New York! New York! So good they hyped it twice.
Never one to miss out on riding that big old fashion wagon, No Ripcord meets up with Longwave, friends of The Strokes and purveyors of priceless pop, for a short chat about river boats and day job hell, amongst other fascinating subjects. Present are Steve Schiltz (Vocals/Guitar), Shannon Ferguson (Guitar), Dave Marchese (Bass) and Mike James (Drums).
So how did you all hook up?
Steve: We've been a band for a little over three years and we started in New York, Mike and I went to high school together, in upstate New York. We joined up with these Yayhoos and started just goofing around, playing for fun and eventually it became a more serious venture for all of us.
You've been touring pretty solidly, how many dates have you done this year?
Steve: Jeez! A bunch, I was looking on the site the other day and I guess about 120, something like that, but we had a little time off in the summer to make our record.
You've toured with some really cool bands, like The Strokes and you've just done some dates with The Vines - are you aware of the press hysteria surrounding The Vines here?
Steve: Yeah, it's both true and blown out of proportion I guess, it's a little of both.
We caught you at The Reading Festival, was that good for you?
Steve: Reading was weird, because it was the most rigid of the three festivals that we did. We only had our dressing room for about a half an hour and it's really obvious when you're at our level that you're lower on the totem pole than a lot of the other acts. Which is fine, it's just by the time we got to Glasgow it was more like there was only two stages and we weren't able to mingle with bands and the people we wanted to say hello to.
Did you get to see many of the bands?
Steve: Yeah, we got to see The Strokes and they were amazing. And Jane's Addiction.
That's been a good thing for you getting hooked up with The Strokes, how did that happen?
Steve: I knew their manager from booking shows and one night he brought them to see us play, I had never seen them before and they walked in and I was so intimidated, just by the way they looked and I thought "Holy shit! Look at those guys! ". They weren't even selling out tiny clubs then, a lot of bands just come and go, but I remember thinking "WOW! These guys might be pretty good".
The whole New York thing has blown up big time. Have there always been that many good bands, or is it simply press exposure?
Dave: There's just so many fucking bands playing, like on a Tuesday night there's a hundred bands playing and you don't know them all and you don't know what's going on. I think it's good now, because people are paying attention, but there were just as many good bands ten years ago, nobody really cared, that's the only difference really.
Is there a risk of a Seattle-like overexposure happening, where bands re-locate to New York and it destroys the scene?
Dave: I hope not!
Mike: I've thought of that fear.
How come there's such a rich diversity of musical styles in New York?
Dave: That's 'cause the city's so diverse. The last time people really took notice was in the 70's and none of those bands sounded the same, Blondie didn't sound the same as The Ramones. There's no "music scene" in New York, there's eight or nine "music scenes".
So the album's done, produced by Dave Fridmann. He has produced so many great albums, how was it working with him?
Dave: Incredible! He's got like the best haircut, production, like the perfect bowl haircut, that's like the inspiration for me. We really love The Flaming Lips; I think The Soft Bulletin was the reason why we wanted to work with him.
Steve: He created an environment where you just felt you could do anything. I wanted to use a pump organ on one of the songs, so he went and got a pump organ from this old antique shop. It just seems like every idea is equally valid to him, you could have what you consider the craziest idea and you've been told a million times won't work and he'll consider it as any other idea can be considered.
Of all the bands that you have been compared to, which comparisons are the most valid?
Dave: I don't know, we haven't been compared to shite yet, so it's all kind of flattering.
Steve: There are so many bands, one part could sound like Radiohead and another part can sound like any number of bands.
Mike: It's just a whole bunch of stuff and Bowie and The Smiths.
Talking of British bands, which British bands influenced you?
Mike: There are so many; The Cure, Joy Division. I was a Brit-Pop guy, I loved Oasis, but Suede were my favourite, The Verve, the list goes on. I saw Richard Ashcroft on Top Of The Pops, I've just got his new album, but I'm not sure about it yet.
Yeah, it's shit. He has too much of a high opinion of himself, he thinks that he can put anything out and it will be profound.
Dave: The Lou Reed syndrome
What are your views on Lou Reed?
Dave: I liked Lou Reed when he was the "junky faggot" that the press were calling him in the 70's, more than this high art thing.
So what is the ultimate goal for the band?
Steve: For me it's not having to work a day job ever again, to make a living playing the music that we love. If we just sell enough to continue making records, then that's enough; you can't expect anything more than that, if it does happen then that's great.
What crappy day jobs have you had then?
Steve: I worked in the back of a bank, moving boxes.
Dave: Shannon had the best job, selling apples at the farmer's market.
Steve: It depends how far you want to go back, I had so many shitty factory jobs back home.
Dave: I taught martial arts to children.
Steve: I played on a riverboat in New Orleans, playing KC and The Sunshine Band and Tom Jones songs. When you're 18 or 19 and they offer you $300 to play these songs and you don't have to do a shitty factory job, you don't care. I feel like all of us will play music in some capacity, for the rest of our lives, even if nothing does happen with the band. We will always play music, in our bedrooms, with friends at the corner bar or something, for the rest of our lives.
So they carry on, playing for the people, as long as they'll listen and even if they don't, you'll probably catch them in a drowsy New York bar, playing the songs they love.