dinsdag 17 februari 2009

Bishop Allen > interview


Bishop Allen is one of the finest bands around now. March 10 they will release a new album, Grrr... Addictive songs. I had an e-mail interview with Christian Rudder.

Bishop Allen is at its core a duo, Justin Rice and you. Maybe I can
trust Wikipedia, but how did you guys met?

Our Wikipedia page is mostly accurate--Justin and I did indeed meet in a Freshman English class in college. Later that semester, we happened to both go to the same Jawbreaker show and became friends after that.

Can you say something about the songwriting? Do you write together?

Justin and I write the songs together, but in no set way. Sometimes one or the other of us will have a melody or some words and the other will help him complete it, or sometimes we'll just sit down and write a song together from scratch. We're always co-writers, but what that means changes every time.

What kind of instruments do you play? Guitar for sure, and piano and ukulele?

On the album, I play the guitar and its cousins: the ukulele, the bass, the banjo, and so on. I also play most of the marimba parts. Justin plays the piano and other keyboard instruments, plus drums on a song or two.

About the new album. At this moment I only know the songs Dimmer ("Olly Olly Oxen Free, can you see me?" - stuck in my head for days now...) and The Ancient Commonsense of Things. What can you say us about the other songs?

I can say that I hope all 13 songs have their turn to get stuck in your head, because I like them all a lot. This album is looser than The Broken String, and I think it has great upbeat energy. When we play live, on the new songs, everyone on stage is singing the chorus or a bridge and those moments are my favorite in our whole catalog.

It's fascinating to see that are so many good bands in Brooklyn. I asked Jose Soegaard (Harlem Shakes) about it and he said New York is so big, that there's no discernable 'scene', but what's going on there in Brooklyn?

I have to agree with Jose, especially since most of the bands from here that you've heard of are more 'national' bands and are often on tour. At this point, we don't play New York any more than we play Boston or Los Angeles, and I think that's the case for most New York bands. But there's no question lots of great bands call the city home: for example, we shared our old small practice building with We Are Scientists and Animal Collective. Why this is, I'm not sure. Maybe because while New York isn't the easiest place to be a musician, it is a good place to be scrappy and young.

In April the band is coming to Europe. You guys will play in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. Who are on stage with Justin and you?

Besides me and Justin, our touring band is Michael Tapper, Keith Poulson, and Darbie Nowatka.

Have you ever been in the Netherlands?

Yes! We've had two small tours there. In fact, we requested more Dutch shows this time, because we like it so much, especially the club Vera in Groningen. On a general note, a few months ago, there was a picture in our newspaper of throngs of Dutchmen ice skating on the canals when they froze this winter. That made me like the Netherlands even more.

Do you know some Dutch artists?
Rembrandt and Vermeer top my Dutch artist list. Third is The Ex, who used to stay with our friends in Cambridge all the time.

Let me ask you something about other music. Do you have a favorite artist? If yes, what in particular attracted you?

This is a hard one. There are so many good bands right now, but at the same time, how can anyone compare to, say, Bob Dylan circa 1966? He is probably my all-time favorite, but I wouldn't want to listen to only him, forever. Records I've put on recently included: London Calling by the Clash, Nebraska by Bruce Springsteen, and Vampire Weekend.

What was the latest album you bought?

Conor Oberst's latest solo record.

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