My conversation with a Meat Puppet (Part II)
Part one of my interview with Cris Kirkwood of the Meat Puppets got cut off by a phone call he had to take — something, I’m sure, having to do with arrangements for the tour that was to begin last night in Louisville, Kentucky, and is scheduled to bring the band to The Annex here in Madison tomorrow.
With those obligations out of the way, the two of us got back to talking about things that truly matter, like why he’ll always think fondly of Madison, what it means to influence and be influenced, and what ever happened to a certain bass guitar. In case you missed it, part one is over here.
Cris Kirkwood: Okay, sorry about that.
SJB: Not a problem. I’d imagine you guys have a lot of details to take care of before you get on the road.
Well, you know, one of the things that’s been happening with this — I mean, the press thing has definitely been really cool, you know? For the Meat Puppets, that’s one of the things that’s kind of always been there for us, is that, you know… The press has been interesting, you know what I mean? Like, people have given enough of a shit about the music to write about it or something, and recognize that the Meat Puppets is something worth putting a little ink down about. And that’s happened again on this project. We’ve definitely been doing a lot of press and, you know, that’s cool. And it’s easy at this point, you know? It’s like, “Jesus Christ — having everybody give half a shit after having done it this long!”
Back on the topic of influences: Do you hear a Meat Puppets influence in any of the music you hear these days?
Yeah… I kind of — I just don’t know. That I can’t tell, honestly. You know, what’s the guy’s name — Lou Barlow? Is that the bass player in Dinosaur Jr.? We played with them a few months ago up in New York, and he’s telling me, “Our band wouldn’t exist if it hadn’t been for Meat Puppets!” And I’m just like, “All right,” you know? And then I listen to their set, and I’m like, “Well, okay. You know, whatever….”
I mean, I think it’s maybe more of an attitudinal sort of a thing. You know? That the influence might be on people. You know, like how do you approach the music? What are you making the music for? What do you think in terms of yourself as an artist? That kind of shit. But specifically sonically? I don’t know. I mean, what is it? Do they — you know — do they throw their guitar around at some point and somehow hurt themselves really badly? Bingo. Then there’s one of my children.
Do you feel like you guys have influences that you draw from these days, or is it now just you? I mean, you’re the Meat Puppets — you have your own sound that influences you. Do you still feel influenced by other artists?
Oh, definitely. Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I don’t know specifically in terms of, you know, what we’re trying to sound like or anything, but I mean, there’s still just stuff that I cherish and love. I mean, there’s people that influenced me, that set the Meat Puppets off in the direction that they went off in.
Like the Dead, you know, and just tons of stuff — the fuckin’ Beatles, you know? The pillars, in terms of rock. And then all the other things that I was into as a kid, you know, or that I’ve still got to be into. And I still find myself able to see, well, practically any band and realize that, okay, one of the cool things about music is one of the cool things about people: they’re all individuals, you know? They all have their own slant on things. And I’ll see things and go, “Gee, I wish I could do that,” you know? And then maybe actually apply that to my sitting around and farting around and go, “Hmm…” and discover, “Well, I can’t. Oh, well. It takes all kinds.” You know? But it adds to the fucking sense of what music can be.
Yesterday I heard, [sings] “Love is kinda crazy with a spooky little thing like you,” by the Atlanta Rhythm Section — and the fucking bass tones the guy had was just so beastly. And I think it’s that big, fat guy with glasses, if I’m not mistaken, who was the bass player in that band. And you just go, “Well, god damn, just listen to that.” That’s a pretty old song, you know? But man, what a badass fuckin’ bass tone. What a cool way of, just, of locking in with the drummer. I mean, I still get it left and right. I’ll just hear something and it’ll just catch my attention.
There’s a friend of mine — a musician from Milwaukee, who I’m sure will be catching you guys at Summerfest in June — who wanted me to ask you about the “Fucker” bass. Is it still around, or is it long gone? What happened to it?
The “Fucker” bass… Well, there’s two. There was the “Fucko” bass — that got smashed in, like, 1985, so that must not be what he was talking about. That was some beautiful music, man, that I fucking smashed in a fit of fucking retarded artistic pity, and I regret it still because it was a lovely guitar.
The “Fucker” bass, now, that got fuckin’, uh… pawned… for, you know… to support my need for “chocolate.” And I lost it when I got shot and went to prison this last time.
Ah. So it’s long gone, then.
It’s… It’s not gone — I mean, how “gone” could it be, right? You know, if you believe the spiritualists, it lives on in my heart. Somebody bought it. But, you know, the pawn shop that sold it actually sold it as mine, right? So somebody who gave half a shit, because it was pretty banged up — I mean it was a beast, because it had been made strong through, you know, weathering — and I think somebody bought it who gave a fuck that it was mine. I found out when I got out — the guy who sold it told me how much they got for it, and that meant that somebody who gave a shit got it. So maybe someday, somebody out there will come floating up and go, “Dude, I got your bass! I got it for you!” You know? And I’ll be like, “Hey, if you give it back to me, man, I’ll give you a T-shirt.”
So you’ll be here in Madison on the 29th, and you’ll be playing at a place called The Annex. Ever played there before?
We were in Madison, like, a year and a half ago or something, and it was at, like… kind of like a little… like a school cafeteria or something. It was this building that looked kind of like a… school auditorium or something. It had like a… I don’t know. It had stairs…
It was probably the High Noon Saloon, I would think.
Oh, that sounds right. You know, I was gonna say… We were in Madison — we were on tour, what was it? ‘84. And we heard about this movie that was being released, and we were like, “We gotta see that.” We were actually on tour, and we went and saw it. That’s where we saw Spinal Tap. It was showing, like, at the University. And to get in cheap, I heard somebody in front of me tell them what sorority they were in or whatever, so I told the ticket guy that we were in that, too. So we snuck beer in and sat there and watched it, so Madison holds a special place in my heart.
Well, I’d say that’s probably a pretty fitting end for the interview, so I’ll stop here.
Even more fitting: Remember Dharma? From fuckin’, uh… “Don’t Fear The Reaper”? What are they called?
Blue Oyster Cult?
Blue Oyster Cult! He told me: “Spinal Tap is my life.” And in closing my interview with you today, I will just tell you this: “Buck Dharma is my life.” Oh, and I’m reading a book about James Madison, speaking of Madison.
Well, since we’re speaking of Madison: Through your involvement with SST and everything back in the day, do you remember ever meeting up with the Tar Babies, or any of the other smaller indie bands in or around Madison?
You know, the Tar Babies, specifically, I don’t remember.
I might have, definitely. But I can’t remember if I know those guys. But I probably did. I mean, you know, Madison we’ve definitely been through bunches of times. But the Tar Babies doesn’t stick in my mind as something I can put a face to, but I might have. But you know, I’m a fucking spaced-out, you know, baboon.
My conversation with a Meat Puppet (Part I)
Cris Kirkwood and his brother, Curt, have been through a lot — some of it together, some not so much. The three-man outfit they started with drummer Derrick Bostrom as a punk band from Paradise Valley, Arizona, almost three full decades ago eventually managed to establish not just its own distinctive sound and style, but a full-blown punk- rock subgenre along the way.
When the brothers reunited to record the 2007 release Rise To Your Knees (with drummer Ted Marcus) after roughly ten years apart — yes, thereʼs a story there, but this isnʼt where youʼre gonna read it — the bandʼs focus was on simply getting into the studio to see if they could even play together anymore. Two more years down the road, suddenly here we are with yet another Meat Puppets album — one that feels not like a reunion, but like a full- fledged “vintage” Meat Puppets release, all weird and funny and, well, as welcome as ever.
The Meat Puppets are set to play The Annex this Friday as part of a tour that kicks off tonight in Louisville, Kentucky. Late last week, I spoke with Cris Kirkwood about where the band finds itself these days musically, how it feels to be punk-rock elder statesmen, and the newest Meat Puppets album, Sewn Together, released on Megaforce Records just a few weeks ago.
You havenʼt started touring yet, but you did play a show in L.A. on the 12th, right? How did that go?
Oh, it was a fuckinʼ blast. It was just great. We did a few things. We did an in-store at Amoeba Records out there, which is, just.. Itʼs just the sickest music store Iʼve ever been in. Itʼs just the size of a fuckinʼ… Costco or something. I mean, itʼs just massive. They actually have a stage, and a P.A. and shit in there. Just a bunch of folks came out. It was really nice.
That was the first thing we did. That was last Monday, and Tuesday we had a record release party in the evening at The Mint — it was cool — at this club thatʼs been around, like, forever, out in L.A. It was just really a blast.
We played the whole new record, you know, and some of our old stuff, just… seeing how the new stuff works out live, and seeing how this next tour — the direction itʼs gonna go in. It was a blast. A really fun gig. I broke my amplifier, it was so fun.
And how was the new material? How did it go over live?
Really well, you know? I mean, I donʼt really keep that close a track of that kind of shit in a way. I mean, if I did, I think Iʼd maybe actually be able to afford, you know, shoes that donʼt always stink. Like if I was a little bit better at engaging with how the audience actually felt about it… I get a little bit swept up in it. Iʼm obviously a loose cannon to a degree. You know, my past eight years speaks for itself. But as far as I could tell, people liked it. But as far as I can tell, Iʼm fuckinʼ, you know, Elton John. So…
And what did you play at Amoeba? Did you do the same set?
It was different. I mean, we didnʼt play as long… Tuesday night actually turned into, like, a good old time. We wound up playing for, like, two and a half hours. It just turned into one of those things where itʼs like, youʼre just havinʼ a good time and it really… It ran away with itself.
Amoeba — that thing was a little bit shorter. That was only like a 40-minute set or something. We did a handful of new things and a couple of old things.
And was that a more stripped-down performance?
I mean, no matter what it is, itʼs just the three of us, playing, you know? But it was the afternoon, and there were all these record stacks — rows and rows of records, and racks, and CDs and racks, or whatever, and stuff — but still… You know, plenty of people came out.
It was nice, considering how it could have been — you know, just us up there kind of plunking away while the fuckinʼ classical music fans of L.A. search for that latest recording of, you know, Mozart music or something, you know? It turned out to be actually, really, a blast.
A lot of people came, and you know, at those in-store things they set up a table and you actually get to meet folks, so thatʼs sweet. Thatʼs a sweet thing, in a way, you know? Itʼs just nice.
Yeah… I mean, it maybe didnʼt get as loopy. I mean, the amplifier survived that set.
Did you have a good turnout at both shows?
Yeah, the club we sold out. And at the Amoeba thing, they told us there were, like, over 600 people. So for the Meat Puppets, thatʼs fuckinʼ plenty.
Right on. So how about the new album? How do you feel about it, generally?
I donʼt know… I dig it. I think itʼs fucking cool. I think that, listening to it — I find myself listening to it a lot and starting to formulate my opinion about it — you know, how I feel about it — and Iʼve started to realize, you know, Iʼm so drawn to this thing. You know? In the same way that Iʼve been drawn to where the band has managed to get to live.
Itʼs just like… If Iʼm not mistaken, Curt and I are doing what we — whatever the fuck it is that we do. And this record kind of represents that to me. Itʼs kind of us getting back to the place where we always were. You know? Just making music together. And then on top of it, weʼve done it for so long, been through the shit that weʼve been through or whatever, and this record is like… It just sounds like… Just that. Just us getting back in a groove, in a way. And I find myself listening to it a lot.
So do you feel like itʼs a stronger record than Rise To Your Knees, or do you feel like itʼs just different?
Itʼs just… I mean, itʼs different, you know? Itʼs different in that Rise To Your Knees was made as Curt and my “calling card” to each other or whatever. That was Curtʼs idea to get us back playing together, and it all was to go right into the studio. And we didnʼt have a drummer when we started that.
We actually met Ted in the studio. He was doing sound engineering on this film project — and he was doing that because he was a big fan of the band — and we didnʼt even know he was a drummer. And Curt was doing the drumming, and the second day in there, Tedʼs like, “Let me check out that drum kit.” He opens up his little bag and heʼs got drumsticks in there. He goes up and starts playing, and weʼre like, “Fuck, youʼre a drummer! You wanna record this album for us? You wanna do the drumming on this for us?”
So since then, weʼve been playing with him and kind of gelled into something that — you know, I think this oneʼs just a little less… You know, itʼs not so steeped in, like, “Crisʼs troubles,” and whatever. Itʼs a very — just back to, like, a very musical effort on mine and Curtʼs part. Or some shit, you know?
Uh, better? Worse? Whatever. I really do dig some of the shit on this, like, “That sounds fucking nice.” And I get a sense that itʼs like, “Ah… Back in a groove,” in a way, or something. Itʼs just a little less encumbered for me.
Any particular highlights on the album for you at this point?
Yeah, you know… I love “Smoke.” That song, “Smoke”? Thatʼs Curtʼs kid playing guitar on that — thatʼs just touching, to hear the fucking, you know, “multi-generational Kirkwood weirdness” type of thing. I donʼt know, thereʼs some of that — you know, itʼs just really pretty. I mean, I like a lot of it.
Thereʼs a few things that are, like, new things that weʼve never gotten into, like on that one song, “Iʼm Not You” — when it gets to the chorus thereʼs that vocal thing thatʼs, like, multi- stacked-up fuckinʼ falsetto, and I donʼt think weʼve ever had falsetto on any of our shit before. So some of the vocal stuff I really, really dig. You know? Like weʼre in a nice place vocally.
And I find myself being able to listen to things and anticipating a chorus, and since Curt was the producer on this, we got to do whatever the fuck we wanted to do without having to, like, try to bend anybodyʼs arm or having anybody else tell us what part of it to get rid of or anything like that, you know?
I mean, with Curt being the final say and everything… He just really pushed all my buttons, definitely. And I think Curtʼs guitar playing on this is just fucking sick. And Iʼve managed to, you know, not muck things up with my half-assed bass playing too much, so….
So how long did the album actually take to put together?
Well, we recorded it last summer. But it took like 5 days to record the basics, and then, like, another 5 days just to do all the rest of it. So it was like a ten-day process, recording-wise. And we went in real fast after we hooked up with Megaforce and found out, “Well, these guys want to do a record,” so we just went into the studio and made it. We did it pretty quickly.
And the process — in terms of Curt being producer on it — how would you compare this to other recording experiences you guys have had in the past?
You know, I think itʼs more just down to just specifically Curtʼs tastes, you know? Weʼve always had multi-tracking on our shit, or overdubbed stuff — weʼve done a lot of that. And certain records where we didnʼt that much, or songs where we didnʼt that much, but — thereʼs definitely some multi-tracking on this. Quite a bit, really. And personally, I dig that. Itʼs fun, you know? I like the studio, and itʼs a fun way to flesh things out.
But ultimately itʼs more just a question of us being able to go in unencumbered, without anything other than just maybe the music we want to make. You know? I mean, weʼve made a few records with producers, and you know — one was our buddy Paul Leary, and the other ones were with Pete Anderson — so you’ve got guys who are sort of watching out for certain specifics and whatnot, and they, you know… Suddenly youʼve just got somebody elseʼs opinion in there. And those records are definitely cool, but this oneʼs just like, the lack of that, you know?
And at this point, the point weʼre at is definitely about the lack of anybody elseʼs opinion. Itʼs not a major-label release. You donʼt have the fuckinʼ — that bottom line staring you in the face as much at all. Itʼs just a question of, “What do we do this for? Why do we make music? What kind of music do we want to make?” And after weʼve done it for so long, you know, itʼs just like, Curt and I see eye-to-eye pretty fucking heavily, musically, so, itʼs just like, “Fine, youʼre the producer. That means this is gonna go down just exactly how we want it to.”
Well, it seems like itʼs been getting pretty positive reviews. The major line thatʼs getting thrown around is that this feels like a “return to form” in some way. Is that how you feel about it?
Yeah, I mean, if thatʼs what people think. I mean, I definitely think that the last couple of years of playing together again didnʼt hurt at all in terms of me reacquainting myself with myself as a fucking artist. And I think my contribution to this is definitely cool, and Tedʼs been playing with us for a while. You know, as far as “returning to form” or any of that kind of crap, I donʼt know. Thatʼs just… other peopleʼs opinion.
And I think itʼs a cool enough record. I like the cover art — itʼs pretty. Itʼs just… You know, itʼs another Meat Puppets record. And it definitely has a lot of the elements Iʼve liked about our records all along, you know? We always did the fuckinʼ… the record- cover art, the little thisses and thats, you know, and all the music and whatnot, so itʼs a nice addition to our catalog. I guess. Fuck, I donʼt know.
And the cover: thatʼs a painting that was just lying around. Is that right?
Yeah, it was a painting that Curt had — I donʼt think he was quite finished with it. It had been around for a while — and then we were trying to figure out what to call the album, what to use on the cover… And, you know, there was already a song called “Sewn Together,” and that painting actually features, like, a quilt-like pattern that looks almost like stitches or something. And it was like, “Huh… This is kind of good together.” Or serendipitous — like that.
And now — now thereʼs all this, like, implied meaning behind it: “Oh, ‘Sewn Together.ʼ” Like, “The brothers have been ‘sewn back together,ʼ” or some crap, you know? But I read a quote by Curt that I like a lot about it. The interviewer was asking Curt something about, you know, “Is that whatʼs implied by the painting, and the name?” and all that stuff, and Curt said he could directly trace the use of stitches in the painting to his lifelong love of Frankenstein.
So you guys have been playing together, minus various separations for various reasons, for twenty or thirty years. At this point, do you get a lot of younger bands or musicians telling you that youʼre a “major influence” on them?
Yeah… You know, definitely, yeah. We get told that. I mean, you get told a lot of crap, right? I mean, at this point, weʼre like “the venerable old Meat Puppets” in a way, you know? And I donʼt keep that much track of it — weʼve kind of always gotten that, in a way.
We were part of a scene that came up that was, like, “American punk rock” — and it was, like, the second phase of it or some shit, you know? And then we played a particular part in taking it in the direction that it was looking like it wanted to head into or whatever, and… Yeah, I guess. Weʼre pegged as “the influential this or that,” but you know, I donʼt put any stock in it. Whatever. I mean, influence just is what it is.
What’s the Deal: Romantica
If you’re heading out to see Poi Dog Pondering at the High Noon Saloon this Thursday — and if you’re not, you really should be — be sure to get there early enough to catch the opening act, Romantica. With an album on Paste Magazine’s Top 100 of 2007 and comparisons popping up all over the place between singer/songwriter Ben Kyle and both Jeff Tweedy and Ryan Adams, it probably won’t be too long before you’ll no longer be able to catch these guys in such a cozy venue.
I recently had a chance to talk to Ben about his band, those Tweedy comparisons, and what Romantica and America — and, more specifically, America — mean to him. In other words, I asked him, generally speaking, “What’s the deal?”
What’s the deal with your band, anyway?
We were a group of friends in school. Luke and I first played together nearly 10 years ago, but the band didn’t form until 2002. I essentially gave up music for a few years to study painting. I figured I couldn’t do both seriously. I sort of told myself that once I finished my degree I could start playing music again… And that’s when the band formed. We were signed really early (within a few months) to a local indie label. Our violinist quit during the first recording, so we asked Jessy Greene to come in and play the string parts and she’s been with us ever since (although she’s not touring with us because she’s touring with a slightly bigger band called the Foo Fighters at the moment).
The philosophy of the band is changing, and the more we tour the more it’s becoming about the 4 guys on the road (Luke Jacobs, Tony Zacccardi, James Orvis and myself), as we develop new material and arrangements during our live shows. But until now it’s really been about a fluid group of musicians collaborating around the songs that I write.
On this last album, in addition to the core band, Eric Heywood contributed in a big way to the sonic landscape with his gorgeous pedal steel, and a few of the tastier guitar parts were played by sometime-member Peter Rasmussen. My sisters lent some harmony vocals and long-time friend and collaborator Erik Brandt (UHQ) pitched in some accordion and keys. Most of these people have played with us live at one time or another too, so there is a core band, but there’s been a lot of inspired company along the way.
And the name? What’s the deal with that?
There was a Luna album called Romantica. I really liked the sound of the word, I liked the depth of the word, too, and the multiplicity of meanings. It sounds foreign and familiar. It has a gravity and seriousness about it (like the passion and sincerity of the Romantic movement), but it also feels light and there’s maybe a hint of jest.
We were trying not to take ourselves too seriously. I think it’s somewhat descriptive of the music we make, with the nostalgic and romantic themes, but I also liked that, on first hearing, one might assume we were some sort of new-wave band. The word seemed alive, I guess. It’s poetic and dynamic. And when it comes down to it, we are all romantics.
The St. Paul Pioneer Press says that you specialize in “delicate acoustic pop that’s far more substantial than an initial listen might suggest.” Fairly accurate assessment, or journalistic mumbo-jumbo?
I’m not sure what that means, exactly. It’s not as if there’s anything different there on your second listen. Maybe what the writer is getting at is the tension between the lushness and prettiness of the album sonically and the heavier issues engaged in the lyrical content. There are definitely a few pretty songs about death.
It’s really hard to be objective about your own sound, particularly when you’re trying to sound subjective, but if if I had to label what we do… I’d probably call it “Irish Americana Pop.” Some of the artists I’ve listened to a lot on the American side are Gram Parsons, Ryan Adams/Whiskeytown, The Jayhawks, Wilco, Springsteen, and Dylan. And on the Irish/Brit side, Van Morrison, The Waterboys, Nick Drake, Belle and Sebastian and a lot of Irish folk. I think you can definitely hear some of these footprints, and we definitely take more of traditionalist approach.
Not that we don’t value newness, but we don’t think it should be sought for its own sake. I think we value newness in the form of Particularity. I think the ideal is to deliver a particular lyric and melody in the most appropriate, beautiful and particular way (by “particular,” I mean “the way in which only you would do it”).
So we do draw from influence, inspiration, heroes and history, but then we seek to coalesce that input and make the song and delivery as personal as possible. Even though it may be wrapped in historical patterns and tried and true forms. I believe if you can be true enough to the particular, it can transcend itself and become universal.
What’s the deal with your latest album, America?
Again, I really like the sound of the word “America,” especially paired with “Romantica.” When I burned a really early copy of demos for the album I titled the playlist “America” on a whim. It was the first word that came into my head to collectively describe some common subjects and sounds in what we’d recorded so far. When it came time to find a name for the album, I’d forgotten about that and came up with some other really crap ideas.
At some point I re-discovered the early title and at first I thought, “There’s no way you could use that”… And then it just started really feeling right. So I thought, “Why not?” It really fit and, like the band name, felt really dynamic, and pertained so well to the album musically and thematically. A lot of the content was about my move to America; coming to grips with the new continent and looking back at my home through this new lens.
The name for the continent was originally taken from the explorer Amerigo Vespucci, and for me this was definitely a voyage of discovery. It’s a huge word, but I thought it was worth the risk, and I hoped that people’s better judgment would expect the personal experience versus some sort of over-arching manifesto (which I suppose could have been construed.) And ultimately, I had a chance to call our album “America,” and I thought, “Why the hell not!”
I wrote a lot of the songs while we were recording, so it was a fairly immediate process. There was no concept at the beginning, only a vague idea of the direction I wanted the sound to take. The method for the album’s production was precisely informed by how I learned to approach my visual work in art school. Firstly, there were no rules, and secondly, you try something and then ask yourself, “Does it work?” If it does, you keep it; if not, you throw it. The dexterity of recording technology these days made this method of working really easy.
The whole process was very different from the first recording, where we worked with a producer (Alex Oana), and I’m not sure we really new what we wanted in terms of production (our first time in the studio). This time we decided to record and produce ourselves, so that we would only do exactly what we wanted, and thereby discover what it was we wanted, more clearly. We built our own studio and bought our own equipment. We recorded most of the album through one mic and one pre-amp, and I learned how to engineer as we went along (with much valuable guidance from Alex Oana). Needless to say, we learned a ton and we were really happy with the results.
So America isn’t your first album, then, right?
No, our first was called It’s Your Weakness that I Want, and I’ll spare you the story of how we came up with that title!
Among other things, America made Paste Magazine’s “100 Best of 2007” list. What’s the deal with that?
That was a really great feeling. It’s one thing to end up on a series of local music “Best of” lists, but to be stacked in with the 100 best albums worldwide, by a reputable national publication such as Paste felt like a real affirmation.
And there were a lot of really great records this year…. Which makes it even more crazy. It’s so difficult for relatively obscure bands to even get their music listened to by some of the national publications, so to be not only heard but loved and critically acclaimed by Paste was a real lift for us this year, and it sort of legitimized the band and opened up some new opportunities.
The Paste review makes comparisons between Romantica — and you, in particular — and both Jeff Tweedy and Ryan Adams. How does it feel to be put up against a couple of the biggest names in popular music?
Well honestly, that feels really good, considering they are definitely two of my guiding lights in music today. (I actually had the chance to open for Ryan recently at the State Theater in Minneapolis and he joined me on one of my songs.) But maybe more than the compliment, it was one of the first reviews I read where I felt like somebody got it.
You can’t read about Romantica without coming across the phrase “Belfast by way of Minneapolis.” Care to explain?
I was born in Belfast, and I was 13 when my family (of 9) moved to Minneapolis to escape the temperate Irish climate for the more extreme seasons of the Midwest. I think some of the smells and spirits of my homeland are still in my bones and often make their way into my writing.
And you have a show coming up here in Madison on the 10th. What’s the deal with that?
We’re supporting Poi Dog Pondering on January 10 at the High Noon Saloon. It should be fun. We’ve never played the High Noon before. The promoter, Tag Evers [of True Endeavors], has been a big-hearted supporter of the band and is bringing us in. We’ve been at Cafe Montmarte a few times before, and that’s always been a great and very intimate spot.
And what’s next for Romantica? Where do you go from here? What’s the deal?
Well, we’d like to keep making better music. We’ve a fair bit of touring the first half of this year in support of America, but we hope to have a new recording finished by the end of the year.