Andrew Jackson Jihad just wrapped up the last leg of their tour with Hard Girls and Dogbreth, bringing their folk punk sound across the country in support of their new album, Christmas Island. idobi writer Alyssa Dempsey had the lovely opportunity to speak with cellist Mark Glick before the band’s show at The Troubadour in Los Angeles. Read below for their conversation on the fans’ reaction to the new album, the band’s switch to a new label, and what their moms think of their songs.
So Christmas Island just barely came out. How’s the response been for that so far?
It’s been really, really good. We weren’t sure going into it — we just recorded the record we wanted to record. Especially now that we’ve toured the majority of the United States, and there’s been a really good response to the songs live, it’s really awesome. It would have been really weird if we played old stuff and everybody’s all singing along and then it just goes silent for the new stuff, but people seem to like it, which is awesome.
What’s been the fan favorite song?
I would say “Linda Ronstadt” or “Children of God” have been the two big ones.
What about your personal favorite off the record?
That’s a tough one, I like them all a lot —
Well, that’s good, since you guys made them!
[laughs] Yeah, there’s no good answer. I think “Coffin Dance” is probably my favorite because Jamie Stewart from Xiu Xiu sang on it, which is insane because I remember 6 years ago being super into Xiu Xiu, and now I’m just in a world where he’s on a song!
Your songs have a shock value to them, but they’re sung in this charming, earnest way. What’s the songwriting process like?
Sean is the main songwriter. He develops the skeletons and basically the acoustic center of it, then goes through the demo process of rewriting and restructuring stuff. Then he brings them to the rest of us and we all hang out with them for weeks, months, and just develop them further. It’s all based around what Sean gives us.
What do your moms think of your songs?
I don’t know if my mom has ever listened to the record and paid attention to the singing, because she’s so motherly she’s only listening for the cello parts [laughs]. There’s definitely been some laughter – I don’t know if it’s nervous laughter – about some of the lines.
Yeah, exactly. They seem okay with it.
What were some of your personal musical influences growing up?
I’ve always been super into the Mountain Goats. They’re the best band. Growing up, I was really into metal, like fat kid with long hair, wearing all black, only listening to death metal. Then it just sort of sprawled out from there. I got into punk and started going to local DIY shows. I was at the right age where I just got into everything I was seeing, so it let me get really broad and then I purged a little bit, and now I just listen to like five bands because I’m terrible [laughs].
What are some of your favorite albums now?
Right now I’m really into the new Weird Al record [laughs]. But on a more serious note, the new Angel Olsen record is really good. What else…I’ve been getting really into Jay Reatard outside of Blood Visions. I’d only had that record for a really long time so now I’m listening to the singles and the weird electronic stuff that he did. Yeah, I mostly just listen to The Mountain Goats.
And Weird Al.
Yeah, Mountain Goats, Weird Al [laughs].
You guys recently signed to SideOneDummy for this record. How’s that been?
It’s been awesome — really, really good. Everyone knows what they’re doing very very well. They’ve treated the record really well, pushed it where it needs to be pushed. They’re also totally cool with everything we want to do. They let us do the incredibly ridiculous pre-order stuff with the Snuggie…
And the skateboard!
Yeah! They were down to play ball with that. And that’s really awesome because different labels would potentially be like, “Nope, that’s dumb, that doesn’t work,” but they made it work. It’s been awesome. And they let us sleep at their office!
Were you there last night?
No, today we drove from Santa Cruz, but tonight we’re gonna be sleeping in their office.
With your Snuggies.
Yeah, invading their space [laughs].
You guys are on tour with Hard Girls and Dogbreth, and you were with Cheap Girls for the first half. How’s that been?
It’s been awesome. It’s great that we can tour with our friends. Everybody knew each other going into this tour so it’s more like a reunion/vacation than just a grueling tour of long drives and staying up way too late, not sleeping. Instead, you’re excited to see the other bands play, so it’s like you’re just going to a show that you would go to anyway every night. It’s been awesome.
What are some of your favorite songs from those bands that you get to hear every night?
Dogbreth — they put out a record last year called Sentimental Health, and there’s this one song on it called “Appetite for Distraction” and it is so good. That’s easily one of my favorite songs that they’ve done. I also run a really small record label [Anxiety Machine Records], and I put out a 7” for Dogbreth a couple years ago, so they’re bringing those songs back and that’s really cool to hear those. And then Hard Girls, every song that they play [laughs]. Their new record is insanely good. Every night that I get to see them is a pleasure for their entire set. Cheap Girls, I should show them off too, their new record’s also very good. I’ve loved them for a while. “Ft. Lauderdale” is a great song that unfortunately they didn’t play as much as I wanted them to.
What’s coming up next for Andrew Jackson Jihad?
Well, we’re going to Europe in October. We’re gonna be there for two and a half weeks. It’s gonna be a lot of fun–doing the UK and some mainland stuff. I’ve never been to Europe before, so I’m really excited for that. We’re touring with Caves and they’re really good. We’re playing a big festival [WTFest] there that The Menzingers and a bunch of other good bands are on, so that’ll be fun. Then we hope to tour more next year — we’re in the planning phases of that right now. I think we’re touring more than we did this year. For the routing of the tour, I would like to hit a lot more smaller cities that bands usually skip. Last night in Santa Cruz was insane, and that’s an hour and a half from San Francisco so bands don’t usually play there. But we played in this amazing place — the guy who runs it was telling us it’s one of the last movie theaters built in the ‘40s that’s still standing without being horribly remodeled. We played in this giant old movie theater, and there was this amazingly fun show. I hope we play more cities like that.
The people there are hungrier for shows.
Totally, and we get a good response. San Luis Obispo was great when we played there last November. A year ago, I did a tour with Sean — I was selling t-shirts and he was playing solo – but we hit up smaller cities in the Midwest, like Springfield, Illinois and stuff like that, just showing those areas some love. So that’s a potential plan for next year that I’m pushing for. And hopefully Australia? I don’t know. People in Australia really want us to go to Australia and we really want to go Australia, so it makes sense. We’ll see!
Christmas Island is now available on SideOneDummy Records here. We dare you to pick up the record and share it with your mom. And be sure to keep an eye out for future Andrew Jackson Jihad tour dates!