Music Issue 2012
Songwriters collaborate to become greater than the sum of their parts
Published: November 7, 2012
Lyn: Again, the motivation that comes from each of us moving forward in any way. We lift each other up. So far it seems if any one of us is down and feeling a little lost, we can look at our friends and see that it's only a phase and fruitful times will come back round eventually.
MT: Is it a hindrance to be labeled an acoustic artist when you guys can rock out too?
Jones: I'm just glad I have the ability to rock it out. I don't care what kind of label I get really. On the right (or wrong) day, I might show up for an Ark gig with an explorer and a Marshall stack and shave the ears off the fleece-and-khaki crowd. You can't get frustrated about labels. There's a million, and you don't get to pick, so fuck it. Bathgate, though: He hasn't played an acoustic guitar in like seven years. And Misty: she has been picking up the electric more and more these days ... in our newish band, Communicorn, featuring Misty on electric and Greg McIntosh on bass and vocals. It's pretty damn cute, trying to teach Misty power chords and palm-muting.
Misty: It can be a bummer, but so far I feel like we've all been given the opportunity to play with bands that aren't necessarily in our genre. I wish it happened more, but it's good that it does occasionally happen. I love playing on bills that span genres. And we all tend to rock a lot more than our recordings, so seeing us play live is a way to see another side of our music.
MT: What do you look for in other musical collaborators?
Jones: I'm generally scared to death of other collaborators. I don't always express what I want very well and, as confused as I am, confusing someone else is even worse and makes me feel guilty a hell. Misty and Chris are wonderful. They latch on immediately, and each has such a close knowledge of what I do and what I want that playing with them is eerily like, dare I say, playing with myself. What I look for though, when I have to look for it, is a quick study. Someone with an ear. Someone who will above all else work on the material outside of getting together with me. No long, struggling, slogging rehearsals that make me want to set fire to things. Come correct. Have some self-respect.
Lyn: A melodic ear. Though technical ability is obviously important, soul is much more important. Willingness to try new sounds. A positive world view. A good hang.
MT: Matt, both you and Doop are huge Springsteen fans. What is it about the Boss that grabs you?
Jones: Well, I dated a girl for a long time who was the seminal Boss fan. She was constantly karaoke'ing Bruce, quoting Bruce, ending emails and texts with Bruce lyrics. It drove me fucking nuts. My previous experience with the Boss included only constantly seeing my mom's copy of Born in the USA around the house, back cover ass shot always conveniently turned up for casual glances. And then one day, riding with Jim Roll on some errand or another, "Born to Run" came on the radio, and I decided after those four-and-a-half minutes that "Born To Run" was the best fucking rock and roll song I had ever heard. I don't know where I was in my brain at the time — probably just real frustrated with being broke, not being able to record the things I was hearing, I don't know — something snapped. It doesn't make any sense to me why I like the Boss sometimes. So many people get critical of his affectations. But I believe every word! Every inflection! I don't know why I'm critical and suspicious and fucking judgey as shit, but I melt every time I hear him do the "one, two, three, four!" on "Born To Run." It's possibly the most rock and roll moment in history. I believe his integrity has huge balls and there's no substitute for that. Whether you like it or hate it, integrity is all that matters anymore.
MT: What are the best venues and dive bars around town for you guys?
Jones: I had quite the lineup of barhops when I was still divin'. Mr. Mike's in Ypsi is a wonderland of big hair, ripped pool tables, bad trucker karaoke and really, really weird Halloween dance parties where the only person on the dance floor is a drunk pregnant woman dressed up as Elvira dancing to Foghat. One night at Arthur's in Ypsi I saw a woman on the dance floor do the splits, pass out in that position, and then pee her pants. Love that place. Metal, in Ann Arbor. The Ann Street Music Room. Hathaway's Hideaway, when they have music. Johnny's Speakeasy. You can't get an experience anywhere else like those you will have at these places. I think the main reason why is that you know the people who run and own these places ... actually give a shit. Giving a shit is not universal. It's frustrating as hell to have to play with someone who might be one of your favorite acts, in a place that doesn't care if you live or die.
Lyn: Venues — um, I love playing the Ark because people go there specifically to sit and listen to the music. That said, Woodruff's is the place we play the most. It's a home base of sorts. So many people we love basically live there ... it's sort of the scene's hub, I guess. As for favorite dive bars to just hang at — I love the Tap Room.
Brett Callwood and Doug Coombe write about music for Metro Times. Send letters to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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