Interview: We Can’t Enjoy Ourselves
Published on July 6th, 2012 | Jonny Abrams
We Can’t Enjoy Ourselves front man Giovanni Saldarriaga staked a bold claim for Most Entertaining Rocksucker Interview of 2011 when we spoke to him last – and now, following the release of his band’s splendid debut LP Make a Mess of Sacred Ground (read our review here), we shunted a fresh batch of questions his way and received back a set of replies that merits a quail-based assessment in its own right. Read on for all of that, but first check out WCEO’s sunshine-inducing, Smiths-meets-Belle-and-Sebastian loveliness…
Did the album turn out as you’d hoped? Why did you decide to keep it so short?
Yes, it turned out well. You’re right it is a bit on the scantier side and I suppose there is safety in numbers. So if anything, perhaps we acted carelessly by sending them out into the wilderness so few in number. But that’s fine by me. I think the songs are hardy and wiry enough to fend for themselves just fine, even if they’re up against the thousand bloodshot-eyed argus of the internet.
The point is not overt victory — the kind, banal, happy ending where Ralph Macchio sends the blockheads back to their bunks by way of beautifully tuned crane kick. No, I suppose our goal is much more modest: to bring the songs up to the level where, in their own small way, they can kick the internet in the ass when it is not looking, which is, incidentally, all the time. Anyway yes, we are satisfied and presently moving on to correct other areas of our lives that are plagued with punk-ass disaffection.
Are Winsome William, Eloise and Anthony based on anyone you know?
No, they are all just pathetic creatures prowling around the grounds of our own mythology. But like all myths they are subject to rough interrogation, investigation, and Donald Rumsfeld style waterboarding to give up their ghosts, their pulpy origins. So I suppose they’re all partly based on some people I know bumming around the Continental United Time Zones. For example, Eloise is partly based on a girl named Marles who makes and sells pot tinctures in a discreet corner of the New York Public Library. She carries them around in a beautiful gladstone bag that bangs up against her chins when she stalks the stacks like a monastic WC Fields. Whenever she’s depressed she makes pink tinged water color paintings of dogs.
William is somewhat based on a kid who loved John Cheever and methamphetamines more than anything else in the world. He seemed unremarkable at the time but I was wrong. Now not a day goes by where I don’t remark on him. He and I lived together in a collective house in Brooklyn where I was made insomniac by his Noah-in-the-night-tent trysts in which he loudly pounded loved ones and had no compunctions about inflicting his twisted intimacy on any and all consenting adults. The last time I saw him he was torturing something unholy out of a broken saxophone on a street corner in New Orleans. He seemed well-off. He said he was now teaching Basic German to Barclay’s busboys at Tulane as an adjunct.
Have you started thinking about your next project yet, or is it way too early to ask?
No, it’s not too early. Here’s a peek at our third album:
Outshined Even By The Palest Lights
Dylan Taunts the Dilettantes
Mistrust your Mistress
Nothing’s Gonna Be Alright
And If The Muses Fail to Provide
At Least I’m not Repeating Myself
Sylvan Sisters and the elven Bishops
If your songs win the elder’s praise, Don’t you see your songs are dead.
The Celluloid is Splendor
Will you be playing at any festivals this month?
No. We’ll never play any festivals. Because, the rule is if you play one, then you have to play them all. And that includes Bonnaroo, folks — a sickening proposition indeed. On top of it, the mortality rate is soaring at Festivals. I’m with Daniel Johnston on this one. No one is going to make a Meredith Hunter out of me. No, we’ll stick to our dingy dublin dens.
Any plans to come to the UK in the near future?
Yes. I’m going to visit my friend Donald in September for seven to ten days depending on how long it’ll take to convince him to return to New York. We’ll have a heart-to-heart where I explain to him how much his girl Pnina desperately needs him. He will demure of course because he’s half Scottish and presently inhabits the glib strobe-lit paradigm of modern manhood. But we will get drunk and I’ll make haste and headway in persuading him.
Towards the end of the night, we’ll hit a little of this pot tincture that my friend Marles made and slyly deposited in my carry on without my knowing. Of course! Retribution for my outing her library operation in a music interview I gave a few months prior to the trip. But alas, her designs will be foiled by indifference. The dull guiding twilight of the world. The tincture will make its way past the uber-thatcherite hoods of Heathrow without a snag. I’ll recount to Donald our last exchange, her fantastic joke in the departures terminal of JFK,
“Well, I hope it was worth it. All that poetic garbage about me and my gladstones.”
“Jesus, you’re not stuck on that still?”
“Well, thanks for ending my operation, here’s to ending yours! See you in seven to ten, buddyroo.”
We will laugh and generously cheer on Marles and her malevolent machinations and triumphant cynicism. Donald will realize his folly and return to New York and straight into the arms of Venus de Milo. I mean Pnina. I wonder how he will feel after all of that. Will he feel low? Nuh-uh. Not at all.
How’s Christ Van Voors Van Beast doing?
Here’s a note he left stapled to our practice space door:
dear everyone in this band,
good morning, i am running away. this time for good. i am taking the seven o’clock train to the southwestern provinces. there is no use in trying to stop me. you are entirely right, i have to learn to become a man and the man i have decided to become is a hairdresser named ferdinand who paints little gold stars on his fingernails every four weeks. it will not be easy but i will get along. maybe someday in the future reconciliation will become possible. but right now it is too soon to tell. too much has been said that cannot be taken back. i am sorry i kicked your —-(illegible; looks a little bit like car or cat. but for the record, we have neither).
for the love of,
Are there any other up-and-coming bands you’d like to recommend or give a shout-out to?
My friend Joel has a band called Haussmann. They are much better than I could even dream which is to say they are very good and incredibly strange because my dreams are always just plain good and only nominally strange (ex: I dreamed I grew leeks out of my knees and when the old Russian woman came by to pick them out it was violent but it tickled in the most pleasant way). Joel hasn’t released anything yet. But he should.
Joel! Take note. I’m not going to puzzle you with funny lingo. Put your music into the world and get Jocelyn to make a cover for you. She will do an exquisite job. Nick and Alisa and I need your record for our tubed turntables, our shoddy old Emersons with the nobs that turn in all directions and thus make no sense. By the way, the imprint should be on white vinyl preferably so that when you release it, it’ll be just like Hyde Park the summer that Brian Jones died.
Finally, if you had to spend the rest of your life with the entire works of just five different recording artists, whose would you choose?
TS “missy” Eliot’s 1948 reading of the Wasteland (soon to be re-pressed by Captured Tracks).
Giovanni Saldarriaga, thank you.
Make a Mess of Sacred Ground is out now – click here to buy it from from iTunes. For more information, including a list of live dates, please visit www.facebook.com/wecantenjoyourselves or wecantenjoyourselves.bandcamp.com