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PLEASE DONATE TO PAGES TO PRISONERS!
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EMPEROR X! INTERVIEW! by Garrett.
Here’s an interview with Chad from Emperor X. I thought it would be a good idea since a lot of you plan-it-x punks / goof punks don’t really know him very well. Garrett did the interview. There will be more to come too. Onsind is up next! Also, Garrett will soon have a full length CD released on Plan-it-x.. anyway, Here is the conversation between Chad and Garrett. -chris
Are you excited to be touring Europe again?
I’m always excited to tour over here. Artists occupy a totally different social role in Europe. I say this a lot to friends to explain why being over here is so invigorating: in the U.S. artists are treated slightly better than homeless people, but not much. The average cafe owner/librarian/cop/security guard/whatever is first and foremost suspicious of strangers, especially strangers carrying backpacks. Friendliness and helpfulness are secondary concerns, and you have to be charming. It’s assumed you’re a deadbeat, and it’s up to you to prove otherwise. Over here it’s very different; people tend to be shy and taken aback by intenntional charm, but seem at worst disinterested, not suspicious, and if asked for help they’re almost always very kind. Some people would say they’re just accustomed to tourists, but I think it’s more than that. They tolerate unconventional lifestyles far more than we do in the States, even among themselves.,There’s respect for basic human dignity. A stranger, even a funny-looking one, isn’t a threat to an invisible authoritarian security culture like it is back home.
Where are you most excited to play?
I’ve never been to Portugal or Slovakia before, so I’m thrilled to play there, but even the more familiar places like Germany and France and the UK are fresh air for me so it’s impossible to pick where I’m excited to play most. The show I’m most looking forward to is on May 1st in Prague; I’m told the show will be special because it’s International Workers’ Day and they take that seriously over there. I’m going to read up on EU labor strike history and maybe learn a solidarity song in Czech or something. I imagine they’ll laugh at me at best but I have to do something to show solidarity, right? “Hurá!”
I know you’re already a little into your tour. Any good stories yet?
I’ve only played one date so far, in London. Since then I’ve been cooling out in Cambridge. My girlfriend has been very graciously sneaking me in to the music rehearsal room so I can finish an album I’m working on to be released later this year, so most of my trip has felt a bit like a spy movie, me trying to fit in with all the scholars. Me, carrying a frazzled guitar and headphones and a bunch of battered digital recording gear across a medieval street with a Cambridge University key card in my teeth, getting a few stares, grinning back, trying to vibe “Nothing interesting here, mates, carry on, carry on!”
Do you think there are any major differences (in crowds/venues/etc.) between touring the States and Europe?
The behavior of crowds at indie/DIY shows is substantially different. In the U.S. people are much more relaxed and informal, much more apt to participate, and much louder in general, both in applause and in distracting chatter. In Europe, applause is much more subdued even if the audience is enthusiastic, and it’s harder to get people to sing along. But it’s not snobbery. They’re just paying more attention. There is seldom any chatter at all — going to a show is a passive, receptive, contemplative experience for them, not a party like it is for us. Once I asked a German audience to sing along with me. There was an awkward silence until one guy boomed out in heavily-accented English, “Zat’s YOUR job.” Which — I thought, “What a jerk,” right? But after the show he was really positive, bought me a beer, bought all the merch I had, etc., so I think it just really is the perception here that there is a firm division between performer and audience. They’re comfortable with that hierarchy because they believe it benefits the artist. We Americans are so eager to prove we’re egalitarian that we eschew hierarchy even when, maybe, a hierarchy might benefit the arts in some cases. I don’t prefer one mode over the other, I see this as a valuable perspective-widening cultural difference between our societies. They both have benefits and detriments.
What do you consider the biggest challenge of touring overseas?
Pay phones. Once I was in Austria and I needed to call the promoter who was planning on picking me up, only I got off at the wrong train station so I needed to tell her where I was. I tried six or seven different combinations of zeros and ones before the number to no avail. I had to ask a nice old man to help me, and his English wasn’t much better than my German, which is absolutely awful, but eventually we managed. He had a pretty good laugh at my expense, though. There seem to be different rules within each country, different rules when calling mobiles vs. calling landlines, different rules when dialing other countries, different rules with using cards vs. using coins, etc. Fortunately I found a corporation that can get my unlocked American cell phone on the networks in Germany and England and the U.S. at the same time, so now I don’t need payphones anyway. But I’m reaching pretty deep here to find anything to complain about touring over here. For an American artist, touring in Europe and the UK is like a very long waking dream where everything goes right. Like, “Oh, what? Art matters? You guys really believe that? Incredible.” So I’ll tolerate the wacky pay phones.
Why did you want to release a live album? What drew you to it?
First of all, I released it because PIX Chris asked me to. He’d been to a few of my shows around Bloomington over the years and invited me to PIX fest one year, and we were just talking online back and forth for a few months and eventually he asked me if I wanted to do something “like what I do live.” His original idea was a studio album done with the instrumentation of my live show, but I suggested doing something along those lines but actually recording it at shows on a tour that was coming up. I set up a recorder before I played every show that fall, got some decent tracks out of it, mined my old archives for a few more tracks, did some controlled recordings with the same technical setup in my L.A. friend Adam Harding’s apartment (coincidentally he’s in a band called Dumb Numbers that’s on another Bloomington label, Joyful Noise) for a quieter/more focused sound on a few tracks, and that was that. It was probably the easiest album I’ve ever assembled. The hard part was mastering it in a way that made all these very different audio tracks sound compatible. That took a long, long time and also required my friend Adam’s apartment and his fancy monitor speakers, God bless him.
How did you go about about picking the recordings that made it onto the album?
It was very complicated and time-consuming. I had a giant hyper-organized text file that tracked all of the raw recordings on several axes. Some tracks sounded good spectrally but the performance was awful. Some songs had a great performance but the audio settings were all wrong and key elements were almost inaudible. (Most of the recordings are just stereo files, not a whole lot of multi-tracking; a lot of the depth comes from teasing out overtones in the rooms with over-the-top mastering.) I started with almost one hundred tracks, and the nineteen that made it to the album were chosen because they were the only ones that were both pleasing performances and pleasing spectrally, and that was rare. But it’s close to a one-in-five ratio of raw tracks to usable tracks, which I consider pretty lucky. The recorded-in-apartment songs were the final addition to the project. I wanted to add some stripped down versions of new material, and I wasn’t playing the new material live on the previous tour, so that just made sense to do after-the-fact.
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Things are nearly out:
1. EMPEROR X “nineteen live recordings” CD
2. LOS GATOS NEGROS “los gatos negros” LP (friends of pix only)
3. GHOST MICE “death and hatred to mankind” 10” (7”s collection)
Those three things will be out on MAY 1st. If you are a member of the Friends of Pix subscription club, you will get all three of them in the mail sometime in May (as soon as they can be assembled and packaged and mailed).
These things will be out later in the summer, in time for Chaos Fest (JULY 19th), hopefully they will be out a little sooner. These things:
4. ONSIND “anaesthesiology” LP
5. KYLE HALL “kyle hall” LP
6. THE TAXPAYERS “TBA” LP
7. RAMSHACKLE GLORY / GHOST MICE “shelter” split LP
Hopefully these releases will ship in early to mid july and if you are a F.O.P. you will get all 4 LPs in the mail at the same time. Also, if you backed the GM/RSG split on kickstarter, you’ll get it around the same time.
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NEW! COMING SOON (may 1st) - EMPEROR X
This album is coming out on CD no later than May 1st. If you pre-order it now until it comes out you get a free RANDOM plan-it-x CD! (that’s 2 cds for $CHEAP) -see catalog to order! -c
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GHOST MICE ON TOUR NOW:
FRI 03/08 MURFREESBORO TN @ 812 EWING AVE 8pm
SAT 03/09 BIRMINGHAM AL @ THE BOTTLE TREE 3719 3rd AVE S. 4pm
SUN 03/10 ATLANTA @ UNDER THE COUCH 350 FERST DR NW 7pm
MON 03/11 GREENVILLE SC @ GRAGE MAHAL 22 APOPKA 7pm
TUE 03/12 HIKING IN THE SMOKY MOUNTAINS! PARTY GATLINBURG
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