Monday, December 26, 2005

Come Interview

interview with Thalia Zedek & Chris Brokaw
@T.T. the Bears, Cambridge, MA (circa 1997)
photo & text by Dan Cohoon
Come was a Boston based band. It featured Thalia Zedek & Chris Brokaw. When I interviewed them in the winter of 1997, they were a band in a state of evolution. Their original rhythm section left a year before the interview. They had gigged around with folks from Rodan & Gastr Del Sol. They had left the full on rock behind, for the time being and were doing their songs in a quieter setting. The interview was conducted in the back room of T.T. the Bears in Cambridge, MA. We talked during sound check so we were shouting over the bands warming up in the next room for most of the interview.

Thalia Zedeck @ T.T. the Bears (Cambridge, MA)
Photo: Dan Cohoon
Posted by Picasa
Dan Cohoon: What is up with the new line up?
Chris Brokaw: Well the new line up is just our current touring line up. It is me and Thalia playing guitar, Beth Heinberg playing keyboards & Nancy Asch playing percussion (both of whom played on Near Life Experience). We have been doing sporadic touring over the last couple of months with this line up, the west coast, the east coast and a little bit of the mid-west. We are just reworking a lot of our stuff in a quieter setting. I don’t necessarily think of it as the new line up of the band. It has been fun and real easy to do. I think we want to try playing loud and electric again some time real soon. This is what we are doing now.

DC: Is Come basically you two and who ever you are playing with?
Thalia Zedek: It is pretty much me and Chris. Beth and the keyboard player have played on a couple of different versions. She was playing when we were playing with Tara and Kevin (ed. of Rodan fame) this summer. Hopefully, there will be people who we will work with again and again. Right now, we are working with people that are free on songs and doing it on that basis.
DC: I really like the quieter stuff on your older material. This style also seems to be a focus of what you are working on currently. Is there a reason why you have moved to a quieter sound?
TZ: It is something we are doing right now. I think on the new record we will do some of this stuff. I really like the way it sounds. We kind of just started doing it ‘cause this engineer we were working with—Wally Gagel. Just for the fun of it, we were doing mixes of one of the songs “Hurricane” with just piano, violin vocals tambourine, and slide guitar at the end. He did it when we were in the other room watching T.V. or something. When we took it home, we were like, “Wow, what is this?”

We thought it sounded good. The bass player and the drummer were with us from Louisville. They had to go back down to Louisville. We wanted to keep doing shows. We started asking Beth to start playing along with us & Nancy too.

DC: These people you are playing with now, were they involved in any bands or other projects before this?
TZ: Yeah, both Beth and Nancy were in a band called Q-Set….
CB: They were both in….
TZ & CB: Adult Children of Heterosexuals.
TZ: Nancy was in a band called Pop Smear…God what else?
CB: Nancy played on the Uzi record.
TZ: She played percussion on that.

DC: Where do you see your band going?
CB: Since we have been touring with this configuration and just talking with different people and getting different people’s reactions….I love to have a band that could do real quiet ballads and loud assault-ive rock.

DC: Who were your biggest influences?
CB: Of all time? Stones, Charles Mingus, and Al Green.
TZ: Who?
CB: Al Green.
TZ: I thought you said Howe Green.
TZ & CB: Howe who?
TZ: Probably The Birthday Party...They were a really big influence on me. Subsequently, The Bad Seeds. Both those bands were doing stuff totally different than what anyone else was doing. They sort of opened up a whole new sound as far as rock bands playing…
CB: I’ll go with that too.

DC: What kind of music did you listen to when you were growing up?
TZ: I listened to the radio a lot. I don’t think until I was 13 or 14 I bought my own records. I listened to what ever my brother had around, which I didn’t really like very much. He was into…
CB & TZ: Gentle Giant
TZ: Griffin and shit like that…
CB: (laughs)
TZ: I think I got a Bob Dylan record from the library. I don’t think I really got into listening to records until like Patti Smith. When the whole punk thing happened is when I started buying records. I listened to what ever was on the radio. I was really into the N.Y. Dolls. I think I bought Bungle In The Jungle and Jethro Tull and shit like that. I wasn’t a really big record buyer.

DC: What about you?
CB: Pretty similar…I listened to A.M. radio a lot in New York. I am told that my favorite record was the soundtrack to Mary Poppins. That was the first album that I was massively into. I can’t remember now. That was at the age of two and three. I got really into punk rock when I was 12 or 13, when it all started to happen. I used to go see a lot or really good rock bands in New York: Heartbreakers, Suicide, The Bush Tetras, The Dead Boys, Voidoids and stuff like that. Then I got into all this stuff like Jimmi Hendrix, Hot Tuna & The Doors. All the people in high school were into 60’s rock.

Chris Brokaw @ T.T. the Bears (Cambridge, MA)
Photo: Dan Cohoon Posted by Picasa
DC: Why did you choose Boston as the area you live in?
CB: I grew up in New York. I went to school in Ohio, and when I finished school I wanted to be on the east coast. I was kind of burned out on New York. I had been here only twice before and it seemed fun so I moved here.
TZ: I moved up here to go to school, but that only lasted a couple of months. There was a real good music scene when I moved up here. I grew up in D.C. In that area, there wasn’t really anything happening there. I was kind of in some bands in high school. When I moved up here, I started playing with people kind of right away. I just stuck around.

DC: Plus 18+ shows.
TZ: Actually, I was lucky…. I moved up here before they changed the law to 21. So I was all ready in. If you were all ready legal they didn’t take it away.
CB: Oh really?
TZ: I think a year after I moved here, I moved here when I was 17 or 18, I think the next year or six months later, it’s when they moved the drinking age up to 21. So I was already in…
CB: You were in.

DC: That is good.
TZ: Yeah (laughs)

DC: How do you go about writing a song?
TZ: Sometimes either one of us will write more or less a complete song, sorta brings it to the other. We’ll each get together and bring in little doo-dads we are working on and just play until it turns into a song.

DC: Are you actively involved in the recording process?
TZ: Yeah we usually co-produce it. We have people who know what they are doing in the studio. But also we always kind of have the last say. A lot of producers are like, “You played the music. Now it is my job. Go away!” We are definitely not into that. On the other hand it is good to have a more objective person.
CB: We are always there for the mixing 99% of the time. If there is different instrumentation, it is stuff we thought of.

DC: Do you record on analog tape? Is that important to you?
TZ: I prefer to do it that way. I am not into the whole thing of how things are recorded. If the record is good, it does not make much of a difference. There are factors that are a lot more important than that. But that is definitely our first choice.
CB: We haven’t done it any other way. So I don’t even know the pros and cons. We take those things into consideration, like on the Near Life Experience album. We recorded…there is a way of recording where you can run the tape machine at 15 i.p.s. or 30 i.p.s. (which is basically how much tape gets used). I guess the slandered is 30, if you record at 15, you get more time on the tape. There are pros and cons to it. The main con is more tape hiss, but you get more low end. We chose to go with that.
TZ: The main reason we did that was to save money; that was a big reason. It saves a lot of money. That’s what definitely what piqued our interest. We recorded with Steve, and he had done it that way. We could do a whole album on one reel of tape as opposed to like four. We asked people about it. They told us what the difference in the sound was. We thought it would work out good. At least that is why I did it.
CB: I did it for the low end….

Thalia Zedek
Thalia Fan Site
Chris Brokaw
Matador Records
Kimchee Records
Thrill Jockey