Parquet Courts frontman Andrew Savage is a man who stays true to Texas. While the band relocated from Denton to Brooklyn and has since gone on to such acclaim as being dubbed "The Last Rock Band," Savage carries a bit of the Lone Star State wherever he goes. Whether it’s the subtle spaghetti Western guitar inflections in songs like “Berlin Got Blurry” or his support and collaboration with the local arts community, the Denton native hasn’t forgotten the place where it all started.
The band's past two forays through the area found them blistering through a headlining set at Dada and a "hometown" show at Denton’s Rubber Gloves. This week sees them headlining the much more spacious Granada Theater. With palpable buzz surrounding their latest album, Human Performance, we talked to Savage as he taxied his way through Brooklyn on the way to pick up some guitar cases in preparation for his flight to Dallas.
Dallas Observer: Are you pleased with the response that Human Performance has received so far?
Savage: Yeah, I definitely am excited. It’s gone beyond anything I ever thought it would. People have had a lot of really good things to say. At this point, most people have put their opinions out there and it’s great that they’ve been positive. We just got back from a small tour and as we get ready to head back out we’re now focusing on the energy that we’ve been getting from our audience, which is another important type of feedback for us.
Much of the praise you guys receive comes from older, seasoned music journalists, while much of your audience tends to be a bit more youthful and rowdier. You even described some fans in Detroit recently as the “18 to 24 demographic where growth is stunted.”
Yeah, they’re very likely my least favorite type of audience member; those young men specifically. There are a lot of “rocker dads” that make it out to Parquet Courts shows. There are a few different archetypes to our fanbase, in fact. It’s nice to hear good things that a seasoned or renowned critic might say, but to me the most important criticism or feedback comes from my friends and peers and fellow musicians — many of whom I will see this week in Texas — that are in bands that I dig. Those are people I can count on to shoot straight with me and that’s really the best type of validation you can get.
You guys made a really cool video for “Berlin Got Blurry” (the first single from Human Performance). It’s not only a creative concept, but it's also a comprehensive tour of Berlin.
I knew I wanted to shoot on film and I knew I wanted to feature Berlin prominently, particularly at night because it’s such a beautiful city of lights. The movie The Warriors, with the opening scene featuring the wonder wheel on Coney Island, was a big source of inspiration. A filmmaker named Chantal Akerman who shot on 16mm and made a film called Letters Home, which is sort of a 90-minute tone poem of all the verité scenes of New York City, also served as a huge specific influence. I knew I wanted to make a very city-centric video that returned to the place where I had written the song.
Plus, the lip-synching is spectacular.
Yeah, I also wanted the challenge of shooting a lip-synch video because it seemed like the type of thing that could potentially be very lame, but also kind of cool and funny. I met Claes Nordwall, a guy with a wonderful understanding of film, and we sat down and story-boarded and came up with something pretty cool.
Your new album is released on Rough Trade. How did you get connected with them?
We’d worked with Rough Trade International along with our label What’s Your Rupture?, run by our dear friend Kevin. At the time of Sunbathing Animal’s release, Kevin partnered with Rough Trade with the understanding that Kevin would have U.S. distribution while Rough Trade would handle international. Anyways, that’s all really boring. The band was becoming a lot busier than what, arguably, What’s Your Rupture? was capable of handling — and since we already had such a good relationship with Rough Trade it just made sense to continue the arrangement.
And now you're part of a legendary roster of artists, too.
[They've] put out so many records by artists near and dear to me. Bands like Pere Ubu, Cabaret Voltaire, the Buzzcocks — the list goes on. When they gave us the opportunity to fully sign with them, it just seemed like the perfect time, really. And, honestly, they’ve been brilliant. From letting me art direct the whole project as well as the album packaging — and also advertising and giving us freedom and the ability to be hands-on in marketing the album — has really been all that I ask for.
What are you looking forward to about returning to Texas this week?
Mostly, I’m really excited about seeing friends and family. I still have so many friends in Dallas and Denton. And, I’ll be eating my way through Tex-Mex, which is also what I’m really excited about having again.
You’ve got the legendary Lee Ranaldo opening the show at the Granada. Besides that, any special surprises in store for fans coming out on Thursday night?
It’s funny you should ask. I was just about to call Lee after I finished talking with you. Yeah, there might be a surprise depending on how the conversation with him goes. We’ve also got every song off the new album down pretty well now, so we’re ready to get down there and play that.
PARQUET COURTS perform with Lee Ranaldo and Nots, 8 p.m. tonight, Thursday, April 28, at Granada Theater, 3524 Greenville Ave., $22-$39.
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