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  • 2:58:02 am
  • Saturday
  • 20 July 2024

Mates of State Kick it Live

Before rockin’ a sold out show at the Bowery Ballroom, Kori Gardner of Mates of State gave Tweed the skinny on 2004 and what to expect from 2005.

Bill: Basically, 2004 was a big year for Mates of State—with the DVD, a new EP, changes in your personal life, obviously, the baby, lots of touring—you may be the busiest couple of all time. Lets start off first with the DVD. If nothing else, it certainly gives the fans an intimate look at you guys as people as well as musicians. Briefly explain to us, what was your goal? Were you trying to reach out to the fans and bring them into your world?

Kori: We didn’t really have a goal in mind when we made the DVD. Somebody just wanted to tape our live shows. We had never met him but we started letting him tape our shows and we became friends. We gave him some home videos of us from the last five years and then, he started editing it and we decided to make something of it. Really, it’s such a small fraction of everything, you know. I think it gives an intimate look but, in my eyes, there is just so much more.

Bill: So, the EP, All Day—it is somewhat of a departure from Team Boo and your other releases. It seems to be a bit more complex. You’ve layered a few more tracks, you even have a guitar on there. What exactly brought about these changes to the sound?

Kori: I think part of it was that we got some recording equipment—listening back and changing things, editing that way instead of just playing things live for a year and then going into the studio to record it. We are starting to really change that about our writing process. We want to hear what we sound like before we go into the studio. Then we can get ideas for over-dubs before we go in instead of getting there and saying, “We don’t have time to figure something else out—organ and drums and that’s it.” Now we have a little more freedom and flexibility.

Bill: I saw you guys live a little while back in Connecticut at the Knights of Columbus and you actually brought a guitarist out to play with you. Is this something we are going to see more from Mates of State? Is it gonna be a bigger live show? Or will you just do your own renditions?

Kori: We will just do our own renditions. I think every once in a while we will have friends come up. It depends on what town we are in like, in one town, we have a guy that plays tuba. We haven’t decided if we want to tour with extra musicians yet because it adds a whole other element to touring. I guess it is just up in the air right now—nothing permanent for sure.

Bill: On the EP you do a cover of Bowie’s “Starman,” but you definitely make it your own, you add that signature Mates of State sound.

Kori: Thanks.

Bill: What brought on this cover? Just big Bowie fans?

Kori: Yea—just big Bowie fans. Funny thing—we covered “These Days” and right around then, The Royal Tenenbaums came out and it’s in that movie. We didn’t realize it. Then we covered “Starman” and The Life Aquatic came out and “Starman” is in it. People are just gonna think we are copying Wes Anderson.


Bill: So now that you have a new baby, I can only imagine that changes everything. How exactly does the baby factor in? Has it changed your outlook on life and, consequently, the music?

Kori: Definitely my outlook on life but not so sure about the music. You know, having a kid certainly makes you have a little more clarity and get your priorities straight. I feel like I spent my twenties being selfish and doing everything for me. As soon as the baby came—I’m thirty now and I have to think about other people all the time. And I like it. It’s a good feeling. But I don’t know how it affects the music.

Bill: So maybe it sorta plays its way through subconsciously. But how about touring?

Kori: Touring is a whole different situation. We took an RV the first time we toured with her because I didn’t want to be away from her very long. I’d go from the RV to do sound check then, right after, run back to the RV to be with her. So I didn’t get the same tour experience as I used to—hanging out with people, getting to know people. Which was kinda great in a way because I really only had to focus on the fun part which is playing music. But everything is for the baby first. We have to adjust accordingly.

Stewart: Did you play for a long time while you were pregnant?

Kori: Yea, when we toured with The Strokes—that was the most pregnant that I was and we were playing for this huge crowd and definitely got some weird comments from people who didn’t know who we were.

Bill: Now you guys have moved to East Haven, CT—have you gone there because you grew up in CT and you like it or ...

Kori: It’s not that I like Connecticut. It’s that we wanted to be on the East Coast, buy a house and tour the East Coast for a while. We toured the West Coast a ton. On the East Coast, there are so many more places to play and you can tour so quickly where on the West Coast you have to drive so far...So we wanted a change and my family is there and now we have a kid so we are happy to have my family around.

Bill: Last time we interviewed you, either you or Jason remarked, “Bush is a joke. He needs to be stopped. We need to oust him immediately. We didn’t vote him in and it seems we cannot get him out.”

Kori: That could have come from either of us.

Bill: Well, the big question is, after Bush’s reelection—where do you see our country going?

Kori: Oh man, it’s really hard to be optimistic. It’s sad. I really thought that, with all the people that were anti-Bush and all the protests and musicians and celebrities that were against Bush—I was sure he was gonna lose. It was just a fact. That day—from then on—I had to take time off thinking about it because it’s just depressing. A lot about our country is going down hill and we are going to be paying for it for years and years. The whole education system...

[Heads nod in agreement]

Kori: Health care is gonna suck for us. Our parents are gonna have a horrible time growing old, not to mention the entire world state of affairs. And not to downplay the war but there are just so many other domestic issue people should have thought about during the election.

Bill: You talk about other domestic issues—I just wanna bring one up. The whole gay marriage issue is under attack right now. It was such a big deal during the election and now, Gerald Allan is proposing a bill to end any state funding for books or materials that may portray gay marriage in a positive or respectable light.

Kori: That’s horrible.

Bill: He actually suggested digging a hole and throwing them in.

Kori: You know, I would normally say that that guy would get nowhere with what he’s doing but now, I don’t know—Bush got reelected. It’s sad. It’s just crazy that that’s even an issue. I think we all just live in this bubble—we all are focused on music and stuff. It’s hard to fathom...

Bill: So how do you feel about bands and musicians that incorporate socially and politically motivated lyrics?

Kori: Its great, I mean, if that’s what you’re passionate about. You should be honest. Our lyrics are just so personal and, even if there is something political in them, it’s hard to decipher. But we definitely care about all that too. We are just not as blunt about it. But I think it’s great and more people should do it. Some bands—that’s just who they are.

Bill: Lets talk about your sound for a minute. It’s definitely unique. Do you think it’s been a big contributor to your success?

Kori: I think it’s helped us but it’s also hurt us. I’d rather be unique and not as accessible but, at the same time, some people have used the word “novelty” and that offends me. I mean, it’s important to me for a band to be unique...

Bill: When it comes to song writing, is it a collaborative process?

Kori: We used to go to the songwriting space together and do a lot of it there. But recently, we do a little of that and a little bit of playing on our own, playing to the other person, scrapping some, changing some and then going back to the practice space. So there is a lot more editing going on. I think that will definitely change the sound a bit—it’s fun because we never used to do that.

Bill: So basically, here we have a married couple, has a baby and moves to CT—I assume and hope this does not mean you are settling down? Has the rockin’ only just begun?

Kori: We are not settling down. Touring this year and the new record coming soon. We are not slowing down.

Stewart Smith contributed to this interview. All photographs by Laura Salierno

William T. Wallace
Friday, 28 January 2005

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2024-07-20 02:58:02
4AD Records, Metric, Nirvana, Bright Eyes, Emily Haines, Tegan and Sara, Saturday Looks Good to Me, Iraq, music, Robb Nansel, End report.