THE INTERVIEW: Mock Orange
Mock Orange’s new and seventh album, Captain Love is one of 2008’s best. The band is a secret that you want to keep in your back pocket. Their name is like a password to music snobs, myself included. Although their sound has changed almost as much as their labels have, the musical evolution has made for very interesting listening. Their last album, Mind is Not a Brain (2004) was loved by both critics and fans. Here you find that they transition deeper into the melodic indie-rock sound. “Song in D” is already a fan favorite off the record, “Majestic Raincoat” would be mine. Every track lauds the next and Ryan Grisham’s falsetto is effectual and compliments the poetic lowery lyrics, along with the rest of the band’s solid sound. Mock Orange’s guitarist, Joe Asher, talked with me about Captain Love and music today.
Does everyone still live in Evansville Indiana?
Yes, for better or worse we are all here. I’m downtown, Zach and
Ryan are on the north side and Heath is an east-sider.
Do you guys still cover “Hyper Enough” by Superchunk on stage?
How on earth do you know about that? No we don’t. We haven’t played a cover in years but that was definitely a good one. Do you think anyone would know what it was if we played it? I loved that one.
How do you feel about your cult following? Seriously, after receiving this album several of my friends had a long debate about which album reigns supreme, Mind is Not a Brain or The Record Play. They haven’t dropped it yet.
I feel great about whatever following we have. Personally, I like MINB and Captain Love the most. I’m also very excited about the new material thats swirling about although we are in debate about what to do with it.
I heard about Play, the kid friendly compilation CD. That’s a mighty cool project, how did you get involved with it?
Kim Coletta, who runs Desoto Records asked us if we wanted to do it. I assume she heard about us through J. Robbins, who produced two of our releases. They were in Jawbox together. Of course we agreed to do it immediately even though we had no idea what we were going to do.
I know you did a song about healthy eating, did you choose that topic or was it given to you?
We chose it. None of us have kids, so I guess that’s kind of the layman’s default topic for children. Also, the lyrics were fun and easy to write. I like broccoli.
How do you feel about the music scene now as opposed to when you first came into it?
I’m not sure how I feel about it. I don’t find myself listening overwhelmingly to new acts. I would almost rather listen to Sergio Leone or Ennio Morricone soundtracks than whatever the current hot band is. That being said there is a lot of amazing stuff going on right now and I don’t remember there being such wild array of crazy jive going on when I was younger. That could be because I wasnt looking for it…it could be file-sharing making it really easy for everyone to get their jive out there, I don’t know. I feel like it’s on a parallel arc: everything has gotten so much easier for everyone that it has made it harder for everyone. Does that make sense?
In what ways would you say that Captain Love is different from your previous albums?
It’s more song-driven. It’s all about the melody. It’s quirkier and poppier. It’s got chops but it’s not ABOUT chops.
Who did the album art? It’s really fantastic.
Kathleen Lolley from Louisville. www. kathleenlolley. com. Yes, it is.
Lyrically I think this record is brilliant, it’s dark and sublime. Did you all collaborate on that?
No, the lyrics are all Ryan. I love what he does. If he gets stuck, I might try to help him out but he never listens to my ideas anymore. He is the singer and the lyrics have to come from him or he doesn’t feel right singing them.
As musicians and people you evolve with time, how do you go about incorporating those individual experiences in your music?
Well I think our personal evolution shows up naturally in our music. That explains the musical evolution between albums. Three years pass and you might be a completely different person, or at least in a different place in your life and if you write an album, it is going to sound different from the album you wrote three years ago. If not, I think you’re stuck. A knock on us sometimes is that we just need to pick a style and stick with it. I think that’s boring.
I know you have a U.S tour coming up, any plans to tour abroad?
I’m sure we will go back to Japan after the next release. We have a UK and a German label pushing Captain Love so as soon as the dollar rebounds a bit, I’m sure we will head back over to Europe.