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interviews, conversations

A l’occasion d’une tournée européenne marathon, les américains Uzi & Ari offrent une deuxième vie à leurs morceaux sur scène. A Luxembourg au D:qliq, ils étaient cinq autour de Ben Shepard sous un hoodie à capuche, joyeuse colonie de vacances, ballet fébrile où douze mains s’occupent d’une multitude d’instruments, des trombone, xylophone, accordéon ou mandoline. Tous essentiels pour rendre en concert la richesse et la finesse du dernier album Headworms. Plusieurs guitares aussi pour un rappel en maelström. L’occasion peut-être, loin du train-train quotidien, dans un van sillonnant la vieille Europe, de voir les choses différemment, quitte, à lire le “tour blog” sur leur myspace, à devenir capitaine de vaisseau un peu perdu, écrivant depuis un espace temps voisin du nôtre.

Ben, how did you learn music?

Well both my parents were…I guess I shouldn’t say musically inclined because they didn’t play any instrument but they loved music. I grew up in a religious home where we were always singing church songs and stuff like that. When I was twelve years old I wanted to be a drummer. I asked my parents for a drum set for Christmas. They gave me a guitar instead because it was quieter and I just started writing songs and learning new instruments from then on.

Were you in a choir?

No. I sang in a church choir but not for a year or so, just a couple different times. I learned to sing just from singing along to my favourite bands.

What’s your favourite instrument?

Probably the piano. I think the piano is a beautiful instrument but I also like string instruments quite a lot.

You have a large collection of instruments on stage…

Everytime I record a new album I try to do something a little bit different so I just think about new instruments I could add to the mix that would change the dynamic of the music a little bit. With the second album It Is Freezing Out we got into more of an electronic side of things and I wanted to come back to more acoustic instruments. I started to think of the most eclectic mix of acoustic instruments I could come up with and that’s how we thought of the autoharp or the mandoline.

What instrument would you like to learn?

I would like to learn the cello. I really do. It’s a devastatingly beautiful instrument.

What do you do while you’re on the road?

I write a lot. I have a tour blog I try to keep up with regularly. I write about the cities we go to and what’s going on in my mind during the tour and everything. We don’t have much time to visit the cities, we’re just travelling in a van, watching a movie on the laptop, writing or reading.

Do you listen to music on the road?

Usually about two or three weeks into the tour I start to listen to a lot more music because I’m getting really sick of the songs we’re playing night after night. I wake up and all of our songs are stuck in my head. I’m running the set through my mind while I’m dreaming.

We only took iPods with us so we have quite a varied mix of artists to listen to. I think the band I have been listening to most lately are Animal Collective and Bjork. There is a band called Helios from Portland, Oregon that’s really good. I listen to a lot more ambient or instrumental music, more than rock music I guess.

What records cheer you up?

John Lennon cheers me up. I like the album Imagine. There’s a song called Oh Yoko!, a pretty happy song that I like to listen to.

What do you listen to when you feel down?

Sigur Rós, the parentheses album. It’s really sad.

What’s the noisiest or most disturbing record in your iPod?

Most disturbing record… Our drummer Andrew makes music under the moniker Nolens Volens. It’s electronic music and he has an album called Abc that is the most distorted - like grungy sounding - like really difficult to listen to - album. You put it on the laptop and it sounds like it’s blowing the speakers. It’s so much louder than everything else in my iTunes library.

Could you describe the other band members in three words?

It’s hard because they have such different personalities. David and Garrett are both very curious, wild. They want to go out and meet people everynight. It’s like they never sleep. Andrew is more like me, more calm. He wants to just go to bed after the show. Catherine and Ryan are more even-tempered, between the two extremes.

Three words… Friendly. They’re all friendly and kind. And I would say curious. Curious is a good word. And sincere.

And what would they say about you?

Depends on when you talk to them.If you talk to them after soundcheck they might have some harsher words. I can be a little short fused sometimes because … I don’t know… I’m very particular…

A record you’d like to listen to but haven’t yet?

There are a lot of bands that I’ve heard a little bit of. Last year it was Rufus Wainwright. I’d heard his music but then I really dug into it and I really love it.

I’ve always listened to the Flaming Lips very casually. I’m not very well versed into their back catalogue. I haven’t heard anything besides The Soft Bulletin and I’d like to really get into more of their stuff.

If you could live one day in somebody else’s shoes, who would you choose?

I would like to have lived in Mozart’s shoes.

At what age?

Maybe at the very end (he was only thirty five when he died). When he was just kinda going mad with his brilliance. Sometimes I wonder what that would be like, to be that brilliant.

What’s the song Wolf Eggs about? I think it’s about fear. What’s your biggest fear?

That’s two questions… Like I said before I was a very religious mormon. It’s kind of an all or nothing religion where you either believe that that’s God’s true church and if you don’t belong to it you go to hell. It’s very absolutist.

When I was starting to have my doubts about the religion I wrote that song. I had several friends, some of them in the band, that were saying « you know I don’t believe it anymore » and I felt it was like my responsibility to keep everybody on the course but then in the process of that I suddenly realised that I didn’t believe either so it’s a schizophrenic song about not even really being sure that you believe but feeling there are these outsides forces that are pulling you in different directions. Feeling the weight of this responsibility to make the right choice because other people are going to be influenced by it.

I guess that maybe one of my biggest fears is leading people down a path where … I don’t know … I’d never want to be responsible for someone else’s unhappiness.

Is there a musical dream you haven’t fulfilled yet?

I have a lot of musical dreams I haven’t fulfilled yet. I’d like to record an album with an orchestra. I’d like to tour with a band that I really admire, I’d like to play in a summer festivals.

1 commentaire

  1. Hélio:

    Merci de tout coeur pour ton soutien !

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