Friday, July 4, 2008

Interview with John Vanderslice, circa 2005

Back in 2005, I "discovered" a musician named John Vanderslice. He was on the same label as my favorite band at the time, Death Cab for Cutie, and sounded somewhat similar. His website had his own personal e-mail address, so I asked him to answer a few questions for a school newspaper article I wanted to do. He had just released his album "Pixel Revolt," his 5th solo album (he was in a band called mk Ultra), and was touring to promote it. On a side note, I really wish I would have asked him something about the Microsoft scandal he was a part of.
The following is completely unedited, and was sent between 9/27 and 10/3.


How on earth do you get the ideas for lyrics?
man i wait around a long time for ideas to come and hit me on the head. i am very lazy by nature so this works out really well. it does take me a long time to finish lyrics once i start them,
i usually sing a song 30-40 times before i record it.

'Cellar Door' is supposedly the most perfect phrase in the English language. Why choose it as an album name? Do you think the album was perfect?
ha!! no way, i am not that pompous! i chose it as an homage to donnie darko, one of my favorite movies.

I've read that you play at a lot of libraries and bookstores. Is your main audience the people that would go here? (Literate people, I mean.)
well, i do like nerdy people at my shows, not only do i feel an affinity with them, i assume (rightly or wrongly?) that they are listening to the lyrics. i love playing shows where there is no stage, or amplified instruments.

I'm going to ask you the clich├ęd 'What advice do you have to give to future musicians?'
you need to plan for 10 years of ramp up time until you start having a career. the goal is simple: make a middle class living playing/writing exactly the kind of music you [w]ant to.

Where do you get the names for some of your songs? Some of the titles have nothing to do with the song lyrics.
well sometimes my friends give them to me, sometimes i use titles from songs i never finished. i like song titles that force you to make a connection.

You have a studio, Tiny Telephone. Were you ever nervous that this would fail?
oh god yes!!! i should still be worried, everything in the studio biz is fragile, i just got used to the feeling of terror!

What bands are you inspired by?
silver jews, brian eno, destroyer, david bowie, mountain goats, tom waits. radiohead is probably the band i think about the most.

You have often been compared to bands like Death Cab For Cutie, and Bright Eyes. Do you listen to either of those?
yes, all the time. i have been compared to a lot of bands,. this bugs a lot of musicians, but it never bugged me.

Do you usually take time out to talk to fans like this?
yes i try to be very accessible. i hate the idea that people are snobby in music, it ruins the whole thing.

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