Archive interview: Will Oldham (Palace Brothers), 1993

  • 0

The Palace Brothers first visit to Ireland at the end of 1993 was a brief but busy affair, as they crammed in three shows in Dublin, plus one each in Cork and Belfast. To put things in context, they had released some great music that year - the debut album 'There Is No-One What Will Take Care of You' and the masterpiece single 'Ohio River Boat Song'. The line-up at the time included the ever present Will Oldham as well as ex-Slint (and future Tortoise, Royal Trux, Papa M) guitarist Dave Pajo. It's also worth bearing in mind that Oldham is one of the most awkward interviewees I've ever come across. Clearly he has no time for the publicity machine which drives the music industry, and back then I found him a bit childish and annoying, although I subsequently heard about his background as a method actor and it makes a bit more sense. Maybe he was just playing with us. Here's the interview then.....

- Will Oldham, the central figure in the Palace Brothers set up is clearly a man only interested in writing and performing his music. The peripheral elements of the music business have no interest for him, and who can blame him? We met up after his band's brilliant gig in Queen's Student Union Speakeasy. He's a notoriously difficult interviewee, he prefers to ignore questions and talk on random subjects instead. Bizarrely, psychoanalysis rears its head first.

Will: "If you want to talk about the songs we're going to need to talk pyschoanalysis. Do people do that still? Are there still Freudian analysts? I would love to set that Freud guy down for about a month and just talk things over."
- He's kind of discredited now though, a lot of his theories don't hold much sway anymore.
W: "You mean he's disbarred? He doesn't practice anymore?"
- Erm, he's actually dead, he died in the 1930s, I think.
W: "Oh never mind, I'll just go and see another analyst I guess."

- Do you think acoustic music is a reaction to more hi-tech stuff?
W: "It's more economical. It's much cheaper to record like that. You can buy a four track recorder and an acoustic guitar, or you can go into an expensive studio. The album ("There is No-one...") was done on 8-track really cheaply, although the next releases have been on 16 track. With the line-up changes the songs always have different people playing on each one - the line-up changes on virtually every song. Although tonight's line-up bears little resemblance to the records, that gig tonight is as hard as we rock!"

- Tonight's gig was free and there were some puzzled jocks behind me who were booing.
W: "They were booing! Would you recognise them if you saw them again? If they had any balls they would have come down the front and faced us. That's one of the drawbacks of having a free gig. They're probably students anyway, they're living the high life - it's Disneyland in high school."

- How has your music been received generally on this Irish tour?
W: "Cork and Dublin were really good, Cork was wild, it was like America! We didn't go on til after midnight. There were people listening to the music and dancing - they weren't just there for late drinking."

- What about America? Is it is easy to get your type of music heard?
W: "The advantage of Britain is that it is much more concentrated, in America it's quite hard to get anything out of your own area. There are some worthwhile outlets - fanzines like 'Forced Exposure' have been going for a while - it would have things like tour diaries from Thurston Moore and Steve Albini - it's a real Homestead ghetto."

- Were you involved with any of those musicians before the Palace Brothers?
W: "I was around, on the edge of things, in Louisville Kentucky." (trivial fact: check the credits on Slint's 'Spiderland' - Will took the cover photo!)

Talk returns to tonight's events and Will learns of a few parties and 'a dance' (he's playing with us again I think- that's a disco to you and I) going on downstairs. He seems surprised at the level of activity in Belfast which is at odds to what he has heard from recent news reports. If my memory is correct, this gig took place a few days after the Shankill Road bomb, so things are actually rather subdued. Having said that, the Palace Brothers played for ages and got a great reception - most of the first album and a few yet to be released songs. They are pretty special, and they certainly don't pander to the whims of the press.

interview by Jonathan Greer (modified from Weedbus issue 6, early 1994)

No comments:

Post a Comment