INTERVIEW Learning to enunciate

The Tech’s Charles Lin sits down with the “band from <br />Staten Island that sounds like Modest Mouse”

Cymbals Eat Guitars

Paradise Rock Club

April 25, 2010

Cymbals Eat Guitars first entered my consciousness as the most indie named band of 2009. But then the buzz started filtering in. “Have you heard that band that channels Pavement from Staten Island?” And, “oh I love Cymbals Eat Guitars, they’re that band from Staten Island that sounds like Modest Mouse.”

These are pretty lofty comparisons for a band with only a debut album, albeit a critic’s darling. Yet in hearing them play in Boston two Saturdays ago, there’s a sense of wanting more. Their material, which is by all accounts good, shows moments of brilliance, moments of escaping the Staten Island label and comparisons to other bands. Lead singer Joseph D’Agostino’s vocals verged from spit hurtling howls to ramshackle whispers. It’s not clear what he’s saying half of the time, but this is a pretty good summation of the band. It’s not clear where they’re going, but they’ve got enough potential to assure us they’ll get wherever they want to be.

The band took some time to answer questions as they waited for an interview in Manhattan. We talked about their debut album and life on their first big national tour.

TT: The songs on Why There Are Mountains cover a wide sonic range. What ties the album together? What do you feel when you listen to it all the way through?

CEG: It’s really not for any of us to say [what ties everything together]. As a theme, we think it’s more about a useful sense of awe and wonderment.

TT: Why Are There Mountains has received a ton of really positive press and hype. A lot of critics have written accolades along the lines of comparing you to the, “next Modest Mouse” or “next Pavement.” Are these comparisons fair? When someone writes about your work, would you rather they take your album in isolation?

CEG: It’s natural for people to compare. Generally it’s a positive thing. They’re not comparing us to shit, they’re comparing us to bands we like. It can be difficult to write about something and not compare it.

TT: Is Pitchfork (online album review publication) a force of good or evil in this world?

CEG: They’ve been very supportive from the start, there’s no ill word you can say about Pitchfork in general. With us they were spot on, as egomaniacal as that sounds.

TT: The band is going through a bit of a transition right now, going from playing small clubs to bigger venues nation wide. How has the band adapted?

CEG: The crowds have gotten more responsive as we’ve gone along, things feel better in general.

TT: If money wasn’t an issue, where would you prefer to play?

CEG: There’s something to be said for big rooms with bigger sound systems, generally it sounds better for us and we can play louder, that’s nice too, but it doesn’t compare to playing small rooms where people are right in front of you and you can see them one on one.

TT: Where do you see yourself in five years? Will roadies be hauling around your gear by then?

CEG: I don’t think any of us need roadies. I’d rather have good snacks and good beer.