Austin’s Mother Falcon have achieved quite a bit in their relatively short career (including making the up-to-20-member outfit function as a single, cohesive unit), however, their greatest achievement, in my mind, might be the ability to make me like Radiohead… or at least Radiohead songs… The last time the cello-violin-and-accordion-wielding indie rock group appeared in Philadelphia they presented a set of original material, accompanied by their own cleverly infectious, orchestral take on Radiohead’s OK Computer. Although that was just last July, they’ve come quite some ways since then, considering that that was their first actual tour and that they’ve spent the time since then making themselves comfy in a variety of settings and situations outside of their hometown for the first time. I chatted with vocalist/accordionist/pianist Tamir Kalifa last June and I recently got a chance to chat with bassist Dusty Rhodes about what the band’s been up to since and what you can expect of their show this Wednesday, January 8th, at World Café Live.
Izzy Cihak: The last time I interviewed the band you were about to embark on your first actual tour and you were quite excited about it, so I have to ask, how was it? Any highlights, favorite cities, or particularly memorable experiences?
Dusty Rhodes: It was really great! Our first real road experience. We spent the month of June living in Queens and all loved New York and touring the North East on the weekends. August was spent in LA and the West Coast. My favorite night in New York was the night that I realized just how much I missed Austin. I was in a bar in Williamsburg called Skinny Dennis that is basically a clone of your standard Austin dive bar (more specifically a Hole in the Wall clone). There was a hot country band, Kinky Friedman posters on the walls, and Lone Star (the National Beer of Texas) was cheap and plentiful. I was so happy/homesick/nostalgic I nearly cried. Our best (and most “LA”) night on the West Coast was at this house party we played in the Hollywood Hills. We had a really fun night playing by and swimming in the pool, and we all fulfilled all our elementary/middle school fantasies by meeting JC Chasez of N’Sync.
IC: In general, what do you think is the most significant way in which being on the road together, like that, impacted the band and the way you see yourselves as a band?
DR: We discovered that we work really well under pressure. We had years of hectic SXSWs under our belt, but nothing really prepared us for our tour up East. We arranged a whole set of music from Beck’s song reader in less than 48 hours. The week after that we played a show in Burlington, VT, drove through the night to play on the radio at Fordham University in the Bronx, then drove straight to Providence, RI for another show. We spent the night at the venue after the show and spent the following day arranging and recording a cover of Daft Punk’s “Lose Yourself to Dance” with cellist Ben Solee. Really crazy stuff.
IC: You’re about to kick off another tour, beginning here in Philadelphia, on Wednesday. What should be expected on this batch of live dates, considering that your last tour had you playing OK Computer for half of your performance? Should we expect something with a similar elegant quirk?
DR: We spent December working with Austin composer Peter Stopschinski on his “Re-Rite” of Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring.” We premiered it at the end of last year, in the closing days of the centennial year of its debut. No promises, but you might see bits and pieces of it crop up during our sets this January.
IC: Mother Falcon are still a relatively new project and you’ve said that you make a point of reading what everyone with a blog has to say about you. What have been your favorite reactions to the band, whether published or from fans or friends?
DR: Right before we hit the road for New York last summer, this New York-based blog, Brooklyn Vegan, had a little post about our residencies at Joe’s Pub and Littlefield. The write-up was nice, but they used an old press photo of us in the article that was rather less than flattering. The Internet pounced on this bait and in the comments section basically proclaimed us the ugliest band it’d ever seen. While not quite the reception we were looking for, it provided a lot of laughs.
IC: Everyone always asks bands about their biggest musical influences, so I’m curious as to what are your biggest non-musical influences
DR: Well, we come from a diverse range of backgrounds, so our extra-musical influences are quite varied. Our members range from classically trained musicians to architects, theologians to journalists. My formal expertise lies largely outside of music (I studied history in chemistry in college.) I think many of us find inspiration in the things we read. One of the band’s earliest compositions was inspired by and directly quotes Fitzgerald’s Gatsby. We’re currently working on a new piece based on a magazine article profiling the life of a Japanese cannibal.
IC: What do you have planned or hoped for 2014, after this first string of dates wraps up?
DR: In February we’re headed back out to LA. We’re playing residencies in LA at the Echo and in San Diego at Soda Bar. Just like our month in New York last summer, we’ll be doing some touring on the weekends, including a shot up the coast to the Pacific Northwest and a date in Vegas. After February, we’re back in Austin for SXSW, including a show that we’re curating that’ll include bands that we’ve made friends with while on the road over the past year. Then in June, we’ll be back up in New York for another month of “Symphonic Sundays” at Joe’s Pub in Manhattan. Oh! And our summer camp in Austin for young musicians will be expanding to two weeks this July. It’s shaping up to be a busy year.