INTERVIEW: Jamie Stewart talks about Xiu Xiu’s upcoming Louisville show (7/2) and more!

Photo by Dan Bleckle

On Wednesday, July 2nd, I turn 31 years old. No thanks, I don’t need a birthday present, because Xiu Xiu and Swans are playing in Louisville at The New Vintage the same day. ON MY BIRTHDAY. I’ve never seen either of the two bands, but have been a fan of both for quite some time.  Both bands are touring in support of excellent new records, with Swans promoting To Be Kind, and Xiu Xiu Angel Guts: Red Classroom.  Doors open at 8PM, and the show will start soon after.  Oh, and this event is SOLD OUT, so good luck finding a ticket, slacker!

To make things even better for not only myself, but you also, Xiu Xiu front man Jamie Stewart was gracious enough to spend some time with us answering a few questions about their upcoming show in Louisville, their new album Angel Guts: Red Classroom, and more…

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Never Nervous: To me, Xiu Xiu has always been a tough, genre-bending band to describe to friends, coworkers and/or family. How would you describe your music to someone that has never heard it?

Jamie Stewart: Well usually I would try to dodge the subject as talking to coworkers or family about my stupid band is an embarrassing pain in the ass, but if it is unavoidable I say it sounds like a giant worm eating a preschool.

NN: How did you approach Angel Guts: Red Classroom differently than you have with albums in the past?

JS: We were much more conscious than we ever had been about the process and parameters for Angel Guts: Red Classroom. In the past any instrument we could get our hands on could be part of the palate, the more the better. for AG:RC it was to only be vocals, analog synth, analog drum machine, drum set and tubular bells.

As well the influences of the last three or four records were pretty wide, very few restrictions. With this one we only dug into Suicide, Neubauten, Nico, Scott Walker and Kraftwerk.  The writing process was more sound based than harmonically based.  We would make a horrible sound and write the song around that rather than writing a melody or chord change and then finding horrible sounds to fit within it.

NN: My friend Jason (who is a Xiu Xiu super-fan) thinks that The Air Force is your best album. He wants to know, do you have a favorite Xiu Xiu album?

JS: Please tell him thank you! I do have two favorites but I feel funny saying as I feel like the other records will be jealous (imagine this whispered into your ear).  Fag Patrol and Angel Guts: Red Classroom are my favorites, but I am equally proud to have been a part of the all of them.

NN: You collaborated with HORSE the Band in 2009 on their spectacular song “Shapeshift.” How did that happen? Because I fucking love that song!

JS: Oh, funny that you heard that. Erik from HORSE asked me to produced their record but my studio is too small for them and they could not afford me to come out and do the whole thing with an engineer. I just worked on it for like a week. The main guy that ended up producing seemed not super happy to have me there, which I understand, so I spent most of the time in a little side room with a bullshit lap top set up making dumb sounds I think they probably never used, but then at the end they asked me to sing on that song. Which was a pleasure. Way out of my usual sphere of influences.

NN: Would you ever consider a side project where your voice would be featured in a more traditional, conventional setting? Maybe just you and an acoustic guitar? Or will you only and always perform as part of Xiu Xiu?

JS: Funny you should mention that, I have been wondering about if I should change the name to pursue other sounds, but our publicist said to fuck it and just do whatever I wanted under Xiu Xiu. He sited a few bands who I love who have been around for a long time and their willingness to go in many directions under the same name.

NN: What records have been blowing you away the last few months?

JS: Mostly I have been deep into all of Elaine Radigue‘s records reissued on Important and anything by James Tenney and Alvin Lucier. (A theme of almost nothing happening)

NN: I collect spores, molds and fungus. Do you have any non-music related hobbies?

JS: Bird watching.

NN: If I were going to cook dinner for the two of us, what food would you request? And what movie would we watch?

JS: Watermelon and we would watch a documentary about watermelon.

NN: Should folks in Louisville expect anything different from your current tour than in years passed?

JS: For this tour with Swans I am doing a piece of death drone music called “extinction meditation” that will become part of a collaboration with Merzbow. no vocals. Very slow, sonically violent and loud.

For more information on this show, click here. Listen to the new Xiu Xiu record “Angel Guts: Red Classroom” on Spotify here.