DANIEL JOHNSTON, THE MOLDY PEACHES, STRATFORD FOUR
Crocodile, 441-5611, $10 adv. 9 p.m. Sun., March 3
IT'S JUST SO WB: A shy, shaggy-haired boy clocks minimum wage at a small-town pizza shop and soon befriends an older, well-spoken acerbic chick from the record store down the street. They write silly jingles about their customers, and soon those innocuous jokes become clever and kooky pop songs with titles like "Who's Got the Crack"—uh . . . wait, this is the WB, so we'll say they write songs with titles like, "Who's Got the Snacks?"—and they catch the attention of New York City's It band, who eventually take them out on tour, where they acquire four more members and dress up in furry lioness costumes and mismatched Underoos. In their downtime, they watch Thundercats reruns, download porn, er, MP3s, and eat crazy burgers. Hilarity ensues.
But this isn't TV; this is real life—and Kimya Dawson and Adam Green, the meat and potatoes behind the Moldy Peaches, are living it. On the phone from their respective homes in New York, Kimya and Adam slip right into their respective characters: she the likable, easygoing jokester; he the insightful and laconic straight man.
"I just got the green and red switch palaces on Super Mario World," says Kimya, apropos of nothing.
But since she brought it up, I try a question a friend suggested the night before: Do the Moldy Peaches prefer Nintendo or PlayStation?
"It depends on the game," says Kimya.
"Yeah, I'd say both," says Adam.
"The people that would only like the PlayStation or only like Nintendo are the same people that would only like black people or only like white people," says Kimya.
"Or," adds Adam, "the same people who only like the Moldy Peaches or only like the Strokes."
It's actually a pretty apt comparison; the aforementioned nouveau boy band and their frequent touring partners both enjoy, and are haunted by, the strange I-don't-want-to-like-them-but-I-do phenomenon that comes to fans who are legitimately turned off by the hype but also tuned into the music.
"They're our friends, so it never gets too weird," says Kimya, when I ask if they find themselves uncomfortably caught in the media monster roller coaster that surrounds the band credited with aiding and abetting theirs.
And here the dialogue turns into something less like a situation comedy and more like a cable access discourse on pop music. As much fun as the Peaches have subverting innocence and toying with trouble, it's clear that they take the task of songwriting very seriously. As ridiculous as songs like "Steak for Chicken" (with poker-faced lines like "Who mistook these baths for showers/Who fucked up that leaning tower?") may seem out of context, the splintered-off and layered lyrics (sentence fragments like "Me and my new friends are so smart/we invented this new kind of" are completed with Kimya's vinyl-scratch vocals thusly, " . . . dart/hit a bull's-eye/cut a fart," and with Adam's decidedly deadpan ones, " . . . art/postmodernist throwing darts") make a cunning little trap. Factor in the genre-busting instrumentation—musically, their self- titled debut goes from garage-rock hip to folk-pop pretty to kindergarten coy—and it's clear that the Peaches aren't just fucking around. Like the Elephant 6 contingency, the K Records intelligentsia, the Magnetic Fields, the Modern Lovers, and Stereo Total, the Peaches elevate silliness, beauty, and pure pop to a place where it can sit comfortably—and a bit smugly—next to anything that passes for a serious study of songwriting.
"People don't usually realize that people who write songs, they actually wrote them, so they're smarter than the song itself," Adam explains. "They actually constructed it and made it, so they're a step above it. You're not the song, you're the creator of the song."
Although it's their talented mentors/ friends in the Strokes that Adam is referring to, one could easily extrapolate that Adam and Kimya aim at achieving that same sense of informed artistry and creative collaboration.
"Ever since the day we wrote our first song, we were like, 'This is the best song ever, we're gonna be better than the Beatles,'" says Kimya. And although goals don't come much loftier than that one, there's always something to be said for having high hopes. Plus, it'd make a pretty good name for a sitcom.