Hello Evagelia and Brian. Thanks for doing this interview. When did you both get into music? Have you been involved in any other projects? What instruments do you play and how long have you been playing them?
B-I started in the school band in 6th grade. I wanted to play the French horn but the teacher said that I had no potential so she gave me the oboe instead. That lasted about 3 years until I switched to guitar because I thought Slash kicked ass. Playing music wasn’t a very serious thing for me in high school; I was much more interested in skateboarding, girls, and causing trouble. Throughout college and graduate school I played in a few different bands, but the most important thing was that I began to make my own songs on the computer. I have to admit though; I really want to pick up the oboe again.
E- I took piano lessons as a kid, but my teacher was a perverted, fat man who would make me do pushups whenever I made a mistake, so needless to say that didn’t last long. When I was 15, I was in charge of banging the drums in sync with “All Tomorrow’s Parties” in the basement of my friend Johnny Carpenter’s house. I’ve wanted to sing ever since my sisters held “Who Can Sing like Whitney Houston Competitions” in our parents’ living room. There was a lot of heartbreak involved in those things. Brian’s the first person I met when I moved to NY. I was waiting for the bus and asked him what he was listening to on his headphones. Making music with him was inevitable I suppose, considering our relationship started over a shared song.
You basically have an album and three eps out at this point. How do you see your sound evolving from your first ep to your Thisquietarmy release?
B-I think the sound has evolved a lot. At the beginning, the tracks were really just sort of sketches and sound experiments. If you look at the first EP, I’m not sure if there’s a real “song” on there. As the EP’s progressed, I think they began to balance out the experimental with more structured arrangements. For the release on thisquietarmy, we went through those first 3 EPs and picked out our favorite songs. We wanted to show where we were going so we recorded “Fire” and “You’re Not Safe at All” the month before we gave out the master disc.
E- We made a pact that when it’s not fun anymore we’ll stop playing. We’re honest with each other when something isn’t working, and we learn from our mistakes. Eric Quach from thisquietarmy was on the same page with us when he put out the “Self-Titled” record. It’s been a nice match.
How do you go about writing your music? What is the process like for both of you as individuals and as a group?
B-The music starts in a variety of ways. Sometimes it begins as a simple finger-picked acoustic part, sometimes it begins with a beat, and sometimes we work off a vocal melody. It really comes from a variety of places which helps us be more diverse in the end. Once we have a starting point we usually just jam on the parts and see where they go.
E-The best songs we’ve written have come from fooling around and drinking Vitamin water, I recommend it.
B-For me, vitamin water is code for whiskey.
E- Most of the lyrics come from guilt. It’s all the life stuff that never really works out. After I figure out a melody; the words just sort of fall into place.
What is your hope for your music? Do you see yourselves touring the country anytime soon?
B-I hope our music solves world hunger, gets the troops out of Iraq, discovers the cure for AIDS, and reverses global warming.
E-My hope is that someone, somewhere is listening to it in their bedroom and singing along and thinking, “this was written for me.” If that’s happened at least once, I’m pretty damn happy. Touring would be wonderful! We’ll see where things take us. We took some time off from playing to write a little, but now we’re gearing up for shows again, starting it off with a bang in Montreal.
What do you do for a living outside of your music project?
B-I teach English at the former John Jay High School in Brooklyn, you might have heard it referenced on “Illmatic” by Nas. I would kill for my kids because they are the best. I’ve learned that when you see a girl take her earrings out that something bad is going to happen, and the best way to sneak in razor blades is in the battery compartment of a cell phone.
E-I design visual environments for Barneys New York Co-Op, and do display for their stores. It’s like a glamorous construction job; you’re working with all this luxury stuff but destroying it at the same time. That’s as close to punk as I’ll ever get, I’m from Jersey for God’s sake. I also paint, even though everyone in their right mind knows that’s a recipe for the poor house. Where’s a benefactor when you need one?
What instruments do you use both in the studio and live?
B-When we began we used an acoustic guitar, a computer, and a microphone. As we wrote, we brought in more instruments. Right now, we’re using a sampler, drums, farfisa organ, and electric guitar live. We’ve added quite a bit of looping to allow the two of us to cover a lot of ground live. In the studio (my apartment), the computer is involved in almost every aspect.
E-Marlboro lights and a tambourine.
What artists, including authors and painters, do you see as influences on your work?
E-All the following have knocked my socks off in some way: Caravaggio, Jacopo Pontormo, Marcel Duchamp, Joseph Cornell, Andy Warhol, Lisa Yuskavage, Brian Wilson, David Bowie, Ian McCullough, Nico, Julee Cruise, and Karen Carpenter.
B-Richard Baluyut, Andrew Beaujon, Nick McCabe, Michael Sandison, Marcus Eoin, Kevin Shields, Shawn Carter, Richard D. James, Neil Halsted, Brian McBride, Adam Witzie, Victor Villarreal, Eric Bocek, and since my day job is that of an English teacher I no longer enjoy reading.
What is in your current music rotation?
B- Jay-Z (Reasonable Doubt and the Black album, can’t nobody fuck with that), Starflyer 59 (Jason Martin has written about 100 of my favorite songs ever), and Stars of the Lid (perfect for sleep and has given me the ability to predict the future…well, at least this week it has).
E- I have recently become obsessed with Aimee Man’s “Voice’s Carry” video when she was in ‘Til Tuesday. The whole ripping off her hat in the opera impresses the hell out of me. I’ve also been listening to Beach House, 65 Days of Static, Built to Spill, Mogwai, Low, Explosions in the Sky, Guided by Voices, and Iron and Wine.
Any other comments?
B-“You either get down or you lay down, and if you lay down…you stay down.”
E- Thanks for interviewing us.
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