Friday, October 26, 2012

Feeling Lots of Feelings: A CMJ Postmortem with Carson Cox of Merchandise

Posted By on Fri, Oct 26, 2012 at 12:45 PM

Page 4 of 5

Merchandise - Brooklyn, 538 Johnson 13 Sep 2012
from (((unartig))) on Vimeo.

The L: As far as your New York demographic goes then, have you noticed any difference in how the crowd responds to you here compared to other cities?

CC: We’re definitely way more popular in New York than we are anywhere else in the country. The only show that came close to our New York ones was Toronto or maybe Boston. They were really surreal. Really heavy, crazy. Over the top.

The L: The Pitchfork CMJ show in particular had a feeling of being more of an event than a typical warehouse show. There was the long line to get in, the YouTube stream, Jon Caramanica from the Times tweeting about it

CC: Yeah, it was kind of a disaster. The sound guy just didn’t do anything we asked him to, and the room sounded really bad. But the people at the show were great and all the Pitchfork people were awesome. All those people running the show were killer. It was just one of those things. Our gear never works. Like ever. It’s a total pain in the ass. And I’m always sick. [laughs] The whole weekend I was sick, our gear was breaking, but we still played anyway because that’s what you’re supposed to do.

The L: I kinda got the sense it wasn’t going as you had hoped. It would be nice if people knew the backstory to these things, yeah?

CC: I don’t care. They don’t have to. I really prefer them not to. I’d rather them think we just suck. Because there are no excuses when it comes to that. I’m not going to go up there and be like, “Oh, we’re very sick and the guitars don’t work.” There’s no point in making any kind of apology before you play. That’s just stupid.

But I don’t think people understand what it’s like to be where we’re from or do what we do. I can’t say anything has ever worked, ever, for us live. [laughs] Just because we’re so reliant on a PA, it’s like playing on a different guitar every show. Everything is totally different each time. At some point, you just have to be like, “It doesn’t matter.” We had the opportunity to tour and do whatever the fuck we’re doing this year, so we took it, but we didn’t know what we were doing when we started it. Playing live is so different than the recording. For the record, Dave plays guitar and keyboard. There are, like, 17 guitar tracks on everything. It’s not like we can do that live. We’re at the point where we just play, and I’m kinda indifferent. Because sometimes we nail it; sometimes it sounds great! And sometimes it doesn’t sound good, but it doesn’t matter because no one was listening anyways. [laughs] I’m sort of cynical.

But especially in New York! It’s like, “Ok, I read about this band, that’s why I’m here, but the whole time I’m here, I’m just going to be texting on my phone.” I would say that’s been most of my experience playing in New York. I’m singing a lot in my head. [laughs] I don’t really know what is going on with the audience—why they’re there, what they do. I don’t really understand other people around me—other indie, post-punk people. I don’t get their thing either. It just seems like in general I don’t really understand the vibe of everything there. And it’s not a bad thing; it’s just that I don’t know. I’m just not from there. It’s cool when we get flown up, but it’s still not anything like I’m used to.

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