|The Whispertown 2000|
Imagine if The Carter Family had found a time machine hidden behind some run down shack by the side of an Appalachian dirt road back in 1932 and suddenly found themselves beemed up to the year 2009 where the first person they met was Bright Eyes honcho Conor Oberst who insisted on producing their next album. Ok, this is getting weird now, but you hopefully get the drift. Americana UK had a chat with Whispertown 2000 founder and singer Morgan Nagler about their latest album, Swim, being signed to Gillian Welch’s label and accidentally eating black pudding for lunch.
Interview by Soren McGuire
You recently got back from your first tour of the UK. How did that go then?
We really had an amazing time. We played at All Tomorrow’s Parties and it was just so much fun. It was curated by The Breeders. It was such an unique and awesome experience and I definitely want to go back there. The first show we played was in Brixton at The Windmill and all the kids just knew every word of our songs. We never expected that, especially because we had never been to the UK before. It was very special to us. All of a sudden you notice that what you’re doing is actually having an impact on the world.
What about the British food? What did you make of that? We do take our pride in our national dishes here.
Well, one particular thing we noticed when we were in the UK, and we actually joked about this, is that you don’t have all these health food stores. I mean, in the US we have them everywhere, but in the UK, you don’t find it necessary to put the word health in front of the word food. There was a lot more organic food and everything, all the food, just seemed healthier and fresher in the UK. But at All Tomorrow’s Parties, Vanessa from the band accidentally and unknowingly ate black pudding. That was BAD!
If you think THAT’s bad, you should try steak and kidney pie then But enough about us. You recently released the critically acclaimed album Swim. It’s your second album and the first to get this amount of attention. Is that what the title refers to? You finally being able to stay afloat?
Swim is a giant step forward for us, the first time we all actually came together and created something really unique. When I write, a lof of what I write is something I see in retrospect. Stuff happens and in retrospect I see the deeper meaning of it. The title and the songs on the album acknowledges the sink-option but chooses to swim. Do you know what I mean? I’m a positive person and the title acknowledges the fact that I choose to swim instead of sink.
You sound like you’re trying to build a bridge between bluegrass, old time music and indie
That’s exactly right. I grew up listening to my parents’ records and that definitely made a huge impact on me. They were hippies and would listen to Bob Dylan, Simon & Garfunkel, The Beatles and stuff like that, and I think the music you hear in your formative years stays a part of you forever. The dudes in the band, Todd and Casey, are brothers and both grew up playing in bands together, punk bands and hardcore bands. So we all have a wide variety of tastes in music and we usually just take it song by song. We’re drawing from so many different influences.
So the band would sound completely different if it was you and three other people?
Absolutely. I write the songs on acoustic guitar and they could go in so many directions. It would definitely sound different if I didn’t have these people in the band.
Why do you think we’re seing this resurgence in folk music these days?
In general and historically, folk music has always been born out of need and with the world having gone a little bit crazy lately, there is definitely a need. I feel that people are coming back together and remembering things, and I think this resurgence in folk music comes out of that. Out of people feeling the need for change.
And now we’ve got the Monsters Of Folk with Matt Ward, Conor Oberst and Jim James, set to become the new superstars of folk…
Yeah. These people, Conor Oberst, Jenny Lewis, Matt Ward and all those people, they’re all my friends, and honestly, they’re speaking from their hearts. But we don’t sound the same as each other and that’s because the music also comes from our own expressions. Obviously our influences come out in different ways, but reason why these people are unique and their music likewise is because it’s a true representation of who they are and their personalities and instincts. It’s not copying Bob Dylan.
Are you working on new songs?
We’re recording an ep right now and we’re going to record a new record in December. A lot of it is written already, and when we were practising the other day we started working on them, having a lot of fun doing it. As far as the general direction of the music, I don’t really don’t know. We’ve been playing together so much this last year, but we don’t really know where it’s gonna take us.
Swim came out on Gillian Welch and David Rawlings’ label, Acony. What’s it like working with them?
I’ve just learned so much from David and Gillian, it’s unbelieveable. They taught me that the first instincts are always the best. Go with it. They went to the Berkely School of Music and they just know all these things about music, but they just told me to stick with my instincts. I’ve written a lot of songs with them and I just took a lot of what I learned from them and applied it to my own songs. They weren’t involved in writing Swim, cause we had already written that, but David Rawlings has been a big part of the recording.
The Whispertown 2000’s new album Swim is out now on Acony. More info at thewhispertown2000.com