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Art Brut vs. Dave Maass

October 27, 2009 - 9:01 am

lew zealand

Apologies in advance: In this Q&A with Eddie Argus, lead singer for Art Brut, you’ll see sections of his answers replaced with ????’s. This represents lapses in my comprehension of Argus’ thick-as-Guinness accent, combined with whatever exhaustion-comedown the front man was suffering on his first day off in 11 days. I also might have misheard some of his responses.

Now that’s out of the way, allow me to say this: Art Brut, despite whatever lack of imagination a critic might lay on them, is a band with a personality—one pretentious in its accessibility. Only a band with complete confidence in its charisma would combine the term Art Brut (a classical reference to the artistic expression of inmates and the mentally ill) with mundane observations on Argus’ attraction to Marvel comics and chocolate milkshakes or unimportant debates over which British Invasion band was the most talented. Soundwise, the band is Brit-rock at its most consistent,  most Clash-like and, in my opinion, damned fun, snicker-inducing listening, if not exactly intellectually stimulating.Though, I could talk to Argus for days about our common fascination with comic books.

The band plays the Casbah on Wednesday, Oct. 28. Fog-permitting, I’ll be there. Here’s our back and forth.

How’s it going? I heard you were in the shower when I called the first time.

Yeah. I picked up at the wrong time, I think. I waited to use the phone for, like, half an hour, and when you didn’t call, I jumped into the shower. I must’ve missed you by about a second.

No worries. Listening to you talk, I’m going to need to you talk a little slower for me. Your accent is a little bit thicker than I was expecting.

OK. That’s fine, man.

Where are you guys now?

Right now, I think I’m in El Paso. It’s our first day off after 11 days.

And your day off is in El Paso?

Yeah, it’s a driving day, really. There aren’t many days off on this tour, so it’s quite hectic. I’m in a Holiday Inn in the middle of nowhere.

El Paso, I think, is probably the shadiest city in the entire country. It’s right there next to Juarez, the central front in the drug-cartel war. It’s, like, a police officer is found beheaded every other day there or something like that. But get yourself a big steak while you’re there.

I’m starving. That’s what I’m looking for now, but now I’m scared. You’ve told me it’s a scary place.

Just don’t turn on any highway that’ll take you to Juarez. Other than that, you should be fine. Let me start off: Is your little brother still into rock ‘n’ roll?

Yup, yup, he still is. He’s 27 now and still likes it.

He’s not that little then.

No. I didn’t think he was that little either…????…so he’s practically grown up.

As far as the band is concerned, would you be offended if I referred to you as ‘slop rock’?

Sloth rock?

Not sloth, slop. S-L-O-P.

S-L-O-P?… ?????…  No…?????….that genre of music. I like comics a lot. Is that a sloppy thing to do?

Um, no. Well, I’ve got a comic question next. Got any thoughts on this Marvel-Disney merger.

You know what? I think it’s funny seeing people superimpose pictures of Captain America onto Mickey Mouse, but I think that is not what’s going to happen. Disney is massive—they’re very massive. I think this will be good, innit, for Marvel. They’ll get people really good at… ?????… Disney characters. I don’t think we’re going to see a Bambi vs. The Hulk or something.

Looking at some of the weird stuff you do during your stage show—you got anything planned for the San Diego gig?

No, it’s kinda spontaneous…. ????… Whatever the mood takes us at the time.

Anything come up on the tour so far? You surprise yourself at all?

I managed to break about five microphones when were in Tallahassee. That was quite impressive.

What were you doing in Tallahassee?

I was skipping and I was climbing. Then I also had the third one broken when people started cheering. I thought, people are enjoying this, so I broke the next one on purpose.

I was looking at your blog. You have a lot of candy up there. You got a Halloween costume planned out?

Yeah, I think maybe something from the Muppets, I’m not sure yet. We’re in San Francisco on the day before Halloween, so I think I’ll dress up there.

You gotta be the fish thrower [Lew Zealand]—that would be my suggestion.

He’s got massive eyebrows actually, as have I. That’s probably a good idea. I look a bit like him, so maybe I should go as him.

If you do, give me a shout out. So, what is it about the Rolling Stones that make them better than the Beatles, and I ask that especially considering you’ve got a track called “Twist and Shout.”

I don’t really have a preference over the two…in “What a Rush” I say they’re records that my parents owned. I think they’re both the same, fun to have on a jukebox.

But you did sing about having a preference.

I also like to be contrary. I apologize for things I said in the next bit of the song. The idea is that’s a stupid argument to have.

So, I am a big fan of the new album, Art Brut vs. Satan, and I do think it is the best so far of the three, but I have trouble convincing some of my friends. They say it sounds undifferentiable from the previous two. What for you is different with latest album from the previous two?

The new one’s very different from the second one and it’s a bit like the first one. The second one is way different. It’s weird. One second, people are either saying that Art Brut is exactly the same or Art Brut changed too much…????…. We really produced [the second album] and worked hard in the studio and stuff. With the third album, we just recorded the tracks for about as long as those tracks last, because it was done in one take and kinda rushed. It’s a bit more honest—it’s the most honest Art Brut album, I think. It sounds more like how we sound live.

When I first got Bang Bang Rock and Roll, my comparison was with a band in Manchester called Robin Nature-Bold and Band(ism). I don’t suppose you ever heard of them?

No, I’ll look them up.

I don’t know whether they’re even around anymore. But they had a song called “Peacock,” and I wonder whether you’d describe yourself as a peacock.

Um, maybe a bit. Not really. Our drummer Mikey is more of a peacock, standing up behind the drum kit so you can see him. He’s a well-dressed man. I don’t really put much effort into what I wear. Mikey’s a handsome, good-looking man; he spends a lot of time making himself look good. I wish I was peacock, actually. Maybe you’re right, perhaps I’m a slop—that’s what it is.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. T miz permalink
    October 27, 2009 - 9:55 pm 9:55 pm

    El Paso is the “shadiest city in the entire country?” According to FBI crime statistics for 2008, El Paso is the third safest city of 500,000 inhabitants or more in the country. That’s why Juarez residents with money are re-settling in El Paso. See:

    Art Brut should have played El Paso. You would be surprised how many music venues are shutting down in Juarez and opening up in El Paso.

  2. October 28, 2009 - 8:56 am 8:56 am

    That’s like Darfur refugees moving to Chad!

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