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I met Grandaddy during CMJ weekend. They played a show at Irving Plaza. They are in the midst of a tour with Elliot Smith. We met at a sushi restaurant near Union Square.

I met up with the whole band, from Modesto California, plus some people from V2 Records. They have beards. The restaurant was noisy but I got to talk to leader Jason Lytle. I also talked with guitarist Jim Fairchild. They both seemed shy and humble. Other members were present but sat on the opposite side of the table. Kevin Garcia is the bass player, Aaron Burtch plays drums, and Tim Dryden plays keyboards. Their new album is called The Sophtware Slump and it is amazing. When we got our blocks of sushi I had to ask the waitress for a fork for Jason. He wasn't used to the chopsticks.

*****

AL: Did Roots Rock influence you guys?

Jason: I think that our area influences us. The place that we come from, Modesto. It's an agricultural town, primarily. It's a growing town and getting bigger. If you are in a band and wearing makeup and skirts, our friends will kick our ass. Our friends probably want to kick our ass just because we are in a band. They're already close to kicking our asses because we play sensitive fruitcake music in their eyes.

Jim: Because we like wine instead of beer they want to kick our asses.

AL: What were you guys like in high school?

Jason: I was a less informed version of me in High School. It was a place where there was not much to do. There was always some fast food restaurant where you met in the parking lot. There was a lot of keggers in the country. It's similar to Midwestern towns.

AL: You are big on home studio recording. When did you get the idea to buy a bunch of gear?

Jason: It was a gradual process. It was one of those things where it was just something that I became interested in. It was not a quest to make albums. As the band started to solidify more, and as I became comfortable in the songwriting process and recording process, the studio began to develop into something else. Things became more elaborate. Anybody who knows anything about recording knows how ridiculous things can get. It's an never-ending quest for new gear and new tools. It's pretty additive.

AL: So how do you go about the songwriting? Is it a band effort?

Jason: No, I write the songs. Barry Manilow.

AL: What about Barry Manilow?

Jim: He writes the songs.

AL: Oh, I thought that he was a secret influence. So it's fascistic. One guy writes the songs and tells everyone what to do. He tells everyone to wear levis.

Jason: Not really. I suppose that we could wear suits but we would feel real stupid. We are very fortunate. Instead of spending time strategizing what to wear, we actually spend a lot of time hanging out together as a band. When we go anywhere, people ask us, "Are you brothers?" It's just that we have spent so much time together, that we have adopted each other's speech and habits and manners. It's a result of spending ridiculous amounts of time together.

AL: You guys have known each other for fifteen years?

Jim: It varies from band member to band member. Some eight years and others fifteen years.

AL: Since you have known each other so long, are you more likely to rub one another the wrong way or get under each other's skin? Is there someone in the band who tells a lot of jokes?

Jason: The funniest stuff is probably stuff that goes unsaid. We have a lot of shared experiences that can be evoked with a certain look.

AL: You have released records on independent labels before like Will Records. Did you feel that you had less freedom with the new album?

Jason: Most of the pressure was more self-imposed. People might think that there are restraints with jumping up to a major label, but that didn't exist for us. V2 was very good about it. They said, "Do what you got to do." There has to be a compulsion going on, a work towards something, just in order for us to say this is interesting and still worth it. We would start feeling weird if there was this big chunk of time where there was nothing going on. We were glad to work towards something and not blow all this money on booze.

AL: Is The Sophtware Slump a concept album?

Jason: It could be if you wanted it to be. It wasn't the intent in making the album. There was more intent on making it a pretty valid album. The results of trying to do that are the results of the album.

AL: There's a focus on technology.

Jim: There's a focus on nature too.

AL: Apocalypse?

Jason: It was what's going on. It was an attempt to make something current and valid, and somewhat representative of what was going on around me and what I was seeing at the time.

AL: You mentioned Blade Runner before. Do films or books influence you?

Jason: I'm blown away. Just from a regular person perspective, seeing how all these developments are slowly being integrated. Things that were introduced in a Sci-fi film ten years ago are no big deal now. People just walk around accepting these things that were cutting edge. These things are constantly happening and getting recycled. In the past few years I have been into adventure narratives and historic expeditions. People who are dedicated authors and who happen to be really good writers.

Jim: I've been trying to read more. On tour you can just turn off what you are seeing. You get told where to go and what to do. I've been trying to stay more engaged.

AL: Do you worry about trying to reproduce or recreate these songs live, since you spent so much time in the studio and probably weren't too concerned with the live show?

Jason: There's always that concern. I always get frustrated when I find it becomes a hindrance. I want the song to go like this and then think how are we going to pull that off. It's a challenge to map it all out then make it work. But this should be a challenge. Any live variation from the recording is healthy and a good thing. We have been playing opening slots for Elliot Smith so the show is more concise. When we play headlining shows we play material from all the albums.

AL: Are there any bands that you played with this year that you liked?

Jim: That's made this year much better, the fact that we played with great bands like Elliot Smith and The Flaming Lips.

Jason: The Radar Brothers and Home. I'm going to make an ass of myself with these chopsticks. I was going to keep this soup spoon.

AL: (to waiter) Can we have a fork?

Jason: I'm not above using my hands.

AL: What are you thinking about before you go onstage?

Jason: The whole before show regimen involves not trying to drink so much. Our nerves are rattled. The idea that we have to stand up before a lot of people. I try to keep in my own head-space and close my eyes and most of the time I'm in denial of what is actually happening. I try to concentrate on the song.

AL: What are you thinking about when you are onstage?

Jim: Sex. Don't fuck up.

AL: "Hey, that girl in the fourth row looks good!"

Jim: Hopefully you get to this place where you are an active bystander of what is happening onstage. I usually watch our drummer play and am not too conscious of what I am playing.

Jason: Sometimes I forget about the whole audience factor. How much lift or how inspiring we can be. Sometimes an audience will be really into it in a way that does really affect the show. The transition into the next song where there's a excitement bubble. Sometimes I forget about that. You don't expect it, but when it's there, you are aware of it.

AL: Any few words of advice for the Grandaddy fans?

Jim: Mickey from Ween told me, "Always play with your friends."

Jason: Get into it for the right reasons. If you plan on making a bunch of crap, just get a job at a show store, or something. It should be about creativity.

*****

Website: http://www.grandaddylandscape.com/

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