Incendiary interview the Fiery Furnaces, part 2

“Franz Ferdinand recorded that show and released it as a live album.  You can hear me screaming on it. (and me! – ed)


“Franz Ferdinand recorded that show and released it as a live album.  You can hear me screaming on it. (and me! – ed)


Incendiary interview the Fiery Furnaces part 2…..


I then tell Eleanor the story about one of my favorite photos that I took of her back stage with Franz Ferdinand at the first London Calling in Amsterdam 2 years ago.  She gives me her email address so I can send her photos from that night, also the recipe for the pretzel Jell-O desert from my Granny Lou…


EF: Franz Ferdinand recorded that show and released it as a live album.  You can hear me screaming on it. (and me! – ed)


IN: Seeing them for the first time in the small hall at the Paradiso was incredible, because everyone just knew that these guys were going to be fucking HUGE!


MF: Not us… you’re not talking about us?


IN:  No… (blushes) That night, I remember thinking of you guys… this band is special and they are going to have a long career with a cult following of nerdy girls who carry around lunch boxes.  Who are your fans anyways?


MF: I don’t know?  Are there any?


EF: It is always a bit of a diverse crowd.  There are always the middle-aged male fans.


MF:  A lot of 26 – 40 year old couples, teenager too, but not as many.


EF: We don’t do very many all ages shows.


MF: Korean girls.  In California! (blushes)


IN: Really? (The Asian thing is becoming clearer to me… hummmmm?)


MF: You know, a lot of white people between the ages of 15 and 55… (laughs)


EF: In Orlando there was a big black dude in a tracksuit sitting right on the stage next to me.  That was cool.  (Giggles)


IN: The songs from Bitter Tea that I really enjoyed were, Teach Me Sweetheart and Waiting to Know You is really nice, it has this dreamy 1950’s electro-prom hit.


MF: Yeah prom, thanks.


IN: The piano playing, I know you said it was like a little girl, but it also sounds really Asian.  Is that were the name Bitter Tea comes from? (The Asian influence?)


MF:  Yeah, well… my excuse is that it’s this young person’s adventure story.  It was my excuse to use the Pantonic scale Asian thing; this younger person’s programmed adventure.  Nobody’s mentioned that.  Nobody’s mentioned the cartoon orientated music.  We thought and the engineer was like…


EF:  You can’t play this… its racist!


MF: Yeah… he said it was too obvious.  It’s so obvious that it is trite.


IN: The artwork for Bitter Tea is also very Asian.  I saw the layout on the forum on your site.  There is a black cat and lots of reds, black brush strokes.


MF:  No cat though.


EF: There’s a cat.  That cat.  (Eleanor looks at Matt, amazed that he never saw the cat.)


MF: Oh there is a cat?  It’s in there somewhere?


EF: That iconic cat! A little cat!  A friend of our Mike Reddy did the ark work.



(I had brought my promo CD, and now they grab it from me, discussing the changes to the actually release cover art)


MF: Oh they don’t have the remix of Bonera?


IN:  You remixed Off to Bonerra too? 


EF: Yeah, as a possible play on the radio track.


IN: Nevers is also commercial.  I also think if you did a remix of Teach Me, Sweetheart it could be a big hit.


EF: You do?


IN: Yeah!  It is the one song that I woke up today still in my head.


MF: Okay. (He nods, looking up, already thinking about the changes)


IN: It has all the elements, but it’s too distracting at times, and becomes chaotic, which pulls it away from becoming a pop song.  The voice is really nice, and the melody is there.   I know about hits.


EF: Maybe you should get a job at Atlantic?


IN: No way.  (I rattle off my brief history and why I don’t want to work for the major label machine)  Anyways… where there any interesting instruments that you used on the album?


EF: Michael Parker voice, he is a beat boxer.


MF:  Beat boxer, Harmonizer, taped up and tacked up pianos and there is a Sitar that only plays one note, in the song Bitter Tea.  The real low-tech piano is the one that is taped underneath the hammers.  Then the other one is tacked, it has tacks on the piano.


EF:  I think that people think it is a harpsichord, but it is not.  (Laughs)


IN: You use effects too?


MF:  It is either super-compressed, over-compressed, or we used this thing called a transient designer which is like the tacked piano sustained.  It never sounded like a harpsichord to me.  There are a lot of mallets on string, so they either sound like super plectrum guitar or a tacked piano.  The taped piano sounds really wood blocky and the tacked piano sounds…


EF: Waiting To Know You, that sounds… it’s Michael Parker.  He came in to help out with the record and we didn’t know he was such a good beat boxer.  He also beat boxes on Oh Sweet Wood.


IN: Do you have any favorite artists?


MF: You mean paintings?


IN: Yeah. (Laughs)  Or collage, photography or sculptures?


EF:  I am so uncritical of that stuff.  I know it if I like it, I went to the Whitney Biannual in NYC for the first time, I was shocked, I was so impressed by everything.


MF:  I went to see an exhibit of Russian books in the Moma in Queens.  I really like typography and handwriting, calligraphy. 


EF: Neither of us can draw.  I am always so impressed with friends of mine who can paint or draw.  Mike Reddy who did the artwork for the album, he’s done some other things for us too and he is so talented.


IN: The reason why I asked about the art is that your music reminded me of this artist’s work, Mark Ryden.  (I pull out of my bag a magazine with some examples of his work, and hand it over to Matt)


EF: This reminded you of our album?


IN: Yeah… I was getting this kind of imagery in my head while listening to the album.  (I point to one of the paintings; a young girl with red hair rides a wheel chair with hypnotic spiral wheels pulled by a rabbit/dog animal wearing a bow tie along a grey Asian looking landscape.)


MF: Eleanor bought a book from different kinds of Chinese propaganda art.  It was all exaggerated Socialist Realist art.  Like this… lots of doll eyes.  Mix between really culty cartoon images and half way proper paintings.  That kind of genre art is good to look at the genre music that we play.


EF: We made a point of not having one visual style.  We don’t have logos or anything.  I mean, I think it works for other bands….


MF: I don’t really understand… I should just admit… I don’t understand an art form that doesn’t have sounds or words.  I just can’t follow.  It’s just like if people can’t hear if something is out of tune or not.  It is that primitive to me.


EF: Well I am confident in my tastes.  I am more musically than I am visually inclined but I am definitely more aware than Matt of how things look.


MF: Look at me?!


(We girls laugh)


IN: Do you ever let Eleanor dress you up or anything?


EF: I’ve tried.  I buy him things, but only things that I think he’ll wear.


IN: Jeans? Denim shirts?


MF: I got this stuff for free, I never wore denim shirts before.


IN: It looks really good, man.


MF:  I look like a cowboy.


EF: Yeah, he’s been wearing that stuff for the last 7 days.


IN: Levi’s sends this to you?


MF: We got it from playing in Austin.


EF: We had a Levi’s appointment.  They give us stuff and we can wear it if we like.


IN: I wish Levi’s would send me stuff (Red Tab Men’s or women’s jeans, Size 30W 34L, just in case!  Hahahahahah!)


Words: Zoe E. Gottehrer

to find part one of this interview, click here…