f/k: I should probably start off by asking how you guys met and give you the ole 'one, two, how do you do.' Instead, I have a more pressing question in mind. I heard a rumor that one of you was in a commercial for a Verizon phone appearing as Old Saint Nick, or someone along those lines. Anyone care to comment on the experience or validity?
DS: We have no idea what you’re talking about.
f/k: Now that's that out of the way, could you briefly walk through how you guys started to where you are now?
DS: We’re all currently living in Los Angeles, we met through jobs, girlfriends, and other friends.
(Will’s note: Jesse and I were living together in Los Angeles – as roommates, not in the Biblical sense – and we started writing some songs. Then we met Mike, and then we met Chris. And then we were formed. Then we really stumbled into a recording contract almost accidentally, and recorded our first record. That brings us up to this afternoon. I’ve been doing some illustrations in Adobe Illustrator, and editing spreadsheets in Excel, which I prefer to iWork because it seems to use less RAM.)
f/k: I first heard you guys when you did your Daytrotter session, which I still uphold as one of the best sessions I've heard due to your great live sound. Many people also say you put on an amazing live show. Besides apparently handing out gold to the crowd, what are you doing that makes you so good live? Do you enjoy your sound more during shows than in studio? As New Englanders, we are anxious to know: Are there any East Coast shows in the works?
DS: First of all, thank you very much for the compliment. When we first started the band, Daytrotter was a “wouldn’t that be nice” kind of idea. When it actually happened, well, it was a very wonderful moment. Walking in there and thinking that we got to be a part of something that a lot of our favorite bands are a part of, that was all very exciting too.
And thank you also for the live comment. We don’t know what we’re doing. Anytime I (and I feel like I’m speaking on behalf of my co-workers [bandmates]) see an amazing performance it’s because the artist was completely lost in it. Whether they’re spitting on themselves while wallowing in their own filth, or in a completely focused trance while playing a Tchaikovsky concerto, it’s that “connection” to the music that is the most important part of the live process, and we try to write/play music that we can feel close to.
As far as the studio question, I believe that’s a question that will be best answered once we’re finished with our next record.
East Coast shows? We’re broke, we need a bigger band to take us out, or a phenomenal spike in our fan base (maybe this interview will attribute to the latter?).
(Will’s notes: I think our live sound is less stressful for us, because it’s really loud, and it isn’t on the global permanent record as The Best Version Of This Specific Song That Has Ever Existed. That’s what recording is. And that’s why it’s maaaaaakkkiiiinnggg meeeee feeeeeelll CRAAAAZZZZZYYY!!!!! )
f/k: You named your debut album The Ortolan. Where did the name come from? Did you consider other bunting birds like, The Yellowhammer?
DS: It came from one of our producers of that record, Nico Aglietti. He had heard the story about it on This American Life. It was hard for us to believe that is was real thing partly because of the way that Nico tells stories, and partly because it’s hard to believe that anyone would want to chew on a broiled bird, feathers and all.
(Will’s note: Sometimes Ortolans sing, and sometimes they get fattened up and boiled in liquor. Nobody seems to have such specific fantasies about other small birds, and how they’d like to boil them, which must mean that Ortolans are pretty special. )
f/k: The Ortolan was released in '07, and since then I've been giddy as a school girl waiting for new material. Any idea when we'll see something new? Are there new songs in the works that you're playing live?
DS: We’ve played two of the songs live, other than that just a lot of writing and hashing out. If you go to our imeem page, you can hear “Doesn’t Matter” in our “live at the Hammer museum show” playlist.
(Will’s note: Seems like, with the rise of “emo” as a subculture, and the popularity of the “woe is me, life is hard” aesthetic, school girls are less giddy, and more depressed. “Sad as a school girl.”)
Doesnt Matter - The Deadly Syndrome
f/k: There's a story inside The Ortolan about a guy named Thomas that left me somewhat perplexed. What's the story behind that?
DS: Mike wrote and illustrated that. If I recall correctly he just did it to do it, and the rest of us thought it would be a great addition to making the iTunes version of the record a bit more special.
(Will’s note: I think there’s a little bit of Thomas in all of us. Ring ring ring.)
f/k: Are there any rather unknown bands you're listening to now that you think should be getting more publicity?
DS: US! Just kidding, no seriously, The Deadly Syndrome! No really though, um well, we just (Dec. 13th 2008) played a great benefit show for Doctors Without Borders with Castledoor (MySpace), Amnion (MySpace), The Pity Party (MySpace), The Happy Hollows (MySpace) and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros (MySpace). It was a really great show, we raised about $4800 for the charity. But the reason why we played with those bands is because we think they’re all really great, so yes, that’s my answer.
(Will’s note: Spleen United [MySpace])
f/k: Finally, you have to eat a steak with either only a fork, or only a knife. Which one do you use and why?
DS: Does this count? I took these photos of Hanson when they took the stage right after us at a SXSW-2008 party. Turns out us and Hanson are into the same things: just playing some tunes with your bros.
I didn't really get the answer to that last question, but anything regarding Hanson is A-Ok with me. We really appreciate The Deadly Syndrome taking some time to answer our questions, so show them some love. Visit their:
Official website here
Daytrotter session here
iTunes page here