What was the best record / live show / artist in 1992?
the sundays, blind, and ensuing concert at norwich waterfront.
What is the best record / live show / artist of 2012?
I’m looking forward to bob dylan for american classicism #35, and the secret history for american romanticism #53. my favourite live shows were chickfactor: for the love of pop on the US east coast: above all the aislers set showing themselves one of history’s great groups.
In what ways do you wish things were still like they were in 1992?
I would like neoliberalism not yet to have extended so deeply into our societies; and for harriet wheeler still to be 29.
In what ways are you glad they are not?
I wouldn’t really want to go through getting a phd all over again. … then again, maybe I would.
How has music changed in the past 20 years?
the sundays stopped. belle & sebastian started. I got better at writing songs, and was lucky enough to record some of them with a few tremendous people. it arguably became easier to filter out what you didn’t like. which may, come to think of it, mean that contemporary culture is even worse than I think.
Has your record collection changed? How so?
I now have 3 copies of 69 love songs: one that gail o’hara instructed me to buy in greenwich; one that I bought so the band could sign it; and one that leonard honeymoon diary gave me because he’d realized he didn’t actually like it.
How does your 2012 hair-clothing-stagewear compare to your 1992 self?
I think the high point was right in the middle of this period when stephin merritt gave his approval to my knitwear. downhill since then.
Of course it’s nonsense, but if the Mayan’s End of World prediction came true, what would the theme song be?
I am not familiar with this prediction, but I agree with stephin merritt about skeeter davis.
Can you recall something memorable that you’ve witnessed at a chickfactor party?
it was nice to welcome my friend the lawyer and literary scholar joseph hassett, a friend of the clintons and fan of blossom dearie, as a guest to the show at artisphere. it was also terrific at bell house, ny, to meet queens aesthete michael grace jr and his queen laura for the first time.
How is chickfactor different from mainstream media?
it is a fanzine, and it sometimes prints words that I have written.
Who is on your crush list?
I am still available to write all scarlett johannson’s campaign speeches. or if this question is about 1992, then harriet wheeler’s.
Are there any bands you would pay top dollar to see reunite?
honeymoon diary. the world could use a little more jennifer robbins. I would also pay my favourite just to come over and play ‘homeless club kids’ with me.
What bands pulled off a successful reunion? Which ones did not?
the commotions 2004 and black tambourine 2012 both seemed to know when to leave people wanting more. I would like to note for posterity that archie moore introduced ‘dream baby dream’ by telling a brooklyn crowd: ‘hey, new jersey, here’s a bruce springsteen song for y’all!’
Do you believe musicians should be able to make a living from music? Are you? Do you have health insurance?
making a living from music is not something I could contemplate. in my country, despite endless neoliberal inroads, we still have a universal health system which I believe is the noblest creation in our history. it is the material testament to our solidarity as a society. going to a hospital is naturally burdensome and worrying, but I can also find it inspiring.
As a musician, do you make more money from digital or physical product?
I heard a gratifying rumour about royalties from matinee records, but otherwise the closest I have ever come to making any money out of music is because gail o’hara pays proper money to acts she has asked to perform. I have appreciated this.
Are you for or against file sharing? Discuss.
I am not really sure what this term means. if it means someone sending me an mp3, that’s nice of them but not a lot of use as my itunes computer hasn’t worked for a year.
Don’t you think that the artist should have to consent or approve of his-her material being uploaded to Youtube, Spotify, Soundcloud etc? Why isn’t this the case? Does anyone make royalties from these?
I expect chickfactor’s views on this subject are correct. I would like to add that ‘digital culture’ is not the level playing field of universal access that is sometimes implied. people’s levels of technological capacity are variable and it is sadly possible to get left behind.
How have the proliferation of phone-cameras changed your approach to live performance?
I am glad that people have filmed one or two of the pines’ performances for posterity. the other half of the pines may not agree.
Do you use any music-related apps? If so, which…
I don’t really know what ‘apps’ are.
How has technology changed your recording process?
all our records have been recorded digitally. it has made a change from recording a guitar on to a tape, then recording along with the tape in a twin cassette player, with intriguingly pathetic results.
Do you suffer from stage fright?
it is usually very scary preparing to play, especially as I have no idea how amplifiers, tuners or microphone stands work.
Do you have any advice / rituals / pharmaceuticals to recommend for coping with it?
the night before you play, go on stage with ld beghtol and accompany him by playing one note on an electric stylophone for four minutes.
Best country & city to tour when it comes to eating?
arlington, virginia for ray’s the steaks, where I was taken by my friend stephen wood – a keen supporter of both pop and steak.
What venue has served you the best eats?
I don’t really think eating and playing go together, but it was exciting to go on an odyssey through brooklyn with the urbane and erudite carrick blair to bring back chinese food after hours for the prolific pop phenomenon that is rose melberg.
What’s in your rider?
microbrewery-quality lager and a copy of the london review of books signed by robert forster. if every other band soundchecking has 6 members or more, then better add a copy of the cantos of ezra pound.
What’s your favorite food related song or album?
siouxsie & the banshees: ‘hong kong garden’. the cat’s miaow: ‘ice cream’. lloyd cole: ‘ice cream girl’. the pinefox: ‘chocolate snow’.
What drink goes with what album?
red wine with loveless, early-evening white wine with bryter later, late-night whiskey with magnetic fields’ distortion, tea and panettone with u2’s war, tea and a biscuit with reading, writing & arithmetic, hot chocolate with deacon blue’s oooh las vegas.
What’s your signature dish?
baked salmon with lemon, leek, risotto, rocket salad + pinot grigio. or we could just go to the chinese, it’s only 5 minutes down the road.
What meal do you wish you could recreate at home?
a steak that stephen wood would consider worth eating.
Have any musicians influenced your eating habits?
my interest in the go-betweens is gradually leading me to consider eating kangaroo. I am told that it is both healthy and tasty.