The Pistola Press: What was it like working with The Antlers on Hospice? Your part on 'Thirteen' is beautiful. It fits so well with the album, it's fantastic.The interview that snippet is from was posted in September. Hospice was re-released by Frenchkiss in August. Sharon's debut solo album, Because I Was in Love, was released in May.
Sharon Van Etten: I feel really lucky to have been a part of it. Peter (Silberman) is a genius. The first time I heard his voice, I thought "this is someone I want to know". I only sang what belonged there. He did all the writing. It IS a beautiful record. I am so proud of those guys! They deserve all the praise in the world.
The Antlers help kick off CMJ with a performance tonight, 10/20, at Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn (the BV showcase to be exact). After CMJ they head out on the road before returning to NYC and playing their own headlining show at Bowery Ballroom in December. Opening that December 15th Bowery show will be their friend and collaborator Sharon Van Etten, who is currently on the road with Rain Machine (aka Kyp Malone from TV on the Radio), but will be back this Saturday (10/24) in time to play a free afternoon show at Pianos before opening for Rain Machine at Bowery Ballroom that night.
I asked Peter Silberman and Sharon Van Etten if they'd be interested in asking each other some questions. They went for it. This is what they said....
Sharon: Where are you right now?
Peter: I'm home
Sharon: You're home, that must be nice.
Peter: Its nice but we're leaving on Friday as you might know. I'm in the process of process of making coffee and trying to learn to use a French Press because I'm not very good at it.
Sharon: A French Press is where it's at!
Peter: I know but my roommates keep breaking them. Apparently the glass is really easy to break so I'm really worried every time I make coffee I'm going to break it. Where are you now?
Find out where she is, and much, much more, below...
Sharon Van Etten
Sharon: I'm in the van w/ Rain Machine leaving Detroit about 30 miles from the Canada border near Toronto.
Peter: Where you crossing?
Sharon: I don't know, wherever is north of Detroit.
Peter: Wait did you stay in Detroit or did you stay elsewhere?
Sharon: We stayed in Detroit.
Peter: How was the show last night. Did you go bowling?
Sharon: We didn't go bowling.
Sharon: I know I wanted to go bowling but I was in a fowl mood before the show because the sound guy sucked.
Peter: Well to be fair the only way to get out of a bad mood is to go bowling.
Sharon: Then you can get your aggression out bowling.
Sharon: Do you go bowling a lot?
Peter: Not a lot, but we try to go bowling whenever we can and we've gotten to Detroit in twice in the past few months and it's always the same place, so we tend to bowl there if we can. I"m not all that good. Actually none of us are good, but we like it a lot. But its good because most people in bands are bad at bowling.
Sharon: I'm not good either, but it's serious fun to throw something down a lane and knock shit over. If I'm lucky I knock something over.
Peter: Totally, totally. So I got some questions for you. They are very important question so be honest. Although actually I just wrote a word for each question on this napkin, so I'm not sure what these questions are exactly going to be. The first one says CMJ. So I'm going to say what are you doing for CMJ?
Sharon: Wow, CMJ. I'm playing two shows on the 24th a day show for Bowery Presents/Brooklyn Vegan and a show at the Bowery Ballroom that night with Rain Machine. It should be a lot of fun. You are playing CMJ too on the 23rd aren't you?
Peter: Actually we are playing tomorrow, which I think is the 20th and that is the Brooklyn Vegan at Music Hall and we're doing a show at Sound Fix the next day and then we are doing a show at the Delancey on Thursday and then we leave.
Sharon: I'm sad I'm not going to see you guys.
Peter: I know we are missing each other by a day. It's totally lame because I haven't seen you play in a while now.
Sharon: Well you know what I sound like.
Peter: Well you might sound totally different now.
Sharon: Ha, I saw a Nicolas Cage movie you might really like. Have you seen Knowing?
Peter: Knowing? I don't think I would like that. Haha why would I like that?
Sharon: I think you would be all over it.
Peter: Is that the one where he knows...I think I saw the subway ads. It's his face and the world exploding behind him and what I have decided is that he knows that the world is going to explode, but he is the only one?
Sharon: I don't want to give anything away, but yes!
Peter: so you just gave it away?
Sharon: It's so bad it's good. It's so bad you laugh. If you want a good laugh and not care.
Peter: I do want to laugh. Have we talked about Lawnmower Man already because I'm all about this movie right now.
Sharon: I have not seen Lawnmower Man yet, but I like the idea.
Peter: Well it's basically like, did you ever read the story Flowers for Algernon?
Sharon: What is it?
Peter: Flowers for Algernon. It's like a story. It's about, I can't remember the actual story but it's a scientist who increases the IQ of a mentally retarded person and he becomes more intellectual.
Sharon: And he starts dating someone like a female doctor? I read it so long ago.
Peter: I can't remember either, I read it a long time ago too, but basically the premise of Lawnmower Man is the same thing except it takes place in early 90's virtual reality with Pierce Bronson. It's really long and epic and one of the best movies of all time.
Sharon: Is it kinda like when Homer takes the crayon out of his brain and he becomes a genius?
Peter: Yes, but in Lawnmower Man he becomes evil. He becomes so smart that he can control things with his mind and sets things on fire. It's pretty impressive.
Sharon: oh sweet, okay.
Peter: so that is what you should watch next time you are in a tour bus.
Sharon: alright I'll add it my list.
Peter: and that leads me to my next question: do you miss touring in a tour bus or do you prefer touring in a van?
Sharon: The bus was really nice and I felt spoiled by it. I prefer the van and like being able to look out the window and I like when different people put on music you get to learn more about people, and talk. There is more interaction and you can see where you're going instead of waking up and feeling disoriented about where you are. Like one day I woke up and I was all groggy and we were at the Washington Monument.
Peter: You guys were parked in front of there for a few days and we ran into you. Well not in front of the Washington Monument
Sharon: Where I saw you guys play.
Peter: That's true. And you guys played the next night at the Black Cat.
Sharon: Yup, we had the day off the first day. Its was good. I had a nice time. Everyone there was soo nice. You played there before right?
Peter: I think we played there in March and it was definitely the best show of the tour. All in all it wasn't a great tour, but that was a fun show.
Sharon: What is the worst show you had or the weirdest?
Peter: Weirdest show? We've played a lot of weird shows, but those were a couple of years ago. Actually I can think of a very very weird show. It was a long time before the band was together and It was just me playing horrible shows all the time and there was this music festival somewhere in the Midwest and I went out there to play it and literally I was playing in a corner of bar and there was no stage which isn't weird but there was literally nothing there. It's like they put a microphone in the corner and like a amp and they pulled the mic in the amp and they're like "you can play now." It was just a bar not a show at all. It was a long way to go for something so ridiculous.
Sharon: Was it like it a shabby bar or were people paying attention?
Peter: No, there was absolutely no one paying attention. I think most people didn't even realize I was there.
Sharon: Oh my god! Was that when you were solo?
Peter: This was quite a few years ago. The first time we went to Detroit, the show was cool. This kid came up to us and was like "guys that was great, but you have to play more notes." He was saying this to me and Darby and we were like what do you mean, faster?, and he said "no no you are playing fast enough just more notes, sounds good but more notes." He continued to talk about this for twenty minutes and he kinda got into saying his favorite band is Mars Volta so that contextualized it for us so we asked if he thinks we should play a lot more fast notes and he kept saying "more notes." He kinda wouldn't let us go until we promised to play more notes next time and then we came back and we didn't play more notes.
Sharon: You probably played less notes. I got heckled once by someone. They yelled get a band!
Peter: Get a band? You should have yelled the same thing. Well maybe they have a band they should know better not to heckle you like that because it's not nice.
Sharon: If you had to go back solo would you? Or do you not want to go back solo?
Peter: I really don't miss it. You know how much it can suck. I never got to the point with solo shows that I was playing good shows so you have somehow surpassed that weird dead zone and I'm curious how that is? Do you like it or want to be in a band?
Sharon: I don't know what I'm doing. I would love to play with other people someday. My plan is getting back and learning to write with other people and not having people play on other songs I've wrote, but having to write songs with them instead.
Peter: It's definitely really different to transition. You are really the only one writing or only one responsible about the decisions you make and you're the only one dealing with it and when other people start coming into it, it's different. I think democracy is really important. You can have a band where you are telling everyone what to do all the time and no one has any input. Why would anyone want to be in a band like that?
Sharon: I wouldn't. Just so you know we are crossing a bridge toward Canada and I don't what is going to happen with this.
Peter: Okay well I'm excited to see what happens.
Sharon: Okay I'm just throwing that out there. It's a nice big steel bridge.
Peter: yeah bridges into Canada are really cool.
Sharon: this is my first time legally coming into Canada. So I'm pretty happy.
Peter: have you gone in illegally before?
Sharon: there was this one time flying through the border, sweating, playing a secret show but that was when I was thinking "oh it's a house show probably not a big deal." I was really nervous and I was hiding everything in my car. They ask you so many questions I was having a freak out but its turned out not to be bad at all.
Peter: yeah crossing the border is definitely a HUGE pain. The amount of paperwork you have to have in order just to get over and get back is really crazy. If they are going to let you through they aren't going to let you know that right away. They make you feel like you might not get in and the last question they ask you is what kind of music you play? What kind of guitar you got there? Okay can we go now? So if you get to that point in the conversation you are okay.
Sharon: Well I'm really excited for the Inquisition.
Peter: Oh it's going to be good. It's going to be really good. You are going to have a great time. And you are going to have a great show there I'm sure.
Peter: I'll ask you one more question. What are you working on?
Sharon: I'm working on not talking too much on stage and learning to play my electric guitar. Ha, I don't know what I'm working on. Working on my jokes.
Peter: Oh your jokes don't need any work because they are amazing. I'm saying that as someone who appreciates bad humor.
Sharon: I know you still have my pun book.
Peter: I know and you are probably not getting it back.
Sharon: I'm not getting it back? Oh man. My last question is when am I going to see you again?
Peter: In December. We are leaving on Friday and we are doing two weeks in US and then a couple weeks in Europe and then we come home. We are doing Bowery on the 15th and then home until further notice. We'll go back to that Japanese restaurant.
Sharon: That would be great. By then the sake will be even better.
Peter: Good luck crossing the border. Have some great shows in Canada, the rest of tour and CMJ.
Sharon: You too. See you soon.
Thanks Sharon, Peter, Paul, and Canada!
What they didn't even know at the time is that Sharon is going to open that December 15th Bowery show. Tickets are on sale. Tickets are also still on sale for the Antlers show at Music Hall of Williamsburg TONIGHT (10/20).
The Antlers "Thirteen" with Sharon Van Etten CD release Mercury Lounge 8/21/09