Monday, November 19, 2007

Robbers on High Street

SonicRyan and I are sitting at La Parilla with Robbers on High Street. I'm beginning to feel like the protagonist of Almost Famous, that dopey kid whose attempts at interviewing fictional rockers Stillwater are forever rebuffed. Midway through dinner I'd already asked the band if they would like to "try my pancake" (you can see it on my plate there!), followed by spoonfeeding sessions and generally pleased receptions (though no one took my suggestion to order the rice bowl).

It wasn't that they were avoiding an interview. It had never been the right time. A few Maker's Marks and Stellas later and the stories were flowing, albeit off the record: Morgan stealing his girlfriend's skinny jeans, Ben stuffing Steve in his locker in 8th grade (it sounds cliché, but there are genuine hard feelings here), proclamations that Robbers were, in fact, "the gayest non-gay band EVER." (At one point later in the evening, Steve was laying his head on Ben's shoulder, and drummer Mikey was playing with Steve's hair. If only I'd been quicker on the draw with the old Panasonic.) As dinner came to a close, Steve asked Ryan and I, "Do you really still need an interview?"

Of course, we all know the canned stuff is important for, you know, posterity. So we set those guys down in the dark basement of the Jackpot Saloon and demanded our interview. What we should have asked them: How's the tour going? Who are your influences? What's it like enduring those constant comparisons to Spoon/the Strokes? What we asked them: What's your favorite pie?

Who came up with the album cover for Grand Animals?

Ben: My girlfriend's pretty crafty. We were going to latchhook a rug that said "Robbers on High Street," but she'd still be making it. So we had this idea to make this really gaudy and ornate photo, so she needle pointed our portraits.

Do you still have them?

Ben: Yeah, they're in my closet.

Does it creep you out having your faces on a pillow like that?

Ben: Well, that's why they're in my closet. I couldn't look at them after a while.

You guys are on James Iha's label Scratchie Records. Are you Smashing Pumpkins fans?

Steve: I actually don't like the Smashing Pumpkins at all.
Ben: I can take them or leave them.
Morgan: I like Gish.
Steve: I just can't take Billy Corgan.

Have you talked to James Iha about Zeitgeist?

Ben: He's definitely salty I'm sure. I don't think he gives a shit.

Since you're from Poughkeepsie, we were wondering if you were fans of the Devendra Banhart song of the same name.

Ben: I think I listened to it on ITunes. It doesn't have anything to do with Poughkeepsie. There is an Evan Dando song about Poughkeepsie, too.

You're nearing the end of your current tour. What are your plans for the break?

Steve: I'm going to have a baby. This is the first interview that I've said that in.

A Range Life exclusive! Do you have a name picked out?

Steve: Benjamina. I had a dream the other night that the baby was born and when I went to look at it, it was a little Ben. No, we're thinking Stella or Sophie.

Stella like the beer? (He'd been drinking Stella Artois earlier.)

Steve: That's how she was conceived.

(Editor's note: During the interview, Blonde Redhead's 23 plays upstairs. Steve reveals that Morgan played French horn on the track "SW." We asked Morgan how he got hooked up with the band.)

Morgan: We shared a practice space, and I just kinda bumped into them. I was just carrying a French horn at the time, and they're like, "You play that?" And I was like, "Yeah, a little bit." So they called me up and said they had some ideas for horns.

With Thanksgiving coming up, we have to ask. What's your favorite pie?

Ben: Strawberry rhubarb.
Steve: It's a toss-up between kiwi lime and boysenberry.
Morgan: "Pies of Passion"... Just listen to Michelangelo.

Stay tuned for live pics/video from the Robbers' Lawrence show.


james iha said...

this is one of the best interviews ever. great job. even though this guy steven is an asshole.

Femme Fatale said...

James Iha commented on our blog! As I expected, he sounds pretty salty.

SonicRyan said...

An asshole and a drunk.

Yee-ha for Iha!