American indie rockers Here We Go Magic hit the road this Spring to promote their new album, A Different Ship.Guitarist Michael Bloch kindly granted us a few minutes before their show on May 15 at Brillobox in Pittsburgh, Pa. THE BOMBER JACKET ordered whiskey and discussed the pressures of Mother’s Day, what makes a good after-party, and why Radiohead collaborator Nigel Godrich is so easy to work with.
TBJ: Where are you from and what do you do when you’re not making music?
Michael Bloch: I’m from Buffalo, New York and I ride around in a van.
Did you do anything for your mom on Mother’s Day?
No, you know what, I didn’t. I shouldn’t say this publicly, but I did not call my mother.
Not even a text?
Nothing. She doesn’t text. I didn’t call her and then felt so bad that I just didn’t even call her the next day either because I was so embarrassed. And now it’s two days later, I still haven’t called her and it’s awful. I’m just hoping she’s forgotten and something good will happen, because right now things are real bad. It felt like it would be worse to call her the next day and I want to be completely oblivious at this point and act like Mother’s Day never happened, just wait for a good moment to do something really nice. Just call her and say hello, like Mother’s Day never existed.
What’s been your favorite show so far on this tour?
Well, we’ve only had like five shows so far and I think this might be it. I got to exercise my muscle a little bit and kick out a camera crew. They were going to light us while we were playing and we didn’t like that idea, so we got to be divas about it and tell them they couldn’t do it even though our label told us to, so that felt good.
Flex a little muscle, it goes right to your head.
Yeah, you start selling a couple of tickets in Pittsburgh, get the room more than half-full for once, and things start to change. But we actually started our tour in London and had a fun time.
So, you guys are international?
Oh yeah, completely. We all have these bank accounts, you can use them everywhere. You get a card, you put in the machine, and you can take the money out anywhere. It’s great. They gave us the card so we could go wherever they had our record in the stores too.
That’s a technology I didn’t even know about. About the camera crew, why didn’t you want them lighting you tonight?
They wanted to film the first three songs of the set and those songs should be dark and cool. You don’t want to be upsetting the whole vibe of the show with all the cameras, it just didn’t feel right. I shouldn’t say this because they’re gonna read it, they were nice people I’m sure, but you wanna have a quality show. We drove eight hours today and we’re not gonna drive here to do a blog-whatever-thing so we can feel good–we came here to play for Pittsburgh.
Choosing your fans who came out over some nebulous internet thing?
Yeah and it’s important to start to learn to say no to the blog-y things because that shit’s out of control.
We’re real pushy.
Yeah, well you know, talking is one thing but when everybody gets free music out of you all the time and you’re driving across the country and flying around the world and then everywhere you go you gotta to do five blog sessions where they want you to play with ice cream cones or kids’ toys or something. They say, “Oh don’t bring any amps, do hand-claps in the middle of the park” and it’s like, who the fuck are we? So, once you sell 50 tickets in Pittsburgh, that’s when you make our own choices.
Sounds like you guys have it all figured out. Has there been a favorite party so far this tour?
Oh yeah, in Charlottesville, Virginia we met some people who invited us back to their house. Their names were Adrian and Sophia, they invited us to their house and they had a pet duck, and that’s true. It walked around the living room and it had this diaper that catches eggs and then they make duck egg omelets.
You can domesticate a duck?
Ultra-domesticated, you can just eat eggs all day. They were feeding us duck eggs and they let us stay at their house in the middle of a big field, it was ideal, really, really fun. Touring is good sometimes.
If someone comes up to you after a show and says, “Hey come to our duck party”…
It could be bad…it could be bad, or it could be really really good. It could be the best time. Sometimes other people you meet on tour turn out to be real gems and I’d have no opportunity to meet them if I weren’t doing this.
Speaking of food, how old were you when you first started eating salad by choice?
Oh, um, it hasn’t happened yet. I don’t think that it’s ever really my choice when I get salad. There’s always this voice in my head that’s telling me I should and the times when I sit down and I’m at one of those places thats got all this shitty food and they’ll have a chicken caesar salad thing, and I’ll get the salad instead of the thing I really want.
You want to put on a good front.
Yeah but I’ll even be alone and I’ll get a chicken caesar, because I feel like I’m doing harm to myself if I don’t eat one sometimes. But I usually just don’t get the salad, especially if it has a raw tomato in it because if that tomato touches the lettuce and makes it have a slimy thing on it, ’cause all it takes is one little globule and it ruins all the lettuce and it’s gross. But I do like it when it’s just a pile of leaves that you can eat with your fingers, all the different kinds–the purple ones, the spiky ones…I don’t like the iceberg salad. I do like the mozzarella and tomato salad but I don’t know why they call it a salsa.
What have you been listening to in the van?
Peter Hale (drummer): Lately we’ve been listening to some later Captain Beefheart, the more poppy stuff. Like Clear Spot, The Spotlight Kid, and Shiny Beast (Bat Chain Puller). Today we were listening to Grateful Dead’s Workingman’s Dead as we drove through Pennsylvania, it was really appropriate. Then mixed it up with some Waylon & Willie and The Highwayman. Lately there’s definitely a blues faction in the band. We listen to a lot of weirder Delta Blues stuff, that’s kind of where we’re at. Driver’s choice is the rule but sometimes the driver is busy and asks the co-pilot to make it happen.
That’s a lot of pressure.
Michael Bloch: It actually makes the time go by and it’s kind of a fun thing, especially if you have a laptop because then you can take stock of what’s happening and see the environment you’re in. Today as we got more urban coming into Pittsburgh, I tried to let the mood take over as the vibe changed.
He taught me how to make a really good cup of tea.
He’s a good tea guy?
He’s a very good tea maker. I still haven’t learned how to do it exactly the way he does. You think it’s a simple thing because it’s just a bag of English tea, but it’s something about the timing of when he puts the water on the bag versus when he puts the milk in. It’s this unified thing and it’s so good. I drank tea all day. Every time I make it myself it’s almost as good, but not as good–it’s something about his way. That’s the thing about Nigel, he does things that are better than what you can do. I think of it as a metaphor.
Is there anything else you want to tell us? Is there anything you’re stressed about?
I’m stressed about everything, I’m the stressed guy in the band. Ladies if you wanna hang out with the stressed guy, it’s me.