Thursday, December 17, 2009

Interview: The Farewell Republic

The state of Michigan has a long tradition of giving us some of the most well known musicians in the world. Whether it's the smooth stylings of Motown or the abrasive garage rock of The White Stripes, the gloved-shaped state has always produced. Now from the college town of Ann Arbor comes the Farewell Republic, a band that bridges the gap between post-punk and Phillip Glass. This Monday they will be bringing their unholy racket to the Black Cat in Washington DC. Guitarist and DC native, Sivan Jacobvitz, took a break from studying for finals to speak with us about getting robbed in Philly and why, despite the rumor, you will not see the Farewell Republic covering Celine Dion anytime soon.
Congrats on the new EP, Heat/Crimes/Trench Man. Is it true you guys are giving it away for free?

Sivan: Thanks. Yes, we've been doing it totally DIY, going into the computer lab at school and burning copies then giving them out at shows. We're also building a new website and we'll be able to give it away there soon too.

So you guys are all still in college? How do you balance being a student and being a rock star?

Sivan: We're all seniors at Michigan except for our bass player, Ryan, who's hanging out working at a liquor store and waiting for the rest of us to graduate. As far as balance, if we weren't in school we'd definitely be playing more shows. Right now we tour during breaks. We started three years ago and in that time have played about fifty shows. After we graduate we're all moving to New York to focus as a band as much as possible.

So you guys are gearing up for your third Holiday Road Show. What cities are you planning on hitting?

Sivan: New York, Boston and DC. We were going to do Philadelphia but it didn't work out, which is fine by us. The first time we were there we were robbed. Someone broke into our van and stole a camera and our GPS.

That sucks! Do you have a favorite city to play?

Sivan: I'd have to say DC and not just because I'm doing an interview with a DC based music blog. I grew up in Washington and this will be our fourth time playing the Black Cat. DC has been great to us. We've always had awesome shows. On our first Holiday Tour we went to Providence, New York, Philly and DC. The night before we played super late in Philly and no one showed up and like I said, we were robbed. We were all pretty down and just ready to have the tour over. Then we played to a sold out crowd at the Black Cat the next night. It was awesome.

Speaking of cities. Ann Arbor is obviously a pretty cool college town. What is the music scene like there? Do you find it supportive?

Sivan: To be honest, there's not as much of a culture for seeing live music there. Growing up in DC I went to a lot of all-ages shows, seeing bands like Q and Not U but Ann Arbor's not really like that. The student body just isn't into seeing rock shows. Detroit is more fun and has a strong indie-pop scene but we're a little more out there than that. Don't get me wrong, we're very appreciative of Ann Arbor, they've been good to us, but we're excited to move to the East Coast. We're East Coast at heart. You guys were finalists for an MTV college band thing?

Sivan: We didn't win. It was some voting thing for best music on a college campus. It was kind of frivolous and we did it for fun, but winning an MTV award isn't the goal of the band.

What is the goal of the band?
Sivan: It's hard to answer a question like that without sounding pretentious. We want to be in the position of being able to make a record and tour when we want. We've gotten some exposure but so far we haven't been able to break into the big national scene and blogs and things. We formed with ambitions of being important. We have never wanted to follow trends. From the start, our mentality has been that we aren't going to let any other view point but our own effect what we do. We want to be an important musical source and create art.

What music has influenced you guys?

Sivan: As a band we have very diverse tastes. Bobby is a trained jazz drummer. Ryan is into electro. I like everything from Radiohead to Silver Mt. Zion, Q and Not U, and Phillip Glass. But I don't think we sound like those bands. We've been listening to a lot of Ryan Adams but we definitely don't sound like Ryan Adams. We're not the kind of band who thinks, 'what would Radiohead do with this chorus.' We think what we do is a continuation of some of the bands we grew up listening to. We don't stress about song structure or what genre we are in. We're just making music. I think it's psychedelic-rock but not in that classical sense. And I think you can move to it.

Last question. I read in the Washington City Paper that you guys open your show by covering "My Heart Will Go On," by Celine Dion. What's up with that?

Sivan: It's not true. I love the City Paper but I don't know how they messed that up. What I said to them was that sometimes we would introduce a song by joking and saying it was Celine Dion or whatever and it got turned into us being a joke band that plays Celine Dion. We've only ever played one cover and that was Elliott Smith.

So no "My Heart Will Go On," when you play the Black Cat on Monday night?

Sivan: It's up to you to set the record straight once and for all. We don't cover Celine Dion songs.

check out the links below to download the Farewell Republic's new EP!



"Trench Man"

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