Interview

Ducktails

For his forthcoming album Matt, left his typical woozy bedroom psychedelia and used ‘real mics and drums and stuff’. ‘I really hate pretension in music, so I thought, Oh, if I call my band something cheesy then no one will think I’m trying to pull a wig over their head.’

 Interview by Brenda Bosma, photos shot on film by Bobby Doherty in Brooklyn, USA

No one really says they’re in the music business for the girls. But if we were to be really honest: are you?

Yes, totally. Girls inspire not only my music, but also my life and my pursuits. Girls are simply beautiful; my mother, my sister and all the women I know. They really bring out certain nice qualities in me that men definitely don’t.

Why do you do what you do, make what you make?
To tell you the truth, I really don’t feel like working a nine-to-five job for a boss. I don’t think of myself as an amazing musician, or even a musician, but I would like to do this for ever. My dream would be to be just like Woody Allen and make stuff at an insane tempo. He makes movies because he’s afraid of death. His films are also about that. Funnily enough he never really dies this way. I love his specific style. I hope to establish such a specific style with my records and music videos.

How would you describe your style?
It’s fucked up. It has changed a lot. Now it’s like this weird mixture of stuff that I can’t really put into words. I used to do more drone solo improviser pedal stuff. Then I got more into songs and started writing sketches of songs. Now I have full-blown recorded songs that have bass lines and guitars and keyboards and all of this stuff. Even back-up vocals. Sadly I can’t do that live in Europe because it’s too expensive to fly a band over. It is so real, it can’t be flown over to your continent!

But will you keep death at a distance with these new songs?
I hope so. I would like to keep it as far away as possible.

What about irony?
My band name is super ironic. It’s a different spelling of a Disney cartoon. I really hate pretension in music, so I thought, Oh, if I call my band something cheesy then no one will think I’m trying to pull a wig over their head. Sometimes I feel I want to be taken more seriously, but then I realise: Oh my God, I named my band the stupidest thing ever. I just have to live with that. I guess that keeps me young also. And at a distance from death.

What do you think of your own music? Would you give it a 7.4 as Pitchfork did?
No way, I’d give it a 10.0! I’m getting 10s in my head. Inside my head is all that matters. Pitchfork is just a flat-screen website. Not even HD.

You said you want to be taken more seriously sometimes. Do you get fooled a lot?
I used to get picked on a lot. I think it’s because I’ve always been a self-conscious, cautious little nerd. My good looks freaked out the bullies in school or they just didn’t like my face. It didn’t really fill in yet and so I looked fucked-up and crazy at a young age. I don’t know, but it was tough. My dad even made me take boxing lessons in Paterson, NJ, which is a ghetto. I boxed there twice a week. Finally as a freshman in highschool I proved myself and beat up the bully. It was classic highschool fight movie style. With a happy ending. No one picked on me after that. Now the fooling around is just innocent fun.

Did you know Woody Allen was actually really good at baseball despite his fragile appearance?
No way! He’s such a funny guy. And such a great director. I love every single one of his films. In one of the songs on the new album there’s this line: ‘Kiss Picasso, Woody Allen’. This is exactly what I think of life and art: Just Live it Up.

That’s sort of a Truth. And an answer. Would you say you are more serious with the new album?
Definitely, and I’m totally excited about it. Lots of different people played on it. It’s not like a lo-fi home-recorded record; it was recorded in a proper studio with real mics and drums and stuff.

Shouldn’t you change your band name into a more serious one before it gets released?
‘Kiss Picasso, Matt Mondanile’ of course!

Ducktails play on 16 February at Botanique, Brussels.