Six Questions for ... Dead Man's Bones
If Ryan Gosling wasn't in Dead Man's Bones, you wouldn't be reading this. Fine. There. But of all the actor-turned-musician projects that we've heard over the years, perhaps only the immortal Crispin Glover's "The Big Problem Does Not Equal the Solution, The Solution Equals Let It Be" is a more bizarre album than the self-titled debut from Gosling and his fellow actor friend Zach Shields. This isn't dumb hard rock. (Hi, Jared Leto.) Or predictable dance-pop. (Hey, Leighton Meester. Seriously, hey, what's up? Want to grab a drink?) Or hipster desperation. (Hey, Scarlett Johansson. We can chat after I'm done talking to Leighton.) The star of "The Notebook" and "Lars and the Real Girl" teamed with the star of, uh, "The Most Beautiful Thing" to make an extremely specific type of album with a strict set of rules: there would be limited rehearsing, limited takes, the songs would be about witches and zombies and werewolves and graveyards, and a children's choir would be prominently featured. There are so many ways for it to go wrong, but sheer determination and enthusiasm make it work better than it has any right to.
I chatted with the duo, conference call style, as they walked around windy Boston a day before the first show of their first tour. (Their only previous shows were at a marionette theater in Los Angeles. Seriously, these guys are doing very well at staying off-center. Did I mention how the opening acts for each show were picked by YouTube submitted videos, a sort of open-call talent show?) "We're kind of distracted. We both have extreme ADD, too," Gosling offered. Dead Man's Bones performs Saturday at Sixth and I Historic Synagogue.
So you're about to start playing these shows, which will be a new experience. How will you go about things?
Shields: I don't know. That's what we're trying to figure out now. We haven't done it. Doing a puppet show was different because we were sort of the backup to the orchestra. And this will be the first time we're playing where we're kind of the focus of the night. We've never played with the kids that we're working with. It's a different choir in every city. In Washington it's a gospel choir. We're not going to rehearse with them. So I guess most of the show will be us working out the show together. It'll be that kind of strange first time thing, watching two groups of people come together and play a show.
(Children's choirs, strict rules and playing at the talent show, after the jump.)
Why did you decide to have the children's choir play such an integral role on the record? It's pretty much the defining aspect, overall.
Gosling: We just both really love that Nancy Dupree record and then the Langley Schools Music Project record. I don't know if that's a genre of music, but we just wanted to try it and make our contribution to it. Take a stab at it. There's something about those records that's just kind of hard to explain.
You had very strict rules when making the record. Why did you impose those?
Shields: The rules were made to keep us on track. (Playing live) is kind of the same idea, because everything is the first time.
Gosling: Just to make us appear better than we are. There's so many things -- don't get me wrong, the whole next record will be AutoTuned. (Laughs.) There are so many features and ways to fix things. But that's what we liked about those records we mentioned. You could just hear where they were at.
Shields: And that's what will be exciting about playing live. All that stuff we tried not to hide on the record, you definitely can't hide that when you play live. All the mistakes and things like that. Sometimes those can be the most exciting parts of a show, like if you go to a play and one of the actors forgets a line. It's an experience that's everyone is in together.
The songs on the album are kind of spooky, creepy, weird, but also have an innocence to them because of the choir. Is there any specific way you'd describe the sound?
Shields: We have a hard time describing it because we're so close to it.
Gosling: Other people's descriptions of it are much better than anything we could say. I don't know. I've heard all kinds of things and they all fit, sound pretty good to us. It's just what ended up happening. We took a road trip and brought a guitar. We just started writing songs and they all ended up that way. They were all a bit doo wop influenced, in a way. And they were all about ghosts. Or monsters. And falling in love. It just went down that way. I don't really know why.
Shields: We were just writing the songs and they were the only songs that we could make.
Gosling: We've tried to write songs that are not as specific, not as themed. But we just can't seem to right now. Hopefully we'll get there but at the moment this is all we know.
Where did you get the idea for the opening act talent show? Will it be a disaster? Will it be amazing?
Shields: (Laughs.) It'll be all of the above. Everything, all the time.
Gosling: There are certain places, like in New York, we have so many great opening acts. I just can't wait to see them. There's one guy that does this sort of poetic, slightly Buster Keaton-ish performance with his hat. There's another guy who ... well, I can't tell what he's going to do. But part for part of it, he will be a lizard. There will be this interesting Native American singer who does a set of tribal music. It's a place to show talents that aren't necessarily given a platform to be seen. If you do something that is a little unorthodox but is very personal to you, and you believe in it. It's not "The Gong Show."
You must have had some worries that people wouldn't take the project seriously based on the fact that you're very famous for being an actor. Were you always confident enough in the material so that wasn't a concern?
Gosling: Well, I don't think we're that confident about it. (Laughs.) I mean, we're gonna be old and die one day. You just do what you want to do, when it occurs to you.
Please email us to report offensive comments.
Posted by: jess92 | October 16, 2009 11:22 PM
Posted by: CoolSex | October 16, 2009 11:32 PM
Posted by: ttaylor6277 | October 16, 2009 11:36 PM
Posted by: ttaylor6277 | October 16, 2009 11:50 PM
Posted by: ziggydame | October 17, 2009 12:07 AM
Posted by: mollymisery | October 17, 2009 12:18 AM
Posted by: mollymisery | October 17, 2009 12:35 AM
Posted by: mollymisery | October 17, 2009 12:36 AM
Posted by: lh6277 | October 17, 2009 1:59 PM
Posted by: M__N | October 19, 2009 10:16 AM
The comments to this entry are closed.