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Peter Cortner (Part 4)

Peter Cortner today
5 February 2009

Continued from part 3

This 4th and final segment (the lengthiest one so far) covers all sort of territory, from Peter’s long-standing love of THE CHAMELEONS, ECHO AND THE BUNNYMEN and CHEAP TRICK, more about DAG NASTY and LOS VAMPIROS and finally concludes with his thoughts on his new project, THE GERUNDS and some other recent music.

Just to go back to where you grew up, you mentioned that you grew up in Silver Spring (Maryland). My aunt and uncle have lived there for past 23 years now, so I was curious what part of Silver Spring you grew up in and you mentioned Greek and Lebanese neighbors before as well, so I was curious what the ethnic makeup of it at that time was as well.

PETER CORTNER: The area I lived in is sort of between downtown and Tacoma Park. I don’t think I would recognize Silver Spring now.

Have you been there recently?

PETER CORTNER: Yeah.

Did you know that in the downtown area they were gonna build this humungous indoor mall, but there was a lot of resistance from the neighbors and what they ended up doing was putting in an outdoor mall that’s walkable and they didn’t end up having to use eminent domain to take over anyone’s property. Plus, there’s a lot less traffic than there would be otherwise. I’m not crazy about malls and chain stores, but I think this was a much better idea, all things considered. Also, there are a few smaller chains there that are exclusive to the DC area, like Cake Love. The only other one is in on U Street in DC itself, though there’s supposed to be a 3rd one opening in Arlington, VA soon.

PETER CORTNER: The Silver Theater, which is where I used to go to as a kid, is now…

Is that the one that shows indie films and classics now? I think it’s owned by IFC or Sundance.

PETER CORTNER: So Silver Spring was a blend of upper middle-class and working class and it was a very integrated area and at the time it meant that I went to school with a lot of Spanish kids, a fair amount of Asian kids, a lot of African-American kids and that was the norm and people pretty much get along. In fact, I sort of grew up with this idea of racial harmony that was completely informed by growing up in Silver Spring and wasn’t prepared for the reality of the rest of the United States or the world, for that matter, even now. Maybe it’s a couple years ago now, there was some discussion of a blog by a guy who was talking about race relations in America and how the moment had truly come where blacks and whites had reached common ground and a lot of people kinda disagreed with him. One of the things that struck me was that this guy grew up in Silver Spring and I don’t think that he’s that much younger than I am, but I thought “yeah that’s where that comes from”. He grew up in this intensely integrated place, but the other thing I realized was that growing up in Silver Spring; I thought what I considered to be this great racial harmony was really a whole bunch of people from different backgrounds who had essentially directly blended into the prevailing white culture. So I could say “we’re all just alike” because everyone was trying to be just like all the white kids, for the most part. There wasn’t much expression of any other kind of culture, so I think right then and there for a white guy like myself who wasn’t thinking of my culture being imposed on someone else to say “oh no we’re all just exactly the same” so it was a little eye-opening to move from Silver Spring.

Totally changing gears here, I remember reading a fanzine interview with COLIN SEARS at some point in the early to mid ‘90s. I don’t remember the name of the fanzine, but what I remember is that this was years before I started listening to The Chameleons or reading The Big Takeover, but I specifically him remember mentioning The Chameleons’ name and he mentioned that you had gotten him into it. Was this a result of reading The Big Takeover?

PETER CORTNER: No. I heard The Chameleons…

(laughing) You didn’t think you were gonna get that one, did you?

PETER CORTNER: Well actually I was thinking Big Takeover; there’s gotta be a mention of The Chameleons at some point. We already covered Bad Religion. And I’ll repeat “Bad Religion” (laughs) so that the potential for it being printed is higher. We’ve also covered The Undertones. GUIDED BY VOICES. BELLE AND SEBASTIAN.

You also have to mention ROGUE WAVE and DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE and you’re set. OK never mind because I just did (laughing).

PETER CORTNER: Yeah I heard the Chameleons’ 1st single “In Shreds” and around the time of their 1st album Script of the Bridge they came to DC and played at the 9 30 Club when it was not much bigger than where we are right now. IT wasn’t a big crowd, but not enthusiastic. I had the poor judgment to be the only stage diver at their show and completely flattened some poor girl who was in front of me and I know I did during “In Shreds”.

Well at least it’s a good song to do it to.

PETER CORTNER: Indeed.

Either that one or their cover of ALTERNATIVE TV’s “Splitting in Two”.

PETER CORTNER: They didn’t do that when I saw him.

They did it the one time I saw them (at Maxwells in 2002). Did you see them then?

PETER CORTNER: No. I haven’t seen them since.

It was amazing.

PETER CORTNER: It has to be have been.

Half of the audience was cheering, stomping along, singing all the words to every song.

PETER CORTNER: It’s like when you saw The Undertones. Could there have been a more supportive crowd? The band could’ve disappeared and we could’ve BEEN The Undertones for one night.

OK let’s do “Mars Bars” now. (laughing)

PETER CORTNER: So I think that seeing The Chameleons would be a similar experience. It was just like ecstasy, every song they would play it would be like finally I’m hearing it whether you’d heard it before or not. Fantastic band. To this day, I’m still impressed with them. We were talking earlier about INTERPOL, bands like EDITORS.

I’ve heard that Interpol’s bass player is a huge Chameleons fan.

PETER CORTNER: But neither of those bands sounds enough like The Chameleons.

Well they sound more like Echo and the Bunnymen to my ears, if anyone.

PETER CORTNER: I’m not sure that’s a good thing and I really like the Bunnymen.

Me too, especially the 1st 4 albums.

PETER CORTNER: I’m also a big fan of the NOEL BURKE era (1990’s Reverberation).

That’s not a bad record! I haven’t heard in 17 years but I don’t reme er it being that bad. I remember it being kinda Madchester-influenced. It’s not bad, though not really The Bunnymen.

PETER CORTNER: I think in some ways it sounds a little bit like The Damned in a really weird way. From what I understand, they did not intend to be The Bunnymen.

They shouldn’t have called it that then. Initially when IAN MCCULLOCH and WILL SERGEANT got back together a few years after that, they called it ELECTRAFIXION, so if they would’ve called something else, that record would’ve gotten a warmer reception.

PETER CORTNER: Did I hear that they wanted to be called Reverberation.

It certainly wouldn’t have been a bad name.

PETER CORTNER: I saw them play in Philadelphia with Noel Burke.

How was that?

PETER CORTNER: Amazing. It was absolutely wonderful. He was so engaging, a great, great front man. I keep going to see Echo and the Bunnymen every time they come to town.

I saw them once. It was at Irving Plaza in New York during the summer of 2001. They were awful. And they were awful because Ian couldn’t hit the notes anymore and because I realized when I was watching that show that the rhythm section and in particular LES PATTINSON was really sorely missed. Watching Will Sergeant do his thing was amazing, though, he’s still great, but he was standing there at the side of the stage with all of his pedals, but the rhythm section was this totally generic. It was like watching a Bunnymen cover band.

PETER CORTNER: That bothered me too. Was that the set where they did a lot of older stuff?

Yeah they did do a lot of older stuff that night, so the set list wasn’t the problem. I remmber they closed with “Ocean Rain” and they did “The Back of Love,” “Villiers Terrace” and others.

PETER CORTNER: They did “Show of Strength,” “All That Jazz”. I either saw them on that tour or the year before or on that tour and the year after and what really bothered me was that it was the exact same show. That rhythm section is a tape recording when you see them.

I’m glad I’m not the only one who thinks so.

PETER CORTNER: They’ve been doing it for so many years now. Can they be a band now instead of an Echo and the Bunnymen cover band?

I’ll say this much, though. They did all of Ocean Rain from start to finish at Radio City Music Hall recently and I heard that it was really good.

PETER CORTNER: I heard that it was wonderful.

I would’ve really loved to be at that. I still have my doubts about how good it actually would’ve been, though. I think people’s ears are covered by nostalgia.

PETER CORTNER: When people talk about it, I don’t hear so much about the music, but rather the moment where Ian McCulloch waived to the image of PETE DEFREITAS) on the screen behind him and I’m sure that it was very moving. If I would’ve been up there, I would’ve gone.

Oh yeah, if I still lived there, absolutely.

PETER CORTNER: I’ll go see the Bunnymen again. They’re one of those bands that I’ll go see every time they come through, Cheap Trick included. The last time I saw Cheap Trick, it was kind of a snooze fest.

My friend said that the last time he saw Cheap Trick in the last few years, it was similar.

PETER CORTNER: I saw them when Dream Police came out, so seeing Cheap Trick when you were still in high school and on a date was just the most fantastic experience imaginable.

I can only imagine. It must’ve been like a real life version of that scene in Fast Times at Ridgemont High where he’s trying to scalp those tickets. “I Want You to Want Me”, “the dream police, ta da da da da” (laughing).

PETER CORTNER: They decided to come to Philadelphia for 3 nights, one night each for each of their 1st 3 records.

I missed those.

PETER CORTNER: You didn’t miss anything.

It was bad?

PETER CORTNER: I’m just kidding. It was fantastic.

Which one did you go see?

PETER CORTNER: The one for the first album. That’s the one I absolutely had to see.

I would go for In Color.

PETER CORTNER: I’ve got videotapes of all 3. They’re absolutely great. That’s what they should be. What a smart thing to do. Just go out and do all your best material and everything they played in addition was still great… no “The Flame”.

Well the first time I saw them, they did play “Ghost Town” from the Lap of Luxury record and it wasn’t bad. It was more of like a stripped-down version. It wasn’t a great show by any means , though, and it was about a year or two before those shows you described earlier.

PETER CORTNER: I did introduce Colin to The Chameleons and I don’t think it was when we were in Dag Nasty. I think it was around the time when we were doing Los Vampiros. I probably introduced them to him in the context of one of many highly derivative songs on that record that were just essentially attempts to sound like other bands.

So which is the Chameleons song?

PETER CORTNER: “My Unlucky Day”.

The last song, the 8 and a half minute one?

PETER CORTNER: Well the song itself isn’t 8 and a half minutes. What happened was that it’s one of those ridiculous bonus track things where the song itself is pretty still too long at 4 minutes and there are a number of minutes of silence and then there’s another ridiculous version of “When I Move”.

I know that Colin is a bigger fan of that version of “When I Move” as opposed to the original one? I certainly don’t feel that way at all.

PETER CORTNER: The Los Vampiros version is the way the song was written, so for Colin and I that was fun because that was a song that he and I came up with for Wig Out.

I remember reading in that same fanzine interview where he said “we finally got that acoustic song right” and I’m thinking to myself “what was wrong with it before”?

PETER CORTNER: Colin and I wrote this song and we tried to present it to Brian and Doug with me playing it on guitar. And that song, talk about being derivative, that song came about after endless listens to “Re-Ignition” by BAD BRAINS; it was that start/stop type sound. So that was me and Colin trying to write a Bad Brains song. So what happened is that when we recorded Wig Out, Brian said “forget it, we don’t wanna have anything to do with that song”. Then when we were done recording everything else they said “well this is a pretty short record” so then I said “well why don’t we do that other song” and Brian said “OK how does it go”. I showed it to him on an acoustic guitar and he said “why don’t we just do it as an acoustic song”? It will be our sensitive emo song. I said OK, so that’s what we did. I think of all my really horribly off-key moments in the band, that is just a showcase for being off-key.

I’ve never noticed that since some of my favorite singer of all-time, like MICK JONES or EXENE CERVENKA, always sing off-key.

PETER CORTNER: I think that what I’ve learned is that if you sing off-key and that’s just what you do, you have to work with that and let it be part of what you do instead of trying not to. I always thought that Brian’s guitar was out-of-tune on that song, so that always bothered me. One of the things that has been a simultaneous plus and minus about Wig Out is that IAN MACKAYE’s approach to production, I’m pretty sure even now but definitely at that time was that he was gonna record you the way you really sound. Things aren’t gonna be fixed in the mix unless they’re just out-and-out mistakes and things aren’t gonna be re-recorded and your vocals aren’t gonna be enhanced in any ways to cover up any flaws. So we went in, here we’ve got a band, the guitar for which really has a great deal of effects. Brian uses a lot of delay and a lot of chorus and the assumption was that the vocals would be affected the same way so that maybe you wouldn’t notice how frequently this guy fails to hit the note he has in mind. Ian wasn’t having any of that, so the vocals are really dry and mistakes were not corrected. No one said “sing that line again”.

Sometimes the most interesting things are mistakes, especially if you hear it a million times and you don’t even realize that they’re mistakes.

PETER CORTNER: There are days where I really like that record and the reason that I like is that Ian presented it just as it was and in that way it’s fantastic. But then at other times I listen to it and think “Good Lord, we really should’ve done this again”, especially having played those songs live so many times. For the most part, I think the songs on that record that are my favorites actually sound the way they should like on that record and then the songs that aren’t my favorites aren’t songs I really care that much for anyway. “Simple Minds”. Why were we doing a hardcore song? I thought we’d sort of learned our lesson at that point.

I think Wig Out is a transition record where you’re going from the hardcore of the past to something more melodic and very different later. I love it. I’m not trying to knock it because a lot of times that description is code for “the one before and the one after is better”.

PETER CORTNER: I know what you mean, but I think that the moments on that record that work are the ones that really are true to what Wig Out sounds like and not “we better throw in a typical Dag Nasty song”. It didn’t take long for us to drop “Simple Minds” from the set list because we had no enthusiasm for the song and we even stopped playing the fast introduction to “Safe” because it just didn’t fit with what we were doing. We figured that we were playing enough of that song when we were playing the Can I Say material. Oh, I’m sorry so your question was about “When I Move” so yes ultimately the Wig Out version was much better, but doing it with Los Vampiros the way it was meant to be recorded, I have audible proof that it’s not very good.

When you introduced “Things that Make No Sense” when you performed it a few months ago (Peter sang in public for the first time in 20 years back in September after THE THIRTEEN’s first show at the Tritone; he was backed by JOE IACOVELLA on guitar and performed just one song to rapturous applause and the delight of the audience), you apologized to your wife for the song. Was she in the audience?

PETER CORTNER: Yeah.

Was that song originally written for her? The reason I ask is that you told me earlier that you’ve been together for 24 years. When you moved to LA before Field Day came out, did she come with you? Did she come with you or did she stay in DC?

PETER CORTNER: She was still in DC the entire time, so anything on that record that’s about being away from home is very much informed by that. I think that was one of Chuck Eddy’s points. “Boy this band sure goes on about home” a lot.

Which I guess for him is a sign of metal or something, like MOTLEY CRUE’s “Home Sweet Home”. (laughs)

PETER CORTNER: I’m glad we got in the book, but at some point I think Chuck was just like “I’m just gonna put in records I like and I don’t care if it has anything to do with the theme anymore”.

Was that ultimately one of the reasons that the band broke up? I know that Brian joined JUNKYARD afterwards, but do you think the band would’ve broken up anyway or was it more accidental?

PETER CORTNER: I think we would’ve broken up anyway. I think an ongoing problem with the band was that while I definitely wanted to be in the band, I didn’t have the same level of commitment that the other guys had. It wasn’t intentional. It’s not like I was putting it on the back burner.

Did you have plans to do something else?

PETER CORTNER: No, not at all. It was really what I wanted to do, but I don’t think it occurred to me that if I wanted to do it, I really had to step up my game. I was more or less just letting the band happen. I think we were at a point where I needed to do more than that. I needed to be more committed to making the band better as Brian, Doug and Scott were. I was extremely insecure about what I was doing, so rather than trying to really assess “what am I good at, what’s working, how do I build on it, what am I not satisfied with and how do I change it”, I would just tell myself that I’m lucky to be here and I wouldn’t think beyond it. That’s really the reason that until the night you and I met (at the aforementioned show at the Tritone back in September), any involvement I had in music was very low-key. Los Vampiros was a safe thing to do because I knew all we were gonna do was record, I was gonna be doing it with a friend (Colin) and we’d do one show and that would be the end of it. Everything that I would do with THE GERUNDS was just gonna be me and a friend, HUNTER BENNETT, recording his songs and we’d make it available to people on the internet but that would be it. It wasn’t real. It wasn’t until The Thirteen play and I hadn’t been to a show with people I knew in a long time and I was watching and really enjoying them.

They were really good. It’s kind of amazing that it was their 1st show.

PETER CORTNER: And when they allowed me to come up, their enthusiasm for what we were gonna do and the enthusiasm amongst the handful of people who were there and you, something just kinda clicked. I always sort of assumed that music is just a hobby and I’m not gonna bother with it and no one really wants me to. In fact, I always sort of assumed that my wife didn’t really want me to, either. What she said to me when she left really surprised me. She said that Dag Nasty really needs to get together and do a show and I thought “I can’t believe that you’re saying that”.

I’ve been hoping for that for 17 years!

PETER CORTNER: Well I think that if it happens, I’m not gonna be involved in it, but what I said to her was “I really wanna talk to Joe and Sal” from The Thirteen and ask if they had any interest in doing this Gerunds stuff because suddenly I really wanted to do it. So I did talk to them and they said “yeah” and now we’re in the process of trying to make that happen and trying to find other people who want to play. We really wanna do it and see where it goes. We definitely wanna play live and we definitely wanna record more music and we wanna do it whole hog.

An album, maybe a small tour, putting out the old stuff, maybe putting Dag Nasty stuff in the set list?

PETER CORTNER: (sighs) That’s a tough one. It’s not that I have any opposition to it or that I dislike Dag Nasty songs. There are just some Dag Nasty songs that I could do that would sound OK and there are some Dag Nasty songs that wouldn’t sound very good if I attempted to do them. Maybe it’s a higher register than what I’m used to now. I’m trying to think of another example other than “You’re Mine”, which I don’t wanna do anyway. Something will come to mind. Something else is that Hunter helped me understand the difference between The Gerunds and anything else I’ve ever done before. Hunter will not play the muted chords, the chugga chugga. There’s nothing metal coming from Hunter and that actually makes a big difference. It’s a different kind of sound. After he told me that, I started thinking back about certain Dag Nasty songs. A song from the first album, “Values Here”, its energy comes from the muted chords. It’s got that big intro but when it comes to the verse it’s all muted chords, a very typical Brian move and something he does beautifully.

Yeah, it sounds like a sped-up Judas Priest riff.

PETER CORTNER: Exactly. A song like “Eternal Week” with Los Vampiros, the verse has muted chords again. “The Godfather”, no muted chords. “Trouble Is”, no muted chords.

That’s why I thought they came from you in terms of your musical ideas because I sense that’s where you gravitate to and listening to the Gerunds stuff confirms that as well.

PETER CORTNER: I didn’t think about it ever at the time, but that’s what makes those songs more “pop” and less leaning on the DC hardcore crutch. Not that I don’t like music like that, but I don’t that my lyrics or my presence jibes well with that. I’m not a waving and spinning an arm guy and Dag Nasty has this base of fans who are jocks and that’s always been very interesting to me because I’m anything but a jock. In fact, all of them, if they were OK with Wig Out, putting aside Field Day, they’ll always refer to me as Pete Cortner, never PETER CORTNER. It has more of a jock appeal.

I know what you mean. Field Day is a love it or hate it records for a lot of people and me, also not being very jock-ish, I’m definitely in the love it camp. I know a lot of people who hate it because they just don’t get it. I think that the scene that it came out of and what you were doing just a few years later are incongruous for lack of a better way of saying it. What you were going for is something like what HUSKER DU was doing or maybe THE REPLACEMENTS and something like that as opposed to Minor Threat or early 7 SECONDS.

PETER CORTNER: What’s funny is that at that time, I didn’t even get introduced to the bands you mentioned until we’d already recorded Field Day. I met a guy named MAX JONES out in LA and sometime after Field Day was recorded, he came up to me and said “here are some bands you really need to listen to”. Ever heard The Replacements? And I’d say “I’ve heard of them but never listened.” Ever heard SOUL ASYLUM? Well here’s some.” I did like The Replacements; he got me into ALEX CHILTON big-time. All of those bands were sort of on the same wavelength but we come out of struggling with once having been a hardcore band and we just couldn’t wrap our heads around what we were really doing even while we were doing it.

I think that kind of transformation happened with many bands like GOVERNMENT ISSUE or 7 Seconds and they ended up alienating a lot of people in the process.

PETER CORTNER: I think GI did a really great job with that.

I do, too, though I don’t think 7 Seconds did.

PETER CORTNER: I think GI were very good about saying that what they were doing at that point was good and they didn’t feel like they had to throw anyone a bone except for the fact that they had to do another version of “Sheer Terror” because that’s what they do. But other than that, not at all.

No “Teenager in a Box” or anything.

PETER CORTNER: Exactly. Even Field Day had moments of trying to throw a bone or making a really stupid point about not doing it. Take what we did with “Under Your Influence”. We’d been playing it live that way, without any tongue-in-cheek, all we were doing was doing it straight up.

I have no problem with the way that version sounds. I don’t care for the part that was inserted, though.

PETER CORTNER: I don’t think anyone else would’ve had a problem with that song if it wasn’t for the stupid things we added at the beginning and at the middle. It was just dumb.

“I’ve Heard, “(16 Count)”. To this day I don’t really get them. I mean they’re funny.

PETER CORTNER: If you’re going to do something that’s essentially mean-spirited, at least be clever about it. And that’s on me because I was the one pushing all of those. Everything I was doing, even on Field Day was informed by “oh man, I’m in Dave Smalley’s shoes” so that any chance that I would get to poke at him, I would take it.

How did the deal with Selfless come about? Was that when the Los Vampiros records were already put together?

PETER CORTNER: There was no real Dag Nasty deal with Selfless. What happened was TODD GREEN from Selfless had some interest in putting out the stuff with Shawn Brown. I’m not sure to what extent Colin sought out Brian for approval of that stuff. I think he did and I don’t think Brian cared one way or the other.

I know all that stuff has been out-of-print for a while. Do you know whatever happened to them?

PETER CORTNER: Nope. I’m always surprised that Todd Green doesn’t pop up somewhere. He was very honest. I guess it just didn’t work out for him.

When Dag Nasty reunited for Four on the Floor and then for Minority of One, were you ever approached? Did they just decide to do it with Dave because they thought that’s what people liked best?

PETER CORTNER: I never called up the guys and said “hey, why aren’t you calling me about this” but for whatever reason they did it. I think that both of the records they did are the better for it because I don’t think that I would’ve been ideally suited for the material on either of those records.

Listening to those records, I don’t think so either. At the same time, though, I can’t help but feeling that if it had been you singing, the material would’ve been different, too.

So after Dag Nasty broke up, you moved back to DC. Eventually you ended up here in Philly?

PETER CORTNER: Yeah in 1991 my wife graduated from GW and she and I moved to Philadelphia for her to start graduate school and we’ve been here ever since.

And she started attending law school at that point?

PETER CORTNER: Yes. She’s an attorney to this day.

You practiced also for a couple of years, right?.

PETER CORTNER: I went to law school and practiced law for a couple of years and my heart just wasn’t into it at all.

What were you doing?

PETER CORTNER: I was doing advocacy work for the Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) and I was not very good at it. My enthusiasm was low and it showed in my work. At one point, my wife suggested, very wisely, that the one thing I showed any enthusiasm for was when I went to teach some law courses in a Philly elementary school. She said that it was the only time I’ve seen you excited at all so she said why don’t you just get over yourself and be a teacher. And so I quit and went to learn to be a teacher and that’s what I’ve been doing ever since?

Did you go through the alternate route program?

PETER CORTNER: No, I just enrolled at Chestnut Hill College and got on the education track. I wasn’t involved in any programs with the Philadelphia School District at all?

What level do you teach?

PETER CORTNER: Right now I’m teaching Kindergarten through 8th grade.

I was listening to the Gerunds file that you sent earlier today and the 2nd time I listened to it since I didn’t notice this the first time, I noticed a sample where someone kept saying “I lost my yellow rabbit’s foot” over and over again. Is that Ian from Minor Threat’s Live at Buff Hall?

PETER CORTNER: Yes. You’re the only person who’s commented on that!

I used to have that on vinyl and I stupidly traded it to a friend but I did a search for it after listening to that and I came across this metal blog from Pennsylvania, but it only has 7 songs and doesn’t have that sample, so it must be from a bootleg 7”. I can’t believe I remembered that since I hadn’t heard it in so long.

PETER CORTNER: I think he has such a distinctive voice so that anyone who’s heard him would be able to say “I don’t know what that is, but it really sounds like Ian MacKaye”. No one’s ever mentioned that, not that a whole ton of people have ever heard that.

I’m sure they will (laughing).

PETER CORTNER: At some point I’m gonna find a place where that whole file is available to anyone who wants it. Right now it’s on YouSendIt and I think it’s a permanent link, but if we ever come up with a Gerunds domain, definitely feel free to share that with anyone.

Isn’t there an older Gerunds domain?

PETER CORTNER: I’m not even sure it still exists. Someone else set it up for us and we never really used it. The plan for the Gerunds stuff with Hunter and I was that it would always be free. I don’t know if that’ll be the case, but in any case, the demos will always be free. Now they’re officially demos with the idea that we’ll eventually re-do them or at least some of them. So yeah that’s Ian and there’s a reason I put that in there that had to do thematically with what that song was about and we were actually contracted to write that for ESPN?

Seriously?

PETER CORTNER: Hunter knew someone who wanted a song that had something to do with baseball? It was the bass line dub and I can’t think of how Ian is saying has any relevance to what the song’s about.

It fits, though, doesn’t it?

PETER CORTNER: Anyway that’s why it’s there.

Did they just use the instrumental portion?

PETER CORTNER: No, the whole thing. They asked for it, we wrote it and sent it to them, but they paid for it and Hunter and I went to dinner at Morimoto on that check. That was our Gerunds success story.

Is Morimoto as good as what I imagined?

PETER CORTNER: Maybe I just don’t have the taste for it.

You don’t like sushi?

PETER CORTNER: No, I love sushi. I would rather go to the Blue Fin in Plymouth Meeting. Going to big concept places, I get wrapped up in the STEPHEN STARR-ishness of it that I sometimes don’t even get to the food.

So do you have any final comments or questions for me?

PETER CORTNER: How do you pronounce your last name?

That’s a great question. The English transliteration of it is most easily pronounced as “Berl-ant”. My last name is Russian and said the original way it’s different and hard to replicate with the accent and what not. Yeah people don’t quite know what to make of it or how to spell it.

PETER CORTNER: Well that satisfies my curiosity. What’s the Big Takeover take on LAMBCHOP?

I’ve never listened to them, but my wife is a big fan. She drove to New York to see them with THE PERNICE BROTHERS because they never play here, though she told me that they play in Europe all the time.

PETER CORTNER: Was it Lambchop or was it just KURT WAGNER?

(My wife answers) It was Lambchop and they opened for The Pernice Brothers.

PETER CORTNER: I went to see THE NATIONAL not too terribly long ago. Someone gave me a call and said “I was gonna go see them but now I can’t; do you want a ticket” and I’d just heard one song by them.

Was it the Johnny Brenda’s show?

PETER CORTNER: No I wish I’d seen them there. It was the TLA show. The only song I’d heard by them is “Mistaken for Strangers”. It was one of the few times in recent memory in which I’ve gone to see a band whose material I didn’t know, save one song (“Mistaken for Strangers”). Based on that song, I thought they might be on the pseudo-Joy Division bandwagon with the Editors and Interpol, but I held out hope for them because the song was so good. In the end, they reminded me more of Lambchop than Joy Division. I enjoyed them quite a bit.

 

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