the black watch – future strangers (Q&A)

future strangers is the 21st release of the black watch, but quantity means nothing to creator John Andrew Fredrick. The quality of the music generates new followers every week and the urge to make music that no one else makes is indestructible.

future strangers is the 21st full-length release from the black watch, an incredible number. Eat, drink, sleep, write and record songs, repeat?

There is another one coming in the UK very soon called The Morning Papers Have Given Us the Vapours.  Yes, we put out a lot of music. It might bother me that listeners sometimes focus too much on how prolific we’ve been if I let it. And I kind of used to, but when you think about it, you wouldn’t level that accusation (it sort of IS when that’s what the reviewer or punter zeroes in on rather than the quality) at a Kandinsky or a Shakespeare.  As in, “what?  ANOTHER painting? or what?  another PLAY?”).

“Songs pour out of you,” a producer called Misha Bulluck (who drummed on Here & There) said to me recently. He’s not wrong, and I’ve always said that I make the music I want to hear–the stuff that no one else is making, so I ‘will bloody’ do it. Hahaha.

I think Wish I Had Something is beautiful. It initially reminded me of Echo & the Bunnymen. Do you see that as a compliment, or do you find these comparisons superfluous?

I don’t mind it at all, especially the Bunnymen whom I adored for the first five LPs and then shook my head in total dismay at how they waned. I think that Wish I Had Something really has its provenance in the Beatles, and when they went to India. As a kid, hearing George’s India-influenced songs, I freaked and started making my mom and dad buy me Ravi Shankar records. Never been there myself, but I am a total fanboy for Indian fiction and film. I doubt if I’m tough enough to travel there ever–save on youtube! Hahaha.

future strangers, the title track, immediately grabs you through the beautiful intro. I notice that the sadness that emanates from the title alone touches me. How did the number come about?

The phrase “future strangers” just kinda came from contemplating how we’ll be estranged (by death, by events, by chance) from everyone we’ve ever known. But the song itself is about someone I was in love with but who turned out to be a very confused and self-and-other deceiving woman. Not a new story by any stretch!  It’s always a risk to give oneself to someone, but it’s one I think that would be tragic if one indeed stopped taking it. Nevertheless, I rather believe that things DO work out for the best. There’s that sanguine side of me coming out!

There is a statement by a Dutch writer, Connie Palmen, who says that the writer is in complete control, but I think when a book or record is finished, the reader or listener provides further interpretation. How do you see this? And would it bother you if something other than what you were trying to convey was heard?

So many friends who’ve come back and gone into a closet for a month or lose or gain their faith in God.  Of course, as I don’t believe in what Eliot called the Intentional Fallacy, anybody’s game/welcome to interpret songs how they wish.  I am not the Ur interpreter at all, nor is any artist. It’s nice to be asked, “what does this song mean?” but of course, the auteur or composer is just another wonderer, if you will.  So much of what I do comes from the unconscious anyway.  The world?  Well, I’ve tried my damnedest NOT to pay attention to politics (other than Plato’s or Aristotle’s! How pretentious does that sound?  Ahhaa. So I will throw in Hobbes as well….), but they’ve parasited into all facets of life and society, so they’re ever-harder to ignore. 

I do indeed think the world’s gone mad, and as an overeducated person, I will say that Identity Politics and the way a certain Party has emphasized them has been nothing less than revolting.  At heart of course, I am deeply cynical about almost everything, save the sacredness of music and literature, but one must acknowledge the notion that deep-down every cynic is HOPEFUL, through-and-through that good will prevail–in both people and artifacts. One more thing for now: I’d be most bothered if people DIDN’T bother interpreting my records and books. And we are gaining more fans all the time. It’s been funny to hear or get an email from music fans weekly who say, “I can’t believe I have not heard you guys.”. That NEVER gets me down.  I’m just glad that they’re embarrassed about it. Kahaha. Kidding. Happy to have them on our side, so to speak.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s