SW: Did you think about lyrical themes and sonic ideas before the writing of Shut Down the Streets even began?
A.C. NEWMAN With Harriet. The Crocodile, 2200 Second Ave., 441-4618, thecrocodile.com. $15 adv. All ages. 8 p.m. Fri., Nov. 9.
Newman: I knew that the things I was writing about on this record were inescapable. I would have felt completely full of shit after losing my mom and the birth of my son if I didn't express it. I felt like I had to do that. I didn't go into it saying, "That's what I'm going to write about," but when I started writing, that's what made sense and that's what came out.
But do you start with a vision and then drive toward it?
Only recently have I started thinking I should do that. Making a record like [New Pornographers'] Twin Cinema, there was absolutely no vision. We just went into the studio and started working. A lot of our records have been like that. It was only on this last one that I thought, "Let's make a certain kind of record." And now I find myself trying to write a New Pornographers record thinking, "What is this record going to sound like? I've got have a vision for it." But I've never been big on vision. I've always just written songs.
When talking about the New Pornographers, you once said, "Once your band hits the public eye, I figure you're allowed to make three albums that sound the same. And then after that you have to move on." What's wrong with just staying the course, as the Ramones or Motörhead have done?
I think I phrased it like that's what everybody should do, but I was just talking about my own band. We'd made the first three Pornographers records, and after that I felt like, "Where do we go from here?" I think it was restlessness. It's the kind of thing that makes you want to write TV theme songs and soundtracks. It's the thing that made me want to make this record.