With one highly-touted album under their
belts, and another full-length on the verge of being unleashed upon the
world, the many members of Philadelphian dream-pop collective A Sunny Day
in Glasgow may very well be on their way to indie rock ubiquity. Their
music is a smart blend of the challenging and the resplendently melodic,
worthy of nothing less than listen after listen after listen. Core member
Ben Daniels (one of three siblings in the band) took the time to answer
our tremendously insightful questions, describing the various ins and outs
of band life, as well as recounting a couple of near-encounters with the
rich and famous. Read on...
1. Introduce each band member and one
interesting thing about him/her.
This is more difficult to do than it may
seem. There have been a lot of people in the live version of this band and
so if I mention any of people who aren't me I feel like I should mention
them all because they've all contributed a great deal. Here goes:
Ben Daniels: I love peanut butter and I make
my own peanut butter
Josh Meakim: josh has the same vocal range as
my sisters. It's so wrong
Annie Frederickson: Annie is a classically
trained cellist and pianist
Robin Daniels: once nearly died of some
bizarre fever in a Nicaraguan jungle
Lauren Daniels: now lives in Colorado. I have
never been there, so that is somewhat interesting to me
Brice Hickey: Brice broke several bones in
his leg in several places this fall by slipping on a leaf
Mich White: Mich's name is pronounced "Mike"
Jason Trill: Jason is a professional
Pete Leonard: Pete makes his own instruments
with weird notes
2. Why dream pop? Why not, say, thrash
I have no answer to this. I suppose at some
level it is as arbitrary as you suggest.
3. How did you react to all of the
positive buzz surrounding "Scribble Mural Comic Journal"?
It's actually kind of strange to me when
people say that album had a buzz around it. I've always kind of felt like
this band has had such a strange trajectory. The first thing we ever put
out was this EP called "The Sunniest Day Ever" and we didn't even "put it
out." I mailed maybe 8 copies to some college radio stations and then
people started to write to us wanting to buy it and then labels would
write to us and call us and it was so weird. We didn't even exist as a
band. It was just me and my one sis recording stuff in my bedroom. I kind
of feel like it's been all down from there.
That being said, I'm always surprised and
genuinely flattered that anyone would take any interest in our music. I
would still be making music if no one had ever heard of us, but it's
really special to know that people might want to hear it.
4. By that token, where did the name
"Scribble Mural Comic Journal" come from?
My head. It seemed to fit the music.
5. You finished recording "Ashes Grammar"
recently, and it's expected to come out in early June. What can we expect?
The release date is actually up in the air at
the moment, it may be September actually before it comes out. I think it's
a lot crazier than SMCJ, or maybe there is just more of everything on this
record? I don't know what to think of it at the moment. Recording it was
really difficult and took a lot out of all of us I think. But I think if
people liked SMCJ they will probably like this one. It's different,
though, in that SMCJ was recorded all with samples in an apartment. There
are no live drums and very few live instruments at all on that one - it's
mostly samples. The new record has a lot more live elements to it, and
everything, including the samples, was sent out into a room first. There
was nothing direct-in on this record. We had a PA system we would play
synths and samples through and then we would mic the speakers. So it might
sound a little more "roomier". Lots of people singing on this one too.
6. Is there anything quite like having
your recordings put out in vinyl editions?
It's only recently that I've gotten really
into vinyl. I've lived a very nomadic lifestyle over the past 5 years and
haven't had a place where I could really keep a record player and records
and stuff. But I've been in a more stable place for the past year or so
and I got a record player last year and it's so great. We did this 7" for
Slumberland of a Pastels
song and I remember that was one of the first things I listened to on my
record player and it just sounded so much better than the mp3. Since then
I've been spending all my money on records. CDs just seem so pointless
nowadays, you know?
7. Along the same vein, how is "Ashes
Grammar" going to be released? What record label will have the honour, and
will there be any special editions issued?
Definitely on CD and digital download and
very very likely on 2LP. It's a long album, so it needs 2 records. No
special editions or anything like that in the plans right now.
8. How does Philadelphia compare to the
I lived in London for a couple of years and
that is what forms my impression of the UK for the most part. I think it's
similar in some ways. People in Philly are largely miserable and everyone
hates everyone else, and that's kind of how I remember London. But in
London there's just a million more things going on. I think that music is
a larger part of everyday life in the UK and I really miss that. There
were so many TV shows about music when I was there, like Top of Pops,
Jules Holland, etc... It just seemed like everyone was into everything
over there and it was really great. But I really like using a bike as my
means of getting around and Philadelphia is perfect for that, while I
would be really scared to do that in London. I like being able to wear
sweaters all the time though, so the UK wins on that one. Also,
Philadelphia has the worst public transportation in the world (seriously)
while London's is amazing.
9. Tell us some strange or outrageous
stories about the band!
I think we are the most boring band ever.
Um... I don't think we do anything outrageous and I don't know that I have
any good lies... I didn't meet him, but apparently U2's accountant was
hanging out backstage after our show in Dublin this summer. Josh and I had
some adventures on the recent Europe trip, but nothing that crazy. We
didn't realize when the metro in Paris stopped running and we missed the
last one, so we had to wander around Paris super drunk trying to find
where we were staying. But we didn't get mugged or have anything crazy
happen to us. Ooh! We played this festival in the south of France on this
trip, and at the festival this girl flashed Josh. it was really bizarre,
he didn't know what to do, kind of freaked him out. Yeah, seriously, we
are super lame.
10. What is your guilty pleasure?
I don't do anything that makes me feel guilty.
11. What was it like it putting out the
Pastels cover on Slumberland Records? How did you choose the song, and how
did it feel working with such a historically significant label?
Mike and Slumberland are fantastic! To be
honest, I had heard of Slumberland, but didn't really know that much about
them when I met mike. I had that black tambourine record and I knew he had
put out some Lilys records, but that was about it. He said something like,
"You know, I'd love to put out anything you guys have" and I was more
flattered by that than the fact that it was Slumberland. I still get kind
of amazed people would want to put out our stuff. But then I started to
learn more about Slumberland and it was really kind of crazy. Switched on
V1 by Stereolab is probably one of my top 5 favorite records of all time,
and he put that out (my copy isn't a Slumberland copy, so I only recently
realized that). We played shows in California last spring and Mike took us
for pizza in San Francisco and I told him how much I loved Switched On and
he was like, "Yeah, that's a good one" - so cool, that guy! Haha.
But I picked a cover song because I didn't
feel like I had any new stuff that was ready. A cover seemed like a good
idea. I picked that song because I thought I could do a decent cover of it
and everybody always covers "Nothing to be Done", which is a wonderful
song, but I wanted to do a different one, and I really love "Sometimes I
Think About You". It's kind of funny, but when we played in Glasgow this
summer Stephen Pastel apparently came to the show (we didn't meet him
though). We had accidentally left all of the Sumberland
7"s in Dublin the night before and I felt sad we couldn't have them for
people at the show but I was so relieved that Stephen Pastel wouldn't be
able to hear how I ruined his song and I wrote to Mike telling him this
the next day. Mike wrote back saying, "He owns a record store and I know
he has the 7" there". So I guess he heard it and still came out, so that
is kind of extra awesome I guess.
12. What is there to do in Glasgow?
It seems like lots. Glasgow is probably our
favorite place in the world to play. Everyone is in band there and
everyone goes to shows or dance nights or parties or other fun stuff. I
guess it rains there all the time, but people seem to know how to have a
good time despite that. They are also so nice and incredibly supportive of
us. xoxo Glasgow!
13. Two sisters and a brother in one band.
Is there any behind-the-scenes sibling rivalry going on?
Haha, no, not really. I wish my sisters would
try to outdo me writing some crazy songs, but they don't really write
anything. We can easily get on each other's nerves in seconds though. And
Robin and Lauren usually only communicate with each other by yelling.
14. Would you rather have sex with a
leopard or a leper?
15. Explain your relationship to Mis Ojos
This label from Brooklyn, Notenuf, put out
our last record and was gearing up to put out our new one. But apparently
sometime in 2008 things started to go bad between the folks who ran that
label and Notenuf more or less died I think. We only ever dealt with this
one girl from the label and when Notenuf died, she started her own label--
Mis Ojos, so we just stayed with her because it seemed like the natural
thing to do. She reissued SMCJ and is putting out the new record.
16. What projects were the band members
involved in before A Sunny Day in Glasgow (I saw Persons mentioned). Are
there any secret archival recordings?
Well, ASDiG is the first band my sisters have
been in. I used to play in this band called PERSONS. We have two records
that were put out by the wonderful Black Bean & Placenta Tape Club. (I
think we have a box of these somewhere; if someone wants one just send us
an email. I know i've at least got the mp3s somewhere). People said we
sounded like a more 4AD version of XTC all the time. I also currently play
in band called King Kong Ding Dong. We are putting out a new record this
year as well. This band is pretty much all my friend Leroy and I just push
buttons here and there. It's really good stuff though.
Josh always has a million projects going on.
he used to play in band called Dragon City that was fairly well known in
Philadelphia a couple years ago. He also has these really awesome projects
going on right now called Killed by Ghosts (kind of like really dark
ukulele music. really composed stuff), Fantastic Imagination (kind of
dreamy music), Rap Time (hip/hop rap music done in the character of French
people who live underwater), and he also plays in King Kong Ding Dong. He
used to play in the bands The Blueberry Dewdrops and Tea & Girlie Cakes.
T&GC had a song called "Angel in a Minivan" which is my all time favorite
song written by someone from Philadelphia.
Annie is currently playing cello in a high
school production of Sweeney Todd and she sings and plays cello/piano with
folks around Philly all of the time.
17. Who is your favourite philosopher?
I never read much philosophy. Do Erving
Goffman or Emile Durkheim count? If so, them.
18. What record should everyone on the
Hmm, too many to list probably. Here are a
Buddy Holly Anthology
Trans Europe Express - Kraftwerk
Chill Out - The KLF
Sam Cooke Live at the Harlem Square
Today - Galaxie 500
19. What is your favourite colour? Justify
I like black &/or white because it's really
simple and classy.
20. Where will A Sunny Day in Glasgow be
in 20 years?
Somewhere where I can wear sweaters year
round I hope.
conducted by Michael Tau
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