Monday, 30 October 2006

Q and A with Frontman, Mark Salomon

1.) So you guys are coming on ten years of service in the rock n’ roll game, how do you keep the momentum going and also, how do you keep yourself inspired?

Well… not really sure on momentum – it’s either there or it isn’t. We’ve tried to create our own in the past and that’s always been a really bad idea. There’s a word for momentum generated by the people in need of it, it’s called “desperation.”

As far as inspiration, I think we just live. The better and worse times leave their own marks, and those are the parts that usually find their way to the surface. I try not to write about a life that I haven’t lived, I write about my own and hope that the people who listen to us can find a way to draw something out of the lyrics or the moods on their own.

Musically we find inspiration from a lot of the music we grew up on – from the old, classic rock acts like Sabbath and Led Zeppelin, all the way to the first wave of what people (sort of) call “post-hardcore” – bands like Quicksand, Into Another, Orange 9mm, etc. – and some of your basic modern rock. The Pumpkins and Tool were both early influences, but lately we’re looking elsewhere and trying to find different angles. Some of the songs on the latter half of How To Live With A Curse give a slight indication as to where we may be headed. We’ll see. I really like music from styles that are nothing like what we do, so I try to find the different stylistic influences and look for ways to apply them to what Stavesacre is doing.

Something a little weird – we don’t really listen to a lot of music when we’re all crammed into a van together. Doesn’t that seem slightly bizarre? You’ll usually find comedy playing in the van: Mitch Hedberg, Dave Chappelle, Brian Regan, Dana Gould and lately Daniel Tosh. Anyone that takes at least as minor stab at intelligent comedy… I have no idea why I just told you all of that. Never mind.

2.) At this point in the game, what does “success” mean to you?

Success is… peace. We just want to create and play music that we love, and to do that in an environment free from the silly struggle and the pressure that comes with chasing some proverbial carrot. If we could play music until we don’t want to anymore, I would call that a success. Of course, a lot of musicians hold out for some sort of imagined life of leisure, filled with songs they’ve written that would move people to feel something more than the satisfaction of being a consumer – I was at one time one of those people, actually. But the truth is, I just don’t care about that too much anymore. At least, not in that scenario. I still want to write great, meaningful songs, but I don’t want to measure them with today’s concept of success.

Today, “success” is reserved for all the beautiful people that dominate popular music – the ones that originally drove me to punk rock and the escape of a pair of headphones and an album crammed with messages only discovered by the most determined listener. That love for the music was what originally inspired me to be in bands and write songs. It was enough then, and if I can quench my stupid pride from the usual vanities, it will remain just as satisfying for a long time.

3.) What would you say is different about How To Live With A Curse than previous albums?

The biggest difference from this album and the one’s previous is that it actually feels complete. Every album preceding this one had some major hole left exposed at the time we turned in the masters – if it felt rushed, it probably was; if it felt like we were scrambling, we probably were – and this one didn’t. We took our time, wrote the songs we wanted to write, messed with them till they were in a comfortable place… and then Matt (Hyde) made us start all over again.

There was no “that’s good enough, that works” business with this album. If we ever made the mistake of dropping that kind of comment, we were immediately sorry we did. Besides, Matt always knew when were “offing it.” That sort of obsession is Matt’s deal, and it’s infectious. It also produces a confidence in the music that we hadn’t had before. We knew when we handed in the album masters that we had done our absolute best, and that’s been a very welcome change.

3b.) How long did this album take to write/work on?

We started writing for it as soon as the Bull Takes Fighter E.P. came out, and eventually spent a good seven or eight months writing and re-writing all the songs. For the first time in our history, we had demo’d essentially every song before stepping into the actual studio.

4.) I noticed on the band’s very active message board, that some fans were debating exactly what “the curse” in the title track is. Care to divulge?

Haha. Well, let’s just say it doesn’t have just one meaning… and if you know anything about the ten years we’ve been together, you’ll have a clue as to where at least one interpretation of that title is leaning.

5.) Where do you see the band going from here?

Ugh. No idea, and I’m too tired to think about that too much. I’d like to say something positive… but I feel like a guy who’s just run a marathon and is still standing there in his sweaty clothes, talking about the next race. Better to go home, get some sleep, and maybe start thinking about it next week.

6.) What have you guys been listening to lately?

Ahh, here’s where I divulge my questionable taste in music… Lately I like some random stuff. Been listening to the new Ben Harper (Both Sides of the Gun), Imogen Heap’s solo album (Speak for Yourself) and the new Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Also, a lot of the standards – the Stooges, Zep, Cash, Depeche Mode, Duran Duran. You know… pretty much everything.

7.) What do you think you guys have learned as musicians that you wish you would have known nine years ago when you started?

Wow, so many things.

  1. Listen to your gut – if it says that doing some show or some tour or some dumbass thing is a bad idea… it’s a bad idea.
  2. Never buy a van – rent, it seems like it costs more, but in the end you’ll be glad you did it.
  3. Don’t buy too much merch… running out is so much better than finding a place to store all those shirts you paid for.
  4. Don’t mix beer and wine, ever…

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