Friday, September 29, 2006

Mini-Interview: Say Hi To Your Mom

When I first got Say Hi To Your Mom’s latest album Impeccable Blahs back in early August, I listened to it a lot. Since then, I’ve listened to it even more. In the future? I plan to keep on listening to it.

It’s just one of those albums that demand that sort of constant attention … Not to say that’s it's needy. In fact, it’s the opposite: It’s a giver.

It provides new wave beats so good they can charm those who don’t even like new wave, pop hooks that can catch the most cynical ear, and lines so sharp that they could slice a man in two before he even knows he's being cut.

Since I didn’t really know a damn thing about Say Hi To Your Mom, the cd was a complete -- and completely pleasant -- surprise.

Still, I needed to know more… So, I checked in with band frontman Eric Elbogen to ask him a dozen or so questions he’s probably heard a hundred times before.

But, in the end? I'd like to think we both learned something…

(Or else I might be writing while drunk again.)

Hi, Eric. How’s it going? How long have you been doing this?

I started Say Hi To Your Mom in 2002. Before that I had been playing in bands for ten years and had been writing songs for about fourteen years. Wow, that makes me feel old ...

You were a solo artist for your first few albums. What made you decide to change to a full band?

I didn’t. Jeff and Chris had been touring with me for a couple years and we got along and they were good players and when it was time to make the record they got involved. I’m very glad they did.

I actually just played my last show with them though, because they’ve decided they don’t want to tour anymore. I’m about to move away from New York too, to the west coast somewhere, at least for a while.

I’ve heard you say elsewhere that Impeccable Blahs is, for lack of a better term, a concept album where all the songs are based around vampires. First off, why vampires?

Why not vampires?

Do all of the songs have that theme? I can certainly hear it in These Fangs, Blah Blah Blah, and She Just So Happens To Date The Prince of Darkness, but not in tracks like Sad … But Endearingly So.

The theme is there in all the songs, although it is a little more blatant in some. Sad is a song about vampires interviewing their potential prey.

Were you testing yourself by sticking with one theme?

Not so much testing myself as much as just making the writing process a little more interesting for myself.

Okay. You’re probably tired of talking about who your influences are. So let me ask you instead, how have your influences changed over the course of recording four albums?

I don’t know that they have changed because of making records. They change I guess because new, great records come out and when I hear them, it’s like they are giving me the finger, saying “Ha! Beat that, you wimp.”

That happened with certain Spoon records, certain Radiohead records, certain Broken Social Scene records...

What the name of your band from?

It’s actually my legal name, Eric Elbogen is just a pseudonym.

You just went on tour with Dirty on Purpose. How did that go? (Sorry, I missed you guys play in LA.)

It was great. I love those guys. And they party harder than Say Hi ever has, so hanging out with them redefined the idea of being in a rock band for me.

What’s next for you? Any new tour plans or recordings looming in your immediate future?

The next tour starts in a couple of weeks. It ends in mid-November, at which point I’m gonna drive all my stuff to the west coast, set up my studio and make another record.

The tour after that won’t happen until March, which will be a nice break for me because we will have toured on and off for half of 2006.

Last question: Who are you listening to these days?

Dirty on Purpose, The Silversun Pickups, Hot Chip, Spoon, Thom Yorke, Sunset Rubdown, Tokyo Police Club, Dr. Dog, Bjork, The Long Winters, and that new Yo La Tengo record, which I think is incredible.

That’s it! Thanks for your time, Eric.

One would guess from Say Hi To Your Mom’s tour schedule that they’ll be in town next sometime around October 21st, but they haven’t announced a date or venue yet.

- Dirty On Purpose Mini-Interview
- The Silversun Pickups Mini-Interview


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