Tue, 04 Mar 2014 10:42:27
NO lights up Los Angeles with a delicate amalgam of rock infectiousness, punk posturing, and a funked-out strut. The Echo Park group's latest offering El Prado laces its grooves with deeper more ponderous lyrical musings making for an indisputable and infectious ride through the East side. Welcome to El Prado...
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, NO singer Bradley Hanan Carter talks El Prado and so much more.
What ties El Prado together for you? It feels cohesive from beginning to end.
It makes me feel very happy to hear you say that. When we made this record, it was about trying to make something that was really a journey from start to the end. For us, it's a collective journey of a lot of mini journeys. The thing that ties it together is that it's all real. The album is essentially documenting a bunch of time that's passed. It's a way for us to process a lot of that. We came up with a theme for our whole record. It was important. The theme was letting lonely people know that they're not alone in being lonely. What that means to us is you could be the most beautiful girl in the street or the most successful guy, but in your head you're just wishing somebody would give you a call like, "Hey, want to get a drink and catch up?" We've got so many auxiliary friends in our lives through Facebook and such. People are always just saying "hi" and leaving mid-conversation all the time. Some people are willing to talk to us, but they're not there to discuss the real stuff. In this day and age we're in now, none of us had cell phones when we were teenagers, but all of a sudden, it's like we're in this age where everything is in your hand. We've gone from no cell phones to everything cell phones in one fell swoop.
People are probably more lonely now than ever being so isolated within their phones and electronics that they're not connected to anything.
It's like this. For example, say you're going to meet someone tonight. One of the things I've tried to do lately is if I'm meeting someone for dinner and I get there early, I sit there and don't touch my phone and be cool with that. It's so hard because you always just reach for your phone. You don't want to seem like your alone. Or, if you're in a bar, and nobody's trying to make an effort to connect with you, that's fine. The natural reaction is to pick up your phone though. There's an inner loneliness. With this record, we're trying to open that up and say, "Everybody has to struggle with this stuff." Sometimes, you'll find somebody who's got this crazy depression and you had no idea because they always seemed happy. They internally end up looking for that connection. Everyone is hungry for that in life.
What's the significance of El Prado?
I'm from New Zealand personally, but the whole band met in Echo Park, Los Angeles a few years ago. There's a bar here called El Prado. It's a place we drink at a lot. Almost every night, we'll probably be down here. It's also the bar in a lot of the settings and context. I remember hanging out with the guys who own the bar, and they said El Prado means "The Park". That's the translation. We thought that was cool. This whole band comes from the neighborhood we're in and the time of life in the neighborhood. We've been trying to utilize a lot of local contexts for our art. It was a natural progression to call it El Prado. Almost two-and-a-half or three years ago, it was my thirtieth birthday. I was actually having a pretty down night. I wasn't very happy turning thirty. I was really drunk, and one of my friends was convincing me to start another band. He was like, "Just try it one more time!" I was so exhausted from life and everything going on. You know sometimes you feel so rundown you don't know what to do with yourself? A month later, I meant Sean Daniel Stentz [bassist]. The rest of the guys came together over the next few years. The name was Sean's idea, and it just made sense.
What's the story behind "Go Outside"?
The context of it is quite simple. It's about how our band all comes from Echo Park, but we're all from everywhere. It comes back to the same theme. I miss my family a lot. They all live in New Zealand, and I don't get to see them often. You can't think about that too much or it will really get you down. Sometimes, people don't even have families. They have the most terrible stories and no one to call "family". You look around and you start to see that the people around you, whether it's your friends or the guys in your band, are your family. You've essentially built a family slowly and naturally. The band has brought a bunch of really good people together. It isn't contrived. It organically formed like that. It's okay, at times, to not have your immediately family there. The other context is we spent so much time inside making this record that we need to keep going out. California is always so sunny and beautiful. Go outside, have a cigarette, and look at this beautiful day. No matter how down, broke, or how things are working out, there's always sunshine in L.A. That makes it easier to live here. At least you've got that going every day.
Is it important for you to tell stories with the songs?
I'm a huge fan of Leonard Cohen. I went through a phase where I'd read his songbooks. There are a lot of his songs I still don't know. I'd read a song I didn't know a bunch of times. Then, I'd go and find it and listen to it. I'd see the whole thing come to life. It was like renting a movie. If you can put a story together, it doesn't have to be literal, but it can still allude to something. That inspires me a lot.
If El Prado were a movie or a combination of movies, what would you compare it to?
That's a really good question! The best movie to sum up this album would be Synecdoche, New York. That film was literally like an album to me. When I saw it, I was having a hard year. The movie made me think. There's a moment where Philip Seymour Hoffman's character realizes every single person around him—who he had worried about what they thought of him—died. He was still carrying this anxiety and this need to impress these people in life. He's like, "Wait a minute! Why am I trying to impress these people? They're already gone!" That context is so beautiful. It's not about making other people happy. It's not about what other people think of you. Just do what's right for you. When you really embrace that in yourself, that's when things come together beautifully.
NO - Leave the Door Wide Open
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