Friday, January 11, 2008

Mini-Interview: Death To Anders

Last Saturday morning, we spoke with Death To Anders' Rob Danson and Nick Ceglio over AIM about the band’s past, present, and future -- right on the eve of their FREE CD Release Event at Boardner’s on Tuesday night with Wait Think Fast and The Monolators.

And we talked for a long, long time... Here's the conversation in its near entirety (and almost completely unedited glory).

You have just entered room "chatno13949423463792352920."
NICK has entered the room.
ROB has entered the room.
ROB: hello everyone
NICK: wordup, children!!
RFSL: Good morning!
RFSL: How are you guys doing this morning?
ROB: I'm still hopped up on coffee
ROB: there?
NICK: im a bit sleep deprived but im ready to rock
NICK: and a bit slow also
RFSL: Thanks for meeting so early. I've got a refrigerator repairman coming in a bit and then I'm spending the rest of the weekend moving (between raindrops).
RFSL: So this is the only time I knew I'd be around.
ROB: Where ya moving to?
NICK: sweet! where to??
RFSL: I'm moving from one side of Spaceland to the other.
RFSL: Over near The Red Lion?
RFSL: My girlfriend's place.
NICK: im jealous.
ROB: At least you're still close to all the action
NICK: wait....not cuz i wanna live with your girlfriend.....
RFSL: Where are you at?
RFSL: Ha ha.
ROB: nick is homeless
NICK: the valley
NICK: behind VONS
ROB: in a cardboard box
NICK: no dude.....thats so cliche
ROB: under a manhole
NICK: i built a little shanty town
ROB: shall we do this thing?
RFSL: You should move in with Rob! He's right near The Echo.
ROB: I'd kill him if he lived with me
NICK: hey joe...i was telling rob that i just downloaded your local mix for 08
RFSL: Oh, cool. How do you like it?
NICK: so cool man! there were at least 10 bands i'd been meaning to listen to but never have
RFSL: I'm getting some weird lag with this...
NICK: The Spires.....Tandemoro.......really cool!!
RFSL: I'm amazed by how good it came together. It's all I've been listening to.
NICK: Castledoor too....they're fun.
RFSL: Yeah, I love it.
NICK: my girlfriend and i were eating at the Bright Spot the other day and we thought we saw the lead singer of castledoor....
NICK: but we were too scared to talk to him so we just stared at him. and i'll shut up
RFSL: Ha ha.
RFSL: Cool. So, tell me about how you guys started the band.
NICK: I found Rob at the Musician’s Institute back in 2004
ROB: Nick and I met in the Recording Artist Program at the Musician’s Institute. One of the main reasons we got together was because we were totally different from the hair metal rockers that saturated the school.
ROB: we mutually loved old modest mouse, elliot smith, etc...
NICK: yeah.....everyone was into either hair metal or Motorhead
ROB: We played an open mic and we got no response
NICK: no disrespect to the Ace of Spades...but we weren’t feelin it
NICK: yeah it was pretty pathetic
ROB: right when we finished, a metal band came up and everyone rushed the stage
NICK: it was perfect
NICK: so i guess we've been playing for what......almost 4 years together?
ROB: yeah...Nick and I have been
ROB: We've had 3 drummers and two bassists along the way
RFSL: That's kind of Spinal Tap-like.
NICK: and about 7,000 groupies
ROB: but we're totally set on our final lineup (which has been around for over a year)
NICK: rob is a madman
NICK: yep....Peter and John are here to stay.
NICK: until they stop buying us beer
RFSL: How did you get Peter and John?
NICK: We found pete on Craigslist.....
ROB: We found Pete on Craigslist. He was with us for a year before we found John
ROB: Pete and John had known each other for years
NICK: actually pete played with john in the band CROONER
ROB: they were in a band called Crooner, along with Nikkie Monager and Chris from the Silversun Pickups
ROB: Nikki played keyboards, and chris was the frontman
NICK: we were super lucky to net those dudes
ROB: they have an amazing chemistry between them
ROB: I spelled Nikki wrong
NICK: no i think that’s right
RFSL: How do you feel like the band has changed from when you first played that open mic?
ROB: Everything has changed. First off, Nick and I know each other much better musically
NICK: hah......when we played at first we had no idea what our sound was
RFSL: What had you discussed doing when you started?
ROB: At first, we liked the same music, but there were a lot of differences in our writing styles
NICK: ....i was writing a bunch of sad sappy singer-songwriter stuff...and rob was doing the Pavement thing which i was totally clueless about
ROB: I was way too abrasive, and he was way too clean and pretty. We've now met in the middle
NICK: i'm still really pretty. facially and emotionally
NICK: but i punch rob in the face every now and then and it makes me feel very punk rock
RFSL: But not clean?
NICK: not clean. thank you for pointing that out, joe. i feel very secure about myself now
ROB: He's homeless. How clean can you get when you bathe in the LA river
NICK: i hate you both
RFSL: My girlfriend just brought me glorious coffee.
ROB: My girlfriend just yelled at me because I didn't clean out the dishwasher this morning.
RFSL: Or I should say my glorious girlfriend just brought me coffee.
RFSL: You have a dishwasher!
ROB: I'm a pimp like that
NICK: i have a sink
RFSL: Sorry, I'm becoming fascinated by domestic shit right now.
NICK: i swear
RFSL: So how has the band changed since you nailed the line-up?
ROB: I think the songs have become more emotional. Both lyrically and musically.
NICK: and more fucked up.........and having a rhythm section that’s played together since '99 helps our songwriting in ways i never thought possible
ROB: Our new rhythm section really helps compliments our style. They can bring the excitement to a new level
NICK: that was the missing piece all along really.....
ROB: Pete is one of the only bass players that I know that can play really busy-like without stepping on any of our toes
NICK: and John is bald and sexy
NICK: and he hits the shit out of the skins
ROB: He's also an amazing drummer.
RFSL: That's great. I've always really liked you guys, but I feel like every time I've heard you in the last year, it's been better and better and better.
ROB: Thanks!
RFSL: (And we'll save the album for a bit later...)
ROB: It always helps when you're playing with people that you look up to musically.
NICK: i must also say are one of my favorite songwriters......its reassuring to me as a songwriter to be surrounded by people that are better than myself
ROB: lets fuck
NICK: you ruined the mood. i lit the candles and you pissed on em
ROB: (don't put that in the interview)
RFSL: I'm really bad about describing what bands sound like, but I'm really bad at describing you guys for some reason.
RFSL: (I'm totally putting that in the interview.)
RFSL: I start to write something about folk meets punk rock...
ROB: We're kind of all over the place. We bring so many different things to the table
RFSL: And that doesn't nail it any way shape or form.
NICK: ...meets two stray rabbits dueling
RFSL: But you've been doing this for four years, so what do you tell people when they ask what your band sounds like?
ROB: yeah.....something like that. Noise, folk, abrasive, melodic....."Cluster Fuck Rock"
NICK: yeah i have no idea what to say when people ask me
ROB: Charlene from One Trick Pony called us "Gregorian Punk" because we harmonize with a lot of 5ths.
NICK: now i say The Beatles just to give them nothing
NICK: 4th
ROB: oh
RFSL: And they're all like, "I like The Beatles!"
NICK: exactly
ROB: If you want to compare us to bands, Id say a mix between Pixies Sonic Youth, Pavement, and then Elliot Smith, Decemberists, and Radiohead.
RFSL: You could say that you sound like Star Wars. Because everyone likes Star Wars, too.
ROB: and OLD modest mouse
NICK: you just named every band signed to a major label
NICK: we sound like aural vomit
ROB: no...Im sorry. Pavement is signed to indie label....douche bag
RFSL: Ha, ha.
NICK: joe...what do you sound like?
RFSL: I sound just like Star Wars.
NICK: pavement broke up dude. get over it and move on
NICK: sweet. i like Empire the best
RFSL: So, this new album...
ROB: I hear they're getting back together
NICK: ok new album....go!
RFSL: ... is pretty fucking fantastic.
ROB: thanks man!
NICK: seriously....thanks for listening.
ROB: We had so much fun creating it. Dave Newton, our producer, really nailed our sound
NICK: that’s the hardest thing to get people to really listen to shit
RFSL: How did it come together? Did you start working on it before you met up with Dave Newton or how did it work out?
NICK: some of the songs were a couple years old....some were a month or two old....
ROB: We wrote a lot of those songs over a year ago. Once we met up with Dave all the songs were completely finished
NICK: we recorded 15
ROB: We recorded with him in 8 days
NICK: put 10 on the album
ROB: It was really intense, but very inspirational
RFSL: Were they songs you'd been playing out? Or were still figuring out?
NICK: we've been playing the album for at least 6 months
NICK: right, robaire?
ROB: yup
ROB: We had played songs like Fictitious Business and Ghost Rock the most
RFSL: Cool. I thought a lot of the songs sounded familiar.
NICK: that made it much easier to record em in such a small time window
ROB: They all started coming together with the new lineup
RFSL: I'm really addicted to Camera Lens.
RFSL: That and the Everest song are my favorites on that 2008 mix, I think.
ROB: Thanks! Tons of people were telling me that they downloaded it off your site
NICK: yeah....we got some flak for putting it at the end of the album...but its a perfect ender
RFSL: Definitely.
RFSL: So what were those eight days in the studio like?
ROB: Yeah...Dave Newton was pissed we put that at the end, but we thought that ended the album (which can be dark at times)
RFSL: Sarah and Charlie say that Dave is really animated.
ROB: on a positive note
ROB: He is!!
RFSL: Where did he want to put it?
ROB: He's always joking around and laughing
RFSL: What did he want to put last?
NICK: really positive. just an overall good dude. he loves what he does......or he fakes it well
ROB: I donno....but he thinks that the single (which it is) should be up front
RFSL: He's worked with a lot of great bands here in the last few years.
NICK: some of our favorites. the henry clays....the Hollows
ROB: For us, Dave was on his hands and knees, fiddling with our effects peddles. He got the great tones that way
RFSL: And I know we have a lot of great bands here, but there are a lot of not great ones too and he seems to be ace at working with all the great ones.
ROB: Better than what I would have done on my own
NICK: work begets work.....and he does a great i think he just lives off of band referrals
RFSL: So sorry, you were talking about the process and I steered you away.
ROB: That's how we found him...from the Henry Clay People
[Some time passes.]
ROB: what was the question again?
NICK: i quit
ROB: are we still doing this
NICK: heh....yeah....i think so
NICK: its ok rob....calm down
ROB: Nick, did you by any chance put our remote controls for my tv in your backpack last night? we can't find them
RFSL: Sorry!
RFSL: I got pulled away by the refrigerator repairman for a sec.
RFSL: All apologies.
NICK: you have to go?
RFSL: No I'm good.
RFSL: It just came down to money stuff.
NICK: right on......rob got scared
ROB: greedy bastard
NICK: he was freaking out when you stopped responding
RFSL: It's funny how people always go to the guy in the house.
RFSL: When my girlfriend owns the place and I'm just some dude.
NICK: they might've swiped some stuff
RFSL: So, you were talking about what the eight days were like.
ROB: ahh
ROB: We pre-recorded scratch tracks of all the songs to a click
ROB: We then had John and Pete record over those scratch tracks.
RFSL: And I wanted to hear more from you about the process, but I'd started talking about other stuff.
NICK: really time to spend too much time on one song
NICK: naw its cool.....lets keep the ball rolling
ROB: We then deleted the scratch tracks and began on guitars...then vocals
NICK: then keys, percussion and other odds & ends
ROB: Dave was really fast and we were able to accomplish so much in those 8 days
NICK: we got to bring in some of our friends to play on tracks too
NICK: Sarah from The Happy Hollows did some backing vocals on Camera Lens
RFSL: So you guys pretty much knew everything you were going to do and had it all planned out from the start?
ROB: After that, we recorded some stuff in my apartment such as Charlene's violin and Sarah Negahdari's vocals
NICK: Todd McLaughlin's Banjo on Great Plains States
ROB: Most of it, except for Sarah's vocals on Camera Lens
ROB: She came to us with the idea after hearing the rough mixes
ROB: I picked her up and recorded her in my apartment. I had no clue what she was going to sing.
NICK: that’s what was different about this album from the first....the first album we did it ourselves
ROB: She impressed the fuck out of me and nick
NICK: have all the time in the world when you're recording it at your house.....or in this case, at the Musicians Institute
ROB: (the Musician’s Institute was for our first album)
NICK: but this time we had to know exactly what we wanted so we could just go in and bang it out.......economically sound, ya know?
NICK: everything’s different when you're on the clock
NICK: wait...that makes it sound like we were getting paid.
NICK: u know what i mean
RFSL: So, what's next for you guys?
ROB: Lets Independent on the 15th, and then a mini tour with Rademacher...up and down Cali
NICK: wait....actually, we're playing KXLU
NICK: and KillRadio.....
ROB: oh yeah.. Kill Radio on the 10th, KXLU on the 11th
RFSL: Demo Listen?
ROB: yup
ROB: live set
NICK: Then L. I.
NICK: and then the tour with rademacher
ROB: then off with Rademacher....we have a very busy month
RFSL: That's great. Octavius and Fred are some of my favorite music curmudgeons.
RFSL: Where are you guys headed with Rademacher?
ROB: Fresno, San Fran (the makeout room) Sacramento, Modesto
NICK: thats it i think
NICK: those guys really have their shit together
RFSL: (Remind me to tell you the story of how The Makeout Room got its name some time.)
ROB: We rented a 13 passenger van, so we can all ride together
RFSL: Yeah, they keep their game in order like the alphabet.
NICK: the makeout room has a shady past?
RFSL: You guys can sing Tiny Dancer on the van.
ROB: Their residency tour was very inspiring to see. That is the smartest thing a band can do
NICK: Seriously......or an obscure Zeppelin tune
RFSL: That was crazy! They must have spent so much time on the road. But it was really great.
NICK: we saw em at the end of the tour and they seemed quite put together, considering
ROB: yeah...and that's a really boring drive....the grapevine
ROB: Their last Spaceland show was amazing
RFSL: (Yeah, but if you stop at the rest stops, they have pork rinds in the vending machines.)
RFSL: They've gotten so tight live.
NICK: ...yeah...and when you have musical magic on your side, nothing is boring
RFSL: Glad to hear they're doing a live album with Spaceland.
NICK: we have a band crush on them
NICK: wait, they are?
RFSL: My girlfriend calls it "bromance."
ROB: I like brad's mustache
NICK: hah!!
ROB: it gets stuck in my beard sometimes
ROB: like velcro
NICK: stop
RFSL: So, last question for you ...
RFSL: Who are you listening to these days?
ROB: Blitzen Trapper is fucking amazing!
NICK: a lot of Animal Collective, for me. Locally though, lets see...
ROB: In terms of locals... I cannot stop listening to Stunts (Rademacher)
NICK: Rademacher's STUNTS is fantastic
NICK: We're big fans of Radars to the Sky
ROB: I'm going to buy the new Radars to the Sky album. I love what I've heard on the myspace
ROB: I got a sneak peak at a new Hollows song when I was with Dave Newton. It sounds fantastic
NICK: i'm gonna start helping One Trick Pony with their new album....their new songs are great. and of course, we're always down with our fellow collective bands!
NICK: Die Rockers Die started playing again.
ROB: can't wait to see that
NICK: that’s always exciting
NICK: what about you, joe?
NICK: who are you spinning right now?
RFSL: I'd ask you more about the collective, but we've already talked for an hour and don't want to keep you, so I'll just link to the Central Second Collective interview we did with you way back when.
NICK: sweet!
RFSL: I'm still listening to everything on that RFSL 2008 Mix. I'm really amazed by how many great bands there are out here right now, how different they all sound from each other, and how great they all sound together.
ROB: I feel so lucky to be a part of this whole community here!!!
NICK: we're all thankful for ya, mr. Fielder! thanks for doing this. i had a blast!!!
ROB: yeah man....and you've really helped us all out
RFSL: I mean, Letting Up Despite Great Faults, Dirt Bird, and Molecules couldn't be more dissimilar but they somehow all sound great on the same mix.
NICK: you're like the Oprah of Silver Lake
RFSL: I'm so glad to be here right now. Can't imagine moving.
ROB: and you thought you were going to.
NICK: but without the iron fist
NICK: you were gonna move?
RFSL: (Iron Fist is actually one of my favorite comics right now. Karate!)
ROB: Have you played guitar hero? I love it
NICK: well then, you're totally iron fisting it! er....yeah.
RFSL: I was talking to some game companies in Canada. I love our polite and more arts supporting neighbor up north.
RFSL: I got Rock Band for xmas and am boning up on my fledgling drumming skills.
ROB: is that a cool game?
NICK: is that game better than the Hero?
RFSL: (And my girlfriend got me a 79 Guild guitar.)
ROB: lucky bitch
RFSL: Yeah, it's from the same people who made Guitar Hero and it's got singing, guitar, and drums. (My company published it.)
ROB: I've never heard you play guitar. you should be in a real band
NICK: video games scare me now.
RFSL: You should play the Wii if games scare you. It's people friendly.
RFSL: That's what I'm working on now.
NICK: i think you’re the only person in LA who ISNT in a band
NICK: oh yeah....i forgot, you program games, yes?
RFSL: Ah, I was in a band in SF and know that I should not ever sing for a band ever again. :-)
RFSL: Yeah, I do game design during the day-time.
[The discussion turns to getting songs on video game soundtracks and it comes up that Great Northern have a song in an upcoming Sims game.]
RFSL: Glad to see them doing so well. They deserve it.
RFSL: I remember seeing them at The Silver Lake Lounge about a year and a half back when it was only about a dozen or so folks there and a drunk old man was dancing up in front and kept smacking Rachel's keyboard to the beat.
RFSL: And I was like, why aren't there more people here? They're really good!
ROB: Its crazy to see bands grow like that
RFSL: The bartender kept taking the guy away and he'd keep coming back up and dancing right in front of them.
ROB: We were playing with the hollows when both of us only brought like 5 people to the venue
NICK: now i hear them on LIVE 105 (bay area's KROQ equivalent) when i go up north
ROB: The Hollows?
ROB: or Great Northern?
NICK: no...great northern
ROB: I heard your mom on the radio
ROB: she' nasty
NICK: i am through with you robert
NICK: im gonna go shower fellas
ROB: stinker
RFSL: It's great to see the rest of the country paying attention to all the great bands here right now.
RFSL: Cool. I was going to ask.
ROB: yeah man! Spin said this was going to be the next Seattle
NICK: is it?? well then we're in the right place
ROB: you showed me the article. Like over a year ago
NICK: oh yeah...that old one.
ROB: they interviewed Todd Clifford, Scott Sterling, etc..
RFSL: It's hard to realize when something special is going on right around you sometimes, but I think it is.
ROB: Oh yeah.....just look at your mix tape of 08
NICK: i dont even think its peaking yet either....
RFSL: I worry sometimes that it's going to fade because some of the bands are getting bigger and not playing here anymore, but great new bands keep showing up.
NICK: i think this year and next year are going to be huge for a lot of bands around here
ROB: yeah...but The Silversun Pickups have put Silver Lake back on the map.
ROB: even though they don't play at Spaceland, they've given this place a name again
ROB: just like Beck...back in the day
ROB: Kind of like Omaha Nebraska and Saddle Creek 5 years ago
RFSL: Yeah. It's like the whole town drove past the Foot Clinic sign when it was on its happy foot side.
NICK: ok guys. i'm out. Joe...thanks again for taking time out to do this during your moving day. and rob i'll talk to you later!!!
ROB: Whenever I have guests in from out of town, I show them the foot sign. I fucking love it
RFSL: Thanks!
NICK: happy foot sign....that thing creeps me out
NICK: in a good way
NICK: later!
NICK has left the room.
ROB: cool man! I should shower too. Thank you, Joe!
RFSL: Thank you. Talk to you guys soon.

Make sure to come out to Tuesday's Let's Independent! (again = FREE) with Death To Anders, The Monolators, and Wait Think Fast. (And big thanks to Christine for the great poster.)


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