As a music journalist, you’re never quite sure what interviewing a band will get you. Will they be awkward? Will they provide good insight, or just one-word answers? There are questions that plague your mind leading up to it. And it’s those incredible storytellers that spin their lyrics so well that seem to come out of the woodwork and really make you laugh. This proved true with Chicago-based art rock/psych pop collective The Curls. In fact, a full giggle fest ensued, and you’ll see why below. So take some time to enjoy this one. It’s well worth it!
What was your first musical memory, and do you think it has any bearing on who you are as an artist now?
Weird Al, first concert when I was just a little boy. Still one of the greats. I just re-watched his movie UHF for the thousandth time. Or maybe the Paul Simon song You can call me Al. That bass solo is a magical thing. I remember my dad or maybe my mom would play Paul a lot on our car rides. I’m sure the influence is there somewhere.
What’s the conception story of The Curls? Was it a meet-cute?
We met at this old mom and pop starbucks joint. We all ordered the same extra-fat hot chocolate Nutella truffle oil bacon latte at the exact same time! We looked at each other and of course laughed and laughed and laughed and laughed. We were in that line just laughing for maybe an hour. They had to call the police and they dragged us out laughing our heads off, just like in the movies.
You have been working together for a while now. How do you keep from ripping each other into pieces sometimes?
We’re just popping muscle relaxers and goofballs constantly so the vibe is very communal.
Do you think being from the midwest has any bearing on your sound?
I have absolutely no idea. I don’t think so? I’d be curious to hear what others think. Most of us come from different midwestern states so I wonder if anyone hears that classic Ohio or Michigan or Illinois or Indiana or Minnesota sound.
Where do you draw the most inspiration from, for both your lyrics and your soundscape?
Who knows?! Sometimes it’s obvious. The song or a number of songs can start from a reference point inspired by another artist’s sound or arrangement style. Or maybe what I’m eating or drinking at the time. Like I had been drinking a lot of lemon lime Gatorade recently, so now I’m writing a song based around that. Eating and drinking are very universal concepts. There is inspiration all around us!
You played HHM Fest recently. How was that? Give us a snapshot!
I will give you a step-by-step account. We come into town late afternoon, check into our 5 star hotel as per usual and head straight for the pool. The chlorine level was a bit much, and don’t think I didn’t complain to anyone who would listen. We took a walk around beautiful Bay City, MI and arrive at the venue quite early. We spend the next few hours enjoying this terrific spread of pizza, chips, locally catered apps while polishing off some of Maps and Atlases personal beers. Sorry buds! And of course we went on to play an unforgettable set. So it was a great experience, a great crowd, the festival did a great job, we did a great job and I can only hope we’ll do it again someday.
Do you prefer playing festivals or more intimate shows? Why or why not?
It’s all good. I love smaller clubs like The Hideout in Chicago but I have to say I also love playing shows with the big, roomy stages that might allow for us to assemble a larger arrangement and to play to a larger crowd, like when we crushed at Pitchfork Fest. It’s a wash!
How did you prep to film the “Bad Boi” video? Looks like it took a little bit of yoga and a lot of drugs?
We were so hopped up on drugs and yoga you wouldn’t believe. I was taking one drug then hopping into a downward dog that would make your head spin, then another drug and even MORE of the drugs before settling into the most beautiful warrior pose anyone has ever seen. Then bada bing bada boom, the light bulbs went off and along with our terrific collaborators and directors at New Trash Productions we managed to create one of the great videos of our time.
If you could have your dream rider list, what would be included on it?
Donuts or waffles? (Your answers to these questions will determine our future together, obviously.)
Of course if it’s a dream list I think we could manage to get both a waffle making station and as many donuts as we like. You didn’t ask but my favorite donut? The chocolate long john. Beautiful donut. However, I was just thinking it would be good to request 100 copies of infinite jest to throw at the crowd if they lose their shit or seem disinterested. Maybe a few drones to fly and keep an eye on things.
Any dirt you want to dish on your band mates?
If my band mates were here they’d probably dish A LOT of dirt about me. Stuff like, “Oh Mick? He’s a garbage person. He cares too much, he works too hard, he’s too nice, he’s too inspiring.” The usual gripes.
Do you believe in aliens? Why do you think we should or shouldn’t?
This has been coming up a lot in my life lately. My friend had an encounter a few weeks back. Took a picture of a strange flying object in the sky, sent me a detailed account. He even claimed at one point that the objects in the sky were moving according to thoughts he was having. Very compelling. We’ve all seen things in the sky we couldn’t explain. I think It’s fun to believe and speculate. There must be something going on out there right?! I mean are ya kidding? Have you seen this documentary Independence Day?
Keep up with The Curls here.
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