Monday, July 27, 2009
SHOULD WE TALK ABOUT THE WEATHER: A Conversation with The Paper Chase's John Congleton by Ed.
The brainchild of producer extraordinaire John Congleton, who has worked with everyone from (to paraphrase Will.I.Am in an interview I did with him in 1998 for CMJ) God (Kirk Franklin) to the Devil (Marilyn Manson) and just about everyone else in between, The Paper Chase is an amazing indie band whose discordant, over-the-top melodies deliver all the pomp and drama of groups like The Arcade Fire and The Decemberists without all the cheese. The Dallas-based group’s fifth album, Someday This Could All Be Yours Vol.1, was released this spring on Kill Rock Stars and is one of the finest rock albums of 2009 thus far. IRT had the great opportunity to communicate with Mr. Congleton via email in regards to his band’s new album and its weather-related themes, which really aren’t about weather at all, apparently, as he explains to us in an endearingly snarky way. For more information about The Paper Chase, visit their Web site at www.thepaperchaseband.com. –Ed.
IRT: How did you come up with the concept of The Paper Chase?
John Congleton: I knew what kinda band I wanted, but I can’t really say I ever had a real concept. I remember reading a quote about Black Flag that it sounded like they were trying to break themselves into pieces with the music. I felt like that was a good starting point.
IRT: What was the impetus behind representing these songs with different disasters? What is it about disasters that inspires you to write these song cycles?
Congleton: I’ve been asked this a lot, as you can assume. But honest the idea was something I had for so long I can’t even recall what gave me the idea. And I guess that disaster are easy devices for metaphor which is the back bone of all hack poetry. And I am just a hack poet, I suppose.
IRT: How are these songs directly related to the disasters they represent?
Congleton: It’s purely metaphorical. These songs are not about natural disaster. It’s not that black and white. It’s all encrypted, but it seems clear to me if you make the effort to pay attention. For example, the tornado song is about capitalism running without regard to human concerns, the lightning song is about how we are attracted to the one person that can break us down the best like a bolt of lightning....I mean what are the chances of that mathematically? Uh let’s see what else....the common cold is just about avoiding closeness with people—kinda like a fear of commitment song, I guess. The blizzard one is about blind faith and how dangerous I think it is. I don’t know; I guess I could go on, but this seems long winded.
IRT: What disaster do you fear the most and why?
Congleton: Well, I’m in San Francisco right now....lets go with earthquakes. I guess they would be on my mind right now the most.
IRT: Have you ever lived through a natural disaster?
Congleton: Well sure, I live in Dallas, so I’ve seen my fair share of tornados for sure.
IRT: Of all the disasters alluded to on Someday This Will All Be Yours,
which one do you honestly feel could be the one that does Earth in first?
Congleton: Oh, I’m sure the earth will be here for a good long while. I certainly don’t thing we will be the ones to do it in, that’s for sure. That’s one thing that drives me crazy about the idea of "saving the earth"...nonsense... humans just mean they want a nice place to continue to live. People don’t really give a shit about the earth; not in any deep way some dickheads claim to.
IRT: Do you feel safer with the Obama Administration in office?
Congleton: I do, simply because he’s a better president, a smarter guy and somewhat more cut of my cloth.
IRT: Please tell us the story behind the amazing photo you chose for the cover art to Someday This Will All Be Yours.
Congleton: here actually is no story to speak of. i just said what i wanted to the artist and they made it for me. Danny Delpugatorio is his name. We have had a long history with him and it will continue.
IRT: Do you feel karma has anything to do with the "the existential crisis inherent within a universe seemingly fated to exterminate its population." Why or why not?
Congleton: No. This album isn’t about order. It’s more about chaos, and our struggle to make sense of said chaos. I believe that whatever you put into this life is what you get back but not exactly karma. And it’s not that I believe that the universe is chaos, but I do think to our puny brains is feels like chaos....and I find peace in that for some reason.
IRT: Are you a believer of eugenics and do you feel it is practiced amongst the global elite?
Congleton: I have no hard evidence of such, but i wouldn’t put it past them. As a wise man once said, “Power does what power wants always.”
Video for "Said the Spider to the Fly"