Okay fellow Romans –
For this August we have something new and Northwest for you, the latest from The Intelligence – Everybody’s Got It Easy But Me. This is their 7th or so album and I think it is great. The Seattle weekly newspaper The Stranger (not to be confused with the Seattle weekly newspaper The Seattle Weekly) likes it, too. They not only put them on the cover a week or two ago, they, called it the perfect summer album. I don’t know about that but I think it is pretty fine. They seem to get the punk thing in reviews from places like Pitchfork, but I think this new record is pretty poppy along the lines early XTC and stuff like that. And I don’t see that as a bad thing. They also have some pretty hip videos like this one.
So how did I wander across this? Well, in my other life we hire temp workers to do some office stuff from time to time. It’s the modern thing. We hire a temp for a week’s job, I go to say hullo and check things out. It’s Lars. In an even further back life Lars was a student of mine. We do the what’s new chat and I find out he makes records. I tell him I’ll buy a couple and he brings me Males andFake Surfers. They’re pretty cool. The week ends, and off Lars goes. No further thought. Then I see The Stranger put out their annual Genius Awards and there is Lars again. Being geniusey. Wow.
So now that Lars is a genius, it is time for a new album. Lars comes through. The new album is not only great, but it has two completely different versions of the band. Now I did not go see ‘em at the Croc when they were here a few weeks ago (Lars is currently domiciled in LA) so I don’t know if he had two bands at his show, but it works pretty great on the album.
In other GMR news, we seem to be on track to put out my new CD I Ain’t Blue Anymore for September 2012, I’ll keep ya posted on that of course as we get closer.
Official Blab from their Facebook page
Around since 1999, The Intelligence has to date released seven singles, five split singles, two EPs, seven albums and have made eight compilation appearances. They join the ranks of hyper-prolific artists like Thee Oh Sees and Ty Segall in the impossible-to-stay-on-top-of department. That said, like the aforementioned artists, with each release The Intelligence continues to evolve, grow artistically and top themselves. And, yes, you do need to keep up with all the releases.
With Everybody’s Got It Easy But Me, The Intelligence do indeed top themselves. As with their previous album, Males from 2010, they returned to The Hangar with Chris Woodhouse to record, and they continue to jettison their deliberately blown-out, lo-fi recording approach for a much clearer sound. Not that there’s any loss of intensity. The band’s scrambling post-punk guitars, dry-as-a-bone drums and laconically abstract verses are all here, viewed through an unusually clear lens. If one didn’t have the songs or the chops, this sort of thing could reveal weakness but here it highlights their knack for catchy songs that incorporate pop hooks, metronomically repetitive guitar riffs, and new wavey synth moves. For those who haven’t been paying attention, The Intelligence are the brainchild of Lars Finberg (formerly of A-Frames, currently of Thee Oh Sees and Wounded Lion). Initially a studio project in which Finberg played all instruments on his home recordings, the band soon began to play live and tour, while the releases volleyed between solo and ensemble recordings. On Everybody’s Got It Easy But Me, Finberg goes for a mixed approach. Having recently relocated to Los Angeles, he assembled an LA lineup of the band but since he still spends time in his original home base of Seattle, he has retained a separate lineup in that city as well. For this new album, he uses them both and does some songs all by himself. He also invited a number of guests to come in and add to it. The result is the most varied yet cohesive Intelligence album to date.
100% Spontaneous Email Interview with Lars.
td: Thanks for being our album of the month I really like the new record. It seems like you are getting nice press for this – cover of the Stranger is pretty sweet. Is this a big jump up from how you previous stuff has been received or just a steady ascent over time?
LF: My pleasure thanks for asking. It feels like a very slow ascent, though there have been some big moments this year with the genius award and the Stranger cover, but we’ve been clawin’ along for more than ten years.
td: I haven’t heard a ton of your music, just Males, Fake Surfers and now Everybody’s Got It Easy But Me. While I wouldn’t call this slick, it is definitely poppier than the other than the other two. Did you set out to make a more refined album or is that just the way it came out? Is it cuz you were in a fancier studio with fancier musicians?
LF: I think maybe I just thought we were at a point where we could record our poppier songs cleaner than before without sounding lame. I also wanted to try to sing my cruddy lil heart out and see (if) I could slide out of the Mark E. Smith comparisons (who I do love). We’ve always slid towards poppier stuff so I thought it would be refreshing to see if we could pull it off.
td: On “I Like LA” you count to 44. I love counting. The most I’ve ever counted to in a song is seven, so I was impressed. Why did you pick 44 for stopping?
LF: I’m big into numerology and in the rare druid myan gypsy calendar says if we tour in a shit van making $150 bucks a piece per tour until I’m 44 years old I’ll get to be a garbage man in heaven forever (with benefits).
td: In a picture in the Stranger about a year ago it looks like you are playing a 12 Squire Venus 12-String with only 6 strings on it. Is that your weapon of choice or just a short term affectation?
LF: played that guitar for years until I got sick of it. I am terrible at tuning by ear so I only used 6 strings, I just liked the weird corn on the cob headstock.
td: Last year you got the Genius Award from The Stranger. What was that like? Are you working on a collaborative project with the other four Genius winners? Are you the Strangers’ house band now?
LF: It was great, my family flew up and got to eat cupcakes with my face on them and watch me thank them in a speech. The Stranger has been so kind to us that I can’t thank them enough and am nervously waiting for them to get sick of us and not list our shows in the paper anymore.
td: How many bands are you actually in this very minute? Can you remember all their names? All the names of all the people in the bands?
LF: I am in 2 1/2. The Intelligence, Wounded Lion and Puberty (who is pretty inactive right now). Susanna, Jed, Lesley, Dave, Brad, Jun, Shant, Raffi, Drew, Ryan, Curtis and Baby Shoes. So there.
td: You been doing this music thing for a while now and if I understand correctly, you have supplemented your income with other work. What’s the balance for you of living the artist life versus grindin to pay the rent? How long can you keep it going?
LF: I dunno. I should give up but I can’t, the universe keep(s) eeking me forward in a way that makes me want to keep trying though I live in fear everyday that I will be a wandering toothless broke musician grasshopper casualty.
td: Your video for “(They Found Me in the Back of) the Galaxy” is pretty nice. How involved were you in making that or how much did you just let the director have at? What’s the story on that?
LF: Thank you, our keyboardist Susanna is in a dance troupe called “the Atomic Bombshells” I just asked her to make us a dance video like Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” and to do whatever they wanted and she and her partner coreographed and did the costumes and the Director Alex Berry graciously shot it for us.
td: What’s coming after this?
LF: We are touring the U.S. with King Tuff in Oct. and shooting for Australia and Europe in the spring then make another record I’m sure.
Everybody’s Got It Better Than Me
1. I Like LA
2. Hippy Provider
3. Evil Is Easy
4. Techno Tuesday
5. The Entertainer
6. Reading And Writing About Partying
7. Dim Limelights
8. (They Found Me On The Back Of) The Galaxy
9. I’m Closed
10. Little Town Flirt
11. Return To Foam
12. Sunny Backyard
The Intelligence: Lars Finberg, Susanna Welbourne, Dave Hernandez, Leslie Ishino, Pete Capponni, Jed Mahue
© 2012 In The Red