In our music feature this week, we dive into the nomadic existence of Ian Fisher and the Present, a duo comprised of Ste. Genevieve native Ian Fisher and St. Louisan Ryan Carpenter. Fisher has carved out a living in Europe as a traveling minstrel, booking shows with Carpenter and other friends in Austria, Germany, Italy, France and beyond.
We couldn't fit all of Fisher's and Carpenter's interview gems into print, so below, we've gathered their thoughts on time travel, the Kirkwood Kaldi's location and a karaoke question they couldn't quite answer.
Allison Babka: Ian, you have a ton of projects with similar names. What's up with that?
Ian Fisher: Originally, I played music with Simon Bauer in Berlin, and we had a project called Ian Fisher and the Future because my friends said I looked so pessimistically at the future and it would just be ironic for me to be with the future. Then I formed a band with Ryan, Simon and other friends, this indie-country band that I thought would be ironic to call Ian Fisher and the Past. I'd seen this trend of revisiting old things, and that was largely what the Past was -- taking those older elements and bringing that to the modern day.
And then Ryan and I started playing more as a duo, which was something that slowly developed out of cost necessity. It's nearly impossible to organize a six-piece band and practice and tour on a level where we're not losing thousands of Euros.
Ryan Carpenter: It's super easy to just hop on a train with two guitars -- or a plane or a bus or hitchhike.
Fisher: So we started playing more and realized that was going over just as well or better than the whole band, and we decided to give the project a name. Since Ryan's personality is such a positive, conscious thing as opposed to mine, which is very cynical and reserved, we decided to call it Ian Fisher and the Present instead of Ian Fisher and Ryan Carpenter.
Carpenter: He's pessimistic when thinking about the future, and I'm always so in the moment. It's funny, on the day of a concert, Ian will be like "I hope the sound is ok" or "I hope they don't fuck us over with money" or "Ugh, this is going to be shitty, Nobody's going to be here." And I'm just like "Ahhh, this is great! This is going to be fantastic!"
Fisher: On a theoretical level, the main reason it's called Ian Fisher and the Present is because I exist everywhere but the present.
Carpenter: And I only exist in the right here, right now. When we were thinking about this time thing, we were like, "That's it. That's what we have to call it."
How do you cope with constantly traveling or dealing with the same person in close quarters for weeks at a time?
Fisher: If I were to take everything seriously that happened on tour, I would have quit touring the second or third day. The only way to really function on tour is to take it like it is and accept the fact that everything is going to be completely and utterly fucked up all the time.
Carpenter: It's so surreal. You just have to match that surreality with your own. I feel so bad for some of the people we try to have normal conversations with.
Fisher: We get pretty surreal about shit. When you're on tour, you start developing inside jokes, and you just assume people are going to get it...
Carpenter: [Giving Fisher a disbelieving look] You don't assume people are going to get it. You like when people don't get it.
Fisher: That's true. The difference between Ryan and me is when people don't get something, I don't care and he does.
Carpenter: I want them to get it, so I want to explain. But how do you explain this stuff that happens to you?
Fisher: Some people jive with this idea, and those that don't - well, go fuck yourselves.
Fisher: It's true. I don't give a fuck.
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