|From QRD #14, October 1998, by Brian John Mitchell
Low are a moody minimalist band with pretty songs that could make you
cry. I guess they were secretly always destined to become a QRD band,
after all, they did an interview for Whirlpool four years ago & they
toured with the Swans.... the interview was conducted by mail &
QRD -- what is the coolest category/label you've had put on you, what's
the cheesiest & what do you feel is the most appropriate?
Mimi -- I guess Mike Watts saying we were punk, that's the coolest.
Alan -- what's the cheesiest? slow-core. I hate that word.
the most appropriate is anything that uses the word minimal in it, but
I don't think anybody's made one up for that.
QRD -- what's going on with you as far as record labels, are you still
dealing with Vernon Yard?
Alan -- no, we have not been doing stuff on Vernon Yard for two or three
years now. our last EP came out on Kranky & we're going to record
in november an LP for Kranky that should come out in march.
QRD -- is there a reason why you choose not to print your lyrics?
Alan -- there wasn't at first & since then people keep asking us
about printing lyrics & I guess sometimes we consider it & sometimes
Mimi -- we haven't really thought about it too much. it's not
like we're doing it to offend anybody or throw anybody off.
Alan -- especially people from europe want to read our lyrics because
they want to understand what we're saying, but sometimes I just picture
them there reading, "hey, hey, momma, say the way you move, gonna make
you sweat, gonna make you groove." I don't know, sometimes there's
just something lost in lyrics being written down. we may put the
lyrics on the next record, but only because everybody from france keeps
QRD -- is "Over the Ocean" meant to be physically or emotionally over
Alan -- yes.
QRD -- what's your favorite Swans song? what one would you cover
for a tribute?
Alan -- I like a bunch of their stuff. they have a new song "I
Am the Sun" & that's a good one. but the old stuff I guess was
the first things I heard. I think "Failure" is absolutely a classic,
one of the greatest lyrical songs ever written. I don't know, a lot
of old stuff like "Blackout" & "Red Sheet" & all that stuff.
the really brutal stuff I think is really great too & I think any of
those would be pretty great. "Mother, My Body Disgusts Me" is a good
QRD -- why did you record Songs for a Dead Pilot at home? do you
feel it compromised it in anyway?
Alan -- it's a combination of two things. we didn't have very much of
a recording budget & it would've been really hard to go into a studio
because we would've only been able to be there for like a day or two with
the money that was available. plus we were starting to be interested
in learning how to record & we had done some stuff on a four track
& stuff. but once you've done a few records, everybody's always curious
about how to do it themselves. so that's why we decided to do it
at home. do I feel it compromised it in anyway? I don't know,
do you? I think it sounds like an eight track recording for sure,
but I think the experience kind of enhanced it a little bit. we were
able to kind of work at our own pace with it. if we started &
a couple hours in realized that things weren't working that day we could
just call it a day & come back. & we always had the freedom
of doing a song & if we felt like it didn't work out we didn't feel
like we'd wasted tons of money & time doing it. so we did a bunch
of stuff & ended up just using what we thought worked the best.
plus being eight tracks it kind of forces you to be economical as far as
how you record things & thinking about things as far as how can we
get this song together with only so many pieces. what did you think
about Songs for a Dead Pilot? how'd you like it?
Mimi -- I liked it just fine.
Alan -- yeah, but describe the experience of recording it.
Mimi -- you already did. it was nice because it was in the basement
& we could come up & get a glass of water or juice whenever we
Alan -- yeah, that was cool.
Mimi -- we could take breaks whenever we wanted.
QRD -- how old were you when you first found out about zombies?
what did you think of them then & what do you think of them now?
Alan -- I remember having a little paperback book, I think it was called
Movie Monsters or something, & there were pictures in there from Dr.
Something on the Island of Zombies or something like that. I kinda
remember looking at that & getting pretty scared. I figured anybody
who was dead & had come back to life probably wasn't someone to mess
with. how old was I? I suppose ten.
Mimi -- I don't know, but I think it was an episode of Super Friends.
the Legion of Doom had all these zombies that were out to get the Super
Friends. & I didn't like them because I liked the Super Friends
Alan -- who didn't?
Mimi -- I know. & what do I think about them now? I
still don't like them.
Alan -- zombies are stupid.
Mimi -- if they would unite for a common good maybe, but they're just
about killing & they can't talk & always hold there arms out straight
ahead of them & what's the point of that?
Alan -- yeah, I mean if you can't talk, you can't organize. so
all they're going to do is run around like Night of the Living Dead &
Return of the Living Dead, that was a great movie with TSOL & Cramps
& stuff like that on the soundtrack.
Mimi -- that was good, don't we have that soundtrack?
Alan -- we have that soundtrack.
Mimi -- we should be playing that in the background. I guess we
should've read the questions first.
QRD -- what's the best record to listen to after someone's just broken
up with you?
Alan -- boy, I don't know, that's a tuffy. we haven't broken up
in a long time. I'd say the last time I broke up with someone was
probably back in 1982 or 1983 & I think I was probably listening to
what's that Tears for Fears song?
Mimi -- "Shout?"
Alan -- "shout, shout, let it all out, these are the things I can do
without, come on." which comes back to the whole thing about not
writing lyrics. what about you? what's a good break up song?
Mimi -- well, of course there's "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do" where Neil
Sedakka tells you all about it. you can't re-live what you just did.
Alan -- it's hard to do.
QRD -- why did you do the remix record & are you pleased with the
Alan -- well, we didn't do the remix record actually. that was
entirely Vernon Yard's idea.
Mimi -- who we haven't been affiliated with in over two years.
Alan -- well they had an idea to do a remix record & we'd been dropped
by them so we were kind of like, "yeah, whatever." cause we'd just
been dropped & it's kind of like breaking up with someone & then
that person coming to you & saying, "I know we're broken up & all,
but remember those pictures of you I took in the park that one day?
well, I'm gonna use it for an art exhibit." & you're kind of
like, "whatever, just, you know, whatever." so you're kind of a part
of it, but kind of not part of it. it's interesting. I think
there's some interesting stuff on there & I think there're some great
artists on there or whatever, but it's just so distanced from us &
we didn't really have as much say in it as people perceive that we do.
it's kind of weird because it says "Low" on it & it's probably the
least involved thing we've ever been involved with it. pleased isn't
necessarily the answer. it's okay, but I have nothing against anybody
who's on there. I think it would've been different if it was totally
up to us.
QRD -- are you ever tempted to rock out?
Alan -- sure. sometimes we kind of let that out whether it's volume
or whatever. we acknowledge a big part of this band is being in control
& being very quiet & trying to delve into things that do not rock
Mimi -- I don't know, do people who rock out ever feel like they need
to slow down & be quiet?
Alan -- The Ramones did "Be True to Your School" or something, some
Mimi -- if you think back to the eighties with all those metal bands.
whenever they did a rock ballad it was inevitably the prom song of that
year & the big radio hit. & that's what we're looking for.
Alan -- yeah, why not have a band that's all prom songs?
Mimi -- the odds if you're doing all slow songs like that, the odds
just have got to be huge that you'll have a radio hit & a prom song.
Alan -- yeah, you never heard the rocking out Cinderella, you always
heard, "nobody's fool, nobody's fool, no fool." & that's a great
song, but you know. like Bon Jovi "Wanted Dead or Alive" is a slow
song. so we're a little flabbergasted at the fact that we're not
all over Mtv & played at every prom.
Mimi -- that we're not on light rock stations throughout america.
Alan -- so maybe we should rock out & then people would take us
Mimi -- then they would take notice of our slow songs.
QRD -- do you have a problem that in clubs your music comes across as
quiet & not as overwhelming as it could be?
Alan -- oh yeah. we knew from the beginning that if we played
clubs it would possibly be very frustrating to some people because they're
more used to something that rocks. usually if we can help it we'll
try to make sure that we're mixed fairly loud so that even though we're
quiet & slow, at least you can hear us. if we're mixed so quiet
that you can't hear us, it's a lot easier for people to ignore us.
it depends, because if people are not into this kind of stuff, there is
no way we're gonna convince them to listen. if you came to listen
then you'll listen & anything we do as far as trying to attract attention
isn't going to necessarily change things in the long run.
QRD -- do you have trouble living the life you want to live while spending
so much time on the road?
Alan -- being in a band kind of opens up some things. like when
we're at home we don't have to work quite as much. because when we're
on the road we're obviously working real hard & when we're at home
it kind of lets up & we have the freedom to do some things that we
enjoy doing, but someone who had a nine to five five days a week kind of
job would not be able to do. are you having trouble living the life
you want to live?
Mimi -- I don't know. touring is a time when it's hard to do anything
else. you think "at home I have this I could do or that." but
obviously you're confined to the van & clubs & what not.
yeah, you can get out & walk a little bit & you can read a lot.
I read four books this last tour. it almost feels like your life
is on hold for that amount of time. especially for us because when
we're at home we've got family here & I've got a sister & she's
got a little baby & you think "gee, I'm missing the things he's doing."
touring is fine & I guess it does accomplish something because it brings
your music to people that would otherwise not hear it. but I guess
basically life is at home for me.
Alan -- yeah, it doesn't seem like on tour time goes forward & that
you're living life as much as "oh, I have to stop life for a little bit
& go do this touring stuff." I mean, we like touring & it
is a big part of what we do, but it is really a surreal existence because
you're not really at home & you're not really gone doing this specific
thing from day to day. there's no timeline of I'll go & do this
thing & then I come home. it's more like you're gone & for
a while you live this whole other life & then you return & pick
up where you left off on the day you left. which is kind of weird.
QRD -- is there anything you feel people should be particularly aware
Alan -- they should be aware of danger. they should be aware of
their own weaknesses & their things that they need to be working on.
they need to be aware of the fact that everything they do effects others.
Mimi -- I can't think of anything.
Alan -- you can't think of anything that anybody should be aware of?
Mimi -- we're not terribly political & we have no platform &
Alan -- I think he might have meant about the band. things people
should be aware of about the band. no, nothing that's not already
Mimi -- don't believe everything you read.
Alan -- especially on that silly computer.
Mimi -- half-truths.
Alan -- I hear that people are not totally truthful.
QRD -- what bands & music if any do you think people should listen
to or respect more?
Alan -- that's a good question, better than saying, "what's your favorite
bands?" I think it's pretty commonly known that the Beatles were
a great influence on pop music & they really did shape the way music
was approached. I don't want to sound too music geeky or whatever,
but there's stuff like the Beach Boys that are really great, especially
Pet Sounds which is a colossal record that you can listen to a million
times & still hear new things in it that you wouldn't have thought
Mimi -- people can listen to whatever they want.
Alan -- there's validity in just about everything out there I guess.
Mimi -- don't eat it up because you hear it on the radio or that type
of thing, think about it.
Alan -- yeah, there're very few things on the radio that have any validity
to them. at least on popular alternative radio.
Mimi -- they have validity, but they're not the end all get all.
chances are they're probably not that original. just seek things
Alan -- look. when Mimi & I were young growing up on the farm
we really had to try hard to find interesting music. you really had
to go out of your way to find a tape by the Sex Pistols or Siouxsie &
the Banshees or Hüsker Du or the Replacements. REM even was
a rarity. music is more rewarding when it's something you have to
work to get & work to understand & usually those are the kinds
of bands that are more satisfying. there's a lot of really great
new stuff coming out lately, but to begin with one would do injustice to
all the others. there's still really great music being made, but
like I said, it's harder to find. don't trust anything that's on
the radio. there is some that's great, but it's the same as it's
to Alan's fx setup
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