We can think of no greater sign of our enduring love for The Vacant Lots than the fact that what you see below marks the third time that the band has been interviewed by this very (and very ridiculous) website.
And while the first two of these interviews were directly related to the band’s two appearances at Austin Psych Fest, the short volley of questions we proudly present to you today is directly related to two other things near and dear to our heart: music and the written word.
Persisting with the love of the written word may seem to be something of a folly in this modern age, but then, “the highest form of bliss is living with a certain degree of folly,” said Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus.
And we know that because we once read it in a book. Or maybe we heard it in a song.
So then: as a music website that has for three years running persisted in listing our ten top pieces of reading material, along with being fortunate enough to present interviews with a handful of authors that we greatly admire – all to the detriment of our radically declining hit-count …
… We could not feel more fortunate than to have one member of The Vacant Lots – Jared – present us with a list of ten books that have recently made an impression of him, while the other – Brian – presents us a list of ten songs that he’s currently digging. And we couldn’t be more fortunate than to have the opportunity to share these things with you. Enjoy.
What does the relationship between books and music represent to you, personally? Do you think of them as two sides of the same coin (or, if you prefer, two sides of a multi-sided die) or as separate entities by definition? What prompted you to compile this list of ten songs and ten books?
Jared: The lyrics have always been important to me. I like when a line contains ambiguity – that way the listener can interpret their own meaning. I didn’t pick up a guitar until I was 18, so all I had then were books and my own writing. In that sense, the writing has always come first. I’m also attracted to how different forms of art interconnect. And how one form draws from another. You can get as much inspiration for a song idea from books and films as you can from records. As for the list idea, it was really simple. It’s a way to inspire other people by sharing what we are into at the moment. I wrote down some of the books I have read this year and Brian has given some songs he likes.
If you could have one musician that you admire try their hand toward writing a book, who would it be and why? If you could have one author try their hand at recording an album, who would it be and why?
Jared: I would like to see Tom Verlaine write a book. Even something autobiographical or about Television. Or Sonic Boom. Sonic’s emails always take on this kind of experimental poetry form. I think if Pete wrote a book, it would be as interesting in content as it would be visually. There is a lot of uncertainty and myth that surrounds Television and Spacemen 3. Reading the story through the lens of both of those artists would be interesting, I think. I would have liked to hear what Rimbaud could have done with sound. Most writers before the turn of the century would have only been able to work with what they knew, which was classical. What he did for poetry was incomparable. I wonder if he would have produced a similar effect with music.
We’ve recently become somewhat obsessed with The Vacant Lots’ contribution to the “Psych For Sore Eyes” compilation EP, with your absolutely amphetamine-fueled song, “6 AM.” What can you tell us about the origin of this song?
Brian: We were rehearsing, trying to incorporate some new electronic elements, and there was one beat I started that got Jared going on what became the driving “6 AM” riff. We jammed on it for a half hour or so and all the lyrics were written by the time we finished.
A big Vacant Lots fan, we’re certain, Rainer Maria Rilke said the following:
“Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depth of your heart; confess to yourself you would have to die if you were forbidden to write.”
Jared: It’s interesting that you pulled that phrase. In fact, that line in “Letters To A Young Poet” where Rilke asks, “Must I write?” produced a profound effect on me when I was figuring out what I wanted to do with my life. It made me realize I didn’t need to be in college in order to make art, so I dropped out.
What’s next for The Vacant Lots?
Brian: Putting out our debut LP, more touring, planning for Euro/UK shows, more singles, a documentary on the band by Bret Zausmer, productivity, speed and intensity.
TEN SONGS by Brian
- No sleep runs this deep … Nick Cave – “Tupelo.”
- Sweet release … Stereolab – “OLV26.”
- That’s all folks … Mag & The Suspects – “Thousands Dead.”
- Trem … Barbara and The Browns – “To Know I Can’t Touch.”
- Hearing through a nudie ear … Young Marble Giants – “Choci Loni.”
- One-man groove … Henri Texier – “Les La-Bas.'”
- Hear that beat callin’ … The Gories – “Stranded.”
- Fond … Fire Engines – “Discord (Version).”
- Crazy looks good on you … Daniel Johnston – “Walking The Cow.”
- Leaving me for the love a stranger … The Supremes – “Shake Me, Wake Me.”
TEN BOOKS by Jared
- Sam Harris – “The End of Faith“
- Lawrence Krauss – “A Universe From Nothing“
- Jerry Stahl – “Bad Sex on Speed“
- Christopher Hitchens – “Mortality“
- Richard Hell – “I Dreamed I Was A Clean Tramp“
- Steven Weinberg – “The First 3 Minutes“
- Jim Thompson – “After Dark, My Sweet“
- Victor Stenger – “God: The Failed Hypothesis“
- Arthur Rimbaud – “Illuminations (translated by John Ashbery)“
- Nate Silver – “The Signal And The Noise“