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Interview with a Danpire

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Ten Questions with Danny Seim of Menomena
by Erin Scholz for LAist

they have vocal harmonies which may have you convinced you're in the deep south, sitting in on a church choir practice....their songs range from punch-you-in-the-face rock, to tranquil and uplifting tracks that will put you in a kinder place...oh, and all held together by hip-hop inspired beats and baritone sax. wtf?

wikipedia decribes them as 'experimental rock', pitchfork gave their latest album a higher rating than neon bible...which is like, 'holy eff'...

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they're a sextet with three members...basically. something like that. if, WHEN, you go...you may experience some level of anxiety, as you see keyboard, electric guitars, bass guitar, bass synthesizers, multiple xylophones and saxophones, drums, etc being set-up. 'how will these three dudes pull it all off?'. dont worry dudes, danny seim, brent knopf and justin harris have it totally under control. they have since the '90s. which is a super long time.

they play at the troubadour tonight night. it's sold out, but do everything possible to see them! must be seen to be believed! then talk to them because they would love to talk to you. look they just talked to me!

LAist: what do you mutter in the song "west" on the album friend and foe ..something like, 'zoso...manafjla'...is that close? are you speaking in tongues?

Danny Seim: It's actually The Prayer of Jabez: Say it once and you will receive $10 sometime in your lifetime! Publish a book about it and you'll become a millionaire!

what's the best show you've ever played? (this tour or past ones..)

Actually, it would be much easier for me to tell you the WORST show we've ever played, but I'm not going to do that. That wouldn't be very nice. We don't kiss and tell... Ok, it was at a place called Harper's Ferry, and it was in Boston. I'm going to cut myself off there, because every other word from here on would be an expletive.

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Tell me something about your new label, Barsuk. How is that relationship progressing?

When people ask about the label, I always wonder: if the relationship with them WASN'T going very well, would I have the nerve to answer honestly? Probably not. Thankfully, this is never an issue because Barsuk has been nothing short of perfection to - and for - us. I'm going to cry.

what type of food do you miss the most when you're touring?

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Mexican food. Any of it, especially chicken chimichangas. We found nothing comparable to Portland's many taquerias except for this one restaurant in Austin called Polvo's.

did you have an influential teacher going through school...you know, that told you to follow your dreams or whatevs?

Let's see. No.

Ah, that's not fair. I had a lot of good teachers that I'm sure gave me a lot of good advice and support along the way. I just hated school then and I continue to hate school now, even though I
haven't been in a classroom in almost five years. I honestly still have regular nightmares about not getting homework and projects done in time. In my dreams, I'm always failing, failing, failing. And I blame school for this. Oh, and then there's the tens of thousands of dollars I owe for college loans for a degree I'll never use. Yay!

what is your favorite menomena song? or two favorites. oh, AND WHY?

Wow, you go right for the jugular, don't you? One of the first songs we ever recorded was a cover of "Carry On My Wayward Son" (by Kansas) that I really liked, and I had to change the lyrics because Brent was afraid of getting sued. The song was changed to "Let's
All Unite", and it lost about 99% of it's initial appeal for me.

We then wrote a theme song for this awesome local cable access star named Sista Social, and I really liked that, too. This was about four years ago, and I think everything we've written since pales in comparison.

do you get stage fright?

Every concert. Some day I'll learn to use this to further my cult status like Cat Power. But until then, I'll just sadly have diarrhea in the bathroom beforehand. Alone.

creatively, who/what are your biggest influences lately? (bands, people, books, movies, FOOD etc...).

My influences change on a daily (if not hourly) basis. Right now, it's Craig Thompson, Hunter S. Thompson, and the Thompson Twins.

would you like to share any stories about playing in LA? i know before you were even finished the last tour you had booked more shows for LA? you must be IN LOVE.

We were playing at a venue in LA called The Echo in the summer of '05, and a guy named Jim was there with his girl Natasha to see a band called Built Like Alaska, who was playing with us. My wife Holly was there too, and she started a random conversation with Natasha about Portland. A few months later, Natasha called Holly and said "Jim and I are living in Portland now, we should hang out".

I had never met either of them before, but we were soon carving pumpkins in their backyard. And then I was helping Jim record an album in his living room... And then we were skateboarding together... And then we were going on more double dates... And then they moved to Chicago... And then they were letting Brent, Justin, and I crash on their floor when we were on tour... And now Jim has released that same album under the name All Smiles, and we're touring together!

So, [tonight's] show will be sort of a homecoming to where all the magic began. Now I'm going to cry again.