Charles Brownstein: Hi. Thanks for tuning in to Northern Transmissions. Glad you can join us. We appreciate you listening as always. This week I had the chance to chat with Andy Chase of Ivy. I was really uh, we had a great in-depth conversation about the making of the record and the history of the band. So, lets get at some music right away from a track off their new, brand new record After Hours. This is the track – Now is Never.
CB: The origins of the band are pretty interesting uh we first talked about this uh including the fact that singer Dominique Garon had never sang before with a band.
Andy Chase: No. She never, ever. She um, I mean she, you know she had impeccable
taste in music, and if you met her, you just assumed she was doing something in, in, uh you know
in the music world because you know she just looked cool, she had great taste in music. She had
just, you wanted to know all the bands that she knew and I hadn’t heard of half of ‘em. And um, I
was a guy with a band trying to get a record deal, and um.
Andy Chase: It was actually when we got married, uh, we got married very, very young.
And um, but at our wedding, you know all our friends are all musicians and they, everyone was performing. And they were all writing songs for us so I said come on, you know, we should, it’d be really funny, like Bonnie and Clyde, me and you get up there and she’s like “I’m not a singer, come on.” And I said I know but it’ll be even cuter the fact that everyone knows you don’t sing. So we um, I was just learning how to play guitar at that period and so, I wrote uh, a song, um it was out of my range actually to sing. And I said, “look it’s the perfect song, it’s in a girl’s range.”
Andy Chase: So she sung the main part, I sung the harmony, we performed it at our
wedding, and then of course everybody said, “Oh you guys, you gotta, you should start a band”
and you know we sort of laughed they said, “her voice is really” –
But, when we got back to New York a few weeks after our marriage, um I said you know we
should record that song and probably a couple other more serious ones just for fun. So I got her
drunk [CB laughs] in the studio, and you know the whole time she was saying “no, no, no, you
know it’s really, um” but I convinced because I said you know it’d be good, uh, you know, I said
it’d be a really good present to give our parents like a recording of us properly you know so they
can hear your voice. And I was just becoming friends with Adam Slesinger, um my band mate at
that time. And I called him up and I said “look, you know, Dominique she sang on this little demo I
did, do you want to come play bass?” And he came and he was actually the guy who heard it and
said, “you know what, we should, you guys should take this seriously.” And he put bass down and
um, you know that silly demo tape made it to the record company’s hands and that became our
CB: That’s an amazing story, you know, because considering how many people that try to,
you know bands and stuff, musicians that try to break into the music business. I mean, not only like Ivy, you know I mean became very, very popular but at the same time, and I don’t want to …. About Ivy but this happens at the same time having the right career I mean..
Andy Chase: I know I just, it’s just unexplainable and when you try to give advice to people, you know how did you start, its, how do you explain that you know how to start a band. I mean,
it’s, And it’s uh, I, I used to go out looking for snakes you know I was obsessed with wanting to be
a herpetologist when I was a kid. And every time I went hunting for snakes I never found a single snake. And I was like walking on a path with a friend, and we were like going to play soccer, and all of a sudden a snake when I least expected it, that’s sort of been the analogy for my, my life, you know, things happen when I’m not, when it’s not supposed to happen, and when I’ve laid out all the best intentions they don’t happen the way they’re supposed to.
CB: Sorry what was the first song that you guys sang at your wedding? Just out of
Andy Chase: Um, you know what I don’t even remem- I can’t, I can’t even remember. It was um, it was a song that we had written it was kind of making fun of the fact that she and I had lived a, a kind of a Bonnie and Clyde existence, and uh, was making some references to Bonnie and Clyde and um, ah, because she had had immigration problems, we didn’t think, you know I had, I hid her in the truck of my car once, we were going through Arizona, (CB laughs), at a uh, at a, what turned out to be, you know I thought it was an immigration stop on the highway but it was only for uh, vegetables and fruit (laughs)(CB: Oh my goodness) Made her get in the truck anyway. So by the time we got married it was, we had had all these adventures and, so the song was something about that. I don’t, but it didn’t make it on the EP. That was, uh, there were three or four more songs from that exact the same period that we recorded the same way that ended up being on our corner EP lately.
CB: I hope you’re enjoying our interview with um Andy Chase from Ivy. Um, if you want
more information about the band and tour dates you can check out their website at www.ivy.com
or their my space page. So that song you just heard was Distant Lights off the new record After
Hours. Uh, Andy and I chatted a little bit about that and the production of their new record.
Andy Chase: Well it’s, the song that we went the most into outer space with [laughs]. It’s the, it’s the least Ivy-like, um, and yet strangely somehow the most indicative of what the rest of
the record is going to sound like. And it didn’t make sense putting it anywhere other than first. So that it could, could make a statement to everyone that, one, we’ve been gone, we’re back, uh this is not what you can expect. Here’s an example, here’s your first song.
Andy Chase: But the way that the song morphs from the, almost uh, how would I describe it. Um, greek, disco- tech intro into what becomes a very familiar Ivy cord, uh Dominique’s voice within a minute of the song.
Andy Chase: And it’s, if that song was in an album, I think everything that was indicative to us of being new on this record and so we put that song first and foremost because of it.
CB: With that song being new on the record, and all hours, um, I think you kind of approached it if I’m not right, from a different, from a different uh wave. More of a textured and building like building on rhythms rather than I guess you usually compose a lot more on uh acoustic guitar if I’m not right.
Andy Chase: Yes. Traditionally we, me, either me or Adam are together we would write
something on the acoustic guitar and bring it to the three of us, and then that would get um flushed it out in the studio. And uh [phone tone] we just uh, we just felt like we wanted one to make a simpler record and two, make a record that went back to our roots a little bit. Like our love for the 80s and, Adam and I both started as keyboard players before we learned the guitar we were keyboard players as kids growing up. And, um.
Andy Chase: So this record, we just thought it would be fun to, tip our hat a little to the
80s, focus more on our keyboard abilities and start um with drum loops, and drum beats rather than songs written on acoustic guitars or even in this case, songs written on the uh synthesizer. Really just start with a cool drum beat, and then find that one keyboard sound that would be fun to play live, that would sound like some of our favourite 80s bands, and that’s kind of the record that we made. We wanted to keep it simple and we were thinking of making some older reference, reference spots from Tom Club, um, even the Clash, you know things that were simple and kind of raw but also dancy, and, and, and uh still had some synthesizers.
CB: After Hours was the first album from Ivy in quite some time, in a number of years actually. So I asked Andy what it was like um, to get back on stage together and make music again.
Andy Chase: We were all thinking that it was going to be quite strange because it’s been
five years right. We forget that this is our, I’m not sure, was maybe our sixth record, and we’ve been playing together since 1995, 1994. So, with it, it’s like an old friend, the analogy, if you grew up with somebody and you haven’t seen them in 10 years you may be a little, you know havesome trepidation about seeing them again, but within five minutes of sitting down, you know, you realize oh this is an old friend and those bonds never go away. And within a minute it feels like you’ve never left.
Andy Chase: And that’s, that’s what it was like. The first song was a little strange and
surreal and by the third or fourth song we were just looking at each other on stage and smiling.It didn’t, it didn’t seem surreal that we had not been doing this for five years. Because it was so familiar.
CB: Did, did you ever find that Ivy was um, ?? at some point, I mean like you and Adam
are, I mean, constantly busy with different projects.
Andy Chase: I think that uh, Dominique had more of a premonition that our last album
might have been the uh swan song. And she even had that based on intonation at our last show live in New York, and I think that was, uh, November 2006 our last show. And she said something on stage that made some people blogging and talking you know, “was she serious? Was that, is Ivy actually breaking up?” And, to tell you the truth she wasn’t one hundred percent sure. But she wasn’t sure that we were making another record, put it that way.
Andy Chase: Um, and we, we almost didn’t I mean we, we worked on and off but not very
committed for a few years after our first album you know, left it in the clear. And, uh, thought we might have a finished record around 2008, and we got together after not having seen each other for about six months, and sat down and kinda listened to what we thought might be a finished Ivy record. And we were just horrified at this epiphany to that it was terrible and so unusable, and we threw the whole thing out.
Andy Chase: And at that moment, I was thinking, we really did think maybe that was it.
CB: And obviously you guys did release a lot of different things in Japan. Do you have
um, you have a much bigger fan base there or?
Andy Chase: We have a fairly big fan base there. We have uh roughly the same amount
of fans in Japan as the US. You know, so, it’s a much smaller country so [CB: Right] kind of an important market for us, an important country for us. And, but we , we released, it’s not because we have more fans or because we prefer Japan but we released different songs in that market it’s more, that Japan has a problem with uh imports coming into their country. So what happens is you release your record here, and then, right away your record comes out in Japan, but for some strange reason, you find your record in Tokyo is cheaper than the Japanese release. So everybody just buys the import, they buy the American version. So to, to.
Andy Chase: To kind of put a stop to that, Japanese labels more and more like when you
put things on their version that make it uh, collectible. And give the Japanese fans a reason to buy their domestic version rather than buying their US version. [CB: Uh huh]
Andy Chase: That’s why we’ve put traditionally we’ve put, you know bonus tracks and unreleased tracks and things on the Japanese releases, to make it more attractive to the Japanese.
CB: Ah okay, okay. You find the fans there like more passionate about their music than like over here or in Europe?
Andy Chase: Uh I you know it’s all the same. There’s cultural differences so the fans over
there are less, uh, there’s less civicality in the way they show their enthusiasm you know there a little bit more reserved, culturally. So um, but I, they’re just, so what you really take away is what you read with the way people express themselves and you know, you could, if you meet a British fan they might be jumping up and down and screaming and if you meet an overly exciting Japanese fan you know culturally they’re not going to do the same thing so they’re covering their mouth, they’re bowing a little bit, they’re a little more uh demure.
Andy Chase: Uh, but I think they’re all just as supportive and enthusiastic in their own way and you know you get that from, you, you that kind of comes through their e-mails.
CB: And let’s check out one more song from Ivy off their latest record After Hours –
we’ll listen to the track uh World Without You. Before that um, I’d like to thank everyone for listening as usual. Thanks to Andy Chase for the great insightful interview, thank you to the ace producer engineer extraordinary Andy Calsum as usual, doing a bang up job. And, if you want more information on Ivy, please go to their website, uh Ivy.com or their My Space, if you want to contact Northern Transmissions, uh, NorthernTransmissions@gmail.com. Stay tuned for our brand new website which is coming soon. And also Twitter us at Northern Trends. Thanks again.