September 12, 2011

sound is the love between me and you

Cecily Brown, Maid's Day Off, 2005

* Gail O'Hara interviews Wild Flag. excerpt:

O'Hara: Mary is really coming out of her shell as a live performer. And we thought you had a lot of energy in Sleater-Kinney, but now you’ve kind of raised the bar.

Brownstein: I don’t take anything for granted anymore. After not playing music for a couple years, you realize what a sacred space live performance is. There’s so many things that are allowed in that moment that are disallowed in other aspects of life. Extreme emotions and a level of chaos and danger that you would never even want to go to in your regular life, and I don’t go to that place in my everyday life. When I’m performing, I’m trying to explore all of the parameters and boundaries while I’m onstage and then I can return to my teetotaling, dog-walking life. I get so frustrated when I see people onstage who aren’t enjoying it or aren’t taking advantage of it, so I really just take advantage of that moment. It’s very spontaneous and it can be magical. I’m pushing it further than I did in Sleater-Kinney, and certainly I’ve seen Mary start to really enjoy herself onstage and express herself in a way that I hadn’t seen. Part of that is just feeling so confident with the other players in the band and knowing that they’ll back you up. There’s less pressure. In a three-piece, each element has to be firing at once. When you add more people, you can play with the dynamic more. I can put my guitar down and do something. I can not play for a second or Mary can not play or she can just play chords instead of having a solo. There’s just a lot of freedom that both of us feel.

Timony: Wild Flag is really fun because it’s much more of a live band than anything I’ve ever played in. My biggest weakness as a musician is that I’m not good at playing live. I’d never gotten it until I played with Wild Flag, and now it’s a whole new world. I’m like, Oh, live shows can be really fun. It’s just a different dynamic. Focusing on playing guitar is so awesome. It’s so nice to not have to hold down all the vocals and guitar and try to play keyboards. It’s fun to just play guitar and sing some of the songs.
O'Hara: The sequencing starts out like Carrie, Mary, Carrie, Mary... How do you make it cohesive with two frontmen?

Timony: The songs that came from stuff Carrie and I had brought in definitely have that feeling. The songs we all wrote together feel more cohesive. We’re more on that page now. We had to experiment a lot and try different ways of writing songs.

Brownstein: A big difference between the band at the beginning and the band now is just that everybody is writing. It’s not just Mary and me bringing in songs. Janet thinks like a producer -- an arranger -- so our songs are pretty much produced before we go into the studio because of her. She really thinks about things and edits. We’re all part of the process. Mary and I don’t sing a lot together or even over the same song -- so that kind of leaves us a place to go. On the next record, I would want potentially us to be singing on the same song. But on the other hand, we’re both enjoying not singing. When Mary sings, I don’t have to sing. I can play guitar. That leaves a distinction between the songs. Our styles aren’t that disparate. She’s cooler and more mysterious and her songs have this different kind of attitude. It’s the music that brings them together.

Cole: Wild Flag is different from any other project I’ve been in. Some of the songs really did come out of a jam or a riff that someone had and we’ll just sit there and work it until we have something that sounds good. We’ll build from there and it’s all in the room. We’re all very active. I haven’t had that before, where I’m writing the part as the song takes shape. And listening to what everyone else is doing and having ideas for other parts.

* "Say what you will about the Ten Commandments, you will always come back to the pleasant fact that there are only ten of them." -- H.L. Mencken


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