Canadas own Frog Eyes have Tears of the Valedictorian, the quartet's previously mentioned fourth full-length, set for May 1 release via Absolutely Kosher. Our European brethren get Tears via Acuarela on April 30, while Frog Eyes' fellow Canadians can scoop it up May 1 via Scratch.
Tears of the Valedictorian collects nine new tracks from Carey Mercer (also of Swan Lake) and company, featuring typically zany titles and copious punctuation. The LP follows up last July's Acuarela EP The Future Is Inter-Disciplinary or Not at All, and guess what? Frog Eyes hit the road this spring to support their latest creation, yapping and yelping down to SXSW for a one-off showcase spot, then circumnavigating the continent in May.
Pitchfork: Tears of the Valedictorian-- in 100 words or less, what's it all about?
Carey Mercer: Well, there are a few 'down with people' songs and a few 'up with people' songs, and a few songs that suggest an affinity for stock/archetypal tragic images. Two songs are quite long.
Dan Bejar once suggested to me that all of my art is crumbling into that most classic and vaunted of forms: the drunken speech of the deposed dictator. Tears was mastered a little quieter than Californication, and therefore will not get as much radio play.
Pitchfork: The titles of the previous Frog Eyes albums proper have all followed the pattern: [definite article] [adjective] [noun]. This one is noticeably different. Any particular reason? Why not name it, say, The Valedictory Tear?
Carey: I had the feeling that I was leaving all the nonsense of the last three records behind, and then the pompous absurdity of such a feeling made me remember, with a love in my heart, that my oldest friend Peter cried while delivering his Valedictorian speech. My favorite art combines humor and crushing Pathos, human squalor and immutable, natural beauty. That is why it is called Tears of the Valedictorian.
Pitchfork: The Frog Eyes live show is a very physical experience-- what do you do to prepare for a show?
Carey: I don't prepare for a show, I just wander out towards the stage and hope I can come across something good and pure in the next 45 minutes.
Pitchfork: Have you ever seriously hurt yourself singing and playing as you do?
Carey: Sometimes I cut my lip up. Sometimes I sweat a lot; I look like a man that has just emerged from a lake fully clothed.
Pitchfork: Tears of the Valedictorian is the fourth Frog Eyes full-length. Has making these things gotten any easier?
Carey: It is always very difficult.
Pitchfork: Who's presently in Frog Eyes?
Carey: On the record we have Melanie [Campbell] on drums, [Spencer] Krug on piano, [Michael] Rak on bass, I play guitar and a fellow named Mccloud Zicmuse [of the band Le Ton Mité] plays guitar on half of the songs.
Our live show is a little different, and I am not totally sure who will be there, but I can say that we will be touring with a fellow from Victoria named Ryan Beattie who plays guitar.
Pitchfork: Who produced the record?
Carey: Daryl Smith was the engineer/mixer, this fellow who ran a great studio in Toronto. He is great. He moved to Victoria, where we live, to raise sheep. It's all very British. I want to make another one with him pronto. I think we co-produced the record.
Pitchfork: Listening to Frog Eyes, I sometimes can't help but think of Mr. David Bowie. Are you fans?
Carey: Before late 2006, whenever someone said Bowie, I thought of the camera-man in Labyrinth having to focus, but not focus, on those purple leotards. Now I think it is odd that I loved Eno/Ferry but never really bothered to listen to Bowie, due to laziness or contentedness. That music rules. I love it.
When I first started Blue Pine, the embryo for Frog Eyes, I listened to this band called Long Hind Legs that my friend lent me. I think they were really influenced by Bowie, so I should just say 'yes, I am influenced by David Bowie.'
Pitchfork: So people like my mom think your lyrics and song titles are a little, um, 'out there.' What inspires them?
Carey: Just tell your mom that most of this stuff is about Shakespeare. It's at least a half-truth.
Pitchfork: Where did the Frog Eyes name come from? Do you ever regret the name?
Carey: The name came from some packaged ceramic frog eyes that Mel bought in a thrift store. We liked the font. One thousand frog gifts later, I do regret the name, although it has lived long enough to become meaningless, just a symbol for how I'd like to spend my days.
Pitchfork: What's the story with Prancing Cat?
Carey: It is a punk-ish band with friends. It was short-lived, but maybe has resurrection/ transfiguration potential.
Pitchfork: Has Swan Lake been cooking up anything of late? Perhaps a tour??
Carey: I think we almost played a Volkswagen party at the New York Auto-show, even though Spencer has never heard of this, this being Bejar's big $ idea, and we would have had to slip him a big glass of milk and roofies to get him anywhere near this gathering.
Pitchfork: Which contemporary musicians and recent records do you especially admire?
Carey: I admire lots of people. Just off the top of my head though: I love that new Silver Jews record. And the last Smog record. And Junior Boys, my woman loves that future/past music. Me mates too, of course, I like their ditties. I love this reissued Elyse Weinberg record, she sounds like Rod Stewart. And Deerhoof, like most people, I admire them. I don't really like Wolfmother though.
Tears of the Valedictorian:
01 Idle Songs
02 Caravan Breakers, They Prey on the Weak and the Old
04 Reform the Countryside
05 The Policy Merchant, the Silver Bay
06 Evil Energy, the Ill Twin of...
07 ...Eagle Energy
09 My Boats They Go
03-17 Austin, TX - SXSW (Absolutely Kosher Showcase)
04-14 Victoria, British Columbia - Logan's Pub
05-01 Seattle, WA - Crocodile
05-04 San Francisco, CA - Bottom of the Hill
05-05 Los Angeles, CA - The Echo
05-10 Denton, TX - Rubber Gloves
05-11 Austin, TX - Emo's
05-12 Houston, TX - Proletariat
05-15 Chapel Hill, NC - Local 506
05-16 Washington, DC - Rock & Roll Hotel
05-17 Philadelphia, PA - Johnny Brenda's
05-18 New York, NY - Mercury Lounge
05-22 Montreal, Quebec - La Sala Rossa
05-24 Toronto, Ontario - Sneaky Dee's
05-25 Cleveland, OH - Beachland Ballroom
05-27 Chicago, IL - Schubas