Eric Bachmann is literally all over the place. It seems like every time I go to check in on the guy he’s moved across country, living in China, changing his band, dropping a label, dropping a record…
This year has been particularly full of twists and turns, jumping back into a reunion tour with good old Archers of Loaf and then turning right around to release his sixth LP under Crooked Fingers before hitting the road yet again.
Speaking of the new record, its called Breaks In The Armor, it’s on Merge, and it’s a choice change-of-the-seasons effort. The production this time around takes Bachmann’s vocal snarl factor down a notch, but it really compliments the arrangements and sort of opens up his songwriting a bit.
So in honor of the new record and in anticipation of Crooked Finger’s set at Cameo Gallery, I was excited to ask Eric about the reunion, the record, and all that eclectic music floating around in his head. And let me tell you, its a lot of music, to the extent that it hinders his attention span. But with that, you get the sense he’s seriously doing what he loves to do without using any ridiculous superlatives. It’s the sort of “I like this, it makes me happy” attitude that is really something to be revered.
You basically finished the Archers of Loaf reunion tour in mid-August and you now are turning right around and touring Crooked Fingers through to December–is it difficult to switch those serious gears that quickly? What are you most looking forward to in contrast to the Archers tour?
My brain functions more efficiently when I move forward. When traveling in reverse I can’t go as fast. It cricks my neck and I fear I might hit on something negative that mutilated me when I passed it the first time. I don’t want to do that. There’s no need for double-mutilation and regression tends to be tedious and unrewarding.
In the case of the Archers reunion, however, it is fun to take a quick look back. I enjoy gazing out onto a crowd of smiling people singing and reminiscing about the old days. It is an honor that they get joy out of something I was a part of years ago and it is for this reason that I can do it.
But to be honest, I enjoy writing and recording new songs more, and I enjoy singing with Liz more. And if I am going to be involved in an extremely time-consuming, emotionally-exhausting, creative process like making music then I want to create new things, not re-create old things; especially if the old, creative moment was borne out of being young and that moment has come and gone.
Breaks In The Armor is your first album coming out with Merge in a few years since you went out on your own for a bit with To The Races. As the artist, in what area did you feel the most change while you were that interim? You had been signed for so long, did you have to learn any new tricks with those releases?
I didn’t really notice or feel any great change in terms of the music industry climate. She was going down then, too, I suppose. And I knew before I did it that I wasn’t a good businessperson. It is convenient sometimes to not have a carrot held out in front of you to lure you down a path you think you want to go down.
To be sure, the dialogue between my DIY record label mistress and I consisted of her yelling at me all the time about how horrible of a businessperson I was. So, I suppose the most relevant thing that I learned wasn’t specific industry information or tricks. It was that I developed a very clear picture in my mind that I shouldn’t be running a goddamned record label because I’m not good at it.
You recorded this record in Athens with Matt Yelton and Liz Durrett –I know you always have a rotating cast of musicians behind the moniker, is that the group that’s hitting the road with you this time or is it going to be plus and minus a few?
This tour we’re coming out with 4 people:
Matt Nelson-bass guitar, Moog
Liz Durrett-guitar, vocals
Eric Bachmann-guitar, piano, vocals
Your Reservoir Songs EPs seem to give a little peak into your personal record collection; the selections you cover seem rooted in the Glen Campbell/ Waylon Jennings crowd with spikes in all kinds of directions. Do you have a particular genre or area of expertise you feel the nerdiest about/ most love towards or are you more all over the place?
I’m all over the place. And I can’t passively listen to music. When I’m in social situations I don’t like to listen to music. I have to pay attention to it so I’m ignoring whatever it is someone is trying to say to me and that’s rude. I don’t want to be rude. When I do listen to music I go long stretches where all I will focus on is one thing to learn as much as I can out of it.
I listen hard like a focused tiger hunting formidable, yet delicious prey. Last year I spent the majority of my listening time perusing all things Tropicalia. At this time I’m listening to that excellent AfroCubism album that came out about a year ago… I’ve been on it for a while now… no end in sight.
Whether its in vignettes or folklore-eqsue tales, you really are such a storytelling songwriter–as opposed to like impressionistic or abstract. Does that propensity ever translate into fiction writing or storytelling via other catalysts?
I used to write fiction. I never had the courage to let anyone read it. I’ve thrown them all away. I felt like they were not very good. I get asked that a lot. I want to try again when I’m on old man.
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