By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
Making music out of pure love of the art form is one way to go about building band notoriety. But according to Richard Edwards, lead singer and guitarist for indie-poppers Margot and the Nuclear So and So's, his band is in the industry solely for the money. As Edwards puts it, "How would you make it without money?"
It's a bit ironic then, when Edwards remarks during a recent phone interview that "none of us have made any money doing this."
The Indianapolis-based band hopes its lack of financial success can be attributed to the changing dynamics of the music industry—two versions of its second album, Animal! and Not Animal, were released simultaneously last fall. The records share several tracks, though the playing order varies, and each has its own unique songs. This split is the result of an artistic disagreement with the band's label, Epic Records: Not Animal is Epic's choice; Animal! is the version the band wanted released.
"We recorded a lot of songs for about four or five months," Edwards says. "It was met with little enthusiasm by our label."
At least on the day of this call, a lack of enthusiasm is clear from Edwards himself. When questioned about whether the label's response is a possible reflection of the indifference he's projecting, he sounds like a teenager asked to share how his day at school went: "I don't know."
After claiming to "not remember" how the eight-person ensemble (including a trumpet player and violinist) formed or came up with its wordy moniker, it seems no wonder why Margot and the Nuclear So and So's couldn't come up with a more decisive name: The apathetic aura surrounding its main creative force appears to infiltrate every aspect of the band's nature.
Still, the band's euphoric sound can prove quite soothing. Both versions of Animal! make great soundtracks to a stoned-y day. They're that rare breed of record that can be played through completely, with no need to skip tracks or fast-forward inane interludes. Not that Edwards is necessarily forthcoming about how that sound is produced.
"I write all the songs and bring them in," he says, "and then we all work on the music."
So, what do the So and So's hope to accomplish with their music? "I hope to make massive amounts of money, and we are absolutely not close to that," he says.
How about that bright, shining moment in the distance when the band finally realizes it has made it, when their dream has come true? What might that look like? "Having a ton of money," Edwards says.
Even discussing the band's current tour couldn't bring this musician out of his fiscally fixated trance. "We travel by a modified school bus," Edwards says, providing rare detail when describing it as painted black, fitted with bunks and known affectionately as "The Black Plague." "We purchased it ourselves," he says.
The singer's blasé commentary doesn't do the group justice, as the band's music has more substance than he lets on. "A Children's Crusade on Acid" is featured on both versions of Animal! and tickles listeners' inner youthful desire to begin an epic quest, aiming to conquer the indecencies of the world. Edwards' self-professed favorite track, "My Baby (Shoots Her Mouth Off)"—from the band's version of Animal! as well as its The Daytrotter Sessions EP, which was released in the summer of 2008—seems almost destined for radio.
In the past, Margot and the Nuclear So and So's have drawn comparisons to genre giants such as The Shins and Arcade Fire. So, given the quality of the band's music, maybe Edwards' apparent surliness at a distinct lack of getting paid might be at least somewhat understandable.
But should the band actually make it big, what would they do with all the money they'd finally made?
"Buy two of everything," Edwards says. "Because we can."