Jared: In America, it's like using the garage. Or the room over the garage. Unlike the British, you can play anytime.
Meg: With the British, they do more songwriting. Because you can craft it with a guitar and in your head. Whereas Americans tend to battle it out. Rrrarrr! Who's the loudest? My way! I want this changed.
Jared: Or you can get into a groove and find a great hook...
[Jeff and Meg giggle and make "rrarrr" noises at each other across the table.]
Jared: ...and then you play it for forty-five minutes and the next thing you know is that you've got a song basically that you can chop up and make sure your choruses are good. That's one of the fun things about rehearsal. But it's much harder to do when you're under the gun, under the clock. You don't necessarily have the luxury to play a riff for forty-five minutes or an hour because it's so fun to play. "Man, let's go for that change one more time."
Meg: Also it's within the culture to use your brain, to do your best whenever possible, and to not use your body. If you can avoid having to lift any part of your physical body and think out a faster way, the British culture really leans towards that solution. A very cerebral people.
Jeff: Do they have gyms with stair-steppers and people going nuts in Britain?
Meg: Not nearly as much. People celebrate bad health. And they also celebrate failure. People like to sit around and upstage each other in failure. "I haven't done fuck-all in years." [Laughs manically] They're very sarcastic. They like to one-up each other with who's a bigger failure. I think I said that when you first asked me what I had been doing recently.
photo by mark teppo
Jared: I really like the sarcasm. People in this country don't understand sarcasm nearly as much.
Meg: Too many people in this country have read that book, The Power of Positive Thinking. I'm not saying you should walk around being negative, but Jesus Christ! To walk around with that loony grin on your face!
[A location shift takes place here. We pick back up as Meg and Jared are lounging about, examining their album covers.]
Meg: [Indicating the inner picture on the album sleeve] The one in the bathtub is one I took myself with a camera that you leave on automatic. You just pose and take so many pictures that one is bound to come out okay. I wanted it to look sort of movie theater-like, real colorful but with black so that it looks Technicolor like you're at a movie theater.
Jeff: Is that you on the front cover?
Meg: Yes. Shocking, isn't it?
Jeff: I've actually gotten into an argument with people. "Yes, that's Meg." And they're: "No, that's not the same person."
Meg: [Laughing] Everyone's like that and they're always disappointed when they see me. My friend David spent two hours doing the makeup for me on that shoot. He did it so well. There was this girl who came to our show in Minneapolis who said: "You look even better in real life."
Jeff: So what was up with that email that you sent me? "Jeff, how big is your..."
Meg: [Laughing] Martin [Atkins] said I had to send out notes to all the Pigface fans and let them know about the album. Write personal letters to all of them. So, all week, I was writing these letters and by the time I got to writing you, I was getting really creative. And pretty silly. [Signs Mark's copy of her album] "How big is your...car?" That's better. In case anyone reads it. It's all code anyway.
Jeff: That was the best email I got all year.
Jared: Sharp as bread.
Meg: [Examining the cover to Jared's album] I love your album cover. We got our photos taken by the same woman. Jill Birschbach. One reason that she is a good photographer is that she has a sneaky way of taking your picture. She'll have the camera in her hand and just take the picture. I had a friend who used to say: "Watch me become invisible." And he would lower his aura and just walk through the barriers and the ticket-man would never charge him. He'd just make himself invisible and I thought that was such a good trick. And that's what she did with the camera: she just made it invisible. She'd be talking to you and then suddenly she'd be SNAP.
Jeff: [To Jared] It says in all the press material from Invisible that Meg is on your album, but I couldn't find any note of it in the liner notes.
Jared: She is, and I fucked up so badly--I didn't give her credit on it.
Meg: It took him a week of beating around the bush and being all sheepish. It took him about ten minutes to build up to it finally. And I was like, "So?"
Jeff: What song?
Meg: Maja [Prausnitz] and I went through the credits so thoroughly--like ten hours a day for six days. I didn't see it, she didn't see it, Martin didn't see it.
Mark: It goes around. We have t-shirts that say, "eP: Polluting the Internet one issue at at time." [Rumor has it that it was purposely done to thwart the obvious. --ed.]
Meg: Have you noticed that there are more of these typography mistakes than there used to be before computers?
Jeff: That's because before you had to manually put the two next to each other, and that's harder to do. Now, you just type "at at" and you're done.
Mark: That, and Jeff can't spell.
Meg: With spell-checkers now, people are getting lazier and lazier. There's a lot more mistakes on television now, too.
Jeff: Meg, what are you going to be playing tonight? Are you going to do "Thing?"
Meg: No, I'm doing "Heavy Scene," "Nutopia," "Swallowing You," and "London." Actually, the versions I'm doing tonight are pre-Martin. The originals, except for "Heavy Scene."
Jeff: "Nutopia" was originally on Pigface's Notes from the Underground. Is that the same version of the song or did you rerecord it for Piece and Love?
photo by mark teppo
Meg: It's essentially the same. The songs--in their original form--are a bit more hip-hoppy. Martin gave them more of an industrial sound. I'm slightly more into hip-hop than industrial. Hmmm, slightly.
Jeff: I think they have a lot of similarities.
Meg: I like all types of music. I've never found allegiance with any particular group. I like to jump around a bit.
Jeff: What have you been listening to recently?
Meg: I don't really listen to music.
Mark: How can you not listen to music?
Meg: Because I work ten, twelve hours a day on my own music.
Jared: There you go. [Round of laughter] As opposed to my album, which required me to listen to other music. And not do any work at all.
Jeff: According to Jared, he never wants to write another song--just play with other people's stuff.
Jared: There have been moments when I've actually considered that. But Maja [UK Editor of Gargoyle magazine] says that I'll become the Joe Cocker of the music industry. After Chemlab broke up, people really wondered what the hell was going on. I was out of the music scene for a couple of years. Quit rock and roll and worked on Wall Street as an investment banker. But now I'm back and the Chemlab kids are taking the album really well. They were always the outcasts and the kids who got beat up at school. They've become computer geeks and whatnot. A lot of them are going to be incredibly wealthy and I think that is tremendous. They're taking it well because they're sharp and intuitive and they've got open minds. They might not take to the album at first blush. I mean, I'm doing "Suicide Jag" [from an earlier Chemlab album] as a straight jazz song. And they might be: "Oh, wait a second. Wait a second." But once they listen to it--and they have been listening to it--they'll like it. And they have been liking it. For me, it's a very personal album. Very personal. Definitely an exorcism.
And I'm glad that other people are enjoying it. And getting it. It's been very refreshing. I was a little concerned. I did the album for me. But I was definitely concerned that the general reaction would be: "Get out of here. You suck." But they're not. They're being very supportive of it. It's much more sophisticated and complex than anything I've done before. It was very challenging. I'm the happiest I've been getting out of the studio. Usually when I'm coming out of the studio, I'm happy with about 15% of an album--about 15% of Burnout at the Hydrogen Bar, about 8% with East Side Militia--and this one, I'm easily happily with 45% of it. And now that I've had some time with it, I'm liking it more and more every day.
photo by mark teppo