Check out Josh Darr’s series of artists interviews and portraits taken at Pitchfork Music Festival.
The Pitchfork artists pictured below were asked to answer these two questions:
1. What is one concert or festival from when you were a teenager you remember changed your perspective of music?
2. Who was the first person who excited you so much that you wrote a song about them, what was the name of the song?
1. [John Stanier notes well we weren’t all together when we were teenagers so we’d have to answer individually]
Ian Williams: Well were there a lot of festivals in the United States growing up?
Dave Konopka: Could be just a concert.
John Stanier: Oh, I know one, I know one… when I was a teenager I went to one of those medieval fairs. You know where they eat those big legs of lamb…and I saw there was a guy that performed, Mozart actually wrote a piece for wine glasses with different levels of water in them and it’s in like this suitcase and this guy did that piece. It was awesome and there was jousting and shit going on in the background too.
Williams: You know that movie Bully? That’s about him [pointing at John].
Stanier: Actually that’s right around where I grew up. That’s my answer, if you guys can top that.
Konopka: Well, changed your perspective of music.
Williams: The thing about festivals is that its like an iPod and it makes you skip in between songs and you can fast forward… “oh next song, next song,” and you can walk from stage to stage and watch a band for like 5 minutes and go “what’s the next stage?” And that somehow makes you a faded extension and everything is meaningless.
Konopka: I remember I went to a show in Vicksburg, Mass. one time at this hockey rink and I remember it was Sand Black Church, Shudder to Think and Fugazi and I was going and I went with my older brother and I was going mostly for Fugazi but I remember Sand Black Church was I guess a local band and was like [motions excitement] and everyone was like “Yeah! Yeah!” but I feel like the Sand Black Church logo and t-shirts were more popular than the actual band and a lot of people were subscribing to this identity. And then Shudder to Think came on and were playing, I was like these guys are really good. And everyone around me in this hockey rink were like “Faggots! Get off the stage faggots!” He was like why is everybody being so harsh to like, like the whole identity of Shudder to Think was not cool or something. They were like basically booing ‘em off the stage. But I thought they were the best band of the night. It didn’t really change my perspective of music but it was a fun experience.
I also went to the Horde Festival one time in Mansfield, Mass. not to go to see the bands because I didn’t give a shit about Blues Traveler but my friends were like “hey, if you wanna just come down and hang around in the parking lot?” I was like, “alright… yeah sure,” cause there was like tons of weed and my friends and stuff. But then I got in trouble with weed by a cop because I was rolling a joint and a cop came up to me next to my window and I was freaking out… and that changed my perspective on life. I didn’t go into the festival… I didn’t give a shit about the music but all my friends were like, “yeah..let’s go check it out.” I was like go ahead I just gonna hang here in my friend’s softball coach van while you guys are in there. My friend’s dad was the softball coach at the high school..
2. Williams: I’ve never written a song about anybody.
Konopka: Hmm… that’s a good question.
Stanier: “Sweetie & Shag” [looking up at Dave]?
Konopka: “Sweetie & Shag.”
Stanier: it’s about two people.
Konopka: “Sweetie & Shag” is a song off our new album, Glass Drop. It’s called “Sweetie & Shag” and it’s about this Australian college radio duo, Sweetie & Shag. Oh no… we also named a song after our friend, Cattleman, in Japan. For a bonus track, on our Japanese release.
Williams: So, I guess we did like two songs.
Konopka: Sweetie & Shag are really sweet people, they’re really fun to hang out with. We always go on their show when we’re down in Australia and they always let me do the weather and the traffic report in the voice of Barack Obama. It’s great.
1. Definitely, Coachella because it’s the one you go to if you live in Los Angeles. And the year I saw Daft Punk in 2009, I think it was, it was the craziest thing I’ve ever seen and there was like so much build up for it… like it was the only thing people were talking about by everybody that was there and it just delivered so much harder than what everybody expected… it was great. And for electronic music, that was a big peak for me, like I didn’t think it could get any better than this… that was really special.
2. Oh… I don’t know if I’ve written songs of actual people. I’m trying to think, ‘cause it’s all sort of like experiences I have with people are like templates for people I might write about in a song. So it’s never directly somebody. I don’t know, maybe like the first time I had sex with somebody…it was terrible and that afforded a lot of really dark weird lyrics and those are really fun. I don’t know, it’s a tough question… I wouldn’t have a name of a song ‘cause I don’t think I’ve done that directly. But I mean I’ve talked all the time of how Bjork is my favorite thing, person favorite artist and there are many of songs that I’ve written about awe… just like the awe of music. I’ve done that a lot and I think a lot of those stem from her maybe, but that’s like the closest thing I can think of. I don’t have like a lot of direct other songs about like Michael and songs about Jenny.
1. Steve Shane McDonald: I was a preteen, 11 years old I saw X and the Avengers at the Whiskey A Go Go. It was the first time I had ever gone to a club show, I had been to rock concerts prior but that was the first time I got a sense like, “Wow! This is maybe something I could do some day.”
Dmitri Coats: 1983 Boston Gardens… ah Motley Crue, Shout At the Devil opening up for Ozzy, Bark At the Moon.
2. McDonald: When I was 11 years old… once again I cowrote a song about Annette Funicello.
Coats: I don’t think I’ve written a song about anyone in particular until one day Keith and I were writing songs together and he came out of his bedroom with a micro cassette recorder with the last thing Jeffery Lee Pierce ever played on guitar and we turned it into a song. It’s a tribute to him it’s called “Jeffery Lee Pierce.”
1. Jarvis Taveniere: Oh my god… I will say it was Warped Tour. I don’t remember what year it was. There wasn’t anybody… The Descendents played and that was fun to see but it was more of the reaction to how lame it was… that I remember like going home and listening to records that like a Stones record, stuff that I had but didn’t really dig yet. I remember coming back and just so like being so burned out from being in the sun all day and coming home and just going. I don’t know cause it’s fun with your friends and just coming home and listening to the Stones. I listened to Silver Jews too that night… and I was like, “that shit sucked, I can’t believe I did that. I feel like you’ve gotta wash it off you or something” [Lucas Crane laughs hysterically.] I’d love to say a cooler festival that inspired me.
Lucas Crane: I was extremely shy when I was in high school and I remember that I went to Madison Square Garden to see NIN and Marilyn Manson and I went with a girl I really liked and I knew was someone else’s boyfriend in high school or something and she like was like hugging me and we were like singing “Closer” together and it was so, so high school hot and I loved it. That really affected me.
Taveniere: One more thing about the Warped, I just remembered that when I was in line to get in the door I found two joints on the ground..I think someone like ditched ‘em or something so I went into this pop, like you know, marathon just so stoned..I think that’s why I was like this ain’t happening.
Crane: You just found it… I remember that story. I remember you telling me that story actually. I went to Roseland in N.Y. to see Quicksand and someone I can’t remember and that was the show I figured out like you can’t just go and watch music. You have to mosh and you have to crowd surf and if you don’t and if you don’t get hurt there’s something wrong with you and you’re not experiencing the show and I remember having to do that and I remember jumping. Roseland had two stages and there’s one that wasn’t being used and Quicksand was playing on this thing and I was like insubordinately jumping off of this thing and was like getting completely screwed up. I got punched in the face I lost my wallet and I hurt myself and I remember like.. I completely did not understand that’s not what you’re supposed to do.
2. Crane: HP Lovecraft and I made a 45-minute horrific-like-drone-Wagneresque noise soundscape to it..and that’s all I’ve got man..
Taveniere: Um… I had a pen pal named Peggy when I was in high school I wrote her a song ”Lucky Dime” and it’s the name of her solo project this time… you know she’s in that Pains of Being Pure at Heart band [Lucas laughs again].