It was a pretty difficult interview to do. They say never meet your heroes and that was only true in this case due to my unpreparedness. It’s not about coming across like a dick. I didn’t have a dictaphone so the interview was written by hand; I had turned up slightly dishevelled after looking for a way to get into the bar which was quaint and underneath a Latin restaurant. After acquainting myself with Juan (really) who showed me the entrance I finally sat at a table nervously. I reached for a piece of lemon cake and with my pen poised began to babble. This is what occurred…
A place like New Zealand often wrongly gets overlooked. Is it a different experience playing here to other places?
New Zealand isn’t radically different- it feels almost as though it’s a lost part of England. I think it’s the style of street. England has a lot more energy though; people there come to a show wanting to love it. In the USA it’s like people want to hate it. Most shows in the USA are 21+ too so teenagers can’t go to shows. Any pop band cut out all the youth end of the audience. Here and in England you can get into music when you’re young. American kids can’t get into music in the same way.
What do you do to make your shows exciting?
We just do our thing. It’s pretty rare we don’t make it work. We just want to be a good band with good shows. Best band we can be whoever audience is. Jaded people or excited people, either way we usually have it pretty good. If you play small places you accumulate fans and therefore become bigger. We play house parties as well though which are fun in a different way. More intimate and everyone feels part of the process.
You’ve been making music for a long time now- have you changed a lot?
We’ve changed a lot as a band, inevitably through the start of time. It started just as Jack and I in a bedroom. Our style in the early years of performing was to push ourselves in people faces singing and playing guitar. Obviously playing quite sub-standardly. I learnt that the important thing is the song as a whole. No one cares if the guitars amazing if the whole thing doesn’t work. That’s an opinion of the world, people like good music.
Is it hard to produce the narrative of your songs?
It’s defiantly hard to get a narrative. If writing was easier I would write more. Doing 10 years and 5 albums- that is not a lot. I mean, think about the Beatles. Their output was ridiculous!
Do you mind having the “anti-folk” tag?
I always wanted to be in an indie rock band. I wanted to play all embracing indie rock even though I didn’t know how to play. In our own weird way we’ve achieved more than we thought we would. The anti-folk genre was tagged onto us, we’d never heard of it before. But it makes sense as a tag as long as it doesn’t lock in with rubbish acts. 90% of it we don’t like, which is inevitable but frustrating when everyone get’s lumped into a genre.
Would you prefer to be making comic books full time?
I think I would prefer to do comic books. But then if I really wanted to do comics I would. You don’t get a room full of people applauding you with comic books. And little chance of communicating. Music is important to know that people are out there. Comics are different- you don’t know where it’s going, it’s a private experience.
Punk and folk have a ‘DIY’ feel about them- what does that mean in 2010?
DIY thing means getting places by any means necessary. If we wanted to go tour Italy then we would make it happen, we’d go with another band on another tour or use a booking agent or combo. Nothing against touring with all the PR and agent stuff but doing it yourself is much better. It’s a matter of reaching your goal regardless of method. When we wanted to get our music out at the beginning we made double sided cassettes and from that it became possible to release on a record label so we did that and then the internet happened so we go from there!
What’s the most surreal thing that has happened as a product of your music?
Reading interview in the Wire and hanging out with Stephen Malkmus. Jack lives in Portland so he said hi. We’ve toured with a lot of people but I think me and Stephen could be friends though, we’d be tight. We’ve got similar characters, we like roaming from place to place. I mean, Pavement aren’t my favourite band, I like them but it’s more that he likes really good things! It’s amazing that we’ve got to play with so many of our heroes.