Six Questions for ... Art Brut
(By special guest contributor/adult beverage expert Fritz Hahn.)
Let's be fair: Without frontman Eddie Argos, Art Brut's spiky mix of garage rock and punk might have earned them a mention or two in the NME. But Argos' vocals, more spoken than sung, are what really set the London-based band apart. His goofy, witty, stream-of-consciousness stories are punctuated with choruses that you can't help shouting along to.
Art Brut's latest album, "Art Brut Vs. Satan," covers familiar territory for the band: Hangovers, rocking out, feeling unlucky in love, waking up hungover with mysterious bruises and, shockingly, discovering the Replacements for the first time. With a show at the Black Cat looming on Sunday, we finally -- on the third attempt -- managed to get Argos on his cell phone from Boston.
"Art Brut Vs. Satan" opens with "Alcoholics Unanimous," a song about waking up with a hangover, and ends with a song about waking up with mysterious bruises. Is it fair to say alcohol was a big influence in the making of this album?
A little bit, maybe. I don't know. We certainly like drinking. We wrote "Mysterious Bruises" while we were there [recording the album at Black Francis' studio in Salem, Oregon], so we never really planned to make it an album bookended by drinking songs. But a hangover is a quite universal experience. It bonds people -- they all sit around together feeling awful. There's something romantic about that, so I wanted to write a song about it.
(Favorite drinks and not lying about just discovering the Replacements, after the jump.)
When's the last time you had a hangover?
Three days ago, maybe? This is the very first day of the tour, so there's been no drinking yet. I can tell you I will have a hangover tomorrow. [laughs]
Speaking of hangovers, what's your drink of choice?
I don't really drink beer -- I only just drink spirits and wine. That could be why I get hung over! (Laughs.) You're not supposed to mix spirits and wine. But I think beer tastes like wood. I drink a lot of vodka and cranberry when we're on tour. And I like a nice zinfindel. I do like red wine.
Yeah, mixing your drinks like that will get you.
Yeah, but it's fun, isn't it? (Laughs.) When I drink just red wine I'm normally fine. But it's hard when you're on tour -- there's so much spirits lying around just waiting to be drunk.
Was there any particular inspiration for "Mysterious Bruises" itself?
Well, I get them frequently. I wake up and I'm like, "Ah, where did all these bruises come from?" I think lots of people do that, don't they? Wake up with bruises on their knees after being out.
Can you explain the bit about "I've had one Zyrtec, two Advil and a drink!" during that song? Is that a hangover cure?
Well, I get quite bad allergies and I've also got a bad back, so I was taking them for proper reasons. Then I always feel kind of powerful when I take them because my sneezing stops and my back stops hurting. Then when you start drinking, you think you're really capable of more than you actually are, so I start to feel invincible. But I'm not advocated mixing up prescription drugs or anything like that. For me, that works, because I sneeze a lot and I have a bad back.
In the past, you've sung about hating the Velvet Underground, but on this album, there's a song about how you can't believe you've discovered the Replacements. Is that true?
Yeah, it is, and I'm really embarrassed by it. (Pause.) I read about it on Pitchfork. That's really bad, isn't it? I always get the Replacements and the Residents and the Rentals and the Research confused in my head. And the review I was reading was about the Replacements, I thought, This sounds like something I would like. They were talking about "Talent Show" [from "Don't Tell a Soul"], I think. And after that I got obsessed. I went to my friends said, "Hey, have you heard of this band the Replacements?" and they said, "Yeah, of course we've heard of them -- they're the best band in the world!" So everyone's heard of them apart from me.
I was embarrassed at first that I was so late, but it's good because I got to buy all the reissues with all the extra tracks. I've loved Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers for years and years, and every time there's a reissue I buy it, even if it's just for one new song, you know? It's such a waste of money to be buying all those reissues. And with the Replacements, I was lucky, because really comprehensive reissues had just come out. It was brilliant.
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