Category Archives: Interview

EV2BK Interviews Common Prayer

We talked with Jason Sebastian Russo and Alexandra Marvar of Common Prayer before they kicked-off their first official UK tour and asked them a few questions about their EP, their performances at the Truck Festivals, and their favorite venues in NYC.

EV2BK – Your debut album, There is A Mountain, just came out digitally here in early June. How long did the album take to put together?
Common Prayer – (Russo) It took a lifetime to write, but 6 days to record. We did 95 % of the tracking in a barn in a small English village then brought it back to Brooklyn to mix. Which we did in 2 days, max.
(Marvar) And then I sang into a mic set up in Jason’s bedroom in Greenpoint. That took… a couple hours. Though yes, there were years of unwitting subconscious preparation for both parties I’m sure.

EV2BK – We love the off-kilter Americana sound of “Us vs. Them.” What inspired the song?
Common Prayer – (Russo) This song was inspired by the most time-honored tradition in pop music, failed love.
(Marvar) It inspires me.

EV2BK – You guys have a big tour that kicks off very soon in the UK, is this your first tour across the pond?
Common Prayer – (Russo) Yes! Well, we played the 12th annual Truck Festival last year, but it was before we were called Common Prayer… This is our inaugural UK tour.
(Marvar) That said, the storage-container recording studio inside that cow barn on Hill Farm is already pretty familiar with us, and we’ll be visiting it again early in the tour for rehearsals with our English constituency and other shenanigans.
(Russo) We are very excited.
(Marvar) Fact.

EV2BK – What songs do you most look forward to playing when you perform?
Common Prayer – (Russo) My fave is “Marriage Song” because it has these bad-ass breaks that we do a three-part harmony over. Either that or Alex’s whistling solo at the end of “Us vs. Them.”
(Marvar) At times it is a whistling duo or trio, which I prefer. But my favorite is definitely also “Marriage Song,” because I get to bang on garbage and blow a marching band whistle.

EV2BK – You’re playing the Truck Festival in the UK again this year, and I know you played in the first US version of the festival, Truck America, earlier this year up in the Catskills—Can you tell us a little about that festival?
Common Prayer – (Russo) The folks that founded Truck fest (particularly two very musical brothers Joe and Robin Bennett) were instrumental in the making and recording of our album. We used the aforementioned barn studio on Hill Farm, also the site of the Truck Fest. The Truck Fest is a great example of a family-run “indie festival” — it’s held on a farm in a small, ancient village every year, all about community, with little to no corporate sponsorship… Rather grassroots.
(Marvar) This spring’s Truck America was it’s first venture on “patriot shores.” I have [an] apartment in Kingston, NY (near the Catskills), and Jason has significant ties to the music scene there as well, so we were likely suspects to help our friends at Truck bring their operation stateside. For year one, I’d have to call it a smashing success. Everyone from the Sadies to Mercury Rev to Here We Go Magic to… well… us.

EV2BK – Is there any band you are looking forward to meeting there or seeing again?
Common Prayer – (Russo) I like Fucked Up. I managed to be in a small room with the singer one late night and he is an smart entertaining guy. Also, I am looking forward to seeing my brothers band – The Silent League – because it’s always fun to see family in weird situations.
(Marvar) Since SxSW, I have become sort of obsessed with an electronic act called Active Child. Glad he will be present. Brooklyn’s own Holly Miranda will be around and even though we’ve never met I feel a kinship with her because we will be Brooklynites at Truck. Jason and I are also both excited to see Neil Halstead. He was our musical hero in the 90s and he is our UK record label hero in the now. We’re also playing a show with him in London right before Truck.

EV2BK – Jason, Common Prayer has a very different sound than your other band, Hopewell, what inspired the shift?
Common Prayer – (Russo) Hopewell has a lot of history – which is a positive thing – we’ve lasted longer than most bands ever dream of lasting, but I wanted to explore the songs that were coming out of me that wouldn’t fit in the trajectory of Hopewell. Common Prayer was the way I could manage to write whatever song came into my head, without worrying where I would put it or what I would do with it.

EV2BK – When is your next show in NYC and what has been your favorite venue to play at here so far?
Common Prayer – (Russo) Next up is a Johnny Leather showcase at either Union Hall or the Bellhouse, and then we are opening up for our pal Nicole Atkins in September at one of our favorite venues that we won’t mention yet because the bill is not yet all set.
(Marvar) Glasslands is one of our favorite venues. (Hint, hint!)

* * *

We’re looking forward to seeing Common Prayer this fall when they are back in NYC. In the meantime, we’ll see what we can do to put in a good word over at Glasslands.

-EV2BK

4 Comments

Filed under Interview, Music, New

EV2BK Interviews Sherlock’s Daughter

We sat down with Sherlock’s Daughter before a recent show that they played at the Bowery Ballroom and asked them a few questions about their EP, their recent move to New York, and lead singer Tanya Horo’s childhood fondness for cat food.

EV2BK – What inspired Songs For Old People?
Sherlock’s Daughter – (Horo) The title actually speaks for itself on that one, it was inspired by old people. I was walking home from the beach one day and I saw this beautiful old couple across from me one had flaming red hair and the other was wearing the big duffel trench coat and they were holding hands and they must have been in their 80s and I was just sort of like that’s really beautiful, you never see that anymore. I wanted to write a song that would inspire old people but it’s sort of ironic because most people when they hear the song think that I’m actually having a go at old people (laughter) When I brought the song to the guys and that’s all I had was the melody and then Tim was just kind of like lets just jam out on the C so we jammed out on the C and this song just formed and I like the way that it just circulates back on itself… (Tim Maybury) The song was a break through song for the band.

EV2BK – You guys describe your sound as “dream-pop,” what does that description mean to you?
Sherlock’s Daughter – (Maybury) Well I guess that’s just a term that has been bandied around a lot in the last few years in music journalism when talking about bands like Beach House but I suppose “dream-pop” was kind of invented by the 4AD bands of the early 80s and the style that they created has a pretty quality trajectory that bands today like Blonde Red Head are taking over and incorporating ethereal washed-out sounds. I guess its accurate, things always need to be categorized in some way and people will always try to then transcend categories but I think it is a fair description

EV2BK – Who is working at the pet store? How’s that going?
Sherlock’s Daughter – (Horo) It’s good I actually feel a bit sick because I actually really like the smell of “bully sticks”
EV2BK – What?
Sherlock’s Daughter – Bully sticks. I think it’s meats from a bull that have been dried out and it makes me feel a bit sick but I really like the smell. I used to eat cat food when I was young, not because we were poor and we couldn’t afford other food I just kind of like the smell of cat food
EV2BK – ok…
Sherlock’s Daughter – (Maybury) You mean like dry cat food right? (Horo) No I would eat the meat from the tin, I would feed my cat and then I would feed myself. (laughter) (Maybury) You would eat tinned cat food oh man that’s gross.

EV2BK – So you guys are out in Bushwick now?
Sherlock’s Daughter – (Maybury) Yes, the four guys are and Tanya’s in Long Island City
EV2BK – How are you liking it so far?
Sherlock’s Daughter – (Maybury) It’s great fun, we are living on this awesome block, as soon as the weather became a little bit nicer it just came to life, all these people came out and started playing basketball and old women are out on their stoops yelling at each other and our neighbors said that we were really fortunate to land on one of the liveliest blocks in Bushwick and I guess in the summer they bring in pony rides and a carousel. So lucky we have a really social block we’ve started to make some good friends already. We’re pretty stoked about it.

EV2BK – So what was the final straw, the final push that made you say OK, it’s time to move to New York and leave Australia?
Sherlock’s Daughter – (Horo) We never sat down and really properly planned our trip, everything was pretty impulsive. I think it was just how we felt the last time we were all here- we really fell in love with the city and the people here and met some great people to work with. We got a government grant for SXSW and we figured that by the time we bought our flights and came home that the price of tickets to come back would just be ridiculous so we all kind of decided in a month. Like, Tim phoned me and it was really just like a month before when we decided we’re moving to New York. (Maybury) I remember the conversation when we were in our band room and we had already decided that we were going to SXSW so the decision was just are we going to come home again after SXSW and pack up our lives or should we just go? And we decided, no, like once we’re there we mine as well stay there so that was it. (Horo) The only thing that happened was I think sometimes when you’ve made the decision to move something happens that you don’t want to happen and Jonti has fallen in love. A month before we moved he fell in love so now he is here with a broken heart. (Maybury) I guess on the flip side others are finding love since they’ve arrived here…
EV2BK – I see… well, there are a lot of people to love in New York.

EV2BK – You have mentioned a fondness for Animal Collective and their influence but I hear a little bit of Dirty Projectors in your sound, have you heard that?
Sherlock’s Daughter – (Horo) That’s really nice, I had never heard of Dirty Projectors which I know is probably a dirty thing to say but then Justine had told me about them and then we got a review that said Sherlock’s Daughter has a lot of sounds that feel similar to Dirty Projectors so it’s kind of nice to hear it but it’s not been conscious. But now that we are conscious of it we are kind of trying to steal their vocal melodies without them knowing because they’re pretty good. (Maybury) I know the Dirty Projectors are like real big influential band at the moment but I have only heard a few of their songs so I’m not exactly sure what their style is.

EV2BK – I also read that Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth mentioned liking you guys in an interview that he did with NPR..
Sherlock’s Daughter – (Maybury) It was pretty ultimate he was talking with Carrie Brownstein of Sleater-Kinney and for me personally that was major, two of my favorite bands and two of my favorite guitarists talking to each other and then the fact that our band name crept its way into that conversation was actually quite a huge affirmation. That day when we found that out we were really excited we definitely weren’t expecting it. We got five, six-hundred hits that day on our MySpace page so, thanks Thurston.

EV2BK – What song are you most looking forward to playing tonight?
Sherlock’s Daughter – (Horo) I think we’re all in love with all of our songs at the moment we’ve been working a lot and we’ve reshaped and reformed them and now that we are here we’ve got the added excitement and inspiration with our songs to make them become more a part of us rather than things we put in front of other people when we play so I think all of them at the moment. (Maybury) Reprise, I think we always like playing that song it’s really fun to play.

Here are a few photos from the performance:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Sherlock’s Daughter is in the studio now recording their first full length. We expect to hear a lot more good things from them soon.

-Melissa

Leave a comment

Filed under Interview, Music

EV2BK Live Music – Jupiter One Plays Mercury Lounge and Answers Some Questions

Recently, we asked Jupiter One, who we’ve written about a number of times, some questions. Zac Colwell chats about their name, touring with Regina Spektor, some of the records they listened to while recording their recent effort Sunshower, and where they like to go drinking around here.

EV2BK: I read online that your band’s name is derived from the spaceship in the ’60s TV show Lost in Space. And your album is titled Sunshower. Do you guys study outer space in your spare time or something? What’s the significance of the TV show to your band?
J1: K came up with the name of the band. He claims it came to him one day as a compelling set of words. I’ve never seen Lost In Space and I don’t think K has either. It is handy to say that’s where the name comes from though. As far as our album title, we just love the experience of the Sunshower. We tour all around the country in a van and those little natural wonders can take on a sort of mystical air sometimes when you’re living the gypsy lifestyle. The title’s a tribute to our bittersweet lives, maybe.
EV2BK: Yours comments about the van’s natural wonders taking on a mystical air really reminds me of that pretty hilarious new video you guys released earlier this month called “Van Pilates.” If we didn’t already have a few videos in this post, I’d just link to it directly here.

EV2BK: I also love the concept of the video for “Made in a Day” that you posted on your site, which could have been, well, made in a day I guess. Do you guys hang out a lot and shoot videos when you’re not on tour? Speaking of which, touring with Regina Spektor must be pretty rad.
J1: Thanks! Dave Heilman (our drummer) directed that. We made it in one day to specifically reflect one typical day in our touring lives. One hotel room, pilates [see above], booze, showers (separate), girls (if we’re lucky), and lots of dorkyness. The tour [was] incredibly interesting and quite a blessing from the lovely-magical-beautiful Regina Spektor. We’re VERY grateful she brought us along and that her fans have been extremely receptive to us.

EV2BK: Not sure if you’ve had a chance to check out Pitchfork’s Top 200 Albums of the 2000s at all, but I was wondering if you guys wouldn’t mind putting together your own top 10? Top 5? Or at least the top 5 records you listened to while recording Sunshower?
J1: Hm… Well, I hate to speak for the other guys, but we definitely listened a lot while putting together Sunshower:
1. Tom Petty – Full Moon Fever and Wildflowers
2. Beatles – All of ’em
3. LCD Soundsystem – Sound of Silver
4. Spoon – All of ’em
5. Apes and Androids – Blood Moon

EV2BK: What’s your favorite venue to watch a show (or play a show) in Brooklyn? In Manhattan?
J1: I think Music Hall of Williamsburg sounds real good. Webster Hall in Manhattan, I guess.

EV2BK: What are a few fun places where you like to hang out when you’re back in BK and/or the city?
J1: The Levee in BK and No Malice in the East Village are popular ones with Pat, our bass player. I just go wherever there’s cheap booze. My house is really fun to hang out at.

As an added bonus, right before Thanksgiving I walked over to the Mercury Lounge for their so-called “homecoming” show after their multi-city North American tour. They sounded pretty fantastic live: clear, balanced, tight, really comfortable. I think this video of an extended version of their song “Unglued,” which closed the night, really served as en exclamation point for Jupiter One.

Jupiter One – Unglued:

You can also check out a couple other live tracks from their Mercury Lounge show on our YouTube Channel:

Jupiter One – Flaming Arrow

Jupiter One – Made in a Day

-Drew

Leave a comment

Filed under Interview, Music, video