Newman is optimistic about Challengers’ reception, despite acknowledging that some people will wish it rocked more. “This is the direction I’ve always wanted to head in. We’ve always done whatever the hell it is we do; we’ve always been a little more rock than I wanted us to be — it’s just what we did. I like the quiet zone more; it takes a little more finesse. I want to give our fan base a little credit and assume that not all they want to hear is a beat. You shouldn’t have to be afraid to slow things down, because the band is about the songs. You can’t be a party band forever.”
So with the Pornographers’ long story arc pulling them away from their earlier pop frenzy, it wasn’t just love turning Carl Newman mushy. “I stumbled on this Camus quote: ‘A man’s work is nothing but this slow trek to discover, through the detours of art, those two or three great and simple images in whose presence his heart first opened.’ So ‘Challengers’ is about this guy who loves this girl, and it reminded me of reading this comic book when I was about five called Challengers of the Unknown. In the first moments, when you’re first falling in love with someone, it’s like when you’re a little kid and you feel this pure fascination with something. So I throw in this line about ‘Challengers of the Unknown,’ and it could be like two people just tackling challenges together, or this quote, or this comic book I read.”
And in the end, the two people get together, finding a happiness so powerful as to be something like sadness, in that way people cry at weddings.
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