Pterodactyl Session - November 2011

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This Session
Violitionist Sessions

Session Date: November 17, 2011
Posting Date: November 21, 2011
Artist Hometown: Brooklyn, NY
Links:, Tumblr, Jagjaguwar
Recorded by: Michael Briggs

The Hole Night
ONE: Do you see your new record Spills Out as a change of direction for you?
Joe Kremer: Yeah. I mean, it’s not a change of direction in that everything that we’ve done has kind of been in different directions, or at least we’d like to think that.
Duncan: We’re always going in different directions.
Joe: Yeah, we’re always kind of wandering all over the place. So, in that case, it seems like it was the next logical step, but I think the differences between this record and the last one and the one before that just kind of represent differences in priorities for us as guys writing songs. These types of themes, like chord progressions and more classic song structures were interesting to us to pursue in a way that other things were interesting to pursue in the past.
TWO: You recently had a successful Kickstarter campaign to fund the music video for your song “School Glue.” What do you think of Kickstarter and can you tell us a little about the concept of the video?
Matt Marlin: I think that Kickstarter is a great idea. I’m really happy that it worked out for this project.
Joe: It’s a little stressful.
Matt: It is a little stressful. I realize in retrospect that probably part of most people’s experience is that you raise the majority of your funds in the last 24 hours…maybe not the majority, but like half of the funds were raised in the last 48 hours or so, and that was pretty stressful because it felt like…you know, we had a lot of stuff going on. We were working on the video itself while we were trying to raise the money, so it was stressful, but it worked out well in the end.
Joe: And it’s hard to be…I mean, essentially you’re asking your friends and family to give money to you so that you can do what you feel like doing. I asked old coworkers and things, and most of them were really generous and enthusiastic about the project, but some of them, I could tell were like, “You want me to give you money to do what? I have to buy food for my children, and you’re galavanting around the country doing all kinds of wacky things!”
Matt: You have to make sure that you only do it once. You don’t want to be like, “Can I have money for this video? And this video? And this video? And this album? And this tour?” We had to decide that this was going to be the cause to rally around, because it was the biggest project attached to the release of the record that we had going.
Joe: But the video itself was a real success. I mean, thanks to the Kickstarter and thanks to a lot of hours of work. Matt directed it.
Matt: I did.
Joe: He did a fantastic job.
Matt: Joe did all of the art direction and—
Duncan: Some acting.
Matt: Yeah, we all did some acting.
Joe: A little bit of eye acting, some mouth acting…
Matt: In another life, I think we should have been silent comedy actors or something.
Duncan: Really bad ones.
Joe: Yeah, bad ones. But yeah, it was a funny combination of a bunch of different skills, some of which we knew we had as Matt’s been doing video stuff for a while, but other things we really didn’t know what we were getting into. The whole thing was shot on a homemade green screen, and a lot of the shots involved like eight…a bunch of different pieces that have to be put together afterwards with the computer.
Matt: Composited.
Joe: We didn’t realize how painstaking that was going to be, or how challenging it is to work on something when you can’t actually see the final product until it’s actually done. There’s no looking through the viewfinder of the camera and saying, “Yeah, this shot looks good!”
Matt: Joe had the idea for the video in the first place. He was like, “Have you seen the beginning of Superman 1? It’s really weird! It’s this really weird scene with Marlon Brando and these three prisoners, and we could be the prisoners, and that would be the video.” And it was like, “Done. That sounds great. That sounds really weird and achievable!”
Joe: It sounded simple.
Matt: It sounded simple at the time. It was like, “Yeah, we’ll be in the hoops, and as long as we figure out how to make the hoops, we’ll be in the clear!” Joe figured out how to make the hoops, and then we realized this whole issue with the green screen, and shooting all of our friends faces and getting them to appear to be twenty feet tall on the wall…it was just a big learning process of how to tackle a project of that size. It was a good experience.
THREE: What cities are the most and least receptive to your music?
Joe: Our stuff is kind of weird, kind of “sensitive” at times, and it’s like, when we play in Cleveland, I often see dudes sitting out there being like, “What the fuck? These guys…” Especially because a lot of people in Cleveland were fans, big fans, of the first record, which I wouldn’t say is really angry, but can be interpreted that way just because it’s loud and high-energy.
Matt: Abrasive.
Joe: So, whenever we’ve taken a turn away from that, people have felt betrayed. But, we’ve had a really great reception in places like San Francisco, in Austin, actually in small, small towns like Binghamton…
Duncan: Lawrence was a good show.
Matt: Ithaca, Jamestown, all of these small towns. It’s just sort of unpredictable, I guess. We’ve had a tough go of the Midwest this time in a way, but I feel like we have yet to hit our sweet spots like Texas— well, we’re here now, and then moving West I think it’s going to be on the up and up. We tend to do well in Canada, too, in Montreal and Toronto, so we’re looking forward to that as well.
Joe: The last time we went to Europe we had some really huge success. I mean, not huge, but just some satisfying successes in places like Vienna or Berlin where people are out there to see something totally different, and we can provide that.
MB: In places where people feel betrayed because your music has changed, how do you react to that, or do you care?
Joe: It’s hard not to care, but it also feels like I get kind of defensive, because it’s like, “What? This is my music just as much as it is yours! Or perhaps even more so!” So, you are free to listen to that record whenever you want to, but don’t get pissed off at me for not staying in that zone for my whole life!
Matt: We had a funny experience in Cleveland. There’s a track called “Polio” which was the opening track on the first record, and some people kind of got attached to that as an identity for the band. We still play that song, and we played it thinking that we’re going to play one of the old ones for this kind of scene, and someone who knew us from the past came up to me afterwards and was like, “Was that a mellow version of ‘Polio’ I heard you guys playing?” And I was like, “Yeah, it was ‘Polio.’ We didn’t try to make it mellow, but I guess it sounded that way.”
Joe: I guess it was the ‘over-thirty’ version of “Polio” or something.
Matt: Yeah, we’re over thirty and playing “Polio” so…yeah. I probably play it too well now. I smoked and drank back when I started playing that song. I would pass out, I was in such bad shape. I looked like I was exerting myself a lot more.
Joe: Now you just look like you’re drinking a cup of tea while you’re playing it.
Matt: Yeah, now I have one hand tied behind my back, and I’m drinking coffee with the other hand—
Joe: And you’re drumming with your teeth.
Matt: Yeah, drumming with my teeth.
Duncan: And you’re killing it. It’s amazing.
Matt: Yeah, I’m totally wailing.