Capillary Action is currently embarking on a 6 month tour, with a stop in NYC at Le Poisson Rouge on April 7th. Along the way, the band will be playing dates with Lightning Bolt, Wolf Eyes, Dengue Fever, Nisennenmondai, Group Doueh, Soft Circle, and Charles Hayward of This Heat.To read the rest of this article by Alexander Goldstein, visit WFMU here!
Check out with my interview with Jonathan Pfeffer, frontman and composer of Capillary Action after the jump. We discuss the idea of composition versus improvisation, more comical side of touring with Primus, meeting Craig Wedren, and more...
I wanted to talk to you about the acoustic element of your group, and how this came to happen... if there is a sort of purity in using all acoustic instruments.
I see it less in terms of purity and more in terms of clarity. The switch occurred for a number of reasons but I would say the major impetus was that the harmonies I write, which tend to be extremely specific, were getting lost with the electric band and turning into pure noise.
The harmonies within the instruments themselves?
Right-- the chords, chord progressions. I think there's a certain amount of baggage you have to carry no matter what kind of instrument you play and I think playing strange chords through a distorted electric guitar puts you squarely in the "RAWK" canon and I wanted to get as far as I could away from all that. The switch also stemmed from my frustration over what I perceived as the electric guitar's lack of tactility.
Which isn't to say that it's impossible to be expressive on the electric but the nylon-string guitar feels so much more tangible and physical to me, which fit in quite nicely with this notion of corporeality-- natural, body sounds-- I wanted to explore with the new record. Which brings us back to your initial question about the purity of acoustic instruments.
I wanted to ask you how you felt about composition? It seems like your work is very calculated.
Extremely calculated, almost to the point where I'm not thinking about the events within a song in musical terms anymore, haha. What about composition do you want to know how i feel?
Why choosing to compose instead of improvise?
There's that old adage about needing to make things come out perfectly in art because you can't in real life and I think that's quite applicable to my work. But to think of composition as this cold, austere activity where spontaneity isn't involved would be silly and wrong or to think of improv as this place where "anything goes" would be just as naive. I don't necessarily see the two as separate entities; there's certainly a lot of improvisation in composition and vice versa. I feel like similar rules apply in either medium, at least they would if I were improvising.
The non-pretentious, non-snarky answer would be that performing a piece of music that I've slaved over suits my temperament more than creating something on the spot in front of an audience.
...and don't forget to join us this Thursday (April 7th) for Capillary Action w/ Matthew Welch's Blarvuster! To learn more, click here!