Did you study formal criticism?
It began as literary criticism essentially and then it developed more like the feminists and Marxist theory. I wasn’t really particularly tied to any sort of frame of mind. I just went with everything because, frankly, they’re all pretty interesting. But at the end of the day it was like, I’m now part of the machine that I was so adamantly against. It actually makes for a pretty interesting time, especially when dealing with a major label and all these publicity agents. It’s like, it’s never going to be something I can just stomach. It’s always going to be difficult. But it makes it really fun because you’re kind of like always playing with it.
Can you think of any example where you found yourself in a situation where you’re like, oh my god, I can’t believe I’m doing this or that you sort of saw that and try to react to it?
I think what it is mostly is just the way we’re exhibited or put on display. It’s just so not what I ever wanted to be, and it starts a certain way and just keeps going – it’s like a snowball effect and you can’t really change it, and, even when we were working strictly with Frenchkiss, it was still completely out of my hands. And you generate an idea, you generate something new, and it’s no longer yours really. It becomes everyone else’s. I’m so used to being so insular, and keeping everything to myself. Finally I break and I stay with the band for longer than two shows and people are buying the album and it’s like, you’re never going to work out the way you want it to, I guess. So here I am trying to make sense of all of it but there’s really no way to make sense of it, you just have to let it go. It’s a question of endurance, really, because you’re constantly fighting these urges to quit or do something because it’s so far from what you originally thought. But it also makes for an interesting way of living. It’s just that healthy balance that you have to strike.
I’m always fascinated by this: you guys have achieved a level of success that is odd for Boston. It’s not that there aren’t successful bands from Boston but usually they go in different directions. It seemed to me, at least, even initially, you guys were more popular outside of Boston than inside of Boston, and because there’s such an insular music scene [in Boston], it was a surprise to see you guys rise.
I don’t get it. I don’t know how it happened. Being a Boston band, or whatever, I don’t know if I feel comfortable saying that. I think it’s really wonderful that a city wants to claim you in a way because we weren’t really part of a scene or anything – there definitely wasn’t an electro-pop scene here. And when we went to New York and played, everyone was like, this band’s from Brooklyn. You just let people think what they want to think. The trajectory and coming from Boston, those two things together made for a really surreal experience because our trajectory has been so quick and so severe. You know, we’ve done four tours maybe for two and a half weeks at a time and our next tour we’re on a bus with a five person crew and playing 1,000-capped rooms minimum and playing at festivals for 20,000 people. What the fuck is going on? This was not how it was supposed to happen. I almost wish I had started this band in the '90s, because then I could become someone who feels like they really deserved it or worked so hard, and in Boston, it’s so small and if you’re doing something somewhat differently people start taking notice, whether they like you or not, they start taking notice. If anyone asks me how it happened, it’s just really the internet and this is such a college city that like everyone was downloading and downloading and sharing – that’s the one way I can explain it. It’s so weird. I cannot explain it.