Monday, August 14, 2006

Interview with The Envy Corps

Oh, New York. The Envy Corps is here. And they have brought grand music along with them. Who are they? Well, sit down for this little tale.

This indie quartet created a small sensation in the Midwest even before the release of their debut EP I Will Write You Letters If You Tell Me To. As show attendance grew from a few on-lookers to sing-a-long crowds, The Envy Corps established themselves as a band to be known. At least in their neck of the woods. In an effort to expand upon their homegrown success, Iowa's finest found a working van and made their way to New York City. With them, the band has brought along a desire to make their mark outside of their home state, a witty way with lyrics and chords, and an insatiable appetite for glossy magazines and canolis.

Before the band's arrival in the city, I had the chance to conduct a phone interview the Luke and Brandon of The Envy Corps. They let me give alternative (i.e., faulty) interpretations of song lyrics, ask nonsensical questions, and pry into the daily life of musicians. Basically, they humored me. The following interview is between Luke, Brandon, and me. Since I'm an interivew novice, it was much too difficult to note who was responding to specific questions. So, consider Luke and Brandon to be an uber-entity. It works. Trust me.

You guys are making the big trip to New York. Have you been here before?
We were there a while ago, but that was only once. In some ways this is the first time, but in other ways it's not.

Are you nervous about playing for a New York audience. We can be a little tough. We stand and stare a lot.
(Laughs) I've heard about that. I guess maybe a little. I guess we're more nervous about how we'll be received. In New York, there's a lot to chose from, so people can be picky. Bands have to prove themselves. We're also not that glamorous. We don't have a "thing" that we do, you know? We're not, like, all decked out like The Strokes. Hopefully, New York will be fine with that.

Not all bands in New York wear catchy outfits. Some bands are pretty dirty.
Oh yeah, we're sure! (Laughs) We like The Strokes, and dirty bands, too! We just don't have a thing that we do, other than play really good music. Hopefully, people will realize how we are able to play different types of music. That not all of our songs sound the same. I think that's boring. When you listen to a band, but every song they play could potentially be the same song.

That's what I like about your EP. The songs change in tone, but it shows how versatile you are.
Yeah, we're versatile. People really like songs like "Rhinemaidens" or "Story Problem." But the songs that I'm most proud of are probably the songs that are not the dancey songs that most people like. We can do fun, poppy dance songs, but we can also do some other substantive stuff.

I've read some reviews of your EPs, and you get compared to British bands a lot. Bands like Coldplay and...
New Coldplay or old Coldplay? We like old Coldplay. New Coldplay is pretty awful. (Laughs)

True. Very true. But it's not so bad to be compared to old Coldplay, even if you don't really sound like them.
Yeah. We like Coldplay and other British bands, too. But I think we do our own thing, we don't sound like them. But that's what people do. They compare you to other bands so that people can get some sort of idea of what you sound like... Even if they are wrong! (Laughs) Did I mention that we like Coldplay?

You like Coldplay, and I read on your myspace page that you also like baked goods. What's that about?
(Laughs) I don't know! Yes, I do. People just started bringing them. I don't know...

What should the people of New York bring to your show?
Well, since we're in New York, we really should get some canolis. Like, real homemade canolis. Or carrot cake.

Would you like the carrot cake to have the fancy cream cheese frosting carrots on top?
They do that? Oh, yeah they do! That would be great. I like the cream cheese frosting.

Anything with cream cheese frosting?
No, definitely carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. And canolis. We usually end up sharing these baked goods with people after a while. You know what would be great? If one day we just started a big food fight at one of our shows. Then people would be like, "Hey, remember that Envy Corps show we went to and there was that big food fight? That was great..." (Laughs)

You don't need fancy costumes like The Strokes if you have food fights.
That's very true.

I'm not the only person who asks you strange questions, am I?
No, people ask us some funny stuff. (Laughs) People like to ask about the Chinese twins in the band. I'm like, Chinese twins? What Chinese twins? Oh, you mean Scott and David? They're not twins, and they're definitely not Chinese! Don't ask us about the Chinese twins. We don't have any.

They are not Chinese. They are not twins.
Exacutly. Discuss.

So, when you're not "being a band," what are you up to?
(Lots of laughter)

Am I allowed to ask that question?
Oh, yes. You're allowed to ask. Well, we do lots of things. One of us works at a video rental store. Like a Blockbuster. Another... well, I own a janitorial business. (Laughs) It's very glamourous.

Do you get to tour a lot since you have "day jobs?"
We definitely do not tour as much as we want to. Touring is what makes all of this very real to us. But it's hard because we all have jobs and you can't just take off for a few weeks to play some shows. Plus, we do everything by ourselves.

You record and distribute your EPs on your own?
Yeah. We're not signed to a label, so we have to do everything on our own. That takes a lot of time.

How did the recording of Love Letters come about?
It took a long time. We were recording whenver we had time. It would be, like, "Hey, you want to come over and lay down the guitar track?" There was no deadline, so we just kept reworking songs and doing things over and over. But then, more and more people started coming to our shows, and people really wanted an album from us. That was good because it really pushed us to finish the EP and get something out. After people starting asking for music, the EP came together pretty quickly.

Well, I'm glad the EP came out because, honestly, it's one of the best EPs I've heard. You really deserve any and all attention you receive.
Thanks. Thanks a lot.

* * * * *
If you're lucky enough to be around New York, take some time to check out The Envy Corps during one of their two remaining shows.

Tuesday, August 15: Cross-Pollination @ Pianos
Wednesday, August 16: Sin-e

The Envy Corps: Rhinemaidens
Visit the band's myspace page to stream more music and befriend them. You can become BFF without bribing them with baked goods.


Blogger Jesse E said...

I had the pleasure of seeing this band about two years ago, in a small venue that no more is, with a small crowd no more than 10. Such a great performance, I really recommend their EP. The energy filled that entire little room in Beavercreek and I knew they'd eventually emerge someday. Glad to see I was right.

9:07 PM  
Anonymous tin121 said...

Have I missed out so many popular bands lately? I am not so familiar with them. Maybe I should check their site and learn more about this band. Funny, I have nothing to say about them.

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