I recently caught up with Generationals frontman Grant Widmer as he and the rest of the band cruised up the New Jersey turnpike, making their way from Philly to the Big Apple, en route to play the Bowery Ballroom in New York We started off talking about the experience of playing in NYC and then cruised through a number of topics, including the exciting cultural developments in New Orleans, from which the band hails, what they have planned for 2010 (hint: this is a huge year for the band), and their previous experiences in Cleveland.
Got any exciting plans for while you are in New York?
Man, it is always a headache – there is so much logistical stuff to deal with in New York. As a result, you do less than you want to, because you are always trying to keep everyone together. You have to cut your losses. However, we do have a lot of friends here, so it’ll be a party for sure.
How’s the rest of the tour been going?
This has seriously been the funnest tour we’ve had yet – every show been awesome. I really love the bands we are on the tour with (The Apples in Stereo and Laminated Cat). The weather has been amazing every day. It’s been a fantastic trip. I can’t wait to continue on. You moved back to New Orleans in 2008, as did Park the Van. Fellow label mates Giant Cloud moved there about the same time. It seems like New Orleans is starting to experience a post-hurricane cultural resurgence. Does that have any kind of impact on your work?
All the people you mention are doing the things they are doing because that’s what they love doing and I think we’d be doing what we do even if we were the only ones there. But we’ve definitely benefited from folks coming down and setting up shop and building a richer community. I hope more bands think New Orleans is a good place to come down and set up.
What are you listening to these days?
We only have a tape player in the van so we buy tapes at gas stations wherever we go. We just bought an ELO Greatest Hits Live Part 2 tape. There is very little by way of liner notes, but from what I’ve gathered Jeff Lynne is not involved and so it is some other guy doing all the singing.
We also just got a copy of the brand new Dr Dog record that just came out on Tuesday. That one’s awesome. It is a little different from previous records – they became pretty well known for their sort of homemade sound and on this one the production value is very very high, but it has a bunch of good songs. I really like it.
Anything out of New Orleans you think people in the rest of the country should be hearing?
Giant Cloud – we’re fans of theirs, too. They are the cool deal in New Orleans right now. They do a lot of touring, as much as us, though, and are probably only there as often as we are, which is to say not very.
New Orleans has a lot of diversity. There are a bunch of brass bands that are really great. A bunch of instrumentalists that just killing it. Kermit Ruffins is about to get real famous.
Givers is another band from Lafayette doing really well, about to be on everyone’s radar soon.
Brass Bed is really great. Their new album is coming out on Park the Van, also. They are also from Lafayette. They’re gonna be killing it this year, doing a lot of touring.
Missing Monuments, have you heard of them yet? They are this power pop band that brings it so hard every night. Gonna be more known this year, definitely.
What’s the plan for the summer?
We’re gonna do a few one-off shows, a festival in June, a festival in Mexico in August, and between those two were gonna try to squeeze in as much recording as we can. We have a few recording projects to accomplish before the fall, when we are trying to work out some more touring, especially internationally. It’s gonna be a big summer. A great year.
How will new record be different from Con Law?
We’ll go in with another group of songs and they’ll sort of reflect what happens when we are in the studio. We don’t have a hard line thing we are going to do, it is just gonna be songs that we bring in and they’ll turn out how they turn out. The seeds will be similar to the ones we brought in when we made the last record, but what happens when we get in there is anybody’s guess. We do what we do, so you’ll know it is us when you hear it, but what it is that we are doing can be pretty different depending on what happens in the studio.
Ever been to Cleveland? Any memorable experiences to share?
Years ago, we played at a place called the Hi Fi with our old band. Generationals has never been there. The Hi-Fi time we loaded our stuff, and then decided we wanted to go down to Rock Hall. So we did, but as soon as we got to the museum, they literally shut the door and locked it. That was awesome. A funny little metaphor for getting shut out of the scene.
But Cleveland overall? I remember it being cool, remember having good weather, I thought it was a nice town. Actually, funny thing, that time the sound guy at Hi-Fi was named Poop. He was a total veteran, been doing it for years and years. Our old band had a female singer and he came up after the show and said we were great, told us about how he used to hang out with Blondie back in the day and how our singer really reminds him of “Debby Harris.” Right, Debby Harris, not Deborah Harry. Real tight friendship there, I bet.
Be sure to check out Generationals when they play the Grog Shop on Tuesday, April 27th with Apples in Stereo and Laminated Cat. Tickets are $12 and the show will commence promptly at 8:30. For real.
Moving to Cleveland a couple years ago for work, I soon learned how rich the cultural community around town was. Whether rock shows or poetry readings, edgy gallery openings or string quartets, Clevo has it all. I do my best to bring you some coverage and advocacy about what I think you should check out, support, and exploit.