Monday, May 10, 2010

Show Preview - These United States - Interview - 5/13/10 - Club Cafe - Pittsburgh



These United States will be performing at Club Cafe on Thursday, 5/13. They just recently played at Sunfest in Florida and will be taking the stage at Lollapalooza in August. Below is an interview that Jesse Elliott was kind enough to answer for us. You can find several songs streaming from their last album Everything Touches Everything. The show will begin at 8:30p with doors opening at 8p.

Everything Touches Everything by These United States

Is there an album or show that made you want to dedicate your life to music?

My parents saw Jethro Tull when my mom was 7 months pregnant with me – the last big concert they ever went to. I remember it all now, as clearly as if it were only yesterday – the lights, the sound, the people, the “Aqualung” encore, the umbilical cord from which I was receiving all my vital nutrients at the time. From that point on, I was hooked.

What are the goals for the band? What would you like to accomplish?

We’re hoping by 3rd quarter fiscal year 2012 to have amassed a large enough fortune to acquire one (1) private island for each (1) band member. This is an ambitious goal, but we feel strongly that by seeing one million faces and rocking them all, it can be accomplished. If we fall short of these projections, worst case scenario, we just keep playing shows and making albums like there’s no tomorrow. Or maybe like there is a tomorrow, but it’s a very loud and rock-and-roll-ish kind of tomorrow.

You are a band that tours heavily around the country. What is the best story you have?

The best story, we can’t remember. Not in public.

The Important Thing by These United States

You recently performed at Sunfest with ZZ Top, Weezer, Nas. How was that experience? Any good stories like hanging with Nas doing lines off a stripper's ass?

It was a great day. Our first ever show in Florida, actually, we finish playin a rollicking early evening set, and suddenly two hours later we’re standing front row, alternately head-banging, crowd-surfing, and introspectively shoe-gazing to the sweet sounds of our teenage anthems “Say It Ain’t So” and “The Sweater Song”?? I mean, c’mon, life doesn’t get MUCH better than that. Except for Nas, probably. But we didn’t meet Nas.

You all are performing at a good many summer festivals including Lollapalooza, Sunfest, etc. Are you doing anything different for these ventures to appeal to a crowd that probably isn’t familiar with you?

We are, yeah. But I’m not sure it has anything to do with appealing to folks who aren’t familiar with us – which is most folks in the universe at this point, wherever we’re playing, to be honest. It’s always impossible to predict what people will love, so I think you kinda gotta just get up there and do it for yourself, and for your bandmates, having fun together, surprising each other, provoking each other into angry but entertaining onstage freak-outs. We’ll be learning some new songs, and having a few guest musicians sitting in on different tour runs and festivals this summer – including Pittsburgh, actually. But that’s mostly just to keep ourselves interested and creatively inspired. Of course, we hope that feeling then translates into audiences getting into what we’re doing, too. That’s all you can really do at the end of the day – hope that your love of what you’re doing comes across in a way that connects with someone else.

Any place you enjoy visiting? Any you wouldn’t go back to?

After last night, Amarillo is our new favorite city in the entire world. There’s a lot of these places out there that you might never suspect – the Maumee Ohio’s and Mobile Alabama’s and Pendleton Oregon’s and Winter Park Florida’s of the world. It’s so amazing to get to see so many of them, doing this thing we do. We’d go back everywhere. We have no shame. We have no pride. We have no regrets. We have extremely short-term memories. We are open vessels, ready for anything and anyone and anywhere. Bring it on, places of the world. Man, we sure do miss George Bush being president – remember how WACKY that was for a while?!?

Conquest & Consequence by These United States

What type of songwriting process? You all bring something or is it more of a dictatorship?

I write skeletons of songs, lyrics and basic progressions and structures, and then all 5 of us together – me and Robby and Tom and Colin and Justin – we slap some flesh on those puppies, see what sticks. Like some kind of scary Halloween zombie puppy thing, or whatever. Some are really beautiful, super grotesque. Others have like entire parts missing. Disgusting.

You have performed over 500 shows in NA, Europe, UK. Has attendance steadily increased? Do all of you still enjoy touring or is it something you wish to cut back on in the future?

Yes and no, up and down, ebb and flow, all depends where we are. We’ll always tour, as long as we’re a band. I think if we could do slightly fewer but much bigger – in terms of the art and the production and the thought and blood and sweat that go into it all – kinda shows, we’d love that. Really make events out of em, like all our favorite bands have always done. But we’ll always love playing live for people, no matter what the circumstances, until we can’t stand up. Then we will play for them lying down.

You have performed several times in Pittsburgh. Any place you like visiting? Any Pittsburgh related story?

Pittsburgh’s been near and dear to my heart for a long time, every since I worked with a guy there named Richard Florida, way back in a previous life. The architecture alone’s worth the trip. And then there’s this wild man, John Lyne, teaches at the university, real big Whitman-y kind of a soul, you’d know his beard if you saw it – people there inspire us. People are always our favorite places to visit.

Your last album came out in Sept 2009. Are you currently working on another now?

Yep. July 20. Be there or be square.

I Want You to Keep Everything by These United States

This is just a curiosity question, probably not for the blog (or maybe) but a few of you I read reside in Lexington, KY. Since I just did a review for Apples in Stereo, do any of you know Robert Schneider? Has he become a fixture in the area with bands?

Yeah, most music folks around Lexington know Robert. He’s a great guy. He’s come out to a few of our shows, him and other awesome folks like Stephen Trask, the dude who made Hedwig and the Angry Inch, who also lives in Lexington. Stephen, not Hedwig, I mean. That’s the great thing about a city and a scene of that size – there’s real integration between the people who’ve been living the dream and making great music for a long time on the one hand and then us relative newcomers on the other hand. It’s a very laid-back non-caste-system kind of a mutual love.

Anything you would like to say to Pittsburgh?

Pittsburgh, you are beautiful. We, These United States, would like to make mad, passionate love to you. I’m afraid we’re somewhat constrained by the laws of physics – that is to say, the technical logistics behind a group of 5 human beings actually making real and physical love to an entity as large as an historic American city, especially one that’s made primarily of brick and steel and concrete and bridges – but maybe it’s the thought that counts? Also, Happy Mother’s Day! Also, if you see Jethro Tull, tell them we say thanks.

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