Friday, December 10, 2004

The Magnetic Fields in Austin - Part I

I'm thrilled to be seeing the Magnetic Fields tonight. They are one of my favoritest bands and it will be nice to see them at home instead of flying across the country for the privelege (I've done it three times, obsessive me).

I interviewed Stephin Merritt last week for an article that ran in the paper. Here are some bits that didn't make it into the article, sometimes because I couldn't make out what he was saying on the tape.


Me: I know you're playing sit-down venues this time, and not clubs.

SM: Yeah. We've been doing it for years. We try not to play bars and nightclubs. We don't have a drummer or a rhythm section, we play very quietly. We really need the full attention of the audience so a theatre is (?).

Me: And you're finding that people are being quiet except at the end of songs.

SM: Pretty much. Except for people who bring their babies and such things.

Me: Does your audience have a lot of newborns?

SM: In Spain, yes.


Me: I see from your setlists that you're playing a greater selection of songs from all over your discography. Any particular reason?

SM: We've just come from Europe where we were promoting a catalogue re-issue. That's what we had rehearesed.

Me: So you rehearse a pool of songs that you pull from when making the setlists?

SM: No, we're travelling with a stable setlist. Where did you get the setlist?

Me: Fans post what songs were played from show to show.

SM: That will be a very boring setlist to read, because it will be the same songs every night.

Me: I don't know about boring.

SM: Well repetitious anyway.


Me: Peter Gabriel covered Book of Love for Shall We Dance? Soundtrack and sang it live with you. Some people think of the work as songbook-quality material. Do you have much interest in people interpreting your songs?

SM: Well yes. I'm not exactly the world's greatest singer and it would nice if the world's greatest singers would cover my songs.

Me: Do you think of yourself kind of like Bob Dylan in that the covers of the songs would be better than the originals?

SM: Well most of the people who cover my songs are more idiosyncratic than I am so, no. Like Woodie Guthrie where he had a raspy, not necessarily pleasant voice and everyone who covered him has a raspier, downright unpleasant voice. [ed. note: not sure what he meant here, Divine Comedy & Kelly Hogan don't have raspy voices, but I moved on]


Me: On "I", the liner notes say "no synths". Did you set that up as a challenge, or change in aestethics?

SM: We had just done a Future Bible Heroes "Eternal Youth" which is all electronic. So I just wanted to switch directions. It wasn't particularly a challenge. I have a whole lot of instruments.

Me: There's a neat effect where "I Thought You My Boyfriend" sounds synthy. Were you trying for that originally, or just work out that way in the recording process?

SM: By synthy sounds do you mean that some instrument sounds like a synthesizer or that it would ordinarily be played on a synthesizer?

Me: A little of both.

SM: Oh. Well there's an electric piano on it, in the background. I think it sounds more like early disco than synth-pop but everyone else seems to think it sounds like synth-pop so I'll let that stand. I think it sounds like New Order covering George McCray.


Me: Most and least essential records of the year?

SM: By other people?

Me: Yes.

SM: Like year end top five?

Me: Well not necessarily. Maybe ones that should be listened to and ones that absolutely shouldn't be listened to.

SM: Well, everything should be listened to once. Only the Loretta Lynn album with Jack White made such an impression on me that I would recommend it to everyone.

Me: What did you think of the Tom Waits album?

SM: I haven't heard it yet. Also haven't heard Smile.

Me: Oh really?

SM: I have them, I just haven't had a chance to listen to them.

Me: Are there records you found particularly distasteful?

SM: Hundreds? I couldn't name them. I generally don't learn the names of albums I hate.



Stephin paid to have the London all-69LS shows filmed, so he owns the footage. He sort of forgot that he had it when I brought it up. He may put it out on DVD on the 10th anniversary of 69LS, though he was just speaking off the top of his head.

No comments:

Post a Comment