When you interview a band that’s been on the road, virtually non-stop for a year, you frequently find a musician that’s burned out. Interview a band who’s become a media darling and doing dozens of interviews a day and you frequently find a musician that’s bored, ambivalent and tired of hearing the same questions. When I got an opportunity to talk to Doris Cellar, my experience was the complete opposite. Much like her band, Freelance Whales, she was filled with energy, passion and fun. There are some bands that are a flash in the pan and then there are bands like Freelance Whales that are clearly built for the long haul. Doris took a few moments with us to talk about the euphoria of 2010.
TDOA: Let’s play the adjective game! How’s your 2010 been?
DC: Fun. Overwhelming. Lots of touring.
TDOA: Oh no! Overwhelming in a bad way?
DC: No, no, in a good way! We’ve essentially been on the road since November and it’s been wonderful. The constant touring has gotten us more in touch with our instruments and each other in an amazing way. We’re just so excited to show that energy to our audiences and feed on their energy. We have 3 new songs that we’ve started playing live and it’s been great to watch people reacting.
TDOA: Are these songs that you’ve written on the road?
DC: No, we come up with ideas on the road, but we crammed everything in the last weeks before this leg of the tour and then finished these songs. You can download one of them on our website (see the end of this interview) and they’re popping up on YouTube. People are recording them on their phones and saying they don’t know the names of the songs but they love them. It’s so exciting.
TDOA: How have your audiences changed since your music was used in the Twitter ad? Can you perceive an actual impact from the ad, both in the size of the crowd and in their energy level.
DC: No, I don’t feel like there was a big change in our crowd. Most of our crowd seems to be coming due to word of mouth from other people that have seen us play live. Our old friends were excited for us, but people just seem excited to feed off of our energy.
TDOA: I’ve always been fascinated by the New York City scene. You hear stories of the cliques that developed through the years, dating back to the CBGB’s crew to the Strokes and Interpol scene. My perception is that the scene is a lot less back-biting than it was in the past. Is that fair?
DC: Yes, the New York scene is fantastic. The great thing about New York is that you can go see a band anywhere and anytime. You can go out at 2am and see a band. There’s house parties and clubs and street corners. It’s still hard, but you can find your scene. It’s also so multicultural and no band sounds alike. Or if they do sound a little like someone else, there’s still something there that makes them special to someone.
TDOA: Obviously multi-instrumentation is a big part of the Freelance Whales dynamic. I remember reading an interview with David Byrne of the Talking Heads. He said that as they added more instruments and made their songs more complex, it became more and more difficult to make it translate live. Eventually this was one of the reasons they stopped touring. Obviously, you’ve only made one record, but do you think about how you’re going to make these songs work in a live setting as you write and record them?
DC: The advances in recording and technology gives you so many advantages, but you still have to make it work. We rehearse it the way we play it live. Trying something new brings out a creative side, so we never shy away from it. But we’re excited about the new stuff because it’s a different direction for us.
TDOA: Is it more complex or stripped down.
DC: It is more stripped down. Rawer. We love playing it live and we love the reactions that people are giving us.
See them live!
Nov 10 2010 Fitzgerald’s Downstairs (w/ Miniature Tigers) Houston, TX
Nov 11 2010 The ND @501 Studios (w/ Miniature Tigers) Austin, Texas
Nov 12 2010 The Loft (w/ Miniature Tigers) Dallas, TX
Nov 14 2010 Hotel Congress (w/ Miniature Tigers) Tuscon, AZ
Nov 16 2010 Detroit Bar (w/ Miniature Tigers) Costa Mesa, CA
Nov 18 2010 The Troubadour (w/ Miniature Tigers) West Hollywood, CA
Nov 19 2010 Rickshaw Stop (w/ Miniature Tigers) San Francisco, California
Nov 21 2010 Doug Fir Lounge (w/ Miniature Tigers) Portland, OR
Nov 23 2010 Crocodile Cafe (w/ Miniature Tigers) Seattle, Washington
Nov 24 2010 The Biltmore Cabaret (w/ Miniature Tigers) Vancouver, British Co, CANADA
Nov 27 2010 Kilby Court (w/ Miniature Tigers) Salt Lake Cith, UT
Nov 29 2010 Hi Dive (w/ Miniature Tigers) DENVER, USA, Colorado
Dec 1 2010 7th Street Entry (w/ Miniature Tigers) Minneapolis, MN
Dec 2 2010 Lincoln Hall (w/ Miniature Tigers) Chicago, Illinois
Dec 3 2010 The Basement (w/ Miniature Tigers) Columbus, Ohio
Dec 4 2010 Brillobox (w/ Miniature Tigers) Pittsburgh, Pennsylvan
Dec 5 2010 Mohawk Place (w/ Miniature Tigers) Buffalo, New York
Dec 7 2010 El Mocambo (w/ Miniature Tigers) Toronto, ON, CANADA
Dec 8 2010 La Sala Rossa (w/ Miniature Tigers) Montreal, Quebec, CANADA
Dec 9 2010 The Middle East (w/ Miniature Tigers) Cambridge, MA
Dec 10 2010 Iron Horse (w/ Miniature Tigers) Northampton, MA
Dec 11 2010 Lily’s Pad (w/Miniature Tigers) New Haven, CT
Dec 14 2010 Johnny Brenda’s (w/ Miniature Tigers) Philadelphia, PA
Dec 15 2010 Webster Hall (w/ Miniature Tigers) New York, NY
To purchase their album on iTunes click here in the U.S.:
Weathervanes – Freelance Whales
and here in the UK
Weathervanes – Freelance Whales