Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Parts & Labor bassist, vocalist, and electronics guru B.J. Warshaw takes some time to bring us up to speed on new P&L material, the band's transition back to a trio, and playing Ithaca on April 28th at The Shop! Ithaca Underground's Bubba Crumrine interviews.

IU: Hey BJ, glad we are able to bring you three up here next week!

BJ: I’m glad this worked out! We’ve been hoping to come through Ithaca since our show in Fredonia was booked but we didn’t know about our drummer’s work schedule until just the other day.  We’d been talking to the people that run this fest at BJ’s in Fredonia , they wanted us to play last year and scheduling didn’t work, but we were able to make it work for this year. 

IU: What’s the fest you’re playing all about?

BJ: It’s a bar up there called BJ’s and they do it every year.

IU: Hope you guys have fun up there!  Now, Parts & Labor have been relatively quiet for the last year – what have you been up to?

BJ: We’ve been working on writing our new record actually, and have been for a
while.  We’ve been writing a ton of new material and taking it slower than we have in the past, partially due to wanting to take our time with it more – we were on a run where we were releasing at least one record a year for several years in a row.  This time around, we‘re trying to write an excess of material to then take the best songs from a lot of material. We’ve been writing pretty steadily since last summer.  There’s other life stuff as well Dan (Friel, vocals/keys/electronics) was married in August.  We’d also been touring pretty constantly up to and through "Receivers" coming out, including Europe a couple times.  In addition to wanting to just spend more time on recording, we needed the time off. 

IU: Understandable.  Congratulations to Dan!  Are you playing any of the new material out?

BJ: Yeah, we debuted some of the new material in the fall. We’ve been playing almost exclusively new songs at the most recent shows we’ve been playing, testing them out, making adjustments, and doing the fine tuning. 

IU: What sort of direction is the new material taking?

BJ: Well, among other things, we parted ways with Sarah Lipstate who had been playing guitar with us for about a year and a half.  Because of that we were rethinking things a little bit – we debated a while whether we were going to find a guitar player right away. In the end we decided to bring it back to the original trio format – keyboards, bass, and drums.  Parallel to that, the song writing has gone to more of a stripped down mentality.  We’re trying to think about each individual instrument and have all the parts interlocking as opposed to “Receivers" where we were just piling layers of sounds over each other.  The new songs are a little bit simpler but, hopefully, more effective.

IU: Will you continue to play any material off “Receivers” live now that Sarah is gone?

BJ: Yes, we have been with some of them.  There’s a couple that as a trio, are very difficult to pull off.  We haven’t played “Satellites” and we haven’t been able to play “Nowhere’s Nigh” either because it just sounds a little too thinned out.  We were vaguely planning on having a guitarist playing with us for our tours once the new record comes out, in which case it would be much easier to bring those old songs back.  That said, we’ve been playing “Wedding in a Wasteland” a lot recently, which works really well with just a trio.  Most recently, our set list has had one song from “Receivers”, one song from “Mapmaker”, and the rest is all new songs (laughs).  It may be a little frustrating for people coming to see us who want to see old songs but we’re pretty anxious to try out this new stuff and push forward.

IU: Hey, we never mind being guinea pigs (laughs).

BJ: (Laughs) Ithaca will be some of the lucky few who get to hear these before we go into recording. 

IU: Are you and Dan still working on solo material as well?

BJ: Both of our solo projects take the back seat to Parts & Labor, especially when we’re working as hard as we are.  Last summer I completely tore down my Shooting Spires set up and built it back up.  I started using a laptop for my beats and processing. I needed to update my technology and make things easier on myself.  For a long time I’ve avoided taking that leap to the software realm, but the kinds of things I want to do, just plain solo, it’s much easier to do with this set up. I’m using Ableton Live, which is a lot easier than trying to trigger loops, using a sampler, or iPod (laughs). 

From what I’ve been working on, I’ve got about six new Shooting Spires songs and I’m trying to write some more. After the Parts & Labor LP finished recording, I’ll probably go right back to Shooting Spires and try to come out with a new record sometime in the next year. 

IU: What sort of timeframe do you estimate we might see the new Parts & Labor LP?

BJ: We’re hoping to record by the end of the summer, although it keeps getting pushed back as we’re trying to work on material longer and having to schedule time with the studio.  We hope to have something out early next year, but there’s a lot that needs to happen.  Jagjaguwar never release dates until they have the masters and artwork in hand.  Releaseing "Receivers" ended up being a really stressful situation where we imposed a hard deadline on ourselves for issuing the record, started booking a tour before the record was done, and we ended up in a down to the wire situation trying to finish everything.  None of us ever want to be in that situation again.  Being in a band and working on music should be fun, not like a stressful job with and insane deadline.

IU: Any other major plans for this year?

BJ: We’ll I have a lot of life plans outside of P&L, my brother is getting married and my grandmother is turning 90, so we’re having a big birthday party for her down in Florida.  It will be another summer of big life events.  Other than that, trying to work as little as possible and write as much as possible!

IU: Sounds like a plan!