just being totally spontaneous, but then throwing in some other stuff, with a couple of catchier numbers on there. It’s on No Quarter, so we’re looking forward to that. I just saw the cover art when I got back from Europe. People that have heard it so far are enthusiastic. (It’s an) all-time record for Endless Boogie: only two years to get something done.

Full House Head comes out on July 20th, on No Quarter. The full transcript of the interview will be posted soon.

A Brief Interview with Daniel Higgs

(a picture of Daniel Higgs performing at Bard College in May, 2007 by the author.)

The music of Daniel Higgs — who is playing in Louisville tonight at Lisa’s Oak Street Lounge (10 PM, $5) — is sometimes difficult to understand in its simplicity, but very rewarding given the effort. I sent him a few questions (for an aborted feature in LEO Weekly), and Swingset Magazine published the results here:

Daniel Higgs does not have a publicist. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t have a manager or a booking agent, either. He occasionally obscures his identity by adding extra middles names, such as “Belteshazzar” or “Arcus Incus Ululat.” In the liner notes to some of Lungfish recordings on which he’s sung, he’s not credited with his proper name. There’s no official Daniel Higgs web site, no MySpace page, no Facebook profile. And certainly no digital press kit, or any high-resolution jpegs.

What Higgs does have is a crucially singular approach to the song, an approach that is so unique and intensely beautiful that few musicians alive in the world today can match its power. That is no mere exaggeration. And he achieves his sound with only his voice, a long-necked banjo and, occasionally, a jaw harp.

The Baltimore-based Higgs has been performing in public since his band Reptile House formed in the 1980s, and for the past two decades has been the front man for Dischord recording artists Lungfish (currently on an unofficial hiatus from recording and touring). His solo material – which has been released by labels such as Holy Mountain and Thrill Jockey – is substantially different from his previous bands. Generally he’s alone and unaccompanied. Yet there’s a power to this solo music that is similar to the locomotive strength of Lungfish’s proto-punk propulsion.

In anticipation of his upcoming performance in Louisville on April 26th with Massachusetts improviser Bill Nace and Louisville duo Shakey, consisting of George Wethington (of Speed to Roam) and Peter Townsend (of King Kong), I sent Higgs a few questions in an attempt to unravel the mysteries involving his music. What I got in reply were concise, one-sentence responses – but not to every question.

Over the years, you’ve either listed pseudonyms on Lungfish releases, and now you add great middle names such as Belteshazzar. Is there a reason for the name changes? Do you find a certain comfort in relative anonymity, or is it just a sort of puzzle for your listeners to decode?

The changing extranyms reflect a desire, at times, for a more precise identification of oneself, in relation to certain tasks-at-hand.

In an age when so much music is mediated by marketing and commercial concerns — even with declining record sales — is there also a certain comfort in doing things “the old-fashioned way,” ie. releasing physical records/cassettes and touring? To what degree should music be allowed to speak for itself?

To sing with the body in-and-through space-time (unto Godhead) is sufficient.

What preparations and adjustments do you need to make in order to sing? That is, how does singing affect you emotionally, spiritually and physically? What do you need to do to let your voice sing?

Preparation: awareness of immediate degree of ignorance, and a mindful, heartful offering of songs as-they-occur.

Do songs exist beyond time? Can they?

I can not here and now explain to you the way in which songs exist.

Do your songs have a point when they feel “finished” to you? That is, can a song continue even after the musician finishes playing it? Do you see recording a song as just one version of an eternal song?

You spend a considerable amount of time on the road — what aspect of live performance do you find essential? In the moments on tour when you’re not playing, what experiences strike you as most like your songs?

The rest of the questions will have to remain unanswered at this time.
Thank You, Daniel.

UPDATE, 4/27: LEO Weekly actually ran a condensed version of my introduction as a staff pick. Unfortunately it was kinda buried on their web site, so if you missed it (as I did) it’s here: http://events.leoweekly.com/?p=1567 (scroll all the way to the bottom).

More Circle X on WFMU.org

From our sister blog, State of the Commonwealth:

Circle X Prehistory

We wrote about Louisville art-music crazies Circle X a little while ago, as their Prehistory record was recently reissued by David Grubbs‘ Blue Chopsticks label. You also might have seen the B-Sides column in LEO that discusses the reissue (and where member Rik Letendre’s name is misspelled). As it turns out, Mr. Letendre was recently a guest on the Strength Through Failure with Fabio show on WFMU, probably the best (and maybe the only true) free-form radio station in the entire country. You can stream the show and look at the entire playlist here (the playlist also includes songs from James Last, the Birthday Party and Public Image Ltd.). Special thanks to our pal Brian Labuda from Philadelphia’s Fun Vampires blog for hipping us to the show.

Pissed Jeans Interview from Swingset #8

Pissed Jeans

(Photos swiped from White Denim)

Pissed Jeans are quite possibly the best band in America right now. There, we said it. Their debut album, Shallow, has been blasting out of our respective home and office stereos on continuous loop since it was released last year on CD, and having finally been able to catch these four hombres in live action recently with Pearls and Brass, we gotta say, they smoke. But they don’t need smoke to make themselves disappear, dig? Swingset’s Joel Hunt conversed with PJ singer and man-about-town Matt Korvette via email in the days leading up to the November, 2006 mid-term elections, and they talked about Mark Foley a little bit, but as you’ll read below, Mick Foley is a much bigger influence (literally and figuratively) on their amazing brand of sweaty, manly rock.

Swingset: Okay, so now that Pissed Jeans has signed to Sub-Pop and Pearls and Brass have put out a record on Drag City, has the Lehigh Valley scene finally jumped the shark? Is whatever the fuck you guys do now ready for “mass consumption?” Is Air Conditioning the Mudhoney to your Nirvana to P&B’s Soundgarden? Am I lame for even making these comparisons? My answer: you bet, but what do you think?

MK: I don’t know, it would be cool, but honestly I think we’re all gonna defeat ourselves before anyone else really starts to care. I don’t think any of us have the right attitude to become popular personalities or whatever, we’re all just concerned with doing our own thing and making each other laugh, really. If anyone wants to watch, that’s cool, but really I don’t think I’d want to sit around and watch Randy (of Pearls & Brass) eat an entire onion or Franco (of Air Conditioning) spray-paint his face unless I was their friend. The music is definitely cool, but I have little faith that cool music is what matters to most people.

Swingset: What’s the deal with how Pissed Jeans came together? What are the material differences between PJ and Gate Crashers? What’s the deal with Unrequited Hard-on? What are your origins, man?

MK: The original four of us played together in the Gate Crashers, different lineup on the instruments, though. We switched around and started Unrequited Hard-on, just doing a slow, dirgy punk thing that became Pissed Jeans — same songs and everything. The Gate Crashers just kinda ran their course, fun band, but we existed for like five years, did a bunch of records, and wanted to try something different. Both bands existed simultaneously for a while, and then the Jeans kinda took over. There’s an Unrequited Hard-on demo floating around, but some guy in Scotland bought most of them. We changed the name to Pissed Jeans, somehow thinking it would be a more respectful name. I couldn’t write every song about my wiener — just most of them, so we needed to branch out a bit.

Swingset: When the revolution comes, what role will Pissed Jeans play in service of it?

MK: Hopefully we can act as a pertinent example as to why a revolution was necessary in the first place.

Swingset: What’s the deal with your most recent tour [fall, 2006]? Any funny stories to relate so far? Lots of boredom?

MK: Boredom in the van, but all the shows have been pretty good. Pittsburgh’s always a great town. I nearly choked on some Skittles during our set. I bought some expensive soap at Lush in Boston, and someone blew up a smoke bomb at Wesleyan right after we played. Ate at plenty of diners and had a full-band game of hacky-sack. We’ve been attracting a lot of brutish dudes at these shows — I guess that’s cool, but it’s keeping the girls in the back which bums me out. I kinda want to institute a girls-up-front Bikini Kill thing from now on, if possible. Then again, some girl got her nose smashed at our show in New York, so maybe that’s a bad idea. Maybe we should just make sure the girls have bats.

Swingset: What happened with the girl who got her nose smashed? Which New York show was that? Do you feel any responsibility a la Axl Rose inciting riot-style, or is it just water under the bridge?

MK: She went to the hospital, which sadly delayed our payment for playing. I only heard this second-hand, really. I don’t really feel any responsibility towards anything when we’re playing. I’m not looking to govern people or anything. There should be more vigilante justice at shows, as far as I’m concerned.

Swingset: Girls with bats sounds like a good idea – what if girls brought rottweilers and/or pit bulls to shows? How can you better attract the single-girl-with-big-dog demographic?

MK: I’d be down with that, so long as the dogs aren’t exposed to the loud music. That makes my heart hurt, to see that, and I’ve seen it. Maybe if we can attract girls who wear Big Dogs brand clothing, that’d be enough for me.

Swingset: What’s the plan for the new record [Hope for Men]? You’re recording it in a few weeks, right? Where and who with? Any faux-boogie piano or helium voices on it like on Shallow? Probably not, right?

MK: [We’re] recording it right now, actually. It’s [being recorded] in Quakertown, by Dan McKinney, who’s done all our stuff so far. They’ll probably be a few tricks, at least I hope so. Dan has an instrument called the Gooseharp that I’m teaching myself to play, hopefully that works out.

Swingset: Tell us more about this Gooseharp – the sexual implications are limitless! Also, have you ever heard of a medieval instrument called the Sackbut? It’s a precursor to the trombone.

MK: I’d rather you just hear it, and keep the mystery going. I never heard or heard of a sackbut. Who invented that, Beavis?

Swingset: What do you make of this whole [Rep. Mark] Foley thing?

MK: If you’re talking about the Congressman, I think it’s pretty creepy. I read those instant messages and he’s pretty good with emoticons. I’d rather talk about Mick Foley, although I don’t really know what he’s up to these days.

Swingset: I’d rather talk about Mick Foley than Mark Foley, too. What did you think about his support of John Kerry? Do you think that doomed the junior senator from Massachusetts? Or was it his Sam the Eagle-style delivery?

MK: I don’t recall his John Kerry support, but generally I support Mick Foley. I wish he’d just tell me who to vote for, honestly.

Swingset: Who, other than Mick Foley, are your favorite wrestlers, past and present?

MK: I am a huge fan of professional wrestling. I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for guys like Ric Flair, Brian Pillman, Steve Austin, La Parka, Bret Hart, Vader… the proper mix of strength, humor, and charisma is what I find most important. I’m really bummed that the WWE recently let go of the Boogeyman. That guy had something.

Swingset: What other bands would Pissed Jeans feel confident in challenging to a four-man tag-team match?

Pissed Jeans: I don’t really want to challenge anyone. I’m no wrestler myself, and if I’m gonna be doing some wrestling, it’s going to be in the privacy of my own home and certainly not with some other dude.

Don't Need Smoke

PISSED JEANS DISCOGRAPHY:

• “Throbbing Organ”/”Night Minutes” 7” (Parts Unknown), August 2004
Shallow CD (Parts Unknown), June 2005
Shallow LP (Parts Unknown), June 2006
• “I Don’t Need Smoke to Make Myself Disappear”/”Love Clown” 7” (Sub Pop), June 2006
Hope for Men CD/LP (Sub Pop), June 2007

Read another nice interview with Matt at Infernal Racket.

A CHAT WITH CHARALAMBIDES

Charalambides is one of the most arresting, unique, and compellingly weird bands to emerge from the Lone Star State in the past decade. That’s no mean feat, considering the Tejas psychedelic world has produced the Thirteenth Floor Elevators, the Red Krayola, Scratch Acid, the Butthole Surfers, and other purveyors of excellently absurdist rock. Charalambides, however, is distinctive even among these weirdoes in that the duo of Tom Carter (guitar) and Christina Carter (vocals, guitar) concentrates more on a beautifully haunting, spiritual vibe (not to mention neither of them lives in Texas any more), as opposed to the over-the-top psych scrawl of the fellow native Texans mentioned above. Listening to any title in their prodigious catalog from their debut cassette Our Bed Is Green to their recent material on the Kranky label is like soaking in a warm bath for an hour, blindfolded, on hallucinogens — only better. I recently conversed via email with Tom and Christina about their fresh release Joy Shapes, their approach to playing and improvising, their many side projects, and their future. This interview will appear in Swingset #6, along with a Mike Watt interview of Ray Pettibon, Devendra Banhart, Hair Police, Lloyd Banks (G-UNIT!) a Wolf Eyes tour diary, Metalux, Some Girls, Tyson Reeder and more.

Swingset: What was the recording process like for Joy Shapes? How did it differ from, say, Market Square or other releases?

Tom Carter: Joy Shapes was a lot different from everything else, mainly because it was the first time I was able to use a computer to mix. Before that (like for Market Square) there were a lot of frustrating live-4-track-to-DAT editing sessions and real-time layering that would almost drive me crazy trying to get right. Beyond that obvious difference, the Joy Shapes recordings were intensive and really heavy all the way through. Most of the other records were recorded in pieces over time and sometimes even from different eras. For Joy Shapes we recorded a few improvs and our trio set (mostly instrumental but with occasional vocals on the backing tracks), did multiple recordings of some songs, and then worked on it from there (mostly me solo, since Christina was on tour a lot, and also since computer mixing is very much a hermit activity). I picked out the stuff I wanted to work with, did some overdubs myself, had Christina overdub her vocals, and then mixed and edited like crazy. It took a year and a lot of energy. For earlier releases, things would take that long just because they would stall out in manufacturing, etc., but for Joy Shapes there was a year of solid thinking, discussion, listening, editing, artwork, etc. that combined with all the changes flying around in our lives made the process an alive and all-consuming thing that basically meshed in every way with my existence. My life became full of all this weird synchronicity and huge emotional gestures and crazy drama, and when it was done I was in a daze, and next thing I know I’m in Oakland holding a box of finished CDs.

SS: Am I incorrect in thinking that some instrumentation appeared on Joy Shapes that you hadn’t used on other records?

TC: One new-ish instrument was pedal steel, but we’d put out CD-Rs with pedal steel at that point. There’s also the psaltry, but Heather uses that a lot on the Ash Castles on the Ghost Coast CD. And there are the chimes and windwand, though they’re used minimally. The main new instrument was the computer. I did a lot of editing and processing stuff with it that I never could’ve done before…

SS: “Voice for You” on Joy Shapes — the production on this song is striking. Describe how you achieved the sounds, or what you were aiming for in terms of mood.

TC: The mood was supposed to be more ecstatic, gospel style, since the other two composed songs were (ahem) more “downbeat” and we wanted to avoid the dark ending of Market Square. The basic track was edited from a longer version and the layered guitar solos all grew organically out of solos that were already in the backing tracks. I also did a lot of computer editing on this one, making distorted vocal and panned delay loops and layering them over the music, chopping them up with a heavy gate at the end to make the sound more jagged (as opposed to droning, for example). For some strange reason this track was fairly complex but took much less time to finish and mix than Joy Shapes and Here Not Here.

SS: What advantages or disadvantages did working in a studio have over other home recording methods?

TC: All of Joy Shapes was in fact recorded at home. It’s hard to imagine recording anywhere else, since the clock on the studio wall is an oppressive thing. I did take it to a mastering studio, which is a bit different … I took a CD of my final mixes to Jerry Tubb’s studio in Austin, and he ran it through all his gear, tube pre-amps and EQ, expensive limiters, etc. I was pretty amazed at how alive the sound came, how much the mastering warmed it up. Jerry Tubb is great to work with, a north Texas ex-hippy who studied electronic music in Amarillo, did work with Townes van Zandt, Willie Nelson, and Terry Allen, and also did mastering work for the Butthole Surfers and a lot of releases on Emperor Jones (his work on the Tom Carter/Pip Proud CD convinced me to take the Charalambides mixes there). He’s open to all kinds of music and made some really good suggestions, including leaving some gravel in the sound in various places where I had been trying to smooth it out. I would say the main advantage we got from going into the mastering studio was an engineer who really knew what he was doing and did it artfully. If you don’t have a good engineer, any kind of studio is pointless.

SS: Was the “lost night” you’ve described during the Joy Shapes sessions a strangely one-time rock ‘n roll thing, or has that happened before?

TC: We drank a ton, smoked a ton, stayed up late, and Christina collapsed in a shivering heap at the end of it. That was really the only thing lost about it; the wiped out feeling at the end. Hard to imagine the energy level shooting up all the way like that again, though some of our shows tap the same source. The sound manifesting itself in the physical.

SS: How do the two of you find time to engage in projects with other musicians? Is Scorces still a band? How did the work with Pip Proud come about? Any new collaborations planned for the future?

TC: I’m collaborating with Marcia Basset (Un, Double Leopards) on a record for Eclipse; with Texas guitarist Sandy Ewen in a duo called Spiderwebs for a triptych CD on Music Fellowship; and with Vanessa Arn (ex-Primordial Undermind) on a split CD with Moglass. There’s other stuff planned too: duo projects with Christian Keifer, and Robert Horton (a Bay-area sound artist with roots in the original punk era). I’m in a group with some guys from Liquorball and The Rip-Offs, and also in Badgerlore (originally only Ben Chasny of Six Organs of Admittance, and Rob Fisk). So I keep busy. I find it’s much easier for me to keep going if I play with other people, and it expands my playing. I start to feel a bit isolated and walled off if all my playing is solo and I don’t see Christina very much. I hooked up with Pip Proud through Craig Stewart from Emperor Jones, who assembled a rotating cast of musicians to provide backing here and there on Pip’s new records. I ended up on one of them and Pip liked it enough to ask about doing a whole record together. He’s a really interesting guy, very interested in Nikolai Tesla. Also says he never heard Syd Barrett (I believe him, he’s existed in his own unaltered sound world for so long, I can only assume it goes back to birth).

Christina Carter: Yeah, Scorces is definitely a going concern. We’ve got plans to play together and record during my visit to the UK this winter and hopefully play a show or two. Also, Idea Records from San Antonio is releasing the double I Turn into You Scorces album sometime this coming spring. It features Heather playing electric guitar and me playing pedal steel with Heather singing a poem I wrote as lyrics, hence the title. We were playing around with becoming each other, doing what the other person normally does. Other collaborations I’ve got planned in various stages of reality/immediacy are a mail collaboration with Spencer Yeh of Burning Star Core, some live playing with Jeffrey Alexander from Black Forest/Black Sea, some recording and/or playing live as Passenger Rainbow with my pal Matthew Wascovich who runs the Slow Toe poetry press and hopefully someday a Christina Carter and Badgerlore live set with Badgerlore acting as “my” Crazy Horse – but all electric guitars. Another definite collaboration in the works is with Andrew MacGregor (Gown, Amarillo Stars). We’re going to do a mid-west tour in the spring and have a track (acoustic guitar, electric guitar, and duo vocals) coming out on a split album with My Cat Is An Alien in February and I’m sure more recording/playing to follow.

SS: What does it mean for Charalambides to be a band that is geographically separated now? How has moving to the coasts affected your lives and your music, if at all?

TC: The biggest change is that we’re not together very much, and big chunks of our lives will take place in the absence of the other. So we’re growing separately as people and musicians, which can make playing for the first time after a long absence surprising sometimes. I think we were each pretty surprised at how much more extroverted our music has become at least in the group context. In a way that may be due to being able to loosen up after having played solo separately for so long. Solo playing is often about control, and having someone there to back you up is a license to lose a bit of that control.

CC: Yeah, it affects it just in real obvious ways, like we gotta plan way in advance when we can get together and I gotta buy a plane ticket to get out there so it costs more money to make music. But, we always had the concept that we’re not a band in the sense that we don’t have to practice or record a certain amount per week/per year to exist. And I think we’ve developed more obvious, outward separate musical lives/existences so that we can each play as much as keeps us happy rather than having to wait for Charalambides time.

SS: How does the group dynamic change with the addition/subtraction of people?

CC: I feel like our being two or three people is a good way to do it, more people than that and it might dilute what we do. Jason and Heather were all people we feel musically comfortable and in tune with. The main thing seems to be that they helped expand the ideas and sounds and because we would never ask someone to play with us without a complete sense of trust; it was easy to let go with them and see where it would take us all. We would never tell someone what to play, how to play, so it was a really flexible thing where you all find out what your strengths are together and go from there. When it’s just the duo of Tom and me, it seems like we become more of a blues band.

TC: It depends on the person. Though a third person tends to make things more texturally rich. A third also can make things more “polite” in a way, at least until we’ve figured each other out. Our first shows with Heather were pretty restrained. Whereas Christina and I give each other a lot of room to do whatever, with a third you’re always conscious of not crowding someone out…

SS: Why did Heather leave the group?

CC: Heather fell in love and moved to Glasgow, so for practical reasons Tom and I have to carry on as a duo. It makes it interesting enough to figure out when Tom and I can get together to record/play/tour with our living in different places in the same country! Heather’s busy with solo playing, her duo Taurpis Tula and running the Volcanic Tongue mail-order outlet.

SS: You’ve stated in past interviews that you hate touring, yet Charalambides has definitely been more active in the past few years. What kinds of playing environments do you prefer?

TC: We love touring now and will play almost anywhere. Though it’s nice if there’s a receptive audience (size is less important than the level of attention). Parties are great, but so are bars if the mood is right. Community art spaces are great, as long as you can drink. One of the reasons we were so deeply uncomfortable with live performance before was because we simply weren’t experienced or structured or confident enough to play decent sets every time. Nor were we really sure what we wanted to do live, or how we could even go about figuring it out. What finally worked for us was paring everything down to the basics: guitar and voice. And then gradually becoming able to shed expectations of what we should sound like and listening to what we were actually able to do well. Coming up with very basic and open ended songs also helped.

SS: What is in the immediate future for Charalambides in terms of tours, releases, reissues, etc.? What long-term plans are ahead?

CC: We’re probably doing a short tour of Europe/the UK in May of 2005 and recording a new album for Kranky at some point in the near future. Long term plans are more of the same; recording, playing. And to continue to get some more older albums in print through Kranky.

TC: I’m working on a new solo record, kind of more along the lines of Root King than the CD-Rs were. I also have the collaboration projects mentioned in one of the above questions. Beyond that, who knows? I would like to do an extensive and comprehensive solo tour someday soon, one that lasts for weeks and weeks. Obviously having a job makes that a bit of a pipe dream at the moment but I’m leaving the possibility open at least.

Select Discography:
Our Bed Is Green CS-90 (No Label, 1992)
Union LP (Siltbreeze, 1993)
Historic 6th Ward CS-90 (No Label, 1994)
Our Bed is Green CD (Paper sleeve – Reissued with jewel box in 1997) (Wholly Other, 1995)
Market Square 2LP (Siltbreeze, 1995)
Historic 6th Ward CD (Wholly Other, 1996)
Charalambides CD (Wholly Other, 1997)
Houston CD (Siltbreeze, 1998)
Internal Eternal CD (Wholly Other, 1999)
Sticks CD-R (Wholly Other, 2000)
Home CD-R (Wholly Other, 2000)
Branches Lathe LP (Eclipse, 2001)
– Water CD-R (Wholly Other, 2001)
YIH CD-R (Carbon, 2001)
– “Second Rehearsal” on Songs From the Entopic Garden Volume 2 Split LP (with Six Organs of Admittance) (Timelag, 2001)
Historic 6th Ward 2LP (Timelag, 2002)
– Untitled CD-R (with Scorces)( Wholly Other, 2002)
Being As Is CD-R (Crucial Blast, 2002)
CHT CD-R (Wholly Other, 2002)
Live Hand Held CD-R (Wholly Other, 2002)
IN CR EA SE 2LP (Eclipse, 2002)
Ana/Kata 10″ EP (Beta Lactam Ring, 2002)
Unknown Spin LP/CD (Kranky)
Joy Shapes LP/CD (Kranky, 2004)

Christina Carter:
L’Etoile de Mer CS (Freedom From, 2001)
Living Contact CD-R (Wholly Other, 2001)
Hand & Mind CD-R (Wholly Other, 2002)
Future in Past CD-R (Wholly Other, 2002)

Tom Carter:
Monument CD-R (W.O., 2001)
– Appearance on A Yellow Flower CD by Pip Proud (Emperor Jones, 2001)
Catch a Cherub CD with Pip Proud (Emperor Jones, 2002)

Heather Leigh Murray:
– Ash Castles on the Ghost Coast CD (Wholly Other/Fleece, 1996)
Cuatro + Vocal Recordings CDR (Wish Image, 2002)

Scorces:
Scorces CD (Wholly Other, 2001)
– “Crow Feet” on Untitled CD-R (with Charalambides) (Wholly Other, 2002)