It’s a title track—and we like to do title tracks because we hate naming stuff.What ways do you think Sugar remains most similar to Wrecking Ball? Where does it depart the most? BS: There’s still some really heavy rockin’ stuff in there. There’s a friend of mine in front of me, I told him we were making a pop record just to mess around. It’s still pretty heavy and rockin’ like the old album, but there are upbeat songs on this record where there really wasn’t any on the last one. It’s a lot more upbeat, the songs are a lot thinner, we shortened a lot of the tunes. So there’s definitely no more 12-minute tracks on Sugar? BS: Exactly. Since Wrecking Ball, has your songwriting process changed as a whole? Are you and Hardy [Morris] still the main songwriters or has it opened up to the whole band? BS: No, It’s still me and Hardy—we make it a partnership. The songwriting process for Hardy is pretty much the same, but for me it’s a lot different. I started using my laptop to record stuff and really create more complete tracks before giving them to the band. I kind of record like I was recording my own album, and then let them do what they wanted with it. At first, it was usually like an acoustic guitar—this time around it’s more completed I guess. In terms of your name Dead Confederate—how did you decide on that name? BS: Hardy came up with it, we just wanted something that sounded like our band and didn’t carry too much meaning—that would grasp people’s attentions. We felt like the combination of those words was probably about the perfect combination. I find it interesting that, since you didn’t want any connotation with your name, many critics still ended up associating you with a Confederate theme or with the Old South. Was that something you intended to do in the likes of the Drive-By Truckers’ Southern Rock Opera or do you think that people just misinterpret the meaning of your name. BS: It’s just attention grabbing. Sometimes…[people] kind of question it, but I think it says that you’re a band and all of their songs are just out of their head. They can see pretty quickly that we’re normal people, and not all about the South or anything like that. I think most of us are all pretty liberal dudes, quite opposite of anyone about the Confederacy. I remember this one time we were in Statesboro, Georgia, and this lady with an organization called the ‘Sons of the Confederacy’—she had a rebel flag windbreaker on. She visited with us and was like, “I just wanted to come and meet you all, and make sure y’all weren’t going to be doing injustice to the Confederacy.” And we were all like “What are you talking about? You’ve already done yourself a disservice.”
I think most of us are all pretty liberal dudes, quite opposite of anyone about the Confederacy.One of your new tracks “Giving It All Away” features Dinosaur Jr.’s J. Mascis. How did you come about working with him? What was it like to work with such a legendary musician like J. Mascis? BS: We did a couple tours with him. We toured with Dinosaur Jr. in America, overseas in England and in Europe, and we went back over there with J. Mascis too. He’s been really good to us getting us out on the road and giving us good opportunities. When we were going into record the album, it was actually our producer John Agnello —he’s recorded a bunch of Dinosaur Jr. albums. It was his idea. He was like, “Man, we have to get J. [Mascis] on this track, he’d be perfect.” He called [Mascis] and sent the reels up to Boston where he lives and he just did it in his studio up there, and sent us back what he did. And we were like “Hell yeah!” J. [Mascis] really can’t do no wrong. The similarities between Dinosaur Jr. and Dead Confederate are definitely present. And I know many have pegged you guys as anything including Pink Floyd to My Morning Jacket to Nirvana and so on. But just out of curiosity, how do you all self-identity in terms of influences? Do you and the rest of the Dead Confederate agree with these comparisons, or see the band in a different light. BS: I see us a lot differently. As a songwriter, I don’t sit down and start off thinking one of our songs sound like this person or this genre—everything kind of flows naturally. I think a lot of songwriting is subconscious, it just leaks out of you. Sometimes you don’t write the song, the song writes you.
Sometimes you don’t write the song, the song writes you.For you then, what musicians would you say are embedded within your subconscious that has been that influential for you growing up and currently as a songwriter? BS: I don’t know, I listen to everything. Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of The Replacements. Sonic Youth is a band that has always inspired me. It’s really a game changing thing for me, it really extended my outlook on music—the way they can use noise and chords that don’t really sound right to good effect. I took a lot from them on that. My Morning Jacket—their first couple albums At Dawn and Tennessee Fire are incredible. I just love the way they can have the Southern folk song at the heart of this huge big rock. It may not be the case anymore though—they’ve changed their style a lot. At Dawn is no Evil Urges, to say the least. BS: No, no—totally different. That’s good though, I appreciate bands that aren’t afraid to change things up. If you keep making the same album over and over again, you’re going to get bored. People have to realize it’s not always about them; sometimes it’s about the artist.
Sonic Youth is a band that has always inspired me. It’s really a game changing thing for me, it really extended my outlook on music—the way they can use noise and chords that don’t really sound right to good effect.Define your band’s sound in 1-2 phrases. BS: Definitely loud. A lot of a slide guitar. Pretty Southern and pretty crazy and pretty heavy. What’s your favorite venue that you have played at? BS: Internationally, it would probably Paradiso in Amsterdam—it’s a really old church that they’ve redone and it’s absolutely beautiful. In America, I’d have to say the 40 Watt—it’s for all my homeboys, we know nearly everyone who works there. How do you define the group as a live band? What’s your favorite song to play live? BS: As a live band I’ve always thought of us as keeping things pretty loose and ruckus-ey. We used to destroy shit all the time—break the drum kit, all that kind of stuff. It’s settled down now, I guess we’re getting old or something, I don’t know. At the same time, we’re very focused and in tune with each onstage, probably more than a lot of other bands are. It’s probably because we have been together now for over 10 years in different variations of the band. We started off with improvisation and just making stuff up on the spot. And that really helped us grow as a band. As far as favorite song to play live, right now it’s basically any new song we have since we played the songs on Wrecking Ball for four years—two years before the album and two years after. These are really fresh, and it’s fun playing these shorter rockers—I’ve really been enjoying it. I still love playing the old stuff too, but it’s nice to be able to mix it up, give the crowd more variety.
Plugging away since 1999, The National finally hit mainstream success with the release of their 2010 album High Violet. Of course, this entailed their first world tour, but in the new documentary Mistaken For Strangers, it’s only the backdrop for the relationship between lead singer Matt Berninger and his younger brother Tom, who had no idea that these short videos he was shooting would turn into a public document of their troubled, if still loving brotherhood.
We talk with Israeli rockers Vaadat Charigim about some of their favorite records.
We talk with Yvonne Ambree and Jesse Barnes of Take Berlin about some of the records which influenced the recording of their debut EP, Lionize.
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