While we hate Clem Snide frontman Eef Barzelay for deserting us, and leaving us wondering why we stick around in an overpriced, stress-inducing city, we can forgive his recent move to Nashville. Why? Because he’s set to release his debut solo record, Bitter Honey, and it’s some of the best work he’s ever done. He agreed to answer a couple questions for us, and since he doesn’t exactly do a bang-up job selling himself, you’ll have to take our word for it when we tell you to check it out.
The L: Somehow, when I wasn’t looking, you managed to escape New York for Nashville. What made you decide to move, and how is it working out so far? Eef Barzelay: I did manage to escape New York. I moved to Nashville for a not-so-interesting practical domestic reason but also for artistic reasons. Amazingly enough, I have somehow wed the practical and the creative inside me and both have flourished.
The L: Could you talk a little about what the music scene is like down there? I’ve heard from quite a few folks that there’s a thriving indie-rock community. EB: It’s real good here. The Mattoid and Lone Official are great. I don’t go out that much but it’s always real easy and nice when I do. The L: So now, after all these years playing with Clem Snide, you’re about to release your first solo record. I’m wondering what made you decide it was the right time for such a bold move. EB: There’s been an inner boldness on the rise within me and now I’m ready to share it with the world. The L: I’m always intrigued by artists who can play solo and still manage to write upbeat, energetic songs. A perfect example of this for me is the song ‘Well’ on your new record. Are there any artists in particular whom you think hold their own better than others in such a setting? EB: The guy from the Mountain Goats. The L: How has Clem Snide as a band been affected by a) your move down south and b) the release of Bitter Honey? EB: Clem Snide and I are barely speaking. What’s more, he owes me money. The L: Obviously, ‘The Ballad of Bitter Honey’ is a pretty affecting song. If you wouldn’t mind, could you give a quick summary of what the song’s about and talk a little about why you felt compelled to write about the subject? EB: Like all great songs it was written in a hotel room in Berlin. Maybe it was all the Haribou gummy bears I was eating, but I had MTV Germany on with the sound down and that song wrote itself in ten minutes. The song is about a video honey and what she might be thinking. [Ed. note. Thanks Eef, allow us: The song is a touching, fictionalized tale of a woman who appeared as a dancer in a Ludacris video, and gets caught up in the trappings of a life spent in pursuit of material things, defending herself, saying, “Don’t hate me ‘cause I know what this world is all about.”] The L: How did your writing process differ when working on Bitter Honey? Do you feel like, under the circumstances, you were more or less open lyrically than when working with a band? EB: My writing process hasn’t changed. Some of these were songs that didn’t fit on Clem Snide records. I have a little studio in my backyard here and that’s made everything easier.
The L: Are you planning any sort of extensive tour behind the new record? EB: I am touring the US in April and May, beginning on the west coast.