Interview With: Andrew Carroll of You Me & Iowa

Time zone differences set aside, Andrew Carroll of the LA-based You Me & Iowa and I got to chat on the phone a bit late last week. With the recent release of their sophomore effort The Adventures of You Me & Iowa, I got to pick Andrew’s brain about the record, the state of the music industry and a national tour we both hope happens ASAP.

Jessica, PopWreckoning: How’s it goin’ Andrew?
AC: It’s goin’ well. How are you?
PW: I’m doing well, thanks. Thanks for calling.
AC: Yeah, thanks for doing the interview.
PW: I dug the album, so I’m more than happy to talk with you [laughs]
AC: Very cool. So are you in NY?
PW: No, I’m in Philadelphia.
AC: Philadelphia. OK. I wasn’t sure exactly where…
PW: Sometimes I wish I was in New York, but I love Philly! It’s all good. And you are in LA, right?
AC: Yeah.
PW: How’s that working out?
AC: It seems to be working all right. We formed out here, so I’ve lived here for about 7 years now.
PW: Very cool. Great weather.
AC: Yeah, definitely.
PW: Who have your musical influences been and what first encouraged you to pick up a guitar?
AC: I think when I first started playing, I think I was in 5th grade. So that would’ve made me about 11 years old. Tony [Benedetti], the drummer, and I wanted to start a band. He decided to take drum lessons and I decided to take guitar lessons and we started playing together.
We were really into Nirvana and Pearl Jam, that whole grunge thing back then. I guess as I got a little bit older, there were a lot of bands in the Chicago, Il./Midwest scene that I gravitated to. The Thrill Jockey bands like Tortoise, Sea and Cake. Then some other space rock-y stuff, mid-90s. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve kind of gone to even earlier influences. More like 80s Talking Heads and before then a little bit of Brian Wilson, Beach Boys and those sorts of things.
PW: How has living in LA influenced the music you write, being a music industry capital of the United States?
AC: We’ve gotten a lot of response from record industry people saying that it sounds like a summertime album. I dunno what that means exactly, but I guess maybe it has something to do with the atmosphere and the weather. Putting that into upbeat, pop tunes.
PW: Yeah, LA and the West Coast definitely has a sunnier sound than a lot of the stuff you hear on the East Coast.
AC: We’re kind of spread out throughout LA. Some of the guys are more coastal and I’m a little more inland. There’s a community of bands around here, which is nice. Bands going out and seeing each other’s shows. That probably has a little bit of influence on the sound. Just what you’re exposed to, too.
PW: Being in a music industry capital and surrounded by it, how do you feel about the music industry as it is today?
AC: I think it’s actually an exciting time for the industry. It’s kind of falling apart but more power [pause] “power” — whatever that means. More responsibility is on the individuals, the music makers themselves. Things are less focused on…the fat cats are all losing their money.
It’s a time of change. Everybody’s trying to figure out how to make money in the music industry now and we all have day jobs so we haven’t quite figured it out yet. I think it’s an exciting time if anything. I like the idea that artists nowadays have more direct contact with the fan base and the friends because of the internet. It’s just changed the dynamic of the music makers and the music listeners. There’s a lot more direct contact there and you get immediate feedback from fans. It feels a little more organic now.
PW: I agree. I really like what the internet’s done for music so far. Hopefully the “right” people will figure out how to make money before someone opportunistic comes along and capitalizes on
it and ruins it.
AC: It’s also changing, too, because you see bands and artists licensing their music and making money that way. Commercials and movies and TV and whatnot. It’s kind of funny, too, because a lot of that was seen as selling out. Today it’s how a lot of people think you make money now since music’s out there, it’s free.
People aren’t buying the records. So you have to find other avenues of income.
PW: A lot of shows now are trying to be cutting edge, getting the newest, hippest songs that are out there. Almost like they’re trying to out indie each other. That’s definitely helping a lot of bands.
AC: It’s putting more good music in front of the masses.
PW: Exactly!
AC: It’s a good thing.
PW: The new album, The Adventures of You Me & Iowa, is pretty awesome. What did you guys learn from creating your debut album that you were able to use in creating the new record?
AC: To go into the studio knowing exactly what you’re doing. We did a pretty thorough demo process before we went into the studio this time.
On the first effort, it was all friends, student projects and stuff like that so it was all free. We went into the studio not knowing exactly what we were doing; finishing writing parts in the studio. This time, we were working with people who had experience. More experience. We were also paying for the studio time, so we knew we had to get this done.
I think we recorded the record in 12 days. Very, very thoroughly thought through before we even went into the studio.
PW: The artwork for the album is really cool. Who came up with the concept of making it a comic book and how did you get involved with Chuck Wadey for the artwork?
AC: It was something we had all talked about, trying to make it light and not taking ourselves too seriously. We thought a comic book angle would be really cool. I think it was actually [bassist] Ryan Julio who came up with the title The Adventures of You Me & Iowa keeping with the comic book theme. We all sat down and storyboarded the whole thing.
We got in touch with Chuck Wadey through some friends who worked in videogames at ActiVision. He does a lot of theme artwork for videogames and comic books. So he worked at ActiVision for a while. We did emails through friends and he listened to the music, liked it, wanted to be a part of it.
We were really excited to have him on board.
PW: Awesome. It turned out really great and definitely compliments the album. It was fun just checking out the cover art before I ever even got to listen.
AC: Yeah, we’ve gotten a really good response from it so far.
PW: I like that the website and all is layed out the same. Very cool. Your record release show is next week, on the 24th at Spaceland in LA. What can fans expect to see and hear?
AC: We’re playing with some great bands! We’re playing with a group called The New Trust, which is from the Bay Area in northern California. Josh Staples fronts that band and he used to be in a group called The Velvet Teen, that you may have heard of.
Then a group called Calamity Magnet is playing. That’s fronted by a woman named Sara Radle who is from…she plays in The Rentals, too, actually. It’s kind of light, poppy, Rilo Kiley-ish music.
And another group called The Voyeurs, who’s pretty new on the scene. I actually met them through [pause] there’s a weekly kickball match that goes on in Glasshill Park in Los Angeles that a lot of bands in the area participate in. They call it “Indie Rock Kickball.” We met those guys before even hearing their music, really liked them and then checked them out and were like, “hey! We’ve got an extra spot, you’re welcome aboard.
As far as our set goes, we’re playing just about everything off the record, some new stuff and we’re making it a pretty seamless, orchestrated set. It should be a lot of fun.
PW: So when can we expect a national tour?
AC: That is a question! Hopefully by the fall. We would love to do something. We’ve gotten a really good response from colleges and college radio across the country and it would be great to be able to do something when colleges go back into session.
We’re looking to do a brief West Coast, up and down a little bit in the summer and, hopefully — I don’t know if you want to quote me on that necessarily — we’re really gonna try to do some kind of nationwide tour by the fall. We really need to get out there and get out of Los Angeles.
PW: Definitely. Everybody that I’ve talked to that’s heard the record is really excited to see it live. So come out here.
AC: We will definitely keep you guys posted when that happens.
PW: Speaking of touring, if you were able to put together a dream tour, whether You Me & Iowa opened or headlined, who would you want to play with?
AC: Oh, that’s tough. Personally, I mean, if you asked different members I’m sure it would be totally different answers. For me, definitely David Byrne. I’m a huge fan of Talking Heads. I think it would be cool to play with the Steve Reisch Ensemble. Hmm…Who else would be really cool? Tortoise, who I mentioned earlier. I’m big fan of them, as well. And, of course, somebody huge like Radiohead. That would be awesome.
PW: Maybe they still need an opener for their August tour.
AC: Yeah, we’ll hop on at the Hollywood Bowl.
PW: What bands are you currently listening to or any bands you want to recommend?
AC: There’s a local group called Henry Clay People that I really dig. Some friends in there. They make, I’d say, Pavement-esque rock music. I’ve been listening to…have you ever heard of a band called Midlake?
PW: Midlake? Sounds familiar, but I can’t say I’ve listened to them.
AC: I think it came out like a year ago, but they have a 70s rock feel to them, the latest record anyway. Really good harmonies. I’ve been listening…what’s in my car right now? A group called The Exploding Star Orchestra which is kind of a jazzy kind of rock. Andrew Bird has been going through my stereo a lot lately.
PW: Oh, yeah, I love him.
AC: Yeah, he’s really cool. I saw him…I had never heard him before I saw him open up for The Decemberists at the Hollywood Bowl. He almost stole the show, he was a really a good performer.
PW: I’d imagine it must be pretty tough to steal a show from The Decemberists.
AC: Yeah, they were playing with the LA Philharmonic, too, which was pretty amazing.
PW: That’s a great show. I’m pretty jealous [laughs]
AC: [laughs] Yeah, it was a pretty marvelous show.
PW: Thanks so much for giving me a call!
AC: Yeah, thank you! Good talking to you. And we’ll definitely keep you guys posted when we head out the East Coast.
PW: Excellent. Good luck at the record release show!

The Adventures of You Me & Iowa is out now. Grab a copy and if you’re in LA on May 24th, definitely head to Spaceland for what should be an awesome show!

You Me & Iowa: website | myspace | The Adventures of You Me & Iowa review | download “Dress the Stage”


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