Listen :: The Refrain
MIA: Musically, how did the band form, what past experiences do you carry with you?
CHARLIE: I knew each of the members of Extra Life from their deeply impressive work with various other bands. We all run in the same circles. Extra Life, in its full quintet incarnation, I put together as a compositional expansion of solo performances I was doing about a year ago. It was a codification and fleshing out of loose song structures I was working with. At After the Jump and for the summer months, I’ll be performing duo with the violinist Caley Monahon-Ward. This will be a re-loosening and re-stripping down of the same songs, torn up and splayed back out, but informed by the very tight quintet versions we’ve been playing for a year.
As for past experiences… Of course the music carries my history as a musician, all the music I’ve loved. The lyrics certainly carry the history of my life experiences and “inner narrative”… But it’s important to realize that, even though I write the music, Extra Life could not exist without the community of musicians from which it sprung. The band is a result of this particular time and place, of marinating in the particular viscous and savory vibes which have pooled in this particular corner of the scene.
MIA: Describe the feeling of living and making music in New York, feel free to share a memory or a certain place (bar, restaurant, record store) that makes you feel like home.
CHARLIE: I can’t compare the experience of music making in NY to any other town because I’ve lived here all my life. However I wouldn’t say my home where I grew up feels most like home… There are certain venues which feel home-like, Silent Barn and Zebulon in particular.
MIA: How does the band like to get ready for a live show? Is there a favorite song that you enjoy to perform live?
CHARLIE: Before a show, we usually do a little huddle where we talk down each piece we’re going to play, reminding ourselves of various performance issues, things to think about while playing. I sing scales to warm up my voice, and I do stretches for my forearms and shoulders. My favorite song to perform is “Pay Up”, a newer one which isn’t on our record. It is loud and intense without being too technically demanding on the guitar, so I get to focus completely on singing and emanating.
MIA: What are your recommended records so far of ‘08?
CHARLIE: I don’t check out a ton of brand new music, indie or otherwise, but I can tell you definitely to check out Nat Baldwin’s new record “Most Valuable Player”. It is absolutely gorgeous. Nat is a totally original singer, contrabassist and songwriter, and an old friend of mine. Also the Dead Science have a new record coming out later in the year called “Villainaire” and it is just outrageously hot.
MIA: Name a visual artist or piece of work that inspires you.
CHARLIE: I don’t check out visual art as much as I would like to. I used to love Egon Schiele a lot, the sick and fragile bodies. I also really like Medieval art, where the rendering of perspective isn’t really hooked up yet and everything looks flat. I think we are returning to that kind of two-dimensional world. I also like Byzantine art with all the gold.
MIA: Please share a mixtape with a theme of your choice.