Parquet Courts ‘Tally’ Their Favorite Things
The band's Andrew Savage on Kraftwerk, playing off the beaten track, and the English breakfast
Light Up Gold, a half-hour frenzy of wit and twentysomething problems, twitchy guitar hooks, and the occasional toy-flute solo, earned Parquet Courts a warm embrace when it was reissued by What’s Yr Rupture? late last year, despite the band’s initially modest goals of playing the occasional gig and putting something out. Thankfully, it doesn’t seem like New York (by way of Texas) punk band’s aims will be so unassuming from now on. On October 8, the boys return with Tally All The Things That You Broke EP, a five-song follow-up that builds on their brand of whip-smart punk, and finds the group letting in a little funk, too.
On a recent afternoon at a sunny restaurant near his Brooklyn home, singer-guitarist Andrew Savage spoke with SPIN about some lifelong favorites and shared a newfound hangover cure.
Kraftwerk’s Computer World
The only album that I had for years was Computer World, it was the only one that my parents had. When you only have one album by a band — and this was before the Internet, so I didn’t know how to research them, so as far as I knew that was their only record — it has to be your favorite. You have to force yourself to fall in love with it. When I was a kid, and I would get records and I didn’t necessarily love them immediately, there was a patience in those times. Maybe you wouldn’t get enough money to buy another record for like, a few months, so you’re just living with this record for a few months and you have to love it. What else is there, you know?
The Mixtape That Changed Everything
I’ve received some good ones, but the first I ever got was a pretty important one; it was made by my best friend growing up. His mother was a teacher at a high school. One of her students passed her a tape to give to her son, my friend Mike, and he immediately shared it with me. That’s where I learned about a lot of early canonic punk bands that begin to define my early tastes, like Misfits and Crass. It had Cockney Rejects on there, had Dead Kennedys on there, Circle Jerks, Black Flag, you know, the bands that just hit me like a freight train. That mixtape changed the trajectory of my life.”
Hip-Hop as Punk
[Parquet Courts guitarist] Austin [Brown] is a big fan of Houston rap, chopped-and-screwed kind of stuff. One of my favorite bands is Wu-Tang Clan. I’ve always thought of punk and hip-hop to be kind of the same thing. I think there’s a pretty close Venn diagram there, because the both of them come from a strong DIY aesthetic. I guess where they probably split is, there’s much less existential anxiety within hip-hop about becoming bigger and larger, whereas in punk it’s more of like something that you don’t do, or there’s a certain amount of suspicions cast on you when you do.
I tend to go for dense, modern, post-modern kind of stuff. I get books that inspire me, that I get a strong emotional response out of — like Philip K. Dick, David Foster Wallace, Virginia Woolf — as well as stuff by Don DeLillo or Barthelme. Those are guys that — and women, in the case of Woolf — that inspire me because I felt a strong emotional connection with them. And that inspires me to, even though it’s music and it’s a totally different beast than literature, aim to create that sensation with my audience.
I like going places that bands don’t typically, go because there’s kind of an excitement you get met with. There’s a really rewarding sense to it. We went to Athens, Greece, a few weeks ago, and you kind of have to go through some no man’s land musically to get down to Athens. Going to a place like Athens and playing for people that know they might not get another chance to see you is very cool. I like doing smaller cities in the Midwest that, like I said, people don’t go through a lot, especially larger bands don’t make stops there, like Omaha, or Minneapolis, Indiana. Playing big cities is fun, but in larger cities that are culturally important centers, there’s always kind of an air about them where people don’t fully let loose.
Before Parquet Courts existed in the world that we do now, we were just another band from New York, and our goals were very small. We just wanted to play a show in New York, it didn’t matter if anybody came — we just wanted to do it. We wanted to put out a record, and we wanted to go play outside of New York. The fact that people are finding a strong emotional or cerebral connection with Light Up Gold is rewarding, because I never really imagined that would happen on the scale that it did. I wrote it mostly in my bedroom and never really thought of it getting much further than that. So, every time someone says that they like the lyrics or that it’s inspired them to do their own music, that’s the best for me.
The English Breakfast
We played a lot of shows in England this summer and I’ve become quite fond of the English breakfast: beans on toast, with tomatoes and some mushrooms. I’m vegetarian so I don’t eat the bacon, but it’s so good. Just good, fill-you-up starch. They’ve really mastered the carbohydrate over there. So yeah, just getting some good starch in your belly is what I can advise. And, a positive attitude — if you’re going to decide that you’re hungover and have a terrible day, you will.