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Author Topic: amanda interviews jason webley  (Read 6516 times)

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Amanda Palmer

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amanda interviews jason webley
« on: May 09, 2008, 03:00:12 AM »




Burning houses, dying fish and other silver linings.

A short interview between Jason Webley and Amanda Palmer of the Dresden Dolls


AP: Your new record is called "The Cost of Living" and features artwork of a house that bears a striking resemblance to your own house on fire.  There's also some burning homes threaded in the lyrics.  Are you grappling with some issues here, Jason?

JW: Yeah.  The burning home idea actually came about semi-unconsciously.  Last summer, a friend of mine in El Paso showed me the artwork she had made for a metal record - a doll house with flames coming out of it. The image stuck and seemed to resonate the songs, so I stole the idea.

But it is my house.  I made the model on the cover out of leftover pieces of wood from the little houseboat where I live.  The fire and the water are actually stained glass windows.  When I was a kid, my parents built stained glass windows together professionally, so they helped me design and build them.

I'm not really answering the question though...  why are there burning houses in my lyrics, why is there a picture of my house on fire on the cover?  I guess, in my life there is always a bit of a sense of panic, a feeling that maybe I am really missing the boat about where I should be putting my energy and attention.  And that while I am scampering around the world touring and writing songs and answering e-mails, something very important is burning down somewhere.

Also, very literally it has just been a hard couple years.  A few very close friends have died, one of whom was very close to my sense of what home means.  And in the weeks while I was finishing this album, right after he helped me cut the glass for the cover, my father became very ill.  He is doing well now, but while I was finalizing the the mixes and the artwork, there was a strong chance he wouldn't live.

AP: When I describe you to people I often find myself comparing you to Leonard Cohen and Tom Waits. " They Just Want" reminds me of the simple yet profound lyrics that Cohen pens.  Do comparisons like this drive you crazy or can you take it as a compliment?

Yeah, I remember one of the first times I ever went out on the street and performed, I was in Chicago and this amazing old black street singer came and yelled at me for being on his turf.  He softened a lot when I responded politely, and then he said "kid, you've got a hell of a voice, who are you, the bastard son of Tom Waits?"  I hardly knew Tom Waits' work back then, but I knew he was cool and I was really flattered.  But a couple years later I had heard comments like that a hundred times.  And yeah, it kinda drove me crazy.  Sure.  But now it doesn't come up as often.  I don't know if I sound different, or if people are just politely avoiding the topic, or what.

People don't mention Leonard Cohen nearly as often, and I am usually happy when they do.  When he is at his best there is some kind of miracle that happens in his songs.  Every now and again he finds a simple combination of words, so familiar that they are almost a cliche, but somehow you've never heard anything quite like them, and they open a door in you and you see something in a way you never had before.  I love that.  The first time I ever heard "Suzanne" and really listened to the words, I was just stunned that a song could do something like that.

AP: There's a lot of darkness on this record and in your songs in general... but there's also more of a silver lining in some of these songs than in your older stuff.  I find the same thing happening with my music, and sometimes its very self-conscious because I don't want to hang out in the pits of gloom and doom as much as I used to.  Do you find yourself writing in that direction deliberately?

JW: That's funny, because I feel like this album is maybe my darkest.  Or at least, I am not as conscious of the silver linings as I have been with my older ones.  With the old material I would definitely plant some sort of optimism in almost every song very specifically.  Lines like "maybe the world isn't dying, maybe she's heavy with child" or just the title "Dance While the Sky Crashes Down" are very explicit examples of that.

But these new songs feel different to me.  Most of them are just my responses to some rather difficult goings on in my life and in the world.  If they are optimistic, it isn't through any kind of force on my part.  In fact, when I was close to done with this record, I remember listening to it and thinking,  damn, this is an album that never smiles at you even once.

But it is interesting that the songs somehow sound less gloomy to you.  It is good to hear actually.  I'd really like to think that in the end all of my music is somehow optimistic.  I feel like right now it is very fashionable to have lyrics are kind of, I don't know, nihilistic.  Almost anti-life.  I don't want to be a part of that.  I'd like my songs to be pro-life.  (laughs)


AP: What's with the fish?

JW: Have you ever seen salmon spawn?  It is really intense, and kind of ugly.  All of these fish, their bodies already falling apart, beginning to decompose even before they die, pushing and fighting their way upstream.  There's something so poetic about how these creatures that are born in little streams, go out and live in the oceans for years and then when they are old and falling apart they return or try to return to these places where they were born.

I remember the first time I saw them.  I was walking in the woods and I crossed this little footbridge, and looked down and saw them.  Dying fish flailing around among dead fish.  It was really shocking to me, and somehow deeply sad.  I remember looking down at them, trapped in this visceral struggle, and just thinking "fuck."  And wondering who was on the bridge about me looking down at me and thinking the same thing.

Metaphors like this can often feel cheesy or clumsy, but I really is something huge here.  In my mind I feel like the salmon help me understand somehow all of our involvement in the middle east.  Baghdad and Jerusalem aren't just random cities in the desert.  They are the places where our Western cultures evolved from.  All three of the major Western religions, modern concepts of agriculture and just the basic idea of what a city is, all of these things come from the Fertile Crescent.  We learn about it in school, but we don't really connect the idea with modern geography.  Baghdad is right there between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.  Western Culture is totally going back to its mother, and it is going back there violently.  I don't think it is right, but I do think there is a terrifying poetry to it.

I think similarly in my own life, probably in everyone's, there is some kind of constant pull back to our roots.  In ways we don't really understand.  Like the salmon - I don't think they consciously know that they are going back to where they were born or that their struggle is noble and is perpetuating their species.  I think they just know that they are doing this thing, and it is hard as hell and really sucks.  They don't see the bigger picture, and I don't think we do either.

So anyway, yeah... that's why there are fish.\





"the cost of living" is available now at www.jasonwebley.com

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melodi

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Re: amanda interviews jason webley
« Reply #1 on: May 09, 2008, 04:44:55 AM »

Yay. Thanks for the interview!

And more importantly, thanks for introducing Jason Webley to us Dolls fans.
He really is amazing and if it wasn't for the Dolls I probably would never had heard of him.
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JennieJ

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Re: amanda interviews jason webley
« Reply #2 on: May 09, 2008, 07:26:19 AM »

Oddly enough, I heard Jason Webley before the Dolls. The fact that you folks are all interconnected just makes it all that much cooler.  My sister had put some of his songs on our annual Christmas compilation, and Jeff ended up going to see him play and getting ALL of his albums.  He went on and on about how much he liked him.  Oblivious me was like "That's nice sweetie".  Like so many things, the full impact isn't there until you SEE the artist, and I think this holds very true for Webley. He has a similar je ne sais quoit to the Dolls that way. The music is good on it's own, but there is a magic that happens with live music that sets it apart.
 
As for this album, I'm in love with a few of these songs in particular.. the entire album is great, but "Almost time" makes me cry EVERY FUCKING TIME I listen to it.  It's a beautiful and insightful album. I ended up buying 3 of them for various family members and such.
Yup love this guy. ... oh, and the interviewer aint too shabby either :)

Musings

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Re: amanda interviews jason webley
« Reply #3 on: May 09, 2008, 08:03:22 AM »

I love the fish exchange.

The first section there is very reminescent of a part of Herman Hesse's Siddhartha, a favorite book of mine. 

Boy needs to contribute to one of our threads on consciousness and religion and meaning of life and everything.  He's so eloquent; it makes me appreciative and jealous at the same time.


I am currently trying to decide which Jason Webley CD to buy as my first... any suggestions from anyone?  I think right now I'm torn because what I've heard of the latest CD is so beautiful, but lacking some of the same sheer fun of some of the other CDs...

Oh, to have pots of gold.
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Re: amanda interviews jason webley
« Reply #4 on: May 09, 2008, 08:12:39 AM »

They are pretty cheap. I say get a couple.

Kenny Wisdom

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Re: amanda interviews jason webley
« Reply #5 on: May 09, 2008, 08:50:38 AM »

^ Ha, I read that out of context to the post above Jennie, and I was  :o at first. Then it made sense!  :buck2:

Musings, Counterpoint is a beautiful album. Not least for It's Not Time to Go Yet, amongst the eclectic mix on there.

I first heard this just when I found out my mum had secondary cancer. It remains a difficult, but beautifully crafted song:

There's cancer in the air,
Think I've never been so scared,
Of the cold metal numbness in my chest,
Don't go to sleep,
Stay beside me while I weep,
Or I don't think I'll make it through this test.
If you still see me,
Please don't leave me,
Alone with the devils in my head.
Push, stretch,
This night into morning,
'Cause it's not time to go yet,
No it's not time to go yet.



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Re: amanda interviews jason webley
« Reply #6 on: May 09, 2008, 09:17:28 AM »

Tom Robbins wrote something very similar about the meaning of Jerusalem in Skinny Legs and All.

Herman Hesse, in Siddhartha (paraphrasing, if I don't have it exactly right): "The river teaches us that everything returns."

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Re: amanda interviews jason webley
« Reply #7 on: May 09, 2008, 11:07:16 AM »

They are pretty cheap. I say get a couple.

Dude, student here, and soon to be fully cut off from the parentals (or at least try to declare independence and then try not fail miserably).  I mean, my budget tends to be books --> music --> movies --> food, as it is, but I do need to eat sometime.

(If I didn't want to buy some other CDs, including No, Virginia and the new Death Cab, plus go to some concerts, plus save some traveling money, I would totally agree with you, and buy a set).

Kenny, thanks for for the advice.  I shall think further upon this dilemma.
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Re: amanda interviews jason webley
« Reply #8 on: May 09, 2008, 02:04:16 PM »

Thanks Amanda, two artists interviewing each other is like a lesbian couple having sex.

ha ha.


I have to tell you that when I came to Chile I ordered (through jason's website) "the cost of living" but I sent it to Mexico, so now I am waiting to come back and listen it, actually, when I came to mexico this items be waiting in my house:

1. No, Virginia by that queer band i don't remember their name...
2. The Cost of Living by Sir Jason Webley
3. Cabin Fever by Rasputina (Can you believe that I didn't have this album?)
4. Lots of magazines of art and design.
5. A Rasputina's Show poster I ordered through amazon.
6. My parents and all my beloved people.!!

Shit, this turn out so me... i love the interview, i haven't met Jason in person, but he seems to be very possitive and a very passional person, I found the relation Jason-Amanda so deep-emotional, god put them in the same fucking place one day of their lifes and they match it so great, I think that if amanda's arms has a name, the right arm would be "brian" and the left arm would be "jason", i don't know nothing about amanda's personal life but at least as a singer they are her arms. jajaja (i loved that amanda laughed like mexican in her last blog).

What i found in both (jason-amanda, or if you want... jamanda) is the constantly concience about the fact that life can change (and change you) in just a minut, i think i am like them, too... (fuck.. this would be so me, again!) but its true, now that i have been in Santiago de Chile, I started to miss all the fuckin things I didn't miss when I as in Mexico.... family, friends, places....

returning to Jamanda, I am happy they just match (i don't know the english word to describe this) at the fuckin same point of the time, and I am happy i did too with them !!!

Can you imagine if you were borned at 1523? or 1867?
Which people you've would met? (i don't know if this is a right question, but i was trying to say that you are a fucking blessed boy or girl or emosexual who has the fuckin luck to match in the same time with jason, amanda, brian, or even me)


i love y'all.


ps. amanda marry me.
ps. jason marry me.
ps. hello billh. how are you?
ps. no more ps.


h.
Santiago de Chile, 9 de Mayo de 2008.


 
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virtual~mary

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Re: amanda interviews jason webley
« Reply #9 on: May 12, 2008, 05:56:17 PM »

i attended my first jason webley show last year in one of this town's smelliest music dives. a mix of homespun nostalgia and be-sure-to-check-your-barstool-before-you-sit kinda place.

a devoted throng awaited his set while stand-offish regulars lingered uncomfortably in back. there was no denying the poignant and boisterous magic he made. you either entered in willingly or looked longingly at what you brushed off, perhaps too quickly.

he was shy and funny offstage. i bought all his discs. i hope he comes back (and brings the twins with him).


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Re: amanda interviews jason webley
« Reply #10 on: May 15, 2008, 03:35:39 AM »

wonderful interview  :love5:

ooh and if anyone could help, i lent one of my friends against the night, cause she wasnt familiar with jason's work, but now i have told another friend who isnt familiar with him i will lend them an album! I'm not quite sure which one to lend him as my other friend has against the night... (i have all of them by the way!)
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Re: amanda interviews jason webley
« Reply #11 on: May 15, 2008, 05:27:17 AM »

wonderful interview  :love5:

ooh and if anyone could help, i lent one of my friends against the night, cause she wasnt familiar with jason's work, but now i have told another friend who isnt familiar with him i will lend them an album! I'm not quite sure which one to lend him as my other friend has against the night... (i have all of them by the way!)

Try Counterpoint or Cost Of Living. They are my two favourites at the moment...
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Re: amanda interviews jason webley
« Reply #12 on: May 15, 2008, 09:55:16 AM »

Quote
Metaphors like this can often feel cheesy or clumsy, but I really is something huge here.

Grammatical error or missing words?

Sorry, I'm a journalist!

Great interview though. I think it's a good idea when two artists talk to each other instead of a journalist who isn't necessarily a fan of the artist.
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Re: amanda interviews jason webley
« Reply #13 on: May 15, 2008, 07:28:55 PM »

Yay. Thanks for the interview!

And more importantly, thanks for introducing Jason Webley to us Dolls fans.
He really is amazing and if it wasn't for the Dolls I probably would never had heard of him.

ditto!

that was a great interview Amanda, thanks for sharing it with us.
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Re: amanda interviews jason webley
« Reply #14 on: May 16, 2008, 09:39:39 PM »

wonderful interview  :love5:

ooh and if anyone could help, i lent one of my friends against the night, cause she wasnt familiar with jason's work, but now i have told another friend who isnt familiar with him i will lend them an album! I'm not quite sure which one to lend him as my other friend has against the night... (i have all of them by the way!)

Try Counterpoint or Cost Of Living. They are my two favourites at the moment...

oh they are awesome indeed! but for some reason if i feel if i lend someone cost of living i should make them listen to his first album aswell. i'm not completely sure why, maybe to show that his albums werent always so polished. not that i have a problem with it being polished, i think its an amazing album, but i dunno yeah hard to explain lol. anywho my other friend returned against the night so i shall lend that!
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