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  • 6:23:00 pm
  • Monday
  • 24 June 2024

Q and Not U, 2005

After a hectic year of touring and recording, Chris Richards of Q and Not U takes a break to reflect on 2004 as well as look to the future—of the band and of our country.

Big things have happened since last we spoke to Q and Not U in the latter portion of spring 2004. Since, you’ve recorded a new album, Power, toured the US as well as done some dates in Europe. Briefly, tell us a little bit about this time elapsed.

Not to get all 2004-Presidential-Debates on you, but I just wanted to say thanks for the thoughtful interview last spring and thanks for catching up with us at the dawn of the New Year. Okay, answering your question: I say this every year but I think 2004 has been our busiest 365 days. We played a million college shows at the close of winter, we wrote a record during the warm months, we recorded and mixed it in the hot months, we toured in the UK and South Africa in August, we released the record and toured the US in the fall, we had an amazing tour of Europe in December and we played a beautiful show in our native DC on December 30th. Now we regroup for a couple weeks and get ready to do it all again.

In our last interview, you mentioned that you were hoping to excite and surprise your fans with the new album. After listening to it, I personally would say that’s true. This album is, in a lot of ways, a departure from the last. What was different during the recording sessions? Take us through, if you will, the recording of Power.

We recorded with our friends Pete and Rafael from the band SuperSystem—they recently changed their name from El Guapo. We’ve known these guys forever and have toured with them relentlessly so we felt like they had a very unique grasp on our music. They’ve only recorded their own bands in the past so everyone was learning on the spot and there was a lot of crazy energy going into it. The element of uncertainty really kept everyone on their toes. By the end of it, I think Rafael’s diligence and Pete’s know-how really helped us get the most out of the songs.

As for the lyrics, you had expressed interest in changing your pattern, becoming a little bit more direct in terms of a message. Given the social and political climate the United States is in these days, you certainly would not be hurting for material. Are you happy with how that has come out?

I always feel like I have miles to go but I’m still happy with the lyrics. Especially the lyrics to “Wet Work.” When I first heard that term last year, it sounded like sex-slang but in fact, it’s the CIA code word for the planned assassination of a foreign leader. I’m interested in the fact that national politics and human sexuality are both somewhat taboo in American culture. I think the paranoia of wartime America can really have an effect on the way we perceive human intimacy. I tried to hit on all of these topics in “Wet Work.”

What sort of big changes did you make in writing this album?

I think the songs are a little stronger in a pop sense because we wrote a lot of the material on our own before presenting it to the band. But this band has always been a democracy and everything gets shuffled around once everyone gets their hands on it. That said, I think everyone upped their game a little. Harris dove headfirst into the world of keyboards and I think the record turned out all the better. I think it takes a lot of fearlessness to dive into something totally new, which is why I always love playing with Harris and John.

Does the title Power have a greater significance?

Absolutely. Power is a very suggestive word that engenders so many different meanings—we couldn’t resist using it. Who does it belong to?

Again, in our last interview, Chris, you said “I would agonize over it if this election wasn’t so unique, but removing Bush from office needs to be everyone’s number one priority.” This was not obviously a reality. You had mentioned that you like to look at “our country’s potential” taking an optimistic view of the future. Since the reelection of Bush, how do you feel? Are you more motivated to be active? To send a message with your music? What do you plan on doing?

I’ve struggled tremendously with the results of the election, both personally and politically. It was a devastating blow and I was totally shocked by the outcome. But I had a wonderful conversation with a good friend of mine recently. She said that she’s glad Bush won because it’s going to keep our generation vigilant. She thinks if Kerry took it, everyone would have packed their bags and gone back to buying shit on eBay all day. Now, of course I wish John Kerry was being sworn in but her rationale gives me a little comfort. I hope that our generation stays watchful and active over the next four years and continues to fight this monstrosity. I’m going to do my best to do just that despite the personal sense of loss and alienation I felt from my country on November 3rd.

Recently, Bush met with Alabama state representative Gerald Allan, a part of Bush’s “base” according to The Guardian. As of late, Allan has been discussing the possibility of a bill to ban the use of state monies to buy books or other such materials that promote “homosexual behavior.” Allan has specifically gone on record as saying, yes, he would ban Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. This obviously perturbs more than just the Homosexual community. What are your thoughts?

That’s whack! But sadly, the Bush regime can’t really surprise me anymore. I haven’t become numb to their motives but every story I hear is a just another chapter in what will be their gruesome legacy. I would hope the activist community in Alabama makes a lot of noise about this.

Now, you are just getting back from a short stint in Europe. What’s the climate over there, in terms of how they feel about Americans, Bush, etc? Was it inviting? Do you find a lot of Anti-American sentiment? Anti-Bush sentiment? What is that like?

A lot of Europeans are sympathetic while others are quite cynical. I had a lot of people say they were stunned at Bush’s victory because they’ve never met an American abroad who supports him. Other folks accused us of only speaking out against Bush to get in the good graces of our European audience. Obviously, that really bummed me out. Rome was covered in anti-Bush graffiti—more than I’ve ever seen before. Stencils of his face labeled “Assasino!”

I asked you this earlier in the year, but I’d like to ask again: Where do you see the country headed?

It’s so hard to say after the election but it looks like it’s going to have to get worse before it gets better. I’ll always be hopeful for the future. The Fight for Women’s Suffrage and the Civil Rights movement fought odds higher than these. I hope our nation learns to become more humane in my lifetime.

Speaking of such issues, in September you guys played a show in protest of the Republican National Convention. Tell us about that. Was it a success? What was that experience like? What was the message?

We were at a very busy time for the band, so we didn’t get to attend the protests on the street-level but we were thrilled to still be a part of the dissent. I think the RNC protests were successful in raising visibility against the Bush administration but I guess it wasn’t enough to convince people in Ohio. Nevertheless, like many protests we’ve been a part of, the mood was a festive one and I think everyone brought a really intense energy to the show—both the musicians and the audience. I remember the set being pretty hot.

So I checked out the new website (relatively new) and its great. I notice that on your news page, you list a wide variety of alternative news sources. What are your thoughts on indie media, such as, Alternative Press and Tweed Magazine? What message are you trying to send about mainstream media?

Thanks! We linked those sites just to spread the word. After criticizing the popular media onstage, a lot of fans—especially younger ones—asked us where they should turn for news. So we thought linking them up would help raise awareness. I know it’s a clich

William Wallace
Tuesday, 01 February 2005

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2024-06-24 18:23:00
Conor Oberst, congress, Sub Pop Records, Iran, peace, Emily Haines, Conor Oberst, Said Sew Recordings, Bella Lea, music, End report.