July 13, 2010

Edward Sharpe Interview: One Man from the Big Band

He's in there somewhere.
Sometimes (many. times.), music is pretentious.  It divides people more than unites (see country/classical music fans versus everyone else).  It makes people name drop and one up (hello, I listened to [insert band] way before they went mainstream, i.e. before you).

Other times, music is fun.  It's down to earth and positive, and makes you want to share instead of keep secrets. It's a quality about music that in some ways feels almost retrospective.  
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros radiate this: everything that is awesome about music.  We adore their first and latest album, and love their hippie vibe live.  
They are coming to the 9:30 Club for a sold-out show on July 20th.  If it's anything like their Black Cat show last year, it's going to be a highlight of 2010.  You should get to the venue early.  Stand out front.  Hope to whoever that someone will scalp you a ticket.  

I spoke with Christian Letts, one of the founding members of ES&MZ.  I apologize for the delay in this post, especially because it revealed some Bonnaroo surprises--namely, the Old Crow Medicine Show appearance, which I should've put forth into the interverse right away.

 He talks that, tour life, and a very optimistic future of music after the jump.

1.  How many people in your touring band?  10 

2.  How did you [Edward Sharpe] get together in the beginning?

Alex [Ebert, "Edward Sharpe", the lead singer] and I have been friends since we were three, had our first real show at the Troubador and didn't have a band, so there were about five of us at the time.  We called up some friends and asked if they wanted to play with us...  As far as touring together, it's been great--it's like a family so there's been some ups and downs, I mean there's 12 people on the bus--two people other than the band--and you're going to get problems sometimes, but otherwise, I have a blast.

3.  Who do you consider your musical influences?

As a collection its hard to say because there are so many different people and different personalities here.  Speaking for myself, my favorite musician is Django Reinhardt, 60s jazz player, the Beatles--all sorts of influences, hip-hop, everything.

4.  What was your first concert?

Michael Jackson, I was about 5, my mom took me.  

5.  What comes first, the music or the lyrics?  Who's involved out of the 10 person band?

It kind of depends, it's a song-by-song basis.  Sometimes you have the lyrics already... it's not something you really think about it just happens--it's already living somewhere and you just hold onto it somehow.  

For this album, Alex wrote most of it and we kind of seasoned it together and brought it to life.  It kind of changes, there's nothing set in stone--no rules on how things happen.  Sometimes we'll be jamming together in the living room... we produce the album at the house which is great because we get to hang out there.  Like one night, we were jamming and we were like, "that's a good song let's go downstairs" and we laid it down and probably the whole process took like an hour, you know?  It's pretty great having it in-house and having two very talented people produce it--they know what they are doing so we can pull it off.

6.  Any new material coming out?

We're hoping to record pretty soon, we're writing right now, we're coming up with ideas--hopefully sooner or later, but now we've got a pretty good year ahead of us, a lot of time on the road.`

7.  What trends do you see in today's music industry, and what would you like to see in tomorrow's?

We're seeing a lot of real music coming out, which is really fantastic.  I think it's not the same as it used to be--you can get it everywhere, so people are writing a lot more now.  For a lot of people, it's not about getting rich--I'm seeing a lot of friends of ours like Van Daas or Andion [ed.: sp?]--just create a lot of genuine music.  For me at least, it's feeling a lot more real and it's really refreshing and it's great to see.  Also, I'm more and more seeing people lose this sense of trying to be cool when they're playing music, and instead they look like they are enjoying themselves. 

I'm having a blast, I know everyone in the band is as well.  It's pretty great to see, actually. 

8.  What do you think about DC as a music city?

I think I've only been there twice now and it's been a blast every time.  It's been really fun, I has some really interesting experiences with the people there.  Like some really interesting... like there's some crazy homeless people... great stories, giving us love life advice and stuff.  It's pretty awesome.  

9.  Favorite venue to see a show?  To play?

Favorite venue to play was Victoria Park in London, under a little canopy, it was a beautiful day, so that was really cool.  My favorite venue to see a band... well actually it's kind of random, my friend's band--a big band, the Jonathan Stout Orchestra--and they are a fantastic band... I saw them one NYE at a Masonic Hall, in an interesting setting, in the lobby, and it was really great because they were in the middle of the room and everybody just surrounded them and it was something really, really special that night.  That's the first thing that sticks out in my head right now.  

10.  Anything you are looking forward to at Bonnaroo?

Yeah, Old Crow Medicine Show--some of our friends and they are fucking amazing.  I have the album on repeat.  I get to see Dawes play there, they've been on the road with us and they're also one of my favorite bands so... it's pretty cool, that's the great thing about music, you get to meet these people that, you know, you've listened to their CDs before and you get to hang out with them... it's even better when they're great guys like all those guys,  it makes you love their music even more.  And She & Him, I really like She & Him.