Pensacola, Florida
Monday October 20th 2014

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The New Pornographers: The Interview

by Hana Frenette

Chatting with Carl Newman is quite pleasant. He’s easy going and quick to offer a story, whether it’s about beekeeping, maple syrup, Neko Case or the sounds of Woodstock, NY on a nice day.

IN: You guys will be playing at DeLuna Fest on Pensacola Beach. Have you ever been here before?
CN: I don’t think we have. We did a festival somewhere near Orlando a year or two ago. Florida is rarely on the tour, unless it’s a special tour.

IN: What will the band lineup consist of for DeLuna, with some members having their own touring schedule?
CN: Neko will not be with us. I believe she’s recording with TB Burnett. And Dan [Bejar]-we never get Dan! Maybe a rare occurrence. The funny thing about that is, right after we made “Mass Romantic” with Dan on some songs, he calls us all together and says that he’s moving to Spain. So we had him for maybe two to four shows, but for the most part, from 2000 to 2005, he wasn’t there. And no one really noticed, I think, because no one really knew what he looked like. We were wondering if people were going to be disappointed, and ask, ‘where’s Dan?’ It took about five years, but now people are starting to ask.  My niece Kathryn is singing and playing with us now, and sometimes people will yell at her, ‘I love you Neko!’ Which is funny because you’d think if they really loved her they’d know what she looked like.

IN: When did your niece join the band?
CN: We brought her in to sing and play keyboard on a record. When that record had been done, we got offered a show in Brooklyn and we immediately told them that Neko couldn’t come. They asked if we could still do it anyway. Kathryn started doing all the Neko parts and we weren’t really sure about how it was all going to go.  We played the Brooklyn Prospect Park show and it went well. I also met my wife at that show, so it was kind of a big turning point in my life.

IN: Have you been working on anything for your A.C. Newman side project lately?
CN: I am simultaneously working on a solo album and a New Pornographers album and I’m going to see which one comes out first.
IN: I heard you moved to Woodstock. Do you feel like people will expect your music to sound differently, more folky, more Woodstocky?
CN: I think my next album will sound more Woodstocky. I’ve had songs build up over the years, and the band just doesn’t make them sound right. If I was really influenced by my surroundings, everything would just sound like The Incredible String Band. They were arguably one of the first freak-folk bands, with a renaissance style. On a sunny day in Woodstock it really is the perfect music to listen to.

IN: Do you live on a farm or just out in the country?
CN: It’s not a farm, but we do have about four and a half acres of land. We have a lot of trees, and you can’t really see any neighbors. Except maybe the people across the street. There’s always stuff to do. We’ve been beekeeping, and last winter we made maple syrup. I had to dump out 40 gallons of sap, just because I didn’t have time to stand over a fire and boil it all down. The sap was just too fast and furious. It was nice though to be able to use syrup at your own discretion, and pour a whole cup over your pancakes and not feel bad that you’d paid forty dollars for it. I just kept thinking, how do people make any money off this? It must have to charge about a hundred dollars a gallon. And that’s actually about what it costs. It’s so time consuming and I soon realized there is no money to be made in it.

IN: I read an interview once where you said that the New Pornographers weren’t actually as collaborative as people might think. Has the recording process pretty much stayed the same or would you say it’s evolved toward something else?
CN: It’s still very similar. We’ve never really had much of a process — everyone contributes.  So much of the time it’s just John and I in the studio fooling around, trying to figure out what works. It’s not like it’s all seven of us in the studio though, just constantly bouncing ideas off of each other.

IN: You and Will Sheff of Okkervil River collaborated recently. How did that come about?
CN: He sang some backup vocals on a track. I really think of him as more of a good friend, really. And Okkervil River is an amazing live band.

IN: Is there anyone in particular you’d like to see at DeLuna?
CN: We play right before the Shins, so we won’t have to travel far for that. I just got their newest record and I’m really hoping they’ll play some stuff off that.

IN: Any plans for after the festival?
CN: We might try to check some of the festival out. Although it’s hard when you’re on the road. Sometimes you don’t want to fight the crowds and budget your time trying to get over to another stage. Or we might just go to sleep in the hotel. {in}

THE NEW PORNOGRAPHERS at DELUNA FEST
WHEN: 5:30-6:30 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 15
WHERE: Wind Creek Stage