I gotta tell you, I love doing these Q&As. I first started doing them via email only, but lately publicists have preferred to set up phoners instead. Reluctant at first (mostly because it means I gotta type the answers in real time, which yields lots of awkward pauses in conversation), I've gotten over that petty annoyance as I continually realize how much more interesting the conversations are when you have them voice to voice, rather than just sending a list of questions via cyberspace and getting something back some time later.
Today's conversation with Nathan Pemberton, songwriter and frontman for Florida's Holiday Shores, is a perfect example of how much better a one-to-one chat can be, as I was able to prod for follow-ups when needed and phrase and rephrase questions in a way that made sure I got across the inquiry in the right way. Pemberton was super cool and generous with his time, and the end result was one of the more enjoyable Q&As I've done this year. I hope you dig it, too.
1) Your song “Phones Don’t Feud” has gotten a lot of online attention, which has in turn brought more attention to the new album as a whole. What are your thoughts on this age of free mp3s of key singles on blogs – does it change the way you write?
I think a lot of people write albums as a whole still, and one song just ends up being the indicator or acid test for the whole thing. Obviously one song can’t totally represent an album, though I bet a lot of folks write a song wondering if that one is going to be the one that ends up representing everything.
As for "Phones Don't Feud," I wrote that song long before the rest of the album. Honestly, it wasn’t the one that was most indicative of the rest of Columbus'd The Whim, but we thought it was a pretty good way to get people in, to listen further, so we kind of used this mp3 trend to our advantage.
To be honest, "Phones Don't Feud" is not best song on the record, but it was a pretty good one for what we wanted.
2) Which song is the best one then? Or, which one do you guys like playing out the most?
It is hard to say which one is the best. I could probably say which aren’t the best ones a lot easier. I think every song has its individual strengths, and some have big weaknesses. But they are all very different, and sometimes I wonder how they work so well together on the album, considering how disparate they are.
We really like playing Track 3 ("Dens) live, and "Edge of our Lives" is awesome to play live. They are both pretty fun songs to play in front of people and watch them have a good time. Lately, we've really loved playing "Errand of Tongue." It's a big, sprawling song, and it makes a couple left turns, ending up in a way that isn't like your typical pop song.
3) Where’s the album title (Columbus’d The Whim) come from?
It came from a poem - written by an unknown poet and written about the time of World War I, in 1914 or so) - that I read in college. It represents some sort of moment of finding one’s place or something like that.
4) What bands do you listen to? Old? New? If you could dream up an dream bill for Holiday Shores to play on, what would it be?
We listen to all sorts of music, old stuff, new stuff, don’t really discriminate, at least not on purpose. Overall, we probably do wind up listening to older records more frequently than newer records. Obviously, we like to listen to the Beatles, the Beach Boys, The Byrds, Crosby Stills Nash is on a lot, Kate Bush, Cocteau Twins. Steely Dan comes up a lot when driving in the car.
We are pretty big fans of Bill Callahan and Smog, and Women is a newer band that’s really great.
As for a dream bill, that's really hard to say. It would probably be fun to jam out with Bernard Purdie (one-time drummer for Steely Dan), but that wouldn’t be a show, just a jam session.
5) What do you think about playing covers? Any songs/artists you’d love to cover down the road?
We love playing covers. We cover Fleetwood Mac a lot, and are covering a Byrds song right now. We've covered the Kinks before. We really like covering our friends.
I really like the idea of playing covers live. I think it is a pretty good way to keep up with the cool fact that music lets you share and interpret, and playing covers also takes the pressure off in performances. Instead, it puts the emphasis on music overall, shows respect for the music we and the audience both love, and completely lightens the situation. Not every band feels that way, of course. I’ll see bands that are so ego-oriented totally serious and will only play their own material. That's too serious for me.
6) What’s life on tour like? Anything special you do to break up the monotony or enjoy time when you are in certain cities?
We've been looking up a lot of friends, play a bunch of hacky sack whenever we stop and some basketball when we get a chance, but otherwise it is just a lot of reading and listening to A LOT of music. You just do what you can.
7) What’s next?
We are gonna do an EP in the spring, and some more touring. That’s only a short-term plan, but it's about as far as we are able to look forward right now.
8) Last but not least, any memorable Cleveland experiences?
You know, I'm pretty sure I've driven through it, but I've never actually played a show there. This should be a good first time.
Be sure to check out Nathan Pemberton and the rest of Holiday Shores when they play the Beachland with Evangelicals on Saturday. As you are no doubt aware by now, this show marks the inaugural Cleveland Bachelor Show of the Month poster series. More important that that, though, is the fact that both bands are really killing it right now. See you there.
3 years ago