CA: (to Jenn) When Mike writes a song, how do you go about
making it yours; overcoming the gender difference and stuff like
JR: It's actually a lot easier than you would imagine. I
don't dissect the song, or consciously plan how I am going to interpret
the song--I just sing it! After the band goes over it a few times,
I can feel my "voice" start to take in the song as its own. Does
that make sense? Mike and I are a lot alike in more ways than I
ever imagined--and there is definitely a higher level of understanding
that we are sharing. As far as the gender difference--I ignore it--if
anything I just listen to the mood of the song; and regardless of
the he/she's, the song eventually takes on a gender of its own!
CA: (to Mike) When you're writing lyrics, do you take into
consideration that you are writing for a female lead singer or do
you write independently of the eventual performance of the material?
MR: Generally I write for my own voice--I tend to write
on an acoustic guitar. One reason I love working with Jenn is that
she does such great stuff with the material I give her--she really
makes it her own. Of course, she always complains that I write stuff
in too low a vocal range, and she will (rarely) edit lyrics, changing
gender ("...everyone watches you when you are around, you shamelessly
flirt with the men..." got changed, but "makes me hard" got left.
How cool is that?) I do occasionally abandon some more hardcore
ideas because I know Jenn will be singing them.
CA: (to Jenn) What's the difference between Jenn Rhubright
on the stage and at home?
JR: You know what? ABOSOLUTELY NOTHING! No alter ego here!
I am very for-real-on stage and off--which has lead to some wonderfully
heated arguments about my stage presence! There are certain individuals
who at one time or another felt that I should be "utilizing" my
aesthetics more. I can only do what I feel comfortable doing on
stage. Dancing seductively, flirting with the crowd, showing off
my body- FUCK THAT! I don't judge what women who do on stage if
that's their natural tendency--that's fine. Hey, now that I think
of it there is one difference on stage than off stage--I'm much
funnier off stage! I have this incredibly dry sense of humor that
does not cross well on to the stage. But that's what I believe.
CA: (to Mike) With your Nabokov title and philosophical
references you are kind of an Academic punk pop band. Are you afraid
that might be off putting to potential fans or do you see it as
MR: Yeah, I we've got some pretty academic leanings, although
in mostly political and artistic ways, if that makes sense (I've
always thought of us as having a fairly perverse sensibility, rather
than an academic one). I don't really think of myself as academic,
but I know that by most people's definitions, I probably am. I do
worry that people might misread us as pretentious, but I'm also
not interested in changing what we're doing or who we are in order
to maximize our fan-base...hopefully it makes us attractive to some
and doesn't turn too many people off.
CA: (to Jenn) Do you and Mike have the same musical influences
or is there someplace in the scheme of things where you diverge
JR: :"Diverge" would be putting it lightly! I think it's
kind of funny that we are said to sound like Sonic Youth all the
time. I don't like Sonic Youth at all--haha! I know we get that
comparison because of Mike's song writing and guitar playing- but
it always sounds odd to me when I hear the comparison--from my perspective
I guess. Mike is definitely into the whole art-rock genre that has
always passed me by. Don't get me wrong--I was huge into the New
Wave thing in the 80's. Yaz, Erasure, New Order, Depeche Mode, Mission
UK, but then I took a lot of hallucinogens when I turned 16 and
I found myself on the whole Grateful Dead Tour circuit. Then Nirvana
showed up with NEVERMIND and Scott Weiland's voice came on the radio
with STP's "Plush", and I was back into alt/rock again. So I went
off there--sorry--but Mike and I actually have old school stuff
in common: The Doors, Led Zeppelin, The Police. Does any of that
ranting up above answer the last question?!?!
CA: (to Mike) Whose songwriting do you most admire--of 20th
MR: I'm a big fan of Mark Linkous (Sparklehorse); also Elliot
Smith, Kurt Cobain, Black Francis, Steve Malkmus...
CA: (to Jenn) How much influence have you had in shaping
the persona of the band?
JR: I think I have had the honor of influencing the persona
a lot actually--as lead singer it's kind of a default isn't it?
You have to understand though that when I joined the band, I really
had no personality in my singing. It has developed with Clare Quilty--which
I think is great! One thing I pride myself on is being able to own
a lot of dynamics in my singing style. I think it helps win over
a lot of people who ordinarily would not be into our kind of music.
That and the hookiness of Mike's song writing--actually the combination
of the two--I find simply wonderful.
CA: (to Mike) How does the band go about composing a song;
you write the lyrics but how does the music develop?
MR: I usually start with music, then melody, and lyrics
come last. Our old drummer, Jody, used to make a joke about that,
but if I repeat it I'll definitely sound too academic. As far as
the music's development from my acoustic guitar to the full band,
that really varies from song to song. Sometimes I'll record drums,
bass, guitar, vocals, even background vocals to show the band what
I want; other times I'll just say "this should be really heavy,"
play it once, and work it from there.
CA: (to Jenn) Now that you're deep into being a lead singer,
how do you feel about
JR: Huh? The word "deep" lost me! Let me see...well...I
feel quite lucky to be doing what I am doing. I have a creative
outlet that I have never had before in my life and I am happier
than ever. Music is so much a part of me. Deep into being a lead
singer- man you threw me on that one...I don't think about it that
much--I just do it. Really, not to get all dumb-blonde on you or
anything, but I just can't think of anything cool and profound to
CA: (to Mike) What place does music fill in society, as
far as you are concerned.
MR: I don't think of music in terms of its substance or
content, but just more as an object. It's something we consume,
and as such, it's something which defines us (like which car we
drive or which sneakers we wear, or which form we take our high
fructose corn syrup). This to me is a major issue, and if music
is to have any other impact on our culture, I think its status as
commodity needs to change. That's one of the motivators for CQ in
terms of our not being strictly punk, or strictly pop, or strictly
alternative, or whatever, and also in terms of the "subversive"
approach that we take to songwriting. Can't actually say whether
or not it works, but it's part of the thinking process
CA: (to Jenn) What's your favorite track off the new album?
JR: "Anger Is Beautiful," I think it's a perfect representation
of what Mike had in his mind for the song. It's also an accurate
representation of the direction I think Clare Quilty will be going
in the future.
CA: (to Mike) What's your favorite track off the new album?
MR: I think "Anger is Beautiful." Not necessarily my favorite
song, but as a track, I think it does the best job of doing a song