Thurs June 12
"I'm impressed by people who can write really good pop songs," says Carl Newman--a man who writes some really good pop songs, himself, in his band the New Pornographers. "I've been listening to Outrageous Cherry, and I'm really struck by how great the songwriting is. They don't have an angle; all they do is write good pop songs. I think in a way, that's not enough these days." I asked him what he thought New Pornographers' angle is, considering they're just a solid power pop band with rapturous harmonies. He responded, "Well, we've got Neko Case in the band. That's a pretty good angle."
I thought that was a pretty good angle, too. Here is an excerpt of the rest of our conversation.
What is the theme of Electric Version, your excellent new record on Matador?
A lot of the record is the distortion of the truth: how people lie to themselves, and also war propaganda and patriotism. The way any message gets distorted. The way a song gets distorted when it's in your head and transfers to CD.
The songs change from how you hear them in your head, and how they end up on disc?
When I'm writing songs, I'm thinking of what they're going to sound like at the end. It's kind of spectral, and a lot of it's just done in the studio. Sometimes I'm just writing music about music, cause it seems like that's the only honest thing you can write about when you're making rock music.
What do you mean by "writing music about music"?
I guess the fact that by writing some loud, propulsive rock song, it's perhaps not the best way to tell the story of a hobo who died in his sleep. It's just rock music. Which is why, for me, a great lyricist was Marc Bolan in T-Rex. The lyrics just expressed this fucked up kind of rock and roll soul. And at the heart of it, I think it is just about searching for some kind of truth.