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The L: Do you think indie rock is in a good place right now?
TJ: It's always been a fairly nebulous term. It's more impossible to define now than ever, if only because bands that are considered "indie" are going out and opening for really big bands, or they're playing regularly on Saturday Night Live. It used to be a big deal if a band that was considered indie was on Leno or something, and now it's really not that weird. I think that can be really good. The only thing that concerns me at all about it is this idea in everyone's minds, like, "Oh, we could be that. We could do that." And people might change what they're doing. It's like, "We're just a little bit too weird to do this, so if we do something that maybe we wouldn't normally do, there's a chance that we could do the talk show circuit."
I think ultimately I'll never be totally happy because when I was in high school and found anybody else who knew bands like Fugazi or something, I was like, "This is amazing!" And now bands who are much more "way out there" are way bigger than they ever were. It's kinda cool, but, looking back, there was something special about having these things that were private–that even some of my closest friends didn't like to ride in the car with me because they were like, "What are you listening to?" It was frustrating at the time, but it was so personal..
The L: How many times have you played CMJ now?
TJ: I think this will be our third time.
The L: Are CMJ shows any different than a normal show?
TJ: Well, they're shorter. They can be really, really cool. Sometimes, even when there's maybe only 20 or 30 people, which isn't that great of a turnout, for some reason it can still feel like a really good show. It can be really hit or miss. It's definitely not the same as SXSW, where you can't walk around without feeling this palpable industry thing in the air. Which the Northside Festival was actually kind of on the way to doing, which is kind of cool–by setting it all in this one area, which is how SXSW is. That's one thing that's kind of weird about CMJ. It's like, "Oh, it's a festival," and you're playing these kinda weird shows, but it still doesn't always feel like a festival..
The L: Are you excited to see anyone else you're playing with or any of the national acts? I think Atlas Sound is being tagged as the headliner?
TJ: Oh, is he playing? Awesome. Yeah, I would like to see them. I've seen Deerhunter a couple times, but I saw them in 2005 at a loft party. At that point, they were this band that not a lot of people there had really heard of yet. It was the first time in a long time that I had been genuinely freaked out about what I was watching. But in a really good way. I really kind of miss that a lot, but it's understandably rare. It's the same thing as being a kid and hearing a certain song and being like, "I like that, but it sounds like it's coming from a terrible, terrible place." But it was really engaging. I've been into them for a long time, just because of that one show.