Brattleboro, Vt., seems like a pretty solid place to write an album. It’s difficult to get wrapped up in any sort of “scene” when you’re headquartered in the middle of the mountains, wading in good vibes and cheddar cheese. Not that any of those things affected Happy Jawbone Family Band much. There’s something genuine about the songwriting on the group’s new self-titled LP that shows an ignorance towards what’s hip, which in turn gives it plenty of originality. There’s a vintage sheen to the songs on the new album, and while thematically some may feel a bit tragic, overall it encompasses the “Family Band” aspect more than any previous release.
Get your first look at Happy Jawbone’s new video for “Mr. Clean” and check out the band’s new album, out today on Mexican Summer. Lead man Luke Csehak spoke with us about the album, Foams, horse-girls, Christians, and kids.
“Mr. Clean” video comes courtesy of Zach Phillips of OSR Tapes, who also provides his own saxophone solo to the song, which is something I don’t believe I’ve ever seen before.
Q. I feel like self-titling this new album was appropriate because it feels like it encompasses the whole family band thing quite well.
A. I never thought I would do that. First, it was going to be called “The Foam’s Game” and we were going to dress up like a fake sports team called The Foams. But we were too lazy. Then, we thought we’d call it “Everybody Knows About Daddy” because I thought it would be fun to have a title track for once in my life. But then I told my friend about this and she said that if we called it that, she would never speak to me again and that she wanted to throw up just thinking about it. So that helped us finally realize that it’s a self-titled type of album.
Q. I like both those titles, too. Is it weird that I think it’s a feel-good album?
Q. The record is very nostalgic, though. Not just in how it sounds, but how it’s written. Like even in the Rocky and Bob Rauchemburg references on “I Have To Speak With Rocky Balboa.”
A. I find cultural references to be useful devices to connect with listeners. With the abstruse language I often find myself using in the songs, I find It’s a good idea to give the listener a foothold here and there, like a portal into the emotional landscape of the song. Also, to get the same effect, I like to use super mundane things that arouse physical sensations, like milk and beds. God, I love to sing about milk and beds.
Q. Do you think our generation is super-nostalgic?
A. I am extra-nostalgic, that’s for sure. You know, I read somewhere that the only thing different about our time is that it’s less innocent.
Q. Do you buy that?
A. I still think the world is plenty innocent but the difference is that it’s gotten much more competitive, which is what makes it seem less innocent. People are less interested in innocence. They think it’s lame. It’s only for Christians and kids. But even kids are always competing to be less innocent. Everyone is in a hurry to achieve some desperate authenticity, which is probably why I rail so hard against authenticity in my private life. It’s the sort of thing that stings you the more you wrap your lips around it. I’ve seen it destroy the lives of my loved ones.
Q. One of my favorite lyrics on the album is “I put my faith in Halloween.” That’s kind of innocent.
A. Yes, that’s something I did when I was more innocent. I’m always putting my faith in dumb things like Halloween.
Q. What are you going to be for Halloween?
A. Horse-people. Or real fire.
Q. Like a centaur?
A. No, like a horse-girl, but not gender-specific. You know, horse girls?
Q. Non-gender specific horse-girls. You guys could be The Foams.
A. Luke: Should we change our name to The Foams? Do you like our band name, Perry?
Q. I like both in different ways, but I wonder if you were the Foams for Halloween if people would be able to guess that.
A. No, people can’t recognize the true Foam in its natural habitat.