Continued from Part One…
Your current rhythm section of Wurster and Narducy has now lasted longer, even, than Hüsker Dü did. What makes this trio work in ways that others may not have as well?
There’s a couple simple answers. One is: we’re not yoked to each other 24/7. When we musicians are in full-time, permanent, ‘this is my life’ bands, every day is fraught with small bits of friction, just by the nature of it.
With Hüsker Dü, it was just that strong desire to go out and make music, but we were tied together for eight years. As we all know, any kind of relationship, after a number of years, there’s going to be little spikes of barbed wire that show up and will just tear things apart slowly, especially if it’s left unchecked.
With Sugar, that was an incredibly bright, hot, fast, rocket ride, and I was the principal of that project. So, I think it was a little bit easier than Hüsker Dü where there was that amazing creative tension that made it what it was.
You know, jumping up now to working with Jason and Jon, as you know, those guys have many projects at once. The calendar gets filled quickly, and I have to orchestrate and thread that needle through and around other projects. Because we are not a 24/7 band, we don’t have those little pieces of barbed wire or those flashy rocket rides. We get together for the love of the music, and we do it for a fixed period of time. I hope I’m explaining it enough where you can see the difference.
Absolutely. When I was a kid, you know, I had this image that band members all lived together like The Monkees or The Beatles in Help! or something like that. The reality of it was certainly not that, but when you’re a band, you’re kind of joined at the hip.
Yes, indeed. And, you know, with me, Jon and Jason, we grew up listening to roughly the same kind of music. We have a lot of the same influences. Not exact, but a lot of overlap. So, I think the collective primary language that we speak is an easy one for me to compose for. We’ve been playing together long enough. I know our strongest suit, and it’s easy for me to think about writing music for that particular language. It’s super fun! I know when I bring in a song it may be in a rough state or not completely in a dialed-in state, and I’ll play it on a guitar on the floor when we’re recording. Jon will be like, ‘Does it do this or this?’ I’m like, ‘It does this here [rhythm]. Anticipation here before the one.’ He’s like, ‘Oh, got it! Okay.’
Well, you’ve just answered the next question. I was going to ask: at this point, do you write songs with their particular skill sets in mind? So, it sounds like, at least to some extent, the answer is yes.
Yeah, I make fairly detailed demos. They could be very exact road maps, as in the case of Copper Blue or, with Blue Hearts, it could just basically be a static drumbeat with all of my sort of suggested parts. The goal, at that point, when we go in to make a record is: you have to meet this expectation, and I’m counting on you to beat this expectation. I have found, over time, the rougher the initial presentation of the song, the better the end result. In other words, if I don’t map it out too much, especially with Jon, I’ve found it’s best to just let him do whatever he’s going to do because I 100% trust and know that it will be better than anything I’m hearing in my head.
Blue Hearts came out just about a year ago, and you’re only really now able to tour in support of it. In the meantime, have you already begun work on something else, or, as you said, do you not really start until you’re unpacking after the tour?
It won’t start until unpacking. You know, Blue Hearts was a pretty big thesis. I want to try it out for people. It was written in a tumultuous time, and I had an objective in writing that record, to sort of make my political thoughts known very clearly to people. I was imploring people to take action. We were at the precipice of the end of democracy, and it was incumbent on me to make a point. As far as the music of the record, it was definitely written from a punk rock point of view, and I haven’t written a record that was so built for the stage since, oh I would say, probably Flip Your Wig.
So, yeah, we’re champing at the bit to go out and play and present this new record for people. You know, it’s a good news/bad news kind of thing, because I was hopeful that the state of the world would have been a little better by now, and this has been another long summer. You know, the good news is the record is still very timely and relevant. Bad news is the record is still timely and relevant.