A Conversation with Carrie Newcomer
Puremusic: I'm sorry I screwed up the time, there, first of all.
Carrie Newcomer: Hey, I'm from Indiana, so we never know what time everybody else is on.
PM: Is Indiana one of those states with split up time zones?
CN: It's even crazier. It's like Indiana never changes, so half the year we're on the East Coast time and then half the year we're on Central Time.
CN: And then there are certain sections, like the counties up near Chicago always go with central time, and the counties down near Louisville all kind of stay with eastern time. And a lot of people commute to those areas. So no one ever knows what time it is here. [laughs]
PM: So perhaps it becomes less of a big deal.
CN: Well, every now and then the legislature will have this push to get us to go with one time zone or another. Then all the farmers get together and say, "You know, the cows get up at the same time."
CN: Anyway, so no one here knows what time it is.
PM: I see.
I thought Betty's Diner really rocked, that it was a great retrospective.
CN: Oh, thank you. I'm glad you like it.
PM: Not only that, but it's very rare that I would say to an artist that, "Wow, that's an amazing website you have..." Yours is great.
PM: And did he come up with the whole motif, the diner menu and all that stuff?
CN: Did you get a pre-release album that had all the artwork with it, or just--
PM: Unfortunately I got the advance without all the artwork.
CN: Oh, because the artwork goes along with that diner motif. A lot of the photos and the little icons are from the album cover--the record artwork was really fun, too. A fellow named Hugh Syme did it. And then when we decided to do the website, we gave Aaron a lot of those elements, these diner elements, but then he just ran with it and came up with the menu idea and the jukebox. It's really a fun, interactive site.
PM: Totally cool.
CN: I started out as a visual artist, so I love the visuals, I really do.
PM: It's funny how many musicians do start out as visual artists, sometimes because there was more support for that in their schools than there was a way to realize their musical endeavor, until they just got off on their own. Do you do any visual art these days?
CN: Oh, I do, but it's mostly for myself at this point. I'm always making something. I always like to ask people, "When you were a kid, what was your favorite game?"--because sometimes there's a funny little clue in that.
PM: Wow. What an unusual question. What was yours, then?
CN: Mine was a game called "Making Something." "What are you doing?" "I'm making something." And I would be drawing pictures or making little books or things, writing little songs, or hammering furniture together for my sister's Barbies. I was out making forts. I mean, I was always making something.
CN: All these years later, I'm still making something.
PM: Because we were urban kids, and there were a lot of kids in my family, we were very much like the Little Rascals. And we were always playing store, where rocks were money and stores did specific things. And the game was basically called "My Store's Open."
PM: And you could hear it resound through the neighborhood early in the morning. Somebody would yell, "My store's open!" [laughs] And people would be just cruising the neighborhood, going to each one--"What happens at this store?" "Well, you knock these things down and you win this prize."
PM: It was more like carnival stalls.
CN: That's great.
PM: But I never even thought about that until your very brainy and cool question, "What was the game you used to play?"
CN: I don't know if it's brainy, but I just always find that when you ask people that, often there's some little clue or even a very direct connection to something they're doing now. I've had people say, "Oh, I used to just be on my stomach on the ground looking at ants and critters all day." And now they're entomologists, that sort of thing.
So obviously it's a splendid occasion to speak with you, this CD that celebrates your 10th year with Philo/Rounder.
CN: Yes, it is.
PM: Would you talk with me on that subject? continue