Houston Calling

Ten Questions for Caribou

May 9th, 2005 · No Comments

I caught Manitoba at Fat Cat’s a couple of years ago and it blew my mind. It was a multimedia spectacular, with some of the coolest music I’d ever seen played live. Last year, I heard that the band had to change its name due to legal issues but that they would be back with a new album in 2005. Thankfully, that time is now.

Caribou’s new album, The Milk Of Human Kindness, was released on May 3rd — fans can also pick up a limited edition tour CD at shows, which features six exclusive Caribou tracks and a 36-minute DJ mix.

I interviewed Dan Snaith of Caribou a bit before this spring’s tour began. He graciously took the time to answer a few questions for Houston Calling.

Be sure to check out Caribou’s live show at Fat Cat’s this Thursday, May 12th. Junior Boys and The Russian Futurists are also on the bill.

Ten Questions for Caribou

HC: How did you get started in music?

Dan: i started out playing piano when I was a little kid. I think I hated it at first but when I was about 10 I moved out to the country and there was nothing to do out there and that’s when I began to immerse myself in music. I spent most of the time until I was able to drive playing piano about five hours a day. Then I got a keyboard and a sampler when I was about 13 and I’ve been recording in pretty much the same way since then.

HC: What do consider to be your musical influences?

Dan: Discovering spiritual free jazz (Albert Ayler, Pharaoh Sanders, Alice Coltrane) was probably the biggest single musical change in my life. I listen to and absorb as much stuff as I can though…I tend not to be into genres as much as into maverick individuals or groups (Can, Shuggie Otis, Gary Wilson, Madlib, Philippe Besombes, Ayler, Neutral Milk Hotel, Timbaland…).

HC: What’s the new Caribou album like?

Dan: In brief, it’s very very good but don’t ask me. It’s pretty varied with mad noise stuff and psyched out bits and more sparse and rhythmic bits. It’s my favourite album I’ve made to date.

HC: By now, most of your fans know that you had to change the band name from Manitoba. What was the deal with that? Another musician claimed the name, right? Did you try to make a big deal out of it or just “take it on the chin” and move on?

Dan: It was a living hell. I tried to make a big deal, quickly realised that making a big deal = bankruptcy and then took it on the chin and moved on. I’m glad to have that crap behind me. Trademark law isn’t one of the reasons I got into music.

I saw your last show here and was blown away by the mixture of audio and video. Will you be doing something similar on this tour (if so, what?) or are you shooting for a more low-key set?

Dan: Low-key??? Hell no. It’s definitely the same kind of thing. We’ve had the same animators (Delicious 9 from Dublin) do video for the whole set and again we have the two drummers and lots of other instruments. I think the touring last time let us figure out what worked and what didn’t and this time we’re a well-oiled rock machine. We’ve locked ourselves away for the last month practicing 12-hour days and we have 30 straight gigs before we get to Houston so we should be like greased murder by the time we get to you.

HC: Without giving too many secrets away, what tools do you use to create your music?

Dan: I use a computer pretty much like a sampler meets a multitrack recording studio. The records are all half me playing instruments and half samples and I build things up out of loops and then strip things down and lay them out into songs at the very end.

HC: If you could have any band cover one of your songs, what song would it be and what band?

Dan: Hmmmm…I’d probably want ZZ Top to cover “Bees” off my new record.

What is the one description that you hate to hear about your music?

Dan: Pleasant…There’s nothing worse than being pleasant.

HC: What’s your take on the state of the music industry? Are you for or against the MP3 “revolution”? How do you use the internet as a tool to market your music?

Dan: For it. I download music all the time but I also buy a massive amount of music. I figure it’s definitely helped me — so many more people have heard my music because of that sort of thing. I figure that can’t be a bad thing.

What is in your CD player right now?

Dan: I haven’t listened to music in the past month so I can’t remember what’s in my CD player. Here’s what I’ve been doing every day for the past month: Wake up. 211 pushups. Do interviews. 12 hours of practicing the show. 4 hours solo drum practice. Sleep.

I’m a robot.

Thanks to Dan Snaith of Caribou for taking the time to answer these questions. Again, be sure to come out to Fat Cat’s to see the live show this Thursday night (5.12.05). It’s sure to be a packed show.

Check out the Caribou website here. You can buy the new Caribou CD, The Milk Of Human Kindness at www.posteverything.com

Now Playing in My iPod: The Makers — Stripped

Tags: Music