A Conversation with Swan Dive (continued)
PM: Yeah, speaking of coming back, I'm looking forward to tonight's video party.
BD: It'll be the sixteenth one.
MF: That's why I came to town.
PM: The sixteenth video party, talk about a landmark event. These are always an event, so much so that I wish--in your own words, Bill, tell our readership what these video parties are all about.
BD: Basically, I make a two-hour video mix tape of comedy and music clips. I use everything, from old SCTV and Mr. Show and Monty Python, to The Ben Stiller Show, and then clips from the Midnight Special, Don Kirschner's Rock Concert, and lots of old rare commercials, and some strange clips. On tonight's tape, there's this clip I've been trying to find for a long time of Jackie Gleason's LSD trip.
BD: Which is from this really weird 60s movie called Skidoo. It's been long out of print, and you can't find it anywhere.
Basically, the video party is just a way of putting together all this nerdy pop culture stuff, and then inviting twelve, fifteen of my like-minded friends over to enjoy it. And we have snacks and talk, and then watch the video. I love putting these tapes together. And I think the best part about it is it's a really good way to keep all our friends in touch. Because otherwise so many months can go by--even years can go by--and you realize, "Oh, man, I haven't seen Jim and Catherine Pitt in a while." But now, these things have been pretty regular, almost every three months.
PM: Well, I like being on the short list, I'll tell you that.
Let's talk about the new superlative record, William and Marlys. How did that record come about?
MF: Well, Bill has about ten zillion songs.
PM: At any given moment.
MF: And we were ready to make a record. We wanted to make it with Brad [Jones], so we had a meeting with him. And we talked about either making a pop record or just a beautiful record. We decided to make the one that was beautiful, so I called Chris Carmichael first. I think it's a beautiful record. I hope other people think that it is.
BD: We talked about what kind of record we were going to make. We decided that strings were going to be the featured instrument--almost to the exclusion of a full pop band ensemble or woodwinds or horns or keyboards or anything like that--that strings were going to be the main texture. And I think we had maybe 20 or 30 songs we were considering. And the 10 we decided on were the ones that best fit together.
And also, I think we both wanted to make a record that was more melancholy, more of a rainy day record than we usually make. And we had a licensing situation with Siesta in Europe: they put up a little money to help us make the record. But when we were working on the record, we didn't have a Japanese deal for the first time. And I think that affected the songs we chose, too. Because the Japanese always want us to be happy and peppy. We didn't have to make those concessions on this record. But we ended up getting a Japanese deal anyway.
MF: With the sad songs, too.
BD: Yeah, that's right. Molly loves the sad songs.
PM: "Ha, ha, we sold you the sad songs."
BD: She and Elton John.
MF: I love the sad ones.
BD: Yeah, I do too. But the next record I want to be happy.
PM: What is it about our Japanese friends and you guys, why do they want the happy peppy thing? What's that about?
BD: I think it just has to do with the way they originally perceived us, as being like this cute couple in love, like the Carpenters, Sonny and Cher.
BD: And maybe they just want us to be consistent, because the couple of singles that we've had that have done well there, especially "Circle" and "Groovy Tuesday," that's about as sunny as you can get.
PM: Right. Well, what have they picked as the single then?
BD: They chose "Up With Love," which is probably the sunniest song on the record.
PM: Right. Do they consider the bonus tracks part of the record? And the bonus tracks are, what, "Automatically Sunshine"--
BD: Which is a song that we released here on June [see our review] but it had replaced a song on the Japanese version of June called "Puzzle Ring." So "Automatically Sunshine" never came out in Japan. And then "Western Sky" and "Sleeper" are the other two songs that are bonus tracks.
PM: So I believe this record celebrates both ten years together and ten years with Brad, is that right?
BD: Yes, ten years with Swan Dive. We played together before, while we were in Wild About Harry. And yeah, ten years with Brad, since we started in the kitchen of Alex the Great.
MF: And we were back next to his kitchen for this one.
BD: Yeah, we worked at his house.
MF: The knotty pine den.
PM: Whoa. And why did you record at his house? Was it because you could, in other words, or because the studio was busy?
BD: Well, because we had a really low budget.
MF: And the studio was booked.
BD: Yeah, Robin [Eaton] was in there with Spinto Band.
PM: To ask about Brad, the question really is huge--because the man is huge and the relationship is long. But let's wax one way or another on Brad Jones. continue