I asked NYC's Other Passengers a few questions about their opening slot at tonight's Sufjan-headlined benefit show, how their lives were affected by Katrina, CMJ, and their upcoming residency at Pianos...
BV: You're playing a Katrina benefit at Bowery Ballroom with Sufjan Stevens, Adam Green, Grizzly Bear, and Akron/Family. Besides being a good deed, it must be a pretty exciting show to be involved with. How did it come about?
OP: Yeah, we are really excited about being part of this bill. Peter DiBari at Fanatic Promotion who organized the show, knew we spent August recording in Louisiana and that we wanted to do anything we could to help out.
BV: Speaking of Katrina, I heard the hurricane personally affected Other Passengers. Can you tell us about that?
OP: We spent the entire month of August recording our first full-length with producer Grant Curry at his studio, Music For Chameleons in Ponchatoula, LA. It's about 25 miles north of New Orleans. We finished about 5 days before Katrina hit but he and his wife were forced to evacuate. We actually established some strong ties with some locals that we met while there and felt apart of the community by the time we left, so we were fairly devastated by the magnitude of the events that followed. Grant had just begun mixing the recordings when he had to take off - all they could take was their pets, a couple of guitars and our masters. He called us up concerned about how Katrina threw off the production schedule...and this while he didn't know if his studio was washed away! We were just glad to hear he was safe. Thank God they were relatively lucky and suffered only minor damage to the studio and even their home in New Orleans. He just recently got power again and he's back to mixing...talk about dedication. Grant and everyone me met down there have been incredible to us. There is definitely a bond between us and the camp down there because of what it represented from both a life and music perspective.
BV: I also heard you were playing CMJ and then not playing CMJ. How did you get selected to play CMJ, and then what happened?
OP: We were accepted despite not having a label to really push for us or put us on their label showcase night. We then had quite a streak of bad luck after finishing the recording, what with Katrina, then Billy our singer getting tonsillitis the week of our CMJ show and Travis our guitarist is in a cast because of still not fully diagnosed infection in his leg. We were extremely excited because of the fact that Brooklyn Lyceum is an incredible venue. It's got more character than most clubs in NYC. But we had to pull out because he Billy was incredibly ill and couldn't even speak let alone sing.
BV: You have an October residency coming up at Pianos. I believe it was a Pianos residency that got people talking about Clap Your Hands Say yeah initially (pre-Pitchfork). How does one end up with one of these residencies?
OP: We had been talking about doing it for a while but we were focused on writing and recording. The timing for October just worked out for everybody. I think going through the recording process the way we got to, just an intense solid month of eating, sleeping and breathing the band has taken us to that proverbial next level. It was a dream realized to be able to work that way without the distractions of day jobs and just New York City in general.
See Other Passengers tonight (Oct. 3, 2005) @ Bowery Ballroom and then every Tuesday night in October at Pianos.
* Gothamist interviewed Other Passengers too.
Stay tuned for MP3s from their new album. In the meantime, download some old ones off their site.