Wednesday, March 23, 2011

You Can Dance If You Want To

So, right, Duran Duran played SXSW this year,
and oh the nostalgia that burned like a quicksilver fever
through certain demographics that used to wear legwarmers.

Was there swooning?
Was there squealing?
Good bleeding Christ.

For me, though: Whatevs.

Partly because my memories (and appreciation of New Wave in general)
were tweaked by the sweeter knowledge that Men Without Hats
were also playing the festival, in preparation for their upcoming tour.

Men Without Hats!

I mean, "Safety Dance," right?
I mean, "Antarctica."

(And I don't mean much else, because Men Without Hats
are a bit too poppy for me after that, a bit too ... cute, maybe?
Or: The songs lack a certain something
that I'd rather they not lack? Yeah, clear as mud.)

(But: Oh, those two songs!)

I wound up not seeing them anyway ~ with or without hats.
Because I don't really do live music, almost spitefully,
unless it's part of a theatrical show or the players are friends of mine.

Hey, we all have our things.

But I jumped ~ literally sprang from my chair, anyway
as I'm sure R. Hernandez or A. Schroeder will corroborate ~
at the chance to interview MWH's creative epicenter Ivan Doroschuk.

And so I did interview him, via phone
~ an actual landline, goddam ~
before he & the newest bandmembers arrived in Austin.

And the Chronicle published an even more truncated version
of the already truncated version of the transcript I'd made
of our brief but pleasant conversation.

But never mind that.

Here's the ~ longer and (I reckon) better ~ version of the interview:

Brenner: Disregarding any idea of nostalgia, and even what a fucking terrific song “Safety Dance” is, what’s it like having created such a powerful cultural touchstone?

Doroschuk: I’m constantly amazed at what goes on with that song. My all-time favorite was the Beavis & Butt-Head thing. Check that one out, it’s really funny. The punchline was something like, “This guy keeps saying he can dance, but he can’t dance.”

[Maybe at this point Brenner attempted to mimic the Butt-Head laugh,
which attempt may have been met with polite silence.]

Brenner: So, uh ... why did you choose to set the song’s video where you did, with the Morris dancing and the maypole and all?

Doroschuk: Well, we were originally signed to an English label called Statik Records, and they had bands like The Slits and The Chameleons UK, bands like that. It was a really small label, and their people put the video together. It was Tim Pope who did that, who also did most of the Cure videos. 

Brenner: If you don’t mind me talking about all your old songs, which are the ones I know … although, actually, what about the new ones? Are they available anywhere yet?

Doroschuk:  No, we haven’t released anything yet. We’re going to be trying out new stuff on the tour. That’s the beauty of the industry today: You don’t even have to put together a whole CD. If you have a good song, you can put it out there, and people are used to it. It’s a lot more immediate, these days. It must be really fun to be a new band today, to be somebody just starting off? There’s just so much out there, so many possibilities, so many possible connections.

Brenner: Has the Internet helped your music sales in general?

Doroschuk: Oh yeah, I think it’s helped everything. I’ve discovered so much music myself, that I would’ve never known about. Even music from my generation – I’m constantly discovering bands from the Seventies that were just awesome bands but they went by unnoticed. The Internet’s an awesome, awesome tool for everybody, y’know?

Brenner: If one of the new songs really connects with an audience and it’s one that you guys like, too, is there a possibility you’d make a video for it?

Doroschuk: Oh, I’m sure.

Brenner: What can you tell me about “Treblinka,” which I’d guess is the darkest-sounding song you’ve written?

Doroschuk: I don’t think that was officially released. That was off a demo tape that never really saw the light of day.

Brenner: I heard it on The Silver Collection?

Doroschuk: Yeah, that’s an unofficial kind of thing. That whole album was put out by, ah, I had nothing to do with that, basically.

Brenner: Ha, how things can get away from you – Jesus!

Doroschuk: Yeah, I have a very unscrupulous ex-manager.

Brenner: Thank god for the “ex” part.  And, ah, hey, do you ~
do you read Metafilter online?

Doroschuk: Metafilter, yup.

Brenner: Because I followed a link from there last night, and wound up looking at these absolutely gorgeous photos of Antarctica, all these ice caves and stuff. And I was wondering what inspired you to write your song that references that place … ?

Doroschuk: Just the whole new wave movement, with the cold wave stuff, y’know? There was this sort of icy, robotic feel to the whole scene. That was basically the inspiration for it.

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