22nd Feb2010

History Lesson: Bedhead and The New Year

by Todd

If you were to make a list of the twenty bands that influenced our musical taste, Bedhead would certainly be an integral part of that list. At a time when the feedback of My Bloody Valentine was segueing into the grunge of Nirvana, Bedhead taught us that nothing is more important that a perfectly crafted melody. Rather than hiding behind effects pedals and a wall of noise, Matt and Bubba Kadane wrote songs with so many layers of intertwining melodies, that they challenged the premise that “mellow” music was “simple”. In fact, the emotional intensity of their music was far more satsifying than anything else of that era. Transitioning from Bedhead to The New Year, the brothers Kadane continued to create music that was still as fragile, yet complex. While listening to a Bedhead/The New Year song, you can focus on a single instrument and hear more melody and beauty than in the most orchestrated music of our time. To listen to all of these parts in combination, creates a beautiful sense of vertigo.
Obviously, we were more than a little excited to get an opportunity to talk to the Kadane brothers about the history of Bedhead and The New Year, while discussing what the future will bring.

First, a song by Bedhead and then a video from The New Year, to whet your appetite.

Bedhead- Bedside Table

TDOA: Bedhead was signed to Trance Syndicate, which was run by King Coffey from The Butthole Surfers.  How did you meet and did you have any trepidation in signing, given that your music was so different than his music?

Bubba: King came to a show of ours in Austin around the time that our shows started to catch on there. He offered a deal right away. We liked him and liked the fact that they went through Touch and Go for production and distribution. It was a long time ago, so I can’t remember everything, but I’m sure we thought about the pros and cons of being on a label where you are pretty different from what people associate with it. It’s nice to stick out from the pack.

TDOA: Trance ended up with a lot of great bands and it appeared that you were given a great deal of artistic freedom.  In retrospect are you glad that you were on Trance or do you wish that you had signed to a major or larger indie label like Matador?

Bubba: We kind of signed to Trance right away before there were any other offers, so that is a hard question to answer. I have always been glad that we never signed to a major.
Yes, we did all of the recordings with complete freedom (w/Touch and Go too) and no one at the label ever even heard the albums until they were done.

TDOA: I always enthralled with your cover of Disorder, because I thought your songwriting style shared the density and complexity of Joy Division and early New Order.  At the time did you recognize the similarities or was it just a song that you liked?

Matt:  We had always liked the song and felt like we could try to make it our own, to some degree.  In fact Bubba and I had started to record a cover of it as far back as 1986.  I had put everything but the guitar on tape and was waiting for Bubba to do that on a weekend he was supposed to come home from college.  He ended up getting in a bad car crash on the way home and had his arm in a cast for months.  The version of the song we put out in the mid-90s was altogether different, but I guess you could say we worked on the song for something like a decade.

Bedhead- Disorder

TDOA: I’ve read that you bristled at the term “slo-core”.  Why?  Did you think it implied a lack of passion or complexity that betrayed what Bedhead really was?

Bubba: …or lack of variety

TDOA: Can you talk about the experience of recording with Steve Albini and perhaps share what you think was good and what was bad about the experience?

Matt:  Working with Steve has always been unqualified fun.  He’s incredibly perceptive and almost always knows what we’re going for, so whenever we ask for his advice, which he typically doesn’t freely offer, he has shrewd and useful things to say.  And when we don’t agree I still find the arguments stimulating.

TDOA: I envision the songwriting process for Bedhead and The New Year as being fascinating to watch.  First, how has your approach to songwriting changed over the years?

Matt:  Very little.  We still send demos back and forth, but now we use email and computers instead of regular mail and tape.

TDOA: Some bands have a solitary member who comes into rehearsals with fully written songs.  I can’t imagine that being the case with either of your bands.  Did songs generally start with a single guitar part and then build from there?

Matt:  Every song is different, and some can be close to fully formed before Bubba and I start the process of fine tuning by correspondence. But the two of us always present fully formed demos to the rest of the band.  There’s also not a single way that songs start out.  Some do begin with single guitar lines.  Others with piano.  Others with drums or guitar chords or pieces of the lyrics.

TDOA: You’ve done some great videos for The End’s Not Near and Seven Days and Seven Nights.  Can you talk about those videos and your feelings about music videos as an artform?

Matt:  Our friend Keven McAlester decided on his own to work up the initial version of the video for “The End’s Not Near” using some footage shot by a cinematographer, Lee Daniel, who along with Keven also made the video for “Disease.”  ”Seven Days” came from some footage I had shot while stuck, on various occasions, in airports and that Bubba and I later edited.  Until recently I had been indifferent to videos, but I like them more now.  In part that’s because MTV is no longer hegemonic, and one of the many consequences of that is that the video is no longer really the main medium for a song.  For reasons I haven’t really examined enough to be able to explain I also like trying to find affinities between visual images and certain songs.  I think Keven did that with The End’s Not Near.

TDOA: Are you still writing music and will there be a new The New Year record soon?  Any chance of there ever being a Bedhead reunion show?

Bubba: We are working on music and hope to play some new songs soon. We may play some shows in June where we could do that.

To purchase the music of Bedhead, visit iTunes:

To purchase the music of The New Year, click here:
The New Year

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