Tuesday, August 18, 2009

CB Q/A #10: These United States

Summer is in its waning days, which seems funny to write considering how this week and the previous weekend were about the most summer-like, weather-wise, of the last few months. Nonetheless, stores are filled with back to school deals and every educator you know has been a little grumpy the last couple mornings.

However, by my count, we at least have this one week to celebrate (or at least that's what CB HQ's official calendar says), and what better way than by hitting up a week's worth of interesting shows. This week, visitors as diverse as Two Cow Garage, Drug Rug, the Gin Blossoms, and Cale Parks make their way through Cleveland - all of which promising to put on a good show. You couldn't really go wrong with any of them, but the out-of-town guest that I'm most excited about is the Washington, DC/Lexington, KY-based These United States.

I've been digging these guys for a while now, especially tracks like "Honor Amongst Thieves" (off 2008'sCrimes) LP and "First Sight" (off 2008's other LP, A Picture Of The Three Of Us At The Gate To The Garden Of Eden). I like the entire sonic approach of the band, which they describe better than I ever could as "Cumulonimbus WordPop fr th’Jangly Railyard Dreamer."

Recently, I was able to get the band to fill out my usual questionaiire. The answers are interesting, especially when they talk about their most memorable Cleveland experience. Like the rest of us, they find magic in the dirt and snow - the kind of attitude I like best. Maybe next time they feel the need to migrate, we'll be able to recruit them to the Collinwood neighborhood!

1) What are your influences on Crimes? In particular, I'm interested in sources of inspiration other than other bands/musicians? I mean, is there a certain type of art or artist, idea, spirit, etc.

I think we were thinking a lot about the world, and all the crimes in it. Variations on a theme - you know, good crimes, bad crimes, small crimes, big crimes. We wanted to be the Dr. Seuss of crimes. We would commit them in a box. We would commit them with a fox. In this sense, I'd say Dr. Seuss was our biggest influence for this album.

2) Has the move from DC to Lexington changed your sound or approach at all?

We move back and forth between Lexington and DC all the time - 2 of us live in DC, and 3 of us live in Lexington - so, yeah, our sound is very informed by the roads between these two places. It's a remarkable drive, really. Mountains, forests, West Virginia welcome centers. It means we don't get to practice very much, but we do get to spend a lot of time thinking off into the distance, and playing our favorite cassette tapes for each other on the drive.

3) If you were asked by a younger musician about to embark on his/her first tour or recording session, what advice would you give him/her?

Make music with people you love.

4) Any pre- or post-show rituals you have found yourselves following over the years?

Usually, we drink before our shows. And then during and after them. Sometimes, we get into a huddle with Caramel, who is our merch horse (a horse that guards merchandise). We but our heads together and talk in tongues. Caramel doesn't have a tongue, which is sad. But he gets the job done.

5) Any favorite artists/songs out there you'd love to cover, but just haven't done it yet?

Yes, there are nine hundred of them. Beck. ELO. Cotton Jones. Who am I missing?

6) Last but not least, any memorable Cleveland experiences?

One time, when I was first starting out, playing duo just me and Tom, traveling around playing shows with our good friend Paleo, we showed up in Cleveland in the middle of a snowstorm and the venue informed us that they didn't feel like sticking around for a show that night. It was the wrong side of the tracks, you know, and no one would come, and who the hell did we think we were, anyway? It was hard to argue with that, so we drove on to Jamestown, New York, where we holed up in the upstairs unheated attic of the next night's venue and waited out the 4 feet of snow that fell through the night and wrote songs together. That was perfect. We owe Cleveland for that one. Seriously.

Be sure to check out These United States when they play the Beachland Tavern tomorrow (Wednesday, 8/19). Doors open at 8 and the scheduled openers (Good Touch Bad Touch and Authors) start doing their thing about 8:30. See you there!

1 comment:

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