December 4 - Interview: of Montreal's Davey Pierce
Whether you view of Montreal as neo-glam visionaries or pseudo-gay hacks does not change the fact I interviewed bassist Davey Pierce one Tuesday morning in December. We talked about working with Kevin Barnes (the group's frontman and sole contributor in the studio), bandmate Jamey Huggins' solo-work as James Husband, and about clearing out one's record collection. I'll air the entire interview on tomorrow's show after the church music, here's the transcript:
G: How’s the tour so far?
Davey Pierce: The tour has been totally awesome, actually. We’re on a nice little break, we leave tonight to go down to Florida.
G: You’re home right now?
DP: Yeah, I’m sitting right outside my house.
G: One question about your clothes: who designs it, the stuff you wear on stage?
DP: Kevin has a designer that he uses … I haven’t met her yet, some lady from Italy, which is kind of crazy. [laughs] Me? I just buy stuff from thrift stores and stuff like that. So I guess I would be the designer.
G: What do you think of the new record, and how well does it transfer to a live setting?
DP: Personally I love the new record, it’s awesome – Kevin never ceases to amaze me. As far as transferring to a live setting, that’s probably what’s been the hardest part about it. It’s disjointed, kind of all over the place that it was weird getting everything down because we learned it in parts, for the most part. He’d be like “Here’s these nine 30 second sections, so learn those and we’ll figure out where they go.” Like … “Wow, okay! I guess I’ll have to do that, then.” But yeah, I think it transfers pretty well. It’s been kind of a struggle to make it really work for us as a live band, but that’s half the fun of it.
G: When it comes to Kevin’s bass lines, are they easy to perform? Because you’re the driving force on some songs like “Gronlandic Edit.”
DP: Yeah, there are some that are pretty easy, and then some that are incredibly difficult and complicated. And me not really being a bassist for the most part it’s been …a learning experience.
G: If you’re not a bassist, what’s your ‘natural instrument,’ then?
DP: I’ve been a drummer since I was six, and I started playing guitar when I was about twelve. I picked up the bass about three days before I joined the band.
G: How did you get to first meet Kevin Barnes and join of Montreal?
DP: I moved up to Athens from Tallahassee, Florida, and lived about a block from him. We had a bunch of mutual friends and I’d go over to his house and we’d all play basketball, have barbecues and stuff like that. When it came to me later moving down to Orlando, I didn’t really want to, but I really had to, you know? And they offered me the job to do merch, roadie-ing and tech work so I jumped at the chance. It just snowballed from there.
G: When it comes to live, you guys have done a lot of Bowie covers including a medley of “Breaking Glass” and “Be My Wife.” Do you remember doing that?
DP: They stopped the Bowie thing right after I joined because they had been doing it for like a year and a half and moved on. We did some Kinks, Prince covers, and all sorts of stuff like that.
G: So have you guys stayed away from covers lately?
DP: No, we’ve been doing a lot of covers! Actually… not too many this last tour, but we did “Take Me Out” by Franz Ferdinand and “Teen Spirit” which was always fun to play, kind of this noisy mish-mash of people on stage doing random things, a lot of breaking stuff. It’s good, cathartic to get to smash things. [laughs]
G: Since the albums are always very much Kevin’s babies, what studio work have you done in the last year?
DP: We [the band] recorded on one song with him [“An Eluardian Instance” from Skeletal Lamping], we also did an EP (I'm unsure if it will ever come out) as another band that’s all of us from of Montreal called Instant Witch. We played a couple of those songs live for a little while and then now that the new record’s out they’ve kind of fallen to the wayside. I actually have another band, we just recorded a record that hopefully will come out though probably won’t.
G: What’s the band called?
DP: It’s called Inkwell.
G: What’s it sound like?
DP: It’s more rocking than of Montreal, straight up rock ‘n’ roll kind of stuff. Y’know. Rock. Kind of hard to describe.
G: Have you heard any of Jamey [Huggins’] James Husband stuff? What do you think of it?
DP: Oh yeah, I play drums with James Husband. It’s awesome.
G: Isn’t James Husband putting out a split 45 with of Montreal in the next year? Do you know anything about that?
DP: I think that’s the “Happy Happy Birthday to Me” singles club. I’m not entirely sure. I hear only bits and pieces of that stuff. But I did hear about that, and am really excited about that one. James’ music is incredible, one of my favorite songwriters.
G: What’s your favorite album of the year in 2008, as we’re getting into December?
DP: Somebody asked me that earlier and I had such a problem answering that question, because I can’t remember what albums even came out in 2008.
G: What have you been listening to lately?
DP: Lately I’ve been really stuck on the latest Trail of the Dead record, So Divided, I’ve been listening to that like crazy. I still love Death Cab for Cutie, the last record that came out this year blew my mind. For the most part I’ve actually had this resurgence of stuff I used to love when I was twelve, so I’ve been going back and listening to Jawbreaker, Jawbox, Knapsack, Samiam, and all these bands I used to love when I was a little punk kid.
G: Do you have your old cassettes?
DP: I actually don’t have my old cassettes, I wish that I did. I go through a period every couple of years and get rid of everything that I own and start over again, you know? Unfortunately my cassettes went first, and then next time my whole record collection went.
DP: The entire collection. I sold about a thousand LPs to Wax ‘n’ Facts in Atlanta. I think it’s a necessary thing to flush yourself of everything you have once in a while be it from force or your own decision. It’s good to start over every once in a while with a clean slate. You know?
G: Yeah… I see. I guess I couldn’t get rid of some of some of my good stuff. Everything, like everything?
DP: I got rid of literally every CD and LP that I owned.
G: That's crazy. Are you excited for Europe?
DP: I’m very excited for Europe, we’re doing a total bus tour this time. Normally the last couple of times we’ve been to Europe it’s been: play a show, wind up getting drunk, wake up two hours later, and go get on a plane and play a show. You sleep for a total of ten hours in the two weeks that you’re there. This time we actually have a little bus that will take us around and we can actually see Europe again instead of just flying overtop of it. We’re all really excited about that one.