Interview by Monte Holman
About five years after his inaugural solo release, Sam Prekop gives us the follow—up, Who’s Your New Professor (Thrill Jockey), an album that charms and puts a jazzy pop spin on post—rock. Prekop, formerly of Shrimp Boat and currently of the Sea and Cake, has a lot of critical acclaim to live up to. His self—titled first solo album was praised by just about everyone, and other projects he touches-his paintings and photos have received a lot of attention as well-turn to gold. But the pressure of this acclaim seems to have fueled Prekop rather than paralyzed him. Proof: Who’s Your New Professor is among his best work.
Simultaneously channeling the Sea and Cake’s fluidity while exploring subtler abrasiveness, Professor expands preexisting notions of Prekop’s songwriting. He surprises us with mini—movements that change forms effortlessly and manage to qualify as pop songs. The percussion on the album slices through catchy melodies like a Ginsu, so fine it’s practically unnoticeable. Prekop’s warm, graceful vocals finish the songs with a dollop of sophistication.
Before embarking on an extended early summer tour (see dates after the jump) to support his new solo album throughout Europe and the States, Sam was kind enough to speak with us about Chicago, the new album, and the Meat Puppets.
FREEwilliamsburg: You grew up in Chicago and are there still. How would you characterize Chicago right now? Is there a sense of community or competition, both?
I have to admit I feel somewhat out of the loop at this point. Of course I know a lot of people who are musicians and artists, and I don’t sense any intense competitive energy [laughs] coming from them. Now the bands that are starting up—it could be ferociously competitive—I have no idea. I’ve been here so long making music and art that I don’t pay an enormous amount of time to what else is going on. I mean I go and see shows, and I live right above Thrill Jockey, so I’m pretty knowledgeable of whatever is coming out on Thrill Jockey. That’s sort of my community. But Chicago’s really big, so there’s no way I could provide any grand scope on what’s really going on here.
FREEwilliamsburg: Do you think you’ll ever leave?
I could see someday leaving, I guess, but as long as I’m making music I’ll probably stay here because I need the system here to get things going, to play with other people that live here, the clubs, the label, all that stuff.
FREEwilliamsburg: Did you have everyone from the first solo album contribute to this one?
Pretty much, except Jim O’Rourke played on the first one and produced it-he was the only one missing.
FREEwilliamsburg: And John McEntire produced Who’s Your New Professor?