Friday, 23 January 2009

Maths and Physics Club

I've been in love with Math and Physics Club ever since I heard their debut ep 'Weekends Away' a couple of years back. And all this despite them not being called Maths and Physics Club. I really will forgive them anything.

Charles from the band was good enough to answer some questions for me:

You seemed quite a prolific band to start with, and now things have gone quiet. Was this always going to happen, or are you saving yourselves for something spectacular?

Nothing spectacular, I’m afraid. Several of us have children now, so it became really difficult to make time for music. Quite a bit of our last EP was done over email because our schedules were too full to get together in person. I’ve got twin boys that are almost two now, and as they get older I’m able to free myself up a bit more, but I suspect our output will remain sporadic from here on out.

Are you as happy with the first album as you could have been?

It’s easy to get caught up thinking about little things I wish we’d done differently or spent more time on, but overall I think it’s a solid first album for us. It’s a pretty accurate reflection of where we were as a band at the time.

Do you think Matinee Records is your natural home?

Yeah, definitely. We like working with Jimmy, we’re fans of the other bands on the label, and there’s no pressure to tour, which we knew we wouldn’t be able to do given our families and day jobs.

Who writes the lyrics in the band? Are they personal, or simply made up?

I’ve written the lyrics for the songs we’ve recorded so far. Most are not personal. I write the chords and melody first, and when I’m developing the melody I usually come up with a line or two of lyrics that I like, so I just continue to build a story around them. Lyrics are always the last thing to get finished. I don’t consider myself to be a very strong lyricist, so I tend to labor over them. I was still working on lyrics for the album on the same day I was supposed to record the songs.

The song 'Weekends Away' is one of my favourite of the last few years. How did the lyrics for that come about? It sounds as though real love went into that song. Is travelling one of your favourite pastimes?

Weekends Away is probably my favorite for lyrics. It was inspired by weekend driving trips with my wife. I was trying to capture that feeling of escape from the stress of daily life, and the romance of traveling with someone you love. No doubt the title was in my head from the opening line of The Lucksmiths Southernmost, but I actually didn’t realize it until someone pointed it out later.

Similarly, 'Cold as Minnesota' is both brilliant and incredibly descriptive. What's the story behind that song?

Thanks very much. I definitely laboured over the lyrics for this one. I had a few lines written from the start, and I knew it was going to be about a bitter relationship, but it took a while before I was happy enough to leave it alone. James, our guitar player, actually came up with the line “there is a chill as cold as Minnesota.” I had originally written a different line using Minnesota, but then James suggested changing some of the words and I realized it really captured the song.

What are the plans for the new album? Any radical departures? And will it also be released on Matinee?

We’re just getting started sharing demos and ideas for the next album, but I’m hopeful we’ll be able to release something later this year. I wouldn’t expect any radical departures, though it will be the first time we’ve recorded without our violin player who moved to Denmark last year, so we may end up bringing in more session players and using some different instrumentation. And yeah, I expect we’ll keep putting out records on Matinee until Jimmy decides to cut his losses!

Who are your favourite bands right now?

I’ve not been able to keep up with many bands over the past couple years. I think Northern Portrait is pretty amazing. I also loved the last Cats on Fire album on Marsh-Marigold, and “Night Falls Over Kortedala” by Jens Lekman. Other than that it’s been a lot of Raffi and Sesame Street, though lately my kids have been into “Pop Fly” by Justin Roberts, which is great indiepop for kids.

Would you all like MAPC to become your day job?

Is this a trick question?

Can you really sum up your love for music? What does it mean to all of you?

When I was about 13 my brother moved back home after living in Athens, Georgia for a few years and introduced me to REM. Since then I’ve been obsessed with music and bands. Like a lot of music fans, there’s a soundtrack for every period of my life which helped get me through those times, good or bad. So in that context it’s humbling when people write to let us know our music has been important to them in some way. It means a ton to us.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dang, kids always be cramping people's style! But I am happy you did this interview with this incredibly wonderful band.

Nearly could not believe this bit, "I don’t consider myself to be a very strong lyricist..." What!?! His lyrics are what raise the band above pleasant indie pop into gorgeously romantic, completely meaningful, totally swoonworthy narratives of pure beauty! Please know that, sir!

I just got a hold of the sold-out "Weekends Away" EP and now I can firmly state that the band have gotten better with each release. So even if we have to wait a little bit longer between each gifted with some really wonderful songs eventually. :-)