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11 March 2008

An Interview with Phil Elverum (aka The Microphones aka Mt. Eerie)

Thursday March 6th to Saturday March 8th, cult singer-songwriter Phil Elverum is playing a handful of California shows. We’ve used this as an opportunity to talk to him about hardcore punk, nature worship, and where he wants to die. Here is the unexpurgated Q&A.

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Where are you?.
I’m in a town called Marfa, Texas, a weird art town in deep west Texas.

There’s a compound dedicated to the minimalist sculptor Donald Judd there, right?
Yes. I have some friends who have been living here for the last two months. I came down to drive back with a few of them. It seemed like a cool road trip. I thought about setting up a show decided against it. I wanted to just come here for fun.

Are you pretty nomadic? I went to Iceland a few summers ago and remember seeing a photocopied flyer advertising a show of yours in some odd, out-of-the way place. And I know you have some complicated relationship with Norway. Do you make a point of not touring in traditional venues?
There are normal tours. But I guess I tend to go to places I want to go to, rather than going where the money is.

Is there an ethic behind that?
I am drawn to cold, desolate places rather than Hawaii. I actually love Hawaii too, but I tend to go to Iceland or Norway or Northern Japan — northern places for whatever reason. Which aren’t necessarily the best places to tour.

Is there something special about playing places like that — the more remote the better?
The more remote the place the more special it is because the audience is glad you came, they’re glad for the attention.

Do you have a special connection to these places – a personal history?
It could just be called a fixation. I mean, yeah, my last name is Norwegian, and I’ve kind of been interested in my idea of that culture. But it’s more like…it kind of felt like these were the cool kids who were exotic and far away, and I felt like the unpopular kid going to sit with the popular kids. But now we’re friends.

Is there a direct family connection?
I think it was 100 years ago – so far enough back that I never knew anyone that came from there. [Elverum pauses, and returns with a digression-ed.]

After the jump, it starts snowing in the Texas sun.
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Posted by Alec Hanley Bemis  

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4 March 2008

Jeffrey Lewis (Interviewed) & Crass (Covered)

In this week’s print edition of LA Weekly, I contributed a piece about Jeffrey Lewis’s new album 12 Crass Songs, and the phenomenon of young(ish) indie rockers covering 80s era hardcore punk songs. Here is the unexpurgated Q&A.

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What are you doing the next few months?
Well I’m doing a bunch of solo dates opening for the Super Furry Animals and Times New Viking and immediately after that I’m doing the west coast with the Mountain Goats, and then I’m doing a bunch of one offs with Kimya Dawson + Mount Eerie, and then a full US tour with Ra Ra Riot and The Cribs. I’ll do whatever I can scrouge up. I’ve worked with whatever I manage to bring up. All this US stuff wraps up in April 4th, and then I’m doing some festival stuff in Belgium starting April 15th. So we have about a week off between now and May.

Is it an interesting time to go out there with Kimya given her recent success?
I’ve played tons of shows with her in various situations. I’ve known her for years so it’s not that strange.

Well you have to acknowledge it seems like a pretty good time for anti-folk again — between Kimya contributing all those songs to the Juno soundtrack, one of the best selling records of this year, and you having a bit of a renaissance of interest with your 12 Crass Songs?
For myself it’s not so much that there’s been a resurgence because…don’t call it a comeback I’ve been here for years.

After the jump, a Teenage Kicks exclusive: Will Jeffrey Lewis’s next covers project be devoted to Public Enemy?
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Posted by Alec Hanley Bemis  

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