In this week's paper, we ran an interview with the New Pornographers' redheaded frontman, Carl Newman. Now, in anticipation for tonight's concert at the Pageant with the Dodos, we offer outtakes from the conversation -- everything from Dan Bejar's genius to whether Newman feels he's becoming the new Jeff Lynne.
Christian Schaeffer: Do you get to cherry-pick from Dan Bejar's songbook, or does he bring his own New Pornographers songs to the band? A.C. Newman: That's what he does now. At the beginning, I cherry-picked. When we started the band, I went through an hour-long demo tape of his songs. I found songs that I really loved and said, "I want these for the band." To a certain degree it was like that for Electric Version too, in that he gave me an hour-long demo tape and I found a song I really liked. But then after that, he would just bring songs it. But then for some songs like "Breakin' the Law" and "Streets of Fire" were songs on a Destroyer [another Bejar band] record called We'll Build Them a Golden Bridge, which is essentially an album of four-track demos. And so we went in and said, "This song's awesome; we should redo this." Because it was good as a four-track demo but we thought it would be great to do full-band versions of them. But on the last two records he basically just brought in the songs.
Being a fan of his other band, he seems to have hit that sweet spot of knowing what's gonna work with the New Pornographers. There have been a couple of songs that he presented as New Pornographers songs, but I just didn't know what to do with them. One in particular was "Painter in Your Pocket" from [Destroyer's] Rubies. That was submitted for Twin Cinema, and I listened to it and I thought it sounded so Destroyer-like that there was nothing we could do with this song that wouldn't make it sound exactly like Destroyer. Thinking back it was a right move, because "Painter in Your Pocket" seems like such an essential part of Rubies.
Yeah, it's sort of a hinge of that record. That then there was another song called "Mad Foxes" that ended up being on Your Blues that, I think, was submitted for Electric Version, and again, I just thought, "I don't know what to do with this. It's such a Destroyer song."
I also heard the version that the band did without Dan of "Hey Snow White" [on the Dark was the Night compilation]. And to me, that's such a Destroyer song. That was the first Destroyer record I really got into was This Night, so it was nice to hear you guys do it and see that there wasn't that much division. It's just a song I've always liked. And it's from one of his most maligned record, too.
That was my first favorite of his. In hindsight it's kind of his shaggiest record, especially if you're looking for the pop stuff, but even still something about it is really magnetic and awesome. There's no middle ground with Dan, you know? People seem to love his records or hate them. And then he followed up This Night with Your Blues, which was such a strange move.
That was divisive. That's the one I can't totally get down with. Everything else I love. I think that's one of his best. It's got some of his greatest songs on it, like "From Oakland to Warsaw" and "It's Gonna Take an Airplane." A bunch of them.
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