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LITERATURE» Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
MUSIC» The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
MUSIC» Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
Performing as part of the Indie Pop Festival in Chicago, at the Abbey Pub, the Mates of State headlined and put on a fantastic show. They also played a bunch of new songs from Team Boo, the album they were on their way to Austin to record with Jim Eno. Before they hit the stage in Chicago I had the chance to sit down with the duo - husband and wife Kori Gardner and Jason Hammel - to chat.
LAS: Are you guys are on tour right now?
Kori: Not really, we're heading down to record our next record and decided to play a few shows along the way. This is the second one of those.
Jason: We're heading down to Texas to record our third record. We'll be in the studio for the month of June.
Is that where you normally record?
Kori: No, we've never been to this studio.
Jason: We happened upon this studio, and the people we want to work with are down there so we're just gonna spend three weeks in Austin. We're working with Jim Eno [drummer of Spoon] and John Croslyn who did our first record and worked at Tiny Telephone [the SF studio of Mr. John Vanderslice].
Have you guys worked with John Vanderslice in San Francisco?
Kori: He doesn't really engineer. He has a beautiful studio and he knows how to engineer, but he really only does his own records and rents out his studio because, I think - his records are perfect and he's a bit of a perfectionist I think he would go crazy trying to make other peoples' records. We're friends with him and we actually recorded a little bit with him on his last record. He's a great guy.
I don't want to ask standard interview questions…
Jason: Thank god.
So I came up with a few weirdo questions perhaps you could answer. First of all: Which one of The A-Team characters do you think best describes each of you?
Kori: You know… can I be honest? I only know one A-Team member.
Jason: Well let's break it down - you got Hannibal, who is the main guy, the white haired guy…
Kori: I'm gonna admit something - I've never actually seen The A-Team.
And Mr. T was B.A. "Bad Attitude Burracus, Face was the good lookin' guy, and Murdoch was the crazy helicopter-driving guy.
Jason: I'd say… Murdock. I think we're both Murdock.
Kori: Oh, thanks! Why?
Can either of you drive a helicopter?
Kori: Sorry, I'm not much help there, pick a different TV show.
Alright then, what about You Can't Do That on Television?
Kori: I didn't have cable growing up.
Jason: I'm Allister. You'd be Barth… You remember Barth.
Kori: Aww come on, what about Golden Girls?
Okay, which member of the Golden Girls would you guys be?
Kori: Jason would be… Bea Arthur.
Jason: I could accept that.
Kori: And I'd be Sophia, cracking jokes. I loved her sense of humor. Rose was great, I'd love to be Rose, but then I'd be kind of stupid.
Stupid and slutty?
Kori: No, slutty was Blanche.
Jason: Yeah, Blanche.
You know, Quentin Tarrantino, before he was a famous director, played an Elvis Impersonator in an episode of Golden Girls.
Kori: That's not a bad place to get your start.
Jason: And now he's doing a cameo on American Idol?
Kori: Yeah, he was in the audience.
Jason: It made me think… like, what is Quentin Tarrantino doing at American Idol, of all places?
Who knows! Okay, if you were on a show like American Idol, what song would you do?
Kori: I was really surprised that they only did Beatles songs on the last episode, so I think that's a publishing thing… But I would pick some, like, random psychedelic Beatles song.
Jason: Come on that's too stereotypical…
Kori: No it's not.
Jason: You would probably do something like "Itsy Bitsy Spider."
I would love to see them sing TV theme songs, like Welcome Back Kotter or something.
Kori: Well, they always turn it into the same exact song anyway - so it doesn't really matter what song they choose. I would pick some of the songs they sing, but I wouldn't do that whole run thing. UhuhuhUh… And for the record, we're happy with the winner.
Jason: I'm not. Kimberly should've won. She had the most style. That other guy was a dork.
If you could write a song, a theme song for a TV show - would you?
Kori: I would like to write one, like - I wouldn't give one to them, but I'd write one.
What type show, a cop drama?
Jason: America's Funniest Videos!
Kori: That is Jason's favorite TV show.
My friend Jed wanted me to ask you - if you guys could kill five people in the world, who would it be? I thought that would be a question the Mates of State would not answer.
Jason: Sure we would, but not in a violent way, right? Just erase them.
Kori: Let's do it in music - HUEY LEWIS, see you later!
And The News, too? Come on…
Jason: No - The News are fine, just Huey.
Kori: Do someone else and The News.
Jason: Why do you hate Huey Lewis?
Kori: I went through this phase where, every time I heard a Huey Lewis song I felt nauseous. It's so bad, so cheesy and horrible. Just… please, get rid of him.
He was in a movie with Gwyneth Paltrow, Duets.
Jason: Did you see that?
Yes, it was terrible.
Jason: I kinda want to see it, just to see how bad it is.
Kori: We rented it, you fell asleep.
It was filmed and then released three years later, because they were waiting for… the perfect time to release it. And I guess they finally realized there was no perfect time to release it.
Kori: We learned that Gwyneth could sing and Huey Lewis still sucks. They did that song "Cruising Together" together…
Jason: Could Gwyneth sing?
Kori: Yeah… Cruising…
So Huey Lewis is out.
Jason: I can't really think of anyone else I'd want to murder.
Kori: Oh I can. Matchbox 20. That guy, Rob Thomas.
Jason: And that guy from Creed, that lead singer of Creed.
Kori: No, I'd keep that guy because he's so fun to make fun of, but doing a Behind the Music on a band like Creed?
Seriously, plus they haven't been around for all that long. Who cares about them that much at this point?
Kori: They are not that interesting at all.
If there was one instrument you can't play, but wanted to - what would it be?
Kori: I'd like to play the violin, some stringed instrument like that.
Jason: I'd like to be able to play piano.
Kori: You can play piano.
Jason: I'd like to be able to play piano well.
What are some of your favorite venues that you guys have performed in?
Kori: I don't really know venues very well, but cities - usually big cities are a lot of fun. Portland, Oregon, is fun.
Jason: Austin is fun.
Kori: Chicago, New York, San Francisco.
You guys live in San Francisco, correct?
Jason: We moved in November to the East Coast, but we lived there for 5 years.
Did you get to play in the area a lot while living there, or did you just wait for a tour before playing out? You guys do seem to tour a lot…
Kori: The thing is - we played a ton in San Francisco, but after a while you're limited because - to drive anywhere from San Francisco takes about 5 hours, whereas on the East Coast all you have to do is drive an hour here, drive an hour there… So that was part of the reason we just wanted to try living somewhere else.
Jason: We were working while living there, especially the first three years of living in San Francisco… So we would just play on the weekends. But we played in San Francisco a lot after that. There are a lot of little places all over that we could get a show at.
Kori: There was a time when we were playing two shows a week.
And did you get a pretty good following?
Kori: We had some regulars, a lot of friends. Mostly friends coming to see us play all the time.
How is Polyvinyl treating you?
Kori: They're great, really good people.
Jason: You want to really know? I mean, they're sitting in the other room so I can't say too much. Just kidding - they're great. They work hard and they're honest people.
Kori: It's just important to us to work with people who are genuinely nice to everyone. Honest and hard working, that's all you can ask for, really. They are totally that.
Okay - here's an important one: What do you guys do for fun?
Jason: Ahhh… what the heck do we do? We've been so concentrated the past two months [that] all we ate, slept and breathed was getting stuff for this record together.
Kori: And having fun playing music. We don't have any fun.
What about outside influences?
Jason: We love to hear music…
Kori: And go to movies, read books. We like to play cards a lot, too. We're learning a bunch of card games.
What's the best card game?
Kori: We're learning bridge right now.
Isn't that an old person's game?
Jason: Yeah… [but] we can't say that.
Kori: I don't care, I'm a geek and I'm proud of it. I like bridge. And we play chess.
That's good - it's the thinker's game.
Kori: I think you need to work your mind a little bit, especially if you're just sitting on your ass all day.
[Insert five minutes of talk about The Matrix: Reloaded here. They didn't like it, I tried to convince them otherwise. Jason does admit to liking the snotty French guy in the film.]
Jason: You know what movie I'm dying to see? Bruce Almighty.
Kori: He's obsessing about it, he talks about it every day.
Jason: You don't like Jim Carrey?
Not a lot.
Jason: He is annoying in interviews, but I like his movies.
No thanks! But I am interested in seeing Dumb and Dumberer… but that's not Jim Carrey.
Jason: But did you see the poster for it?
Kori: Looks just like him, actually that was probably my favorite Jim Carrey movie, Dumb and Dumber.
Jason: Go figure.
After our chat the Mates of State went on stage and played for an hour. Their set consisted of a lot of new stuff from Team Boo, which will be released on September 18th by Polyvinyl Records. You can believe I'm excited for it. Thanks for your time Jason and Kori, I hope recording went swimmingly. SEE ALSO: www.matesofstate.com
SEE ALSO: www.polyvinylrecords.com
SEE ALSO: www.omnibusrecords.com
Having been introduced to good music by his sister in the early years, Bob Ladewig has been searching out all the best in indie music ever since. He also rides a skateboard and performs/directs comedy shows and, like all great men, he's afraid of really growing up.
See other articles by Bob Ladewig.
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