Prior to recording the band's fourth album, Tears of the Valedictorian, Carey Mercer of Victoria, BC's Frog Eyes began to question the longevity of the band's previous output, asking himself: "Are we making records that people are going to want to listen to in five years?" Where 2004's The Folded Palm was full of explosive and fragmentary songs, Tears is a far more spacious and dynamic set. Last month, Mercer talked to me about the new album and its tenuous relation to that other Canadian rocker, Neil Young.
MERCURY: You wanted Tears to be an album that would hold an enduring appeal. Were there any models you had in mind?
>MERCER: The record is actually loosely modeled on the first Neil Young record [with Crazy Horse], Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere. I don't mind saying that because I don't think he would know that. There are two long songs, a few quieter ditties, and a few "Cinnamon Girl"s in there.
Have any of your past albums been similarly inspired?
Well, when I say model, it's pretty loose. But I wanted a few records we made to have the kind of feel of the [Brian] Eno record Here Come the Warm Jets, where things are flowing in and out of each other.
You're citing Neil Young and Eno as influences. What about Shakespeare and Dante?
It's all the same. You should take your inspiration from whatever inspires you. I happened to take a few university classes where the beauty of those works was explained to me in a really compelling way and it sunk in, I suppose, just the way the beauty of [David] Bowie sinks into so many songwriters. It's not like I'm going around taking people's iPods, throwing them in the garbage and giving them Homer or something. Everyone should be singing about the things that are swirling around their own universe.