The singer of World Leader Pretend has a penpal. His penpal's name is Thom Yorke. Yes, that Thom Yorke. Music direction travelling across the pond and down the Mississippi into New Orleans is, apparently, working quite well for WLP. Their cd, Punches, is instantly likeable and embraces the noise of the Big Easy with the sounds (imagined and real) taking place beyond it's borders. Far away from the competitive scene of New York the band was able to take their time and put everything they have into their sound. They partly credit an overactive imagination for churning out one of the more unique (lyrically and musically) albums we've heard. At some points it's the haunting piano keys and vocals that draw you in, at others it's the fantastical orchestrations and smart lyrics. We suggest you listen to it all, live, tonight at the Mercury Lounge.
Let's get this out of the way, where did your band name originate?
We made this low-budget music video for a New Orleans cable access station. It was about 3am, the night before the video was to air, and we had to come up with a name...so we just rummaged through our records and the first thing we came across that was any good was World Leader Pretend...ta da!
What is your favorite/least favorite memory involving New York?
We made a large portion of our newest record in New York (Harlem) during Christmastime. I had never been in New York in December. It was a very romantic atmosphere. All blizzards & sleigh bells. We were all poor and sleeping six people on the floor of a tiny apartment.
There was also this other time when we were showcasing and one of the labels put us up in this uber-posh hotel..and we each had our own rooms. I remember staying up all night drinking red wine listening to Bowie's Lodger and The Rolling Stones Angie on repeat saying to ourselves "How did we get here?"
Bad memories...one time I threw up in the Disney store in Times Square when I was 15.
What is your favorite/least favorite thing about playing shows in New York?
How does New York's music scene differ from New Orleans (or other places you've played)?
Very hip/trendy/of the moment...kinda like London.
New Orleans is completely unaware of the existence of an outside world. It's self-serving and unaware of trends/fashion...etc. They're still playing the same music they've been playing for 50 years...and they still think it's socially relevant...and that's why we love it.
Now it's time for some fill-in-the-blank action
You know you've made it when...
someone in New Orleans recognizes you.
It'll be time to pack up the gear for good when...
I'll never forget the first time I...
Threw up in the Times Square Disney store.
I'll never forget the first time [insert other band members name here]...
Arthur tried to play the drums
Let's have some fun with word association. Give us your immediate feelings on the following (if you've got no discernable feelings, make something up that won't embarrass you in the morning)
Yankees - Vertical Stripes
Mets - Shea Stadium
Britney - Spears
Bridge & Tunnel - Brooklyn and Holland
The Darkness - Helicopters
Times Square - Vomiting at age 15
Bloomberg/Smoking Ban/Noise Laws - 4am 22 degrees and snowing
Questions inspired by movies...
If you will, a brief justification of the ontological necessity of modern man's existential dilemma (in less than 10 words). (Reality Bites)
What came first, the music or the misery? (High Fidelity)
For me? The misery...then Nirvana.
A few quickies on the music tip
Who would be in your ultimate music supergroup, your all-star Olympic team of rock?
Prince on the drums...Eddie Van Halen AND Kevin Shields on guitar...that would that amazing...Adam Clayton on bass (for any band to be great there has to be that one guy who can?t really play but looks really cool)...and Eddie Murphy on lead vocals.
If you released a 7" What would you put on the cover?
A headshot of Michael Stipe.
What was the first/last album you bought on the day it was released?
I don't think I've ever purchased an album on the day of its release.
Closest thing...Radiohead - OK Computer...2 days after its release.
And finally...If Josh Schwartz, creator of the OC, asked your band to perform on his TV show (as Modest Mouse, the Killers and the Walkmen recently have) would you?
See World Leader Pretend tonight, at the Mercury Lounge.
Purchase their cd here, it comes out on May 24th.
Photo from Warner Bros Records