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Cymbals Eat Guitars

1 May

Cymbals Eat Guitars frontman Joseph D’Agostino sometimes goes by Joe Ferocious, a name that pretty well describes D’Agostino’s incendiary, fuzzy guitar talent as well as Cymbal Eat Guitar’s touring schedules. Cymbals Eat Guitars have been tour beast over the last year, ever since their strong debut Why They Are Mountains and an opening spot at the 2009 Pitchfork Festival in Chicago. They already came through the Twin Cities less than a month ago on a tour with Bear in Heaven and Freelance Whales and are slated to make their first Mainroom appearance tonight with Welsh boy-girl rockers Los Campesinos!. As D’Agostino and company set off on their most recent round of road dates, Cake In 15 spoke with the actually quite funny and mild-mannered Ferocious to get the skinny on who he has really admired out on tour, what’s in the works for new recordings and the prospect of meeting his hero, Stephen Malkmus of Pavement.

Cake In 15: So, how is the tour van smelling?

Joseph D’Agostino: We’re only on the second day, so it kind of smells like weed, but that’s it. It’s mostly clean, fresh scent but by the end of the two weeks it’ll be pretty rank, I’m sure.

C15: You’re coming back to Minneapolis after being in St. Paul less than a month ago. How long have you been on the road now?

JD: I started thinking about it. We went on a European tour for all of February and when we got back from that it was six days until we started on our tour with Bear in Heaven and Freelance Whales and then directly after that tour was finished a few weeks ago we were supposed to go right out with Los Campesinos but the elements held up the tour and we got a bunch of dates cancelled but I guess since February, and before that we did more European tours. It’s been pretty constant since last July.

C15: What have you been doing to keep yourself from going crazy our on the road?

JD: Well, I listen to a lot of music, I usually always have my headphones on. [Keybaordist] Brian [Hamilton] works on schematics for pedals and circuit board stuff that I can’t barely understand. He explained it to me but I’m kind of dense when it comes to that and I try and read when it’s possible and no-one’s talking. We used to have internet in the van and that was a pretty steady stream of entertainment but now we don’t, so we have our laptops but we don’t have internet so its kind of impotent.

C15: Who has been your favorite set of tourmates since you’ve been out on the road?

JD: I’m not just being diplomatic when I say I really enjoy every band that we’ve been on tour with. Bear in Heaven was just a real force. Maybe just because they are fresher in my mind, but I don’t think that’s the reason, I mean, Joe [Stickney], their drummer, is just the best drummer I think I’ve ever seen in real life, I mean, actually getting to watch someone. He’s much better than our drummer. [Laughs] They were just consistently pummeling and totally powerful and great every night. It was just great to watch them and get psyched up to play and it was also character building, because they’re so good.

C15: With being on the road so much, are you working on follow up material to Why There Are Mountains?

JD: Yeah, we have five songs right now, four that we’ve been playing live since February and one more that’s kind of in the cooker. Next time we get to rehearse, we’re gonna flesh it out and begin hammering it out. We try and eke out work where we can but on a tour like this when we’re opening we don’t really have really long luxurious sound checks so we don’t really get to play much new material. But I’m always thinking about it and that’s where most of the composing goes on, just thinking and thinking on it and really ruminating on it. That’s what I did with the first record for two and a half, three years. I hope we’ll have four more songs out by next spring and then make a record.

C15: Are you finding that the new material relates to the Why There Are Mountains material or are they separate thoughts?

JD: They are definitely completely independent of each other. The songs from Why There Are Mountains were written over so many years that it’s difficult to compare them because I have written so much material over such a relatively short span, by my own standards, it usually takes three or four months to write a song. I just feel that everything is more focused and I know that when we get in there we won’t be overdubbing for months like the first record. We sound good as four people, maybe an overdub here and there, but it’ll sound more like our live thing, I suppose. The songs are way better, at least I feel that way, they flow a lot better an move more naturally and the lyrics are more dense. I’m really happy with the way things are shaping up so far.

C15: You guys are sharing some festival bills with Pavement this year. Have you figured out what you’re going to say to Stephen Malkmus when you meet him?

JD: That’s a good question. Really, I have been thinking about but every time I think about it, I think, “How can I summarize my life-long, well, half a life-time love of all these songs that have meant so much to me and brought me to the heights of what music can provide?” How can you summarize that? “I love your music it’s so important to me”? I’d have to have a longer conversation with him but I don’t know if I’d be able to keep it together. So I just plan on watching. At Sasquatch, I’m just going to be in the audience enjoying myself. I don’t know.

C15: Then hopefully you can get passed the slack-jawed moments to get it together to figure out a meeting.

JD: I saw him at a festival we played in the Hague, the Crossing Borders Festival and I saw him walking around and he had this furry parka with the hood up and he just kind of looked unapproachable but I’ve heard from many people that he’s really nice. I’ve been reading all the reunion interview and everything, I especially liked the Chuck Klosterman one for GQ, it was really excellent and very funny.

C15: Cool. Safe travels, and we’ll see you in Minneapolis.

JD: We’re really excited to play First Avenue. [Bass player Matt] Whipple pointed out to me that the Wilco documentary [I Am Trying To Break Your Heart], that’s where they’re playing a lot of the live stuff from the Summerteeth tour footage, so yeah.

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