PAUSE: So, let’s get full names and hometowns.
Brit Daniel: My name is Brit Daniel, from Temple, Texas.
Rob Pope: I’m Rob Pope, from Seattle, Washington.
Eric Harvey: I’m Eric Harvey, and I live in Austin, Texas.
Jim Eno: and I’m Jimmy Eno, from Austin, Texas.
PAUSE: You guys have a lot of history. You’ve been around for about ten years. How would you say you’ve grown – personally, not necessarily musically – in that time?
Brit: I think I’ve become a much more patient person.
PAUSE: What brought that about?
Brit: Just getting older and wiser.
PAUSE: Anyone else?
Jim: I see myself as more patient too.
Brit: You’ve become more patient?
Brit: I disagree.
Jim: I’m more patient than when I had my day job. You think?
Eric: Well, you’re more fun. (all laugh)
Jim: So, I’m a more fun person. Maybe not more patient.
PAUSE: Why make music?
Eric: So the magazines have something to write about.
Brit: Yeah… I think we’re all music fans really. And…
Rob: It’s fun. A lot of it’s fun.
Brit: We try to limit it to about 5% non-fun. Minus flights.
Eric: If we included flights, that percentage would go way up.
PAUSE: How has your life as musicians affected your relationships with people? Has your central core of friends become those people that you work with? Is there a line in that or…?
Brit: We try to have a very solid, usually black, line separating us and, let’s say, our publicist and tour manager.
Eric: Is that an invisible black line, or…?
Brit: Solid, painted, physical black line.
PAUSE: What sort of art is inspiring you right now?
Eric: The new Coen Brothers movie is pretty awesome, No Country For Old Men.
Brit: Did you read the book?
Eric: Actually, the book’s in my backpack. I haven’t had the chance to crack it open yet. That’s why I brought it.
Rob: I got it for him.
Eric: And that’s why I brought it. You read the book right?
Rob: yup. I read it cover to cover from Boston to LAX.
PAUSE: What are you thinking, Brit?
Brit: Oh, I’m thinking about artists, not necessarily musicians. The spirit of Allen Ginsberg has always steered this band. (all laugh)it’s always been forefront in my mind… we noticed that he had passed away right around the time of our first setback.
PAUSE: That first setback being?
Brit: We were dropped from our label.
Eric: You thought of that just now, that’s pretty good. (laughter)
Brit: It’s true.
Eric: Our one and only setback.
PAUSE: so everything’s been pretty smooth since then?
Brit: Very smooth. Like Jim’s butt. (laughter)
Jim: We’ve just been following the manual since then.
Rob: Things were rougher in the beginning, but then they definitely got progressively easier. Like they say though, “Mo money, mo problems.”
PAUSE: They do say that. They say that often. S,o do you feel like you’re at a place where you’re more comfortable, or do you feel a need to go further, either professionally or even creatively? What pushes that?
Brit: I think we always want to push further creatively. Let me get check around the table on that.
Rob: Some do want to go further professionally but not creatively, by signing on with a corporate label.
Brit: People do that though.
Eric: They do. They get a lot of bank.
Brit: But then they’re gone quickly. We’re the long term bank.
PAUSE: Is that it?
Brit: I forgot the question.
PAUSE: What is it that pushes you creatively?
Brit: I don’t know. I just don’t think we’d be happy if we didn’t put out records that made you go “wow, that’s really good.” I wouldn’t be able to look at myself in the mirror, even in a photo shoot.
PAUSE: Critically, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga’s been almost universally loved. Were you prepared for that? Did you expect that? Obviously, you know you want to make the best thing possible when you create art, but what was your reaction to the critical acclaim?
Brit: When we finished the record, I thought it was our best record to date. I felt full of confidence and love. By the time it’s coming out, you just don’t listen to it as much and then you’re thinking “I wonder how people are going to react to this.” By the time the reviews were coming out, for all I knew they could have been all bad. But they weren’t. So that was good.
PAUSE: Was it a surprise?
Jim: Well, you’re just hoping what you think is good translates to other people. That other people will like it. That’s why I like playing shows on new records because you’re playing those songs live and it’s fun to see people getting excited about it.
Rob: I think you make the record for yourself, and make it as good as it can be for yourself. If other people like it, that just makes it easier.
Jim: Don’t you feel like this was the first record we felt this way about though, as our best record? I just think that, for me, you’ve been in the studio and heard the song so many times that you don’t know if it’s good or bad. I just thought it was pretty interesting that you were like “yeah, this is our best.” You were pretty confident.
Brit: I just remember feeling that to varying degrees about our other ones, but it felt more vocal this time.
PAUSE: now you mentioned playing shows. How has that experience changed over the last 8 years or so to today?
Eric: People come to our shows now.
Brit: We have a much bigger rider.
Eric: A much bigger crew.
Brit: It just got more amplified.
Rob: For the longest time when we would go out and tour with this band, it would just feel like a dismal failure the whole way through. That’s not to say that we didn’t have fun, but in terms of what we were actually out there doing, we were supposed to be out there promoting a record and then we’d go and there wouldn’t be any records in the store and like ten people would show up to see us in St. Louis. Jim would take the stage crying. So around 2001 when we put out our third album, it felt like for the first time things were actually working.
PAUSE: Define “working.”
Rob: Well, “working” as in “more than 20 people showing up for our show.” Maybe even a hundred or two hundred showing up for our show.
Eric: The long drives were more rewarding.
Rob: Yeah, and the record would be reviewed in a lot more places, and it would be reviewed positively. I mean when we put our record out on a major label, it barely got any notice at all. It wasn’t really reviewed anywhere. We had trouble getting any kind of promotion. I remember we went out on this 6am TV show because that was like the best break we had. We’re playing during a news broadcast. We were playing the bumpers.
Jim: The non-vocal versions of our songs.
Jim: But I also think that early in our career, label management was always telling us, “you gotta stay on the road, stay on the road, stay on the road.” And we were just seeing that our fans go up by the single digits and then back down again as we go back to cities and it was jut a lesson we learned early on was that we really shouldn’t waste our time and we should just go back and make another record.
PAUSE: So the studio was more beneficial to you than the road?
Jim: Well, that’s what people are going to remember is the records. You have to come out to support the record, but there comes a time where you have to recognize that another tour is not going to help, no matter how many times they’ll tell you “you have to go out.” That just means a longer time between records, and your fans don’t keep growing. You need to keep putting new things out there for the press to write about. We toured quite a bit.
Brit: We had pros telling us what to do.
Jim: Yeah… (whispers) we fired them.
PAUSE: Well, what’s next for you guys? Is it part of a cycle, “do record, go tour, do record, go tour”?
Brit: I don’t know. I guess it’s the big overall “it’s God looking down, He sees that” thing. I need to write songs. I need some time off.
PAUSE: Do you guys feel you’ve achieved what you set out to accomplish?
Brit: well, when I first started this band, I just set out to play weekend gigs and not just Monday nights at the metal bar on Riverside. So yeah.
Jim: we made it.
Brit: we made it.
PAUSE: Well thanks for your time guys.
Brit: Cool. Thank you.-Chris Bergman