Andrew W.K.: The Wolf Howls!

One of my more memorable interviews was with Andrew WK. Sometimes writers get those interviews that are like pulling teeth (Fefe Dobson, your interview was as bad as your music!) where subjects are so despondent that they can’t even handle talking about themselves, which is hilarious because most ‘artists’ love to talk about their accomplishments. Then there are those interviews that only come around once in a great while. The type that pretty much write their own story. The amount of material from these interviews is overwhelming but well worth documenting. Andrew blessed me with one of those interviews I’ve only been able to get from certain people like Gared O’Donnell from Planes, Chad Smith from RCHP and Ian Mackaye. Andrew’s ability to navigate communication mediums such as TV with Your Friend, Andrew WK, a sort of Dear Abbey for todays youth that aired briefly on MTV2, as well as music and spoken word engagements, give Andrew’s message plenty of avenues to be disseminated to all regions of the world. His positive outlook on life and his music are endless and inspiring, and his dedication to his fans is astounding.

In fact, the dedication his fans have to him is even more colossal. The first-ever “Andrew W.K. Fan Convention” was a sweeping success in the city of brotherly love (Philadelphia) and made Andrew realize how important his music is to the people who make it possible for him to continue.

“It is continuous for as long as it is going … and it will keep going always—while I’m alive, and it will keep going as long as you are alive, because that’s what this is made of. THIS IS MADE OF YOU AND ME AND EVERYONE ELSE WHO BELIEVES IN IT, AND EVERYONE ELSE TOO. And we can keep it going, and we can keep it moving and spreading,” says Andrew W.K., in reference to the music and community of which he has become an integral part.

Andrew was born in California and raised in Michigan. He began playing piano at 4 years old and hasn’t stopped since. By the age of 18, he was living in New York City, soaking up the sights and sounds of the Big Apple, writing and recording his own material and playing small venues and coffee houses up and down the Eastern seaboard. As with most artists, the arrival is second mostly to the journey—and how Andrew got to where he is today is best explained in his own words. An eloquent and well-spoken man of 25, Andrew took time out of his busy schedule to speak with about his origins and his strong belief in music education.

On Music Education
“From what I understand, the topic is something I’m very excited about and believe in. I was talking to my mom about this interview just five minutes ago. We were discussing this very problem and other problems that schools face with their funding and how school boards don’t have the means to get anywhere near the funds they would need to keep the schools in shape, let alone school music. And it’s because people don’t want to pay taxes. People’s priorities on what they should spend money on become very skewed, and at the end of the day, there is no money left to pay taxes to schools for arts programs.

“What’s even more frustrating is that the federal government won’t step in because it’s not important to them either, and what is important to them is never music or art, which, in my opinion, are the most important things. I don’t remember much of what I learned in junior high and elementary, in terms of the actual academics. At that age, it’s a chance for you to find out what you like about life. To not even have that chance to discover something like that is just terrible. I feel people should be ashamed of themselves for being so confused when it comes to funding for what it all can ultimately be good for. School is capable of so much, even if it is to introduce someone to music and have them say, ‘You know what, now I know I don’t ever want to play music.’ At least you’ve learned something.

“There are people out there—geniuses out there—virtuosos probably who never even knew they could create music. Like the great composer/pianist Charles Ives (a more modern composer), who is considered to be one of the greatest of all time. What’s interesting about this guy is, he had been a millionaire through his own means, just an incredibly successful man who had amassed this fortune. Then, in his 50s, he retired and got into music and ended up being this genius, and I don’t think he ever knew it. So think of all the young people who just don’t even know about music and never got into it or never sat down to play an instrument—it just kills me.

“To me, the pursuit of music, the pursuit of writing, the pursuit of painting, anything for the creative mind, is the best thing that humans have that sets them apart from animals. We can create things simply for the enjoyment of doing so, something that no other animal can do. I think it is our saving grace. It’s what keeps us sane. I cannot imagine a world where music doesn’t exist. I probably wouldn’t be able to exist. I talk about it with my friends all the time, that if we had a choice to go deaf or blind we would chose to go blind, simply because at this point we’ve seen enough to have a memory and a database in our brains that we could visualize and apply to any situation and visualize what we are not seeing. But to not hear those tones again or hear that chorus again or feel that drum beat, it would be devastating. I can’t imagine what that would be like. It’s really a fantastic thing to think about. It makes me very excited that I have been able to have had so much music in such a concentrated dose, and I hope it just continues exponentially.”

Those First Few Steps
“I started taking piano lessons right after my family moved to Michigan when I was 5 years old. I was born in California and lived there the first four years of my life; my dad was a professor at UCLA and got an offer from the University of Michigan. I never really asked them why they wanted to move, I think they were just tired of L.A. and wanted to set up a new life in a different climate in a different town with different sensibilities. Ann Arbor has a more Northeastern vibe, and it’s a fantastic place to grow up, in my opinion. Southeast Michigan is a great place to grow up and talk about music! I mean, this town is ridiculous. For the population that the town has, you’d never guess … Providence, Rhode Island, is the only other town I can think of that has a similar concentration of creativity going on. And I was so lucky to be around that. I feel pretty strongly that if I hadn’t grown up in Ann Arbor, I wouldn’t be where I am today or talking to you about music at all.

“So anyway, I took piano lessons at a program that was offered through the University of Michigan Music School, which is a great music school from what I understand. And my experience was fantastic. They had a program called the Pedagogy Program, which the very premise of it is fantastic. It wasn’t until recently that I understood what the program was and why it was so cool. The basic idea was that anyone can teach young people piano, but what they did was they had graduate students—they’re very advanced piano students who chose to pursue music education—[who] could in fact teach kids how to play piano while they were students themselves. There is probably no better way to learn something from someone who is actively involved in it for his or her own passion. The president of the program was an older woman named Mrs. Smith, who, as far as I know, wasn’t a student at that point, but she had the spirit of a young person an over-the-top character.”

There is a pause during this time because someone has rung Andrew’s doorbell. He says, “[This] is very unusual because I live in this bizarre, amazing place, which is more or less an apartment building, but I’m the only one that lives in it. There aren’t any walls in it. I live right in the heart of Manhattan, but at night, I’m pretty much the only one on the entire block. It’s a one-in-a-million find. I can make as much noise as I want.”

Andrew continues, “Anyway, [Mrs. Smith] was very unique. She was very exciting to me. She was kind of the grandmaster of the whole thing, and, for all I know, she was the one who came up with the program in the first place. She was definitely a strong supporter of the program and having people in their 20s passionately teaching piano to kids. There was nothing better or [more] thrilling than having a teacher sit down and play me the piece they were rehearsing for a recital or even going to see the teacher at the recital. I would go and get all dressed up, and it would have a tremendous effect on me. It would be a very intense event. One of the women who had the greatest impact on me was a Japanese-American woman named Tamoko, who was a strikingly beautiful and confident woman and probably had an impact on me as far as what I would think of as attractive. The other woman was a very tall, almost Annie Lennox-looking woman who had this exaggerated style of playing that was amazing to watch.

“For example, if you watch someone like Horowitz, he sort of just sits there looking at his hands like, ‘Oh, I can do this,’ and that is what makes him so fantastic is his ability to be removed from the whole emotion of it while playing. But this woman would lean real close to the keyboard, almost so that her nose was touching and then sway way back so that she was arched up towards the ceiling. I remember several lessons where she brought me to tears out of my own frustration and anger and feeling disgraced and discouraged, because they were intense lessons. It wasn’t just someone being like, ‘Oh, it’s okay Andrew.” She would say, ‘Andrew, why haven’t you done this? Why didn’t you practice this? You should have done this!’”

The Beginning of the ‘Feeling’
“It was my favorite thing and least favorite thing to do at the same time. The first time I remember ‘feeling’ music, Tamoko (after a few years of taking lessons) played some piece she had been working on, but I remember sitting and watching her and having complete physical sensations running through my body. These chills, these Goosebumps, this electricity and butterflies in the stomach, and I thought, ‘Wow, that’s cool,’ and I didn’t really know what to make of it at the time. But then it happened again when I saw her or someone else play or listened to music that was that emotional, and I said, ‘I think that feeling happens to me from listening to music; I think it happens when I hear music that I really like.’

“There were a couple of times where we took school trips to see orchestras play that I noticed I would get that feeling again. At that point, it was definitely more noticeable at live performances. I mean, I would have hints of that feeling from recorded music, but there was something about seeing people play, seeing their efforts and the emotion they put into playing—especially an orchestra, to see a group of people making a concentrated effort to make this music was amazing. It became very clear to me at that early age that this was something I wanted to do. It seemed very important, and, in fact, nothing else seemed as important as pursuing that feeling as much as possible and eventually trying to make something that would make other people feel the same way. To give you a physical reaction like that that is completely uncontrollable by something that isn’t based on a thought or idea. This is before I was ever listening to rock songs that were based on a thought or a lyric or songs with stories or [a song that] had a video to accompany it or had some visual stimuli—it was just tones, it was melody, on the most simple and pure terms, it was just music for the sake of music. With no message, no story and just the thought of, ‘Do you like the way this makes you feel?’ And the answer was, ‘Yes!’ And that’s all I needed from music.

“As the years went by, I would get into rock music and all different kinds of music. The lyrics and the meaning were just an added bonus, and it didn’t really matter to me what they were about or who they were coming from, as long as I liked the melody and the music itself. That has always been the priority of the music I make—not necessarily in a literal way, but quite often a literal way. To make songs about how great music is. In fact … I am always striving to make a song about how great the song that you’re listening to itself is. To sing words about the melody and how it makes you feel. I always write the music first and then try to find words.”

Writing Lyrics
“After writing and playing and recording a song for days and days, if not weeks or months, by the time I need to write words, I have so much inspiration simply due to the melody that I’ve played so much and fallen in love with, and I’ll just sing words about that or things that that melody makes me feel one way or another. Or a lyrical theme that would deserve to be in the presence of such a powerful melody and use it to amplify, picking a very powerful topic and use the two together to make it very powerful. That is when rock music is the most powerful, when you can have a lyric that is very strong on its own and a melody that is very strong on its own, and you put them together where they don’t fight against each other but join up as one to really drive the point home.”

Andrew is the very representation of the music fan that became a famous musician. It is a well-known fact that Andrew stays late after every show to sign every autograph of every person who waits for him. An interesting fact about Andrew is that after moving to New York at the age of 17, he traveled the city, wide-eyed and excited to be living on his own in a giant metropolis, finding inspiration in each thing he encountered and person he met.

At the age of 21, Andrew released his first EP, played several one-man shows (armed only with a CD player, keyboard and microphone) supporting the Foo Fighters and played the Belgian Arts festival. Upon returning to New York, Andrew formed his band that consists of five like-minded, positive individuals; Donald “D.T.” Sardy (drums), Jimmy Coup (guitar), Gregg R (bass), E Payne (guitar) and Sergeant Frank (guitar). That same year, Andrew signed to Island Records!

Though his most basic inspiration came from classical piano, he was a devout fan of metal, especially the band Obituary. Through the randomness and pure luck that has blessed Andrew over the past eight years, a friend of a friend had a contact with the drummer of Obituary. Taking a chance and a page from the book of positive thinking, Andrew sent drummer Donald “D.T.” Tardy of Obituary a letter and a demo with the intent of seeing if the metal mogul would be interested in joining Andrew. Lo and behold, two weeks later, D.T. called Andrew on the phone and said he’d be interested—and from there, the rest is pretty much history.

As always, Andrew’s drive and passion for music can be translated into the way he lives his life. He plans on taking some time to try and go back to school to study more piano.

“Recently I had the pleasure of meeting some music students from Boston’s Berklee School of Music, and it made me think about going back to school. But I’d have to get a private teacher to get my audition up to par. I’ve got a good grasp on the fundamentals, and playing live has helped me improve tremendously. I understand music more and more every day, and it keeps getting more exciting. I just think what I can learn if someone could tell me things and teach me new things. Hanging out with the students at Berklee was so exciting—they could answer every question, and they reveled with me in my enthusiasm for Bach and the way his music works. It’s as great as music gets, as great as any human accomplishments.”

If you have an opportunity to see Andrew W.K. live, please do so—it’s a non-stop party, and he always invites everyone to join in the fun while he’s on stage!

PT II; The Wolf Howls

The first time anyone steps on a stage it can be an exhilarating and altogether horrifying experience at one time. Though Andrew has done his time by touring the world and supporting two full-length records, I Get Wet (2002) and The Wolf (2003), the ease of stepping on a stage hasn’t always been a walk in the park. He still gets nervous before every show – even now.

The First Piano Recital
“We had a yearly recital. There were two big things I would dread every year with these piano lessons because I took them from the time I was 5 until I was fourteen. One was practicing every single day for hours and a group lesson twice a week and a private lesson twice a week. The private lessons would sometimes be at the music school or at the teachers houses. Its funny because most of these teachers lived at the student housing and most of these teachers would jam a piano into their tiny apartment. It was there whole focus, it is very beautiful to think about and I get emotional just thinking about it now.

“Like I said before I recently had the pleasure of meeting with some students from a music school (not a day goes by where I don’t think about going back to school for music) and what was interesting was that I never went to college and I graduated a year early from high school because I worked very hard to get out early so I could be done. After a year of sort of just doing various things in Michigan I moved to New York and visited NYU and I was also accepted into the Chicago Institute of Art but decided not to go there against some better judgement and against my parents better judgement – to not go to school and see what I could do on my own. What I was talking about with this student was how exciting he must be to be going to school there especially for piano and what he said was, ‘its funny that you say that because everything we are working for and learning – you know most of our goals are to do what you are already doing.’ So that was very interesting and I never thought of it that way. Its cool that we both want to do it all. Clearly we were both satisfied and felt very fortunate and lucky, very lucky to be doing what I am doing. I’ve been lucky to have opportunities. No one can make anything happen one way or the other really, I mean I guess it does happen, but that’s not what has happened here, ultimately I’ve been incredibly lucky and have found my way into amazing opportunities and have been afforded the chance to prove myself.

Trying is Succeeding
“Some people will go their entire lives without ever having a chance to prove themselves. Like if they have a dead end job or if they have a life that doesn’t allow them an opportunity or if they don’t have a chance to grow or change or a chance to express themselves or show themselves or let alone the rest of the world that they’re capable of great things or are capable of trying at least. [Not sure how to word the previous, kind of stream of consciousness-y]That’s all I want to do is try. Succeeding is trying. I feel so blessed (in the most basic universal sense of the word) to have opportunities given to me where someone says, ‘okay Andrew you want to do this, try it,’ and not only did I try it but I said, ‘not only am I going to do the best job I possibly can, but I’m going to do it in honor of all those people who don’t get the chance, in honor of all those people who have worked at this ten times longer than I’ve even been alive (well twice as long). To say watch what I can do. And it goes beyond music, ‘To really have a chance to live while you are alive,’ as Bon Jovi and Max Martin wrote in that song “Its My Life.” So I feel I still have enough time to go back to school and do all those things I really want to do.”

The Two Things Most Dreaded
“I want to go back to the recital thing we were talking about earlier, I never finished my thoughts. There were two things I dreaded every year; one was the end of the year recital which took place spring and the other was a state wide music competence test. I can’t remember what it was called – the SCT’s or something like that but it was just dreadful. It was a two day event in Ypsilanti Michigan (which is right next to Ann Arbor) at Eastern Michigan University’s Music School. You would go in and they’d have all these pianos set up in a room and you’d play for strangers – these judges and they were usually these crochetty old women and men and they wouldn’t say anything. They’d just write your scores down on these sheets of paper and say, ‘Thank you,’ and you move on to the next one. You’d go and play scales for someone and do this and that and then you’d take a written test and oh my god the night before I would be laying in bed wishing that it would be canceled. I was so miserable afterwards. Usually I would do pretty awful. The one scale I always had trouble with was b flat minor scale they’d have me play. But I really credit all of those recitals and experiences where I would just practice myself into a frenzy of tears and frustration where I would slam the piano closed and swear to never play again – I must have really terrified my parents. But I refused to stop at that point, it had become like a battle. In the front of my mind I hated it but obviously in the back of my mind I wanted to do it I wanted that feeling of excitement once it was done no matter how badly I had done.

“That is what I got hooked on was the whole rush of the experience. It ended up going and turning into less of a fear and more of an excitement. I strongly strongly credit those early recitals for giving me confidence for performing or being in front of crowds in general. Again, that is what I think is so fantastic about music is that it enriches your life and your personality and your education in ways that are far far beyond music itself.

Playing Live Now
“I still feel a lot of the same ways now when its time to play a concert but I’m so familiar with them that I use them and embrace them. There is a part of me that can’t imagine we have to go play a concert for the 400th time and there is part of me that says, ‘maybe we won’t have to play.’ Every moment of the day is building up with anticipation – not dread – but the strongest anticipation you could have before it becomes dread, and at the same time someone could say, ‘you could cancel it,’ I would never in a million years do that. That’s how I get myself psyched up. The day that I’m not nervous before a concert is the day I know I’ve lost my passion for it. I’m not scared, I’m excited and I’m trying to prepare my mind for the show. Especially this music, its not casual where we just go up there and jam, I envy those types of bands. It would be so amazing to just go up there and stand behind a bass or a keyboard but the thing about this music and what makes it so incredibly amazing and rewarding is the challenge and adversity. I talk about that with the band and everyone is just dead at the end of the show and we really thrive on that. I judge myself by the way I feel at the end of the show. If I don’t collapse at the end of the show then I know I’ve done something wrong and I get frustrated with myself. It all comes from taking each concert on its own as treating it as one opportunity. If I don’t give my all for one then what is the point? Why did I put myself through all that? If you don’t come to go full out why do you come at all? Having that early recital experience and dealing with that kind of intensity and pressure makes this all seem a lot easier.”

The Future
Andrew and the gang are playing several festival dates this summer and are currently planning on a headlining tour in the fall. He is busy working on material for the third installment of his discography, a follow up to 2003’s The Wolf. Keep an eye out for Andrew in the months to come and if you have any questions for the Wolf that weren’t answered here, feel free to write to him at his website, he answers fan mail regularly and always takes the time and special care to make sure his answers are sincere.

The Morgue Called, They Want To Use Your Cadaver “For Study”

The first time I met Justin Pearson I was just getting started with a project, a website called The intention of it was to be this hub of youth culture that the music products industry could dip its marketing muscle [read:balls] into and reap the benefits of kids going out and buying truckloads of instruments and products – a hilarious and immeasurable goal – perpetrated by a bunch of business suit attired has-beens and wannabees who thought that an asshole such as myself with some experience in music journalism could bring some gravitas to the fledgling site. They were right. To an extent. We hovered at 30K visitors a month and were an official Webby Award Honoree for 2006 (woo hoo…). Of course those accolades fell on deaf ears, or rather ears that wouldn’t know that the web would surpass radio for ad spend in 2007. Does hindsight count if you were blind behind?

At first I was enthusiastic about it. To endeavor to bring the beauty of making music to a generation whose art and music programs were being cut by an administration obsessed with war was enticing. I took the pill. I jumped right in. I wanted to make things change. That was the optimism of a post 9/11 job out of college (not right out of college, more like 2 years later) for me. I must stress that there were more good things that came from that experience than negative, one of them being my growing friendship with Justin Pearson of The Locust. He was the first “Big Interview” I did for the site. He believed in the propaganda that I believed in, but part of me thought he believed in the fact that artists that don’t chart and don’t move units should have an opportunity to be heard. Sort of an “I like their aesthetic. So I want to share it with everyone,” thing, right?

The last interview I did with Justin marked another benchmark. It was the first for A project basically run by two dudes and supplemented by about 20 of the most amazing and loyal writers and friends a hack editor could ever ask for. Below is a link to the last lengthy post post from a guy that was probably born ten years too late into a world that is as unforgiving as it is beautiful and absurd.

You will get an inkling of what the ‘music business’ is all about – from the Graveyard of the Arousal Industry couldn’t be a more apt title for Justin Pearson’s tour diary. Part of me wishes he’d have continued in the face of all the terrible things he is going through (gone through), and part of me is glad he’s done writing for now. He’s incredibly prolific. If anything just to continue to document what it is REALLY like. The pieces themselves were quite amazing and honest. These paragraph-less musings on life on the road where a bit of a bitch to get through when editing. Nevertheless an amazing account.

Not traveling in a giant fucking tour bus, staying in 3 and 4 star hotels, having everything and everyone tell you that you matter. Fuck that. Its the real deal.

Here is an awesome picture taken by Robin Locust.

Sirens from the North: Tegan and Sara


As the old tale of the sea goes, mythological creatures called Sirens resided on rocks far enough from shore so that when their sweet voices lulled the ships and sailors near them, the ships would crash on the rocks. The last sounds those sailors would hear were the Sirens’ angelic voices. It’s kind of morbid in a sense, so if you take out the rocks/sailors/shipwreck and leave in the voices of the Sirens, then you’ve got an inkling of how powerful Tegan and Sara are, especially on their latest release, So Jealous (Sanctuary Records).

Born and raised in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, Tegan and Sara are bringing a certain amount of frosty acoustic rock to the table, which draws inspiration from bands they were listening to in the early ’90s, as well as a healthy dose of classic rock, passed down from their parents. The sisterly combination, along with the fact that they’re twins, is a powerful source of inspiration for Tegan and Sara, but can also be a bit of problem when it comes to disagreements. Luckily, separation seems to breed creativity since Tegan lives in Vancouver and Sara lives in Montreal, which is basically on the opposite ends of Canada. Suffice to say, when Tegan and Sara get together to make music, a connection is formed—and having two heads focusing on writing songs is always better than one.

As evidenced by previous releases and again on their latest album, Tegan and Sara compliment each other perfectly; voices reach beautiful harmonies, juxtaposed by loves-lost lyrics and stellar instrumentation. With drummer Rob Chursinoff and bassist Chirs Carlson rounding out the band, So Jealous was born from Tegan and Sara’s tape demos, made during time off after their previous tour. Further expanding upon their delicate pop sound, former Weezer/The Rentals band member Matt Sharp makes a guest appearance on So Jealous, bouncing between the Moog, Casio and organ to create some deliciously melodious hooks.

In 2000, Tegan and Sara released their debut album, This Business of Art, to much fanfare, and from there began a cult following of folks who loved the clever lyrics and intertwining lead vocals of the acoustic guitar-toting sisters. They released their second album, If It Was You, in 2002 and, as most artists are prone to do, they managed to grow and expand on their sound. With the release of their latest record, Tegan and Sara helmed the production seats, making sure that all parties met the integrity of their vision so that the intimacy of their home recordings could come out of the project.

Although the girls got their start in their teens, their interest and participation began much sooner than that. Sara says, “We actually started playing guitar and playing in bands when we were about 15. Our parents were super into music. They were really young when they had us—total ’70s parents, so there were always records lying around, and there was always music. So my whole life I’ve always been listening to music, and even my grandparents and everybody around me has always introduced me to different types of music.

“When we were in [seventh grade], I would say we started branching out and getting into our own style of music. Instead of listening to what our parents were listening to, or listening to the radio, we started getting into alternative music. There was a radio station that started up on the AM dial in Calgary that was sort of similar to a college radio station but slightly more mainstream or whatever. That’s where we discovered bands like Dinosaur Jr. and Pavement and the Replacements—that kind of stuff, which got us into indie rock. In high school, again we were branching out further, musically—eventually to the point where we wanted to start playing our own songs.”

She adds, “We used to go to gigs and punk shows, and I never really thought I could do it until I started playing guitar, and then I knew that I really wanted to do it.”

Tegan and Sara had the requisite piano lessons growing up. “I played piano for eight or nine years, but it never lent itself to how I approached guitar,” Sara says. “I really didn’t think of it the same as far as with piano I was learning scales and classical pieces, and it never really inspired me to write my own songs. But with guitar, it was easy to emulate who I was spending all my time listening to, you know? As soon as I started playing guitar, I was like ‘screw’ lessons; I was ready to start writing my own songs.

“I think in a loose kind of way [piano lessons correlate to guitar]. I mean, I wasn’t terrific at guitar theory because I was competent in piano theory, but I also think it gave me an understanding of how music works. It had developed a rhythm in me, one that I had hammered out for years and years, so it was definitely a natural instinct. I definitely think more classically and technically about the piano than I do about the guitar.”

For being in the same band and being twins, Tegan and Sara take an interesting approach to songwriting—they don’t write together and “never really wrote together,” according to Sara. The first song Sara ever wrote was inspired by her sister. “The first song I ever wrote, Tegan was sick and she had these purple Etnies shoes that I loved, and when she was sick I asked her if I could borrow them. That was the only time I got to wear them was when she couldn’t go to school. So anyway, when I got back from school that day, we had both started fooling around with our guitars then, and I remember she was really sick and asked me what school had been like that day, so I started writing a song. It was called, “Tegan Didn’t Go to School Today,” and it was about her being sick and me having to go to school all by myself—we used to hate not going to school together. We had this routine and it was always awkward for one of us to be at school without the other.”

She adds, laughing, “So that was the first song I wrote!”

Now, several years later, Tegan and Sara have truly come full circle with So Jealous. Working with John Collins, David Carswell and Howard Redekopp on the boards, Tegan and Sara have crafted a warm, indie-pop-fused record with lots of contagious hooks. “It was a lot more formal this time around because we were in a studio instead of recording in people’s houses like past records. Actually, I liked it more because when we were recording in people’s houses it felt like we were never done. When we were done, we’d just close the door to the room, but it was the same house you’d been sitting in the whole day. But with the studio we had it locked out for 12 hours, and when we were done, we’d go home and have dinner and do laundry and watch TV in [our] own house and so it felt more like a job. Or, not like a job, but it felt like there were more boundaries, I guess.

“But the actual recording process of this record differed because we co-produced this record. We were there a lot more, so we had a considerable amount of control on how it sounded and what we wanted it to sound like. We were kind of learning by the seat of our pants but also taking some of the skills we had both learned by working with Pro Tools in the past and applying it in the process. I definitely felt more confident in the studio this time, but I also felt that I had a considerable amount of more work to do as a result. I kept thinking, ‘Why couldn’t we get somebody else to do this?’ because some days I just wanted to leave, but there were decisions that had to be made so that we got exactly what we were looking for.”

Tegan and Sara are currently gearing up for a North American tour in support of The Con, their debut for Warner Brothers and first major label release. Recorded with a big fat budget by Chris Walla, featuring Jason Mcgerr and some other highly talented members of Death Cab for Cutie. Tegan and Sara do a lot of outreach, like playing the Bridge School* Benefit Concert in San Francisco, an all-acoustic concert founded by Neil Young to benefit children with severe communication disabilities. They were first signed to Neil Young’s imprint, Vapor Records.

*The Bridge School is a non-profit organization whose mission is to ensure that individuals with severe speech and physical impairments achieve full participation in their communities through the use of augmentative and alternative means of communication (AAC) and assistive technology (AT) applications and through the development, implementation and dissemination of innovative life-long educational strategies.

The Bridge School is an internationally recognized leader in the education of children who use augmentative and alternative communication and has developed unique programs and trained highly skilled professionals in the use of state-of-the-art assistive technology.

For more on the concert and school, click here

So Jealous was an amazing record. I’m just getting used to the idea that Tegan and Sara are probably going to get really big this year, relatively speaking. It is time that music and artists who make records take back the spotlight from the single making folks, even if its only for a short time. The title track on “The Con” is one of the stand out tracks. Pick it up. I’ll be doing a review for HYPEzine on it, so go check it out!

Argument Tactics

Words as accidents
Covered by the assurance
They will be repeated,
Used as blunt objects,
Or surgical tools,
To reopen old wounds
How many stitches does it take,
To close up that hurt?
Does your indemnity plan
cover failure of internal editing?
Metastasized in the middle of an argument.
Better take out another policy
Once this is done.

American Skeleton

A hillside spitting like a punctured artery
beneath the bridges of commerce
where the forgotten forge lonely bonds
with the crude beauty of the elements.
Sprayed in defiant patterns,
dancing in a symphony
of despair
The assassin sleeps without anxiety
Each bone has a function
And all the dead men sing
…we’ll cut your throat if you say too much
…we’ll cut your tongue out
Drink the silence
we are histories whores…

Buy These Records!

Another list of sweet ass records you should buy!
Like any self respecting aging hipster I call them “records” because while I’m too young to actually have used a ‘Record Player’ as my main mode of music playing while in high school [Tapes, yeah, member those – they used to mean something when you put a bunch of Sunny Day, Cadillac Blindside and Morcheeba/Portishead songs on one then gave it to your best girl or boy – whatevs’] I did catch mid wave of tape trading days and dove in head first to that dinosaur of music delivery called ‘CeeDeez.’ there used to be a joke that went with that but damn if 10 years of soda and pizza hasn’t wiped my memory clean as a jewel case. Its Halloween again, always a sad time of year because I realize I can’t eat a whole freaking pillowcase full of candy without getting some sort of blood clot or worse I’ll finally get diabetes.

enough blah blah blogging right? I see from our views of how many people actually read this stuff its pretty small. This myspace thing, once so vibrant and useful has really just become a way for uber shitty emo/screamo bands to get all the skankiest stripper/underage girl in a really obnoxious photo to post on their pages, or heck if their lucky one of them will go to their show with some other band with a poorly chosen name like Death In Autumn, Black Line Mouth Garden or something really stupid, I’m not that clever to think of one I guess. [Actually BLMG is a pretty cool name if you are into shrub eating trolls from Norway]

Couple of good records came out recently that I’ve had the pleasure of actually having to buy instead of wait for the F***ing retard publicity people to send me good music and stop sending me really bad music [hence the abhorrence towards anything with black mascara]

This is the best few for the past few weeks.

Converge – No Heroes: Just read the amazing interview/feature in the Dec. issue of Decibel, it explains it all. Then go out and buy the record, they are PUNK ROCK.

The Hold Steady – Boys and Girls in America: Yeah, that’s right, combine Elvis Costello, Cheap Trick and Thin Lizzy and you’ve got a juicy piece of American rock that makes the strokes look exactly like their namesake in motion

Trail Of Dead – So Divided: These Austinites [neh, austonians?] are back with their pissed off fist in the air Sgt. Pepper epic songs. It’s way better than their last record, of which I can’t even recall the name. Pick it up and check out “Wasted State of Mind”

I Love You But I’ve Chosen Darkness – Fear is on Our Side: another band of Austinites that make Interpol look like Coldplay. This is some moody stuff. Great for rain.

Planes Mistaken For Stars – Mercy: okay. I know I’m a huge PMFS fanboy nerd. My home town is Denver and at one time during a serious Jack Daniels Drinking party I used a vegetable bullion cube I thought was frozen coca-cola in an ice tray in my jack and coke when hanging with the bearded Denverites one summer eve a year ago, nevertheless, this band, with all its lineup changes (Guitarist Matt was replaced by Chuck, chuck was replaced by Neil from Red Cloud and its their third bassist) and subsequently horrible press representation and little coverage is one of the years Best! AGAIN. Up in Them Guts was their career high but Mercy ranks up there as well, being a consistent smash your face rock record (Produced by the skillful Matt Bayles no less). We’ll have them featured on the site soon.

Constants – The Murder Of Tom Fitzgerril: This is so freaking massive and amazing I can’t stop listening to it. Mostly instrumental, these dudes have been on the road for two years in a vegetable fueled school bus. I think I already ranted about this but their album is really remarkable.

Music Exists in the places we expect. At the mall, in the car next to you at the stop sign with the dudes in backwards baseball caps that have replaced Limp Bizkit with Atreyu and Avenged Sevenfold or even in the grocery store. The key is, look deeper, buy music from the record store where the clerks don’t wear uniforms and no one talks about MARKETS or BRANDING or ‘STREET CRED.” Case in point, look for music and don’t let someone serve it to you like a McSandwich. (That means don’t listen to me either)