The time: 6ish. The place: A cozy, beer can-scattered house in Greenwood. My company: Former Saturday Knight, and bearded artist/rapper extraordinair Barfly. The mood: Sudsy.
A few weeks before the release of his collaborative EP, Good Bye--a heavy five-track offering he recorded with local producer Graves33 via Seattle-to-L.A. email correspondence--Barfly agreed to sit down and listen to EP with me, and talk about the kind of work that went into it. Musically, Graves' production is as pleasingly moody and hard-hitting as ever, and 'Fly's voice weaves cryptic story lines through the loops and drums. It will be available only in person, at tonight's release show (and subsequent shows, assuming the 250-count pressing lasts longer), and it's well worth the hassle of the hand-to-hand. The CD, which was backed by the good folks at the Members Only label, comes packaged within a thirty-two page hand-bound leather book, who's pages are filled with original poetry and prose penned by Barfly himself. Sprinkled throughout the text are the songs' lyrics, which prove thick enough to be just as enjoyable to read as they are to listen to. There are also pictures, also hand-drawn by Barfly, which complete the experience in the best sort of way. If you make the trip out to pick up a hard copy this year, make it this one: it's well worth your trouble.
Read through our conversation after the jump, and catch Barfly and Graves (who are going by the name Wolf Hotel) at Barboza tonight with White China Gold and OCnotes.
You mentioned that [Good Bye] isn't really a concept album, but [the music/artwork is] all in the same vein, so you threw it together
It's real thematic. It's got a definite cohesive feel, you know. It's definitely not a concept record. I guess that's more for people who look at the book and listen to the music to decide. I wasn't trying to make it very conceptual or anything. I was just going with ideas and feelings for the themes.
How'd you get hooked up with the Members Only guys? Did you kind of reach out to them?
I've known them for years, but after I released that song...they asked if I had more of that laying around, or whatever. I was like, 'Well I actually do have something if you want to put something out that's kind of cool.' I just sent them a little proposal. They are hella professional, they definitely are. The process they had to go through to decide if they wanted to do it--what they were willing to do. I think it's cool working with them, honestly, because I've had other labels that I've brought this to, and it blows my mind how little people are really interested in...like, this stuff has an actual expected return, and a real low break-even, and everything. They were the only people that I talked to that were impressed with that, or even interested in that. That's cool, if you got it to throw around. I'm tryin' to make sure that these little projects at least wind up in hands that want them. They're not just junk, you know.
So other labels were kind of scared to invest money?
No, the exact opposite. I'm not gonna--it sounds like a fish tale, because I'm not gonna say who, but they would want to throw money--more than is necessary--and they were like 'Well, why don't we do this many?', and it's like, these are gonna sit on the floor of somebody's basement. There's no reason to press up a thousand CDs, and sell them for ten dollars, when you can create something with a little value, and you can sell it for three times the price of a CD or thereabouts. It just makes much more sense to me. I'm surprised that [Members Only was] interested in doing something, and I'm pleased with how responsive they are.
That kind of small batch/high quality product...do you thing there's a market for that kind of stuff in L.A.? Or do you think the 'scenes' are kind of different that way?
I don't think there's a regional market for anything that needs to...there's not a whole lot of people that are gonna want this, but the people who are going to want it: they're gonna appreciate it. The thing is, I figure do something that you can offer to them out anywhere, or it can be shipped. I just want to offer it first regionally, because if you're one of the fuckin' three hundred illustrious paying fucking customers to come through the door over the next four shows or whatever...
...they're probably the ones that are gonna have more of a connection to it?
I'd much rather give them first shot, right? Shit.
Now that you're back in town, have people been asking about you past projects, and if there's any more Saturday Knights or anything?
Not really. I haven't been out a whole lot or anything. Every now and then, somebody wants to hire us to play a show, and that's always kind of funny.
What do you say when somebody asks you, or throws money at you?
Well, that's what they usually try to do at first, then you gotta talk them off the ledge, like 'Buddy, even if you get a thousand people in fuckin' Boulder, Colorado who give a shit about The Saturday Knights, you realize how much you'd have to charge at the door, and how much of a bummer it'd be?' It just doesn't make sense. Maybe twice a year I'll get some crazy email like that.
Most of the beats are kind of down tempo, I mean, [Graves'] style is kind of gloomy. Is it kind of a Northwest style, you feel like? Did you feel like back in that state of mind?
You know, I wondered. I don't know, maybe that's what I liked. I didn't belabor myself with asking why I wanted to make this kind of music or anything. Since then I have. I spent five of the last, like eight years in a really fun band that was a whole sort of different thing, and I didn't want to go right back to that like 'You know what I should do? I should make five more records of this shit.' I just feel like the fuckin' party's over; it always lasts five years, and it's over again... I just figure they want something moody, and heady, and stoney.
What is the common thread with the lyrics? Is there a story that you tell that's different in every song, or is it free-association?
There's a little suggestion of a narrative going on when you read the actual text in the book portion. It's really just gives it a feeling of continuity or something, but really they're just four different songs that were written about four different things. They're not necessarily meant to be enjoyed that way, but... I don't really want to tell what songs are about... Whoever's reading this shit can listen to it however they want, experiencing it, I'm fine with that. It's not necessarily this really intentional narrative, or highly conceptual thing; it's words and pictures and themes and attitudes. It ties together, I guess. SW