He’s coming around slowly, but Carl Newman is finally posing for more pictures.
“I never like to get my photo taken,” he says while sipping what we would later discover to be the most expensive pints in Vancouver. “I’m never completely comfortable with being photographed. There was a feature on me in the New York Times Magazine a few weeks ago and on the second page of this two-page feature you just see my face. And I swear it’s like actual size. If not, then it had to be 80 per cent!”
Newman is going to have to get used to more of that now that he’s reintroduced himself as AC Newman (Allan Carl for anyone keeping score) to the world. Boasting his first solo record that may sound somewhat – but not entirely – like a New Pornographers gem, Newman is proving more than the validity of his current status as one of power pop’s finest songwriters. He’s also proving that he can put himself out there – something he might not have been able to do a few years ago.
“It’s a little riskier when you put out a record under your own name,” he says. “I think when you’re in a band you can sort of hide behind it like it’s a character you play. Someone can say the New Pornographers suck, but I can go, ‘OK, well it doesn’t mean that I suck.’ But if someone says AC Newman sucks then it means, yeah, I suck. I was intrigued, though. Sometimes you have to put yourself out there and do that. I feel nervous about that. And because I’m putting the record out myself in Canada, I have to make posters with my face on them and doing all the things I feel really uncomfortable with.”
Newman can find comfort in the fact that his album, The Slow Wonder, is a pop masterpiece. Outstanding tracks like “Miracle Drug” and “On The Table” are instantly hummable, singalong tunes, but it’s the acoustic-driven (“Drink To Me Babe, Then,” “Most Of Us Prize Fighters”) and softer, very non-bouncy (“Come Crash,” “Better Than Most”) songs that stand out. Those tunes are markedly different from what listeners are used to getting from Newman and it’s the reactions to these one would think the songwriter might be most curious about.
“I don’t really have any expectations about the solo record,” he says. “I just wanted to see what would happen. You ever hear that story about how Paul McCartney gave [’60s pop duo] Peter And Gordon that song, ‘A World Without Love?’ He didn’t want anyone to know that it was a Paul McCartney song. He just wanted to know if the song would be a hit on its own. I think there was some element of that when I was writing and recording this record. I was wondering how my songs would do if they’re not coming from the New Pornographers. Will people still like my music as much? Not that it’s a big part of it, but I’m kinda curious about that.”
AC Newman will play the following dates in Canada. For a full list of North American dates, visit the AC Newman website at http://www.acnewman.net/.
July 16 – Victoria, BC – Lucky Bar – w/The Neins
July 17 – Vancouver, BC – Richard’s on Richards – w/The Neins
July 30 – Edmonton, AB – Sidetrack Cafe – w/The Neins, All Night Radio
July 31 – Calgary, AB – Night Gallery – w/The Neins
August 1 – Saskatoon, SK – Amigo’s – w/The Neins, All Night Radio
August 3 – Winnipeg, MB – West End Cultural Centre
August 8 – Toronto, ON – Lee’s Palace
August 9 – Montreal, QC – El Salon – w/Rogue Wave, The Neins