The Pistola Press

A Philadelphia music blog

Cymbals Eat Guitars Interview

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Cymbals Eat Guitars had a killer 2009 with their self-released debut Why There Are Mountains, which was included in Pitchfork’s Top 50 albums of that year. They toured endlessly throughout the US and Europe in support of the record. The band just made a stop at Johnny Brendas with Bear In Heaven and Freelance Whales. Lead singer Joe D”Agnostino dropped by to talk about the band, 2009 highlights and what to expect from CEG in 2010.

The Pistola Press: How are you doing man?

Joe D’Agostino: Pretty well. How are you?

TPP: I’m alright. Just got done with classes for today so I’m just hanging out and it’s Friday. So life is good.

JD: Right on. I’m hanging out too. I’m downloading a bunch of records that I missed out on last year. That Girls record is really good.

TPP: Yeah, it is. I wanted to see them last fall but I was too young at the time to get into the venue they were playing.

JD: Oh, that sucks! The new Beach House is so fucking good too. Have you heard that?  The second track  “Silver Soul” is just really beautiful.  Anyway..

TPP: So how did you guys come to be Cymbals Eat Guitars?  I know you guys are pretty young…

JD: Yeah, I’m 21. Our drummer is 23, our keyboardist is 27 and bassist is 25. I guess we’re all pretty young. The drummer and I have been playing together since we were in high school in cover bands and things and on original material later into our high school careers. Like 11th and 12th grade, we started writing our own stuff.

When we began recording demos for this record, we got a band together via Craigslist. Only one of the members we originally pulled off of there stayed for the making of the record that was our keyboardist. He’s since left the group. Our originally bassist who played on the record, also left after our tour this past September with The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart. The current group of people, Matt and I are the only founding members.

TPP: That’s cool. Where did you guys grow up together?

JD: South Jersey.. near Long Beach Island.

TPP: Yeah, I noticed that you were kind of local from your 609 area code. I’m from Philadelphia.

JD: Cool! Just a short drive. I saw a bunch of shows when I was a kid at the First Unitarian Church, which is still a venue to this day. It was a big thrill to play there when we did in October.

TPP: Yeah, I was at the show.

JD: Oh, really? Did you like it? Wait, you don’t have to answer. I’m just kidding(laughs).

TPP: Well, I’m talking to you now so I obviously did like it.

JD: You never know. People sometimes get stuck interviewing people they don’t really care about so I didn’t want to put you on the stop.

TPP: True. So what was the recording process like? You’re only 21 so I assume you were in school at the time.

JD: Yeah, I was. I had one foot out the door already though. I was going to Fordham Lincoln Center Manhattan at the time. Basically, we started the record the summer before my junior year of college so by that time I was already deep in thought about making the record. So I didn’t really go to school that much. When I did I would sort of sit there with a notebook and I was just in my own world. Not listening to the teachers or anything.

For the second semester of my junior year, I didn’t even complete it. After we had to start making more commitments and playing a lot more shows and rehearsing a lot, it became a full time thing. So I took a leave of absence from school and I think at this point all my scholarships are knolled. I don’t really see myself going back to school.

Anyway, after many, many days in September and October of 2008 of layering guitars and keyboards and vocals and things, we were done mixing the record in mid-October or so.  We had it done being mastered on my birthday, November 7th; I was 20 years old and got a mastered copy of my record for my birthday.

TPP: That’s pretty awesome.

JD: It was great!(laughs). I guess after that I just sent it to a couple of radio stations that I made friends with. Then things sort of launched for us from there.

TPP: It’s great how nowadays you can kind of do that. Like self-release a record and have it just take off.

JD: Yeah! That’s the Internet. I wish I could say something profound about it but I’m glad I grew up in the time that I did…

TPP: …the digital age.

JD: Just like I said. Sitting here downloading all these records fo’ free; regardless of the morality of that. It’s very useful.

TPP: 2009 recently just came to an end and you had a pretty great year. Are there any events that stood above the rest?

JD: Yes!(laughs) The first huge thing was probably the Pitchfork Festival(held in Chicago) in July. Going out there and not really knowing what to expect opening this huge festival. You never know how many people are going to show up at one in the afternoon. As it turns out, I’m bad judge of crowds but I was told that it was somewhere close to 5,000 people that came to see us for opening day. That’s still the most people we’ve played in front of. That was very memorable and very, very exciting and mind-blowing.

After that, the next defining moment had to be opening two shows for The Flaming Lips in London. Talking to Wayne Coyne(lead singer from The Flaming Lips) was really surreal. It still feels like a dream.

TP: So what are your plans for 2010 besides touring with Bear In Heaven?

JD: After that tour, we’re going to hit the summer festivals circuit. I know we’re going to Norway to play the Oya Festival and Way Out West Festival(in Sweden). Both of which Pavement is playing. So hopefully I’ll get to shake (Stephen) Malkmus’s hand.

When we get done that, we’ll start working on new material and put out a new record. We already have four songs. From there, we’ll keep on keepin’ on(laughs).


Written by Colin Kerrigan

March 9, 2010 at 1:17 pm

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