Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Talking With: Margot and the Nuclear So and So's

After releasing a pair of records this past fall, Indianapolis-based Indie folk band Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s began popping up on music publications’ Best of 2008 list as well as many peoples’ personal radar. With a very familiar sound and hipster credibility, Richard Edwards and the rest of Margot became a hit amongst the indie scene and are being compared to it’s biggest acts (if they like it or not.)

In the next week, Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s will travel through New England, making two local stops at Pearl St. in Northampton, Mass and Toad’s Place in New Haven, Conn. in the same week. While the band won’t have to contend with the summer heat, they will still have to navigate their tour[school]bus through the area and make all their stops.

Edward Gaug - A good place to start would be the two albums that were released back in October. One, Animal which is essentially the group of songs that you guys wanted to put out as a band and the other one being Not Animal, which is the grouping of songs that Epic Records really wanted to put out. What is some of the background on this decision?

Richard Edwards - Um, I think they just sort of went crazy on certain songs and certain track listings and stuff like that. They just went on some strange fucking ride that didn’t really work out for either side.

Since you were able to put out Animal via online download and vinyl, have you seen that this album is the one that your fans are choosing over Not Animal?

No, not really. It’s been pretty split. It’s hard to tell. It’s very split and that’s really as much as I know about it.

Has this affected the way that you look at putting out an album through a label now?

No, I mean, I wont do that again probably. I won’t be as wild in picking the things I want to have on our record. I don’t believe in tailoring anything you’re doing to sell copies or to appeal to certain groups of people. Maybe if they hadn’t put this thing together on their own, maybe it has some weaknesses that it wouldn’t if you had a corporate entity involved. I think those weaknesses are a virtue. I think we’ll keeping making exactly what we want to make.

Your fans will appreciate getting the music that you as a band wanted to put out for them.

Hopefully, I mean I think you’ll get shit from people either way, but that’s OK.

You’re never going to get five stars across the board, but the goal of an album, at least for the band, would be to put out the music they are confident in and enjoy. Right?

You want to put of music that you think is representing you at your best at this time and what you think is your best work.

You are known for playing guitar and singing in Margot [and the Nuclear So and So’s], but from everything I’ve read about the band, you are the “leader.” What are you bringing to the table when it comes to recording an album and writing the music?

I write the songs, but the orchestration and all of that is pretty much a group effort within the band. That’s all been done as a group. Arranging the instruments and the basic song. It varies from song to song though, there are songs where I had a ton to do with it instrumentally and there are other songs where I’m very much not the dominant person.

The band functions almost like a very large family, there are eight of you. With everyone coming from outside bands before forming Margot, do you think it makes the music more layered and having more influence?

Yeah, I think it has to do with everyone who is in this band. We are a lot of people who are interested in composition and I think that we are interested in more things that are different than just banging out some chords, but really the concept of composition and how you can create moods with different instruments. We’re getting a little bit away from that right now, but I think that’s just based on the personalities of this particular band.

I know you yourself have a small film background, is there any way you could ever incorporate the style used for writing a screenplay into your song writing to create a “concept” album that tells a story similarly?

I tried to do that with Animal for a story about the Heavens Gate cult in a weird way and a community set up in a mineshaft and some of that made it through, but the idea of that is kind of out –of-fashion and would be an easy target to pick on right now. That’s not a reason not to do it, but I also have an attention span that doesn’t lend itself to a project like that. I’ll get halfway through a project like that and start getting excited about writing about something that’s not really going on in the story. I think my next “breakthrough” album should be a concept opera; it would be really fun to do.

As a side question, if you could write the soundtrack to any movie: past, present or future, what would you want it to be?

I think if Margot could write a soundtrack, it would be for Where the Wild Things Are. I think for maybe the off-Disney cartoons would have worked. Music for dark fairytales maybe.

Back to the present, you have a tour starting up with the band Cloud Cult. How do you guys as a band get prepared to go back on the road after not touring for a while and being more in the studio?

Well, we haven’t really been touring or recording seriously in a while so it’s sort of different. It’s really getting back in the saddle, even if you have been practicing for it. We have been touring for such a long time that it will come back quickly.

The question that always comes up in your interviews is about the way you travel [a school bus] and the fact that you never seem to have air conditioning. Fortunately, you will be touring the northern half of the country and Canada in the beginning of spring, so you won’t really have to worry about it.

It’s a hard vehicle to travel in for that reason. It does get really, really hot. There are not many way to cool yourself down. Even with the windows down. This tour we should be ok, but when it’s July and August is when it starts compounding on the heat. You have 17 layers of heat, but that shouldn’t be an issue.

Do you guys have plans for another tour this summer or playing any of the festivals?

I don’t think there is much of a plan. I think we’ll do a little tour or two in the summer. I doubt we’ll do any of the festivals unless we’re asked cause we don’t have a record coming out or anything like that. We’ll probably pick up recording again; we’re trying to record right now actually. Maybe a new record or something like that soon.

Did Family Guy Do Something Progressive?

So I didn't pay much attention to Family Guy when I watched it this past Sunday night because well...I don't particularly care about an episode dealing mostly with Meg.

After watching it again this morning because I like to give things a second chance, I had a weird thought. Is this the first time a television show openly backed atheism? As far as I can remember, there have been shows that had atheist characters, but never an episode that unabashedly stood behind and promoted atheism.

Will anyone change their minds on religion after watching an episode of Family Guy? I would hope not, but the fact that someone (Seth MacFarlane) is ready to bring the usually taboo topic to an incredible popular TV show, is a good step in the right direction.

Here is the whole episode for you. Thanks Hulu.