It was early on a Monday night in a Northern Illinois college town. Alex G met up with a Funeral Sounds Investigate in the House Cafe’s crowded, unused back kitchen, in between stacks of chairs and piles of gear to talk about his new album, buying jeans at Kohl’s, and how shitty festivals are for gear lugging.
I know you’ve been interviewed about Beach Music a lot recently. Has that been weird for you?
I guess it’s getting easier cause most people just ask like the same stuff. I have pretty much a set group of responses that work pretty well.
So, it’s your first release on a major record label. Did you feel there was a sort of pressure for this album to make a statement, or to say anything particularly about you?
Not really. I just did the same thing I usually do. I wanted to make an album that felt like it sounded good. I didn’t think about any of the external circumstances.
It definitely has an experimental feel to it. Was that a planned thing or was it something that happened during the creative process? Because it does sound a lot different than some of the other things you’ve done previously.
That just kind of happened naturally. I think was just… I guess sometimes I’ll get bored with doing the same old thing and it will feel better to make something kind of weird.
I think it’s important for artists to play around, because if you just do the same thing people will get bored. I guess there’s always the people who will get mad if you change too much and people get mad if you don’t change.
Right. Yeah, it can be lose lose.
Has that sort of experimentation made it harder to play live at all, has it had an affect on it?
It’s just made the live show a little more different than the album ‘cause there’s… we just sort of convert the songs into two guitars, bass, drums: band. That’s what we have. So the songs aren’t that way on the record it… hasn’t been hard. We’re just like what’s the chord here? What’s the riff here?
So you just got back from your European tour this week. Was that your first time touring abroad?
No, it was our second time.
So you have UK tour at the beginning of next year with Basement and Tigers Jaw?
That’s right, yeah.
First time in the UK or have you been there before too?
We’ve been there twice before too. Both times we were in Europe we went to the UK too.
Is it any different playing out there? Is it more exciting for you to maybe go to a different country?
It feels about the same. It’s just about as exciting as touring here.
For this run you’re touring with a lot of different bands: Title Fight, Spencer Radcliffe, Girlpool. Is it exciting to jump around and work with a bunch of different artist in such a short time?
Yeah. It’s great getting to know Title Fight. They’re really cool, and I’m looking forward to be able to see Girlpool. Yeah, it’s good to go on tour with a band when they’re nice people, you know? Especially when you get to know them. You leave tour and you feel like you’ve made some friends. That’s a great feeling.
I know that talking about creative process can be difficult for artists. Is there any pressure on you to not write in a cliche way? Or is that something that comes naturally for you and you don’t really fear the way your lyrics come across?
I wouldn’t say that I fear the way they come across, but I’m really conscious of the way I want them to come across. What comes naturally to me isn’t the lyrics themselves but the process of writing… and rewriting… and editing… That come naturally to me. I want them to be as good as I can make them.
Do you have a certain process you follow?
I’ll sort of write something and I’ll know what the melody is and I know kind of how the melody to be sung… to go. I know kind of a very loose framework. Like this word can go here, this word can go here, and I just kind of build around it until I have a statement I can really give out.
Your sister did the artwork for Beach Music and has done it for some of the other albums as well, but on Beach Music she wrote the lyrics for Intro. Is more collaboration something we can expect?
Maybe! I always make stuff with her. It’s just this was the first time I put it on the album, on one of my albums. I have… There’s a ton of music we’ve made that’s just floating around out there.
So has your family always been supportive of you pursuing music? Has that changed at all since you deciding to pursue it full time?
I just didn’t really talk about it with them. You’re talking about my parents or something, right?
Yeah, we didn’t really talk about it. But, they’re happy that I got a record deal. I think before that we didn’t really talk much about it so they didn’t know they had something to worry about.
I feel like there’s a general attitude that the music scene is accepting, or should at least be an accepting, welcoming place. Has that always been the case for you? And do you think that’s the case for everybody?
The music community in general?
Yeah. Or at least your specific, I guess, niche in it. Where you play and have been around shows and such.
Yeah. Yeah, like if people like your band then you’re good. You’re gold. If people don’t like your band you’ll have a rough time. Luckily, I’ve been in bands that people have liked. It’s pretty, I mean, not easy, but I’ve had an easy time communicating with people and getting in touch with people and shit.
Do you think there’s a different atmosphere in different cities or by region or do you think it feels like the same music community?
I think Philadelphia feels one way to me because I know it so well. Everywhere that’s not Philadelphia feels… different. When I’m there I’m like, ‘oh I know it. I know everyone. I know you I know you…’ But anywhere else it’s all different in it’s own way. I couldn’t put my finger on one difference that other places had.
You got to play SXSW this year. Was that the first time you played a large festival?
Do you have a preference to festivals as opposed to smaller shows now?
Nah, I’d much prefer shows. South By was fine but it was just like such a bitch lugging your shit through the street and shit. It was so annoying. But it’s fun. Playing shows is always fun in general, but South By makes it hard. It’s just whatever.. but if I had a choice between playing a show here, between playing a normal show and playing at South By. I’d play a normal show over South By any day.
I let some people send me questions in through tumblr a couple days ago, so I’ve got a few from that. The first one is: where do you get your clothes? I really like the ‘Bite me’ shirt that you wore in London.
*laughs* What the fuck… Uh, what? Wait, let me think… Oh! That’s a shirt my mom gave me a while ago because she was visiting her mom and where her mom lives they were selling shirts that said ‘Bite Me’ on them. She just gave me a shirt because she thought it was funny or something. That’s where I got that. My mom got me that shirt. Most of my clothes. I don’t really go clothes shopping that much, unless I need a new pair of jeans, then I go to Kohl’s. Otherwise I’m too lazy about it.
Do you consider yourself religious or spiritual in any way? And do you think this affects your music and if so in what way?
I think everyone’s got their own thing you know? I think this person probably wants me to say “oh yeah, this is what I believe.” I’m sure there’s something that I subscribe to but I couldn’t put my finger on it.
I’ve got one last question for you: have you ever read the FS blog before?
Wait. Is that who you’re with? *laughs*
Make sure you check out his latest release Beach Music.