Interview: A.A. Bondy Chats About When The Devil's Loose
AA Bondy I Photo Credit: Jean Alcide
A.A. (Auguste Arthur) Bondy knows all about second chances. When his former band Verbena imploded in 2003, Bondy took off into the wilderness of the Catskills. Four years later he emerged back into the music scene with his lovely solo debut American Hearts which incorporated blues, folk, and a country twang,which he had recorded in his barn.
This year, his second album When The Devil's Loose impressing critics and audiences a like with it's rough hewn edges and earthy melodies, influenced by music that came a time before rock n' roll was even a concept. We caught up with A.A. Bondy (or as he's known to his friends, Scott) before his show at the Echo. Here is some of what was said.A.A. Bondy - When The Devil's Loose
Did you always know that you wanted to do a solo project? Or did you start out wanting to start a new band after Verbena?
Being in a band is kinda like being married. I was just tired of being married. (laughs) I just kind of fell out with it. You know? Where you start holding grudges and carrying them with you the whole time. It can lead you to some dark places. Verbena went out like a star, while no one was watching. There wasn't a fight or anything, we just stopped playing. You know some bands have to go to rehab to talk to each other? It's crazy. They have to go to therapists to continue playing music together. That's fucking insane. Just fucking insane.
What lessons did you learn by making American Hearts that you decided to do differently on this album?
I wanted this album to be more emotionally literal, but more abstract subject wise. I wanted to singing songs that sounded like that they weren't really locked in time. The songs on When The Devil's Loose really feel like that to me.
“Vice Rag” is such an upbeat song about such a dark subject. What influenced that?
I just wanted to write a traditional song, you know? I don’t talk like that. It was just an experiment.
You list Jesus as a vice in that song. Do you think that religion is worthy of that label?
I think anything can be a vice. Sitting in a chair too long can be a vice. Sleeping can be a vice. Religion can definitely be a vice. Look at Pat Robertson. He's evil cloaked in Christianity. It's crazy that someone can claim to be so familiar with a book an such terrible things. It's not strange, though. People need a person to put their hurt and their anger.
What was your writing process like on this album?
Twenty percent was written in my brother’s kitchen in New York. Some of them are old.
Do you write better at home or on the road?
My brain works better on the road. The trick is how to carve out time to write. I try and take little pictures with my eyes, but it's really hard to find the time.
How do you know when the devil is loose?
It's a matter of perception, I think. I mean, I don’t literally believe in the devil. It's a song about when people take on too much of the world on their shoulders. Not in a positive way, like they're trying to help, but in a way that weighs themselves down. No good comes from that. It doesn’t change anything.
You’ve jumped from the major labels to the independent ones. Are the beasts even that different?
(laughs) I've called the major label beasts. I've called them other things too. They seem to keep you from the sense of what is good. They destroy your sense of direction. At least they did when I was there. I gave up my own instincts just to succeed. All major labels do is fucking destroy bands. They kill bands. I honestly don't know how bands can stay at a major label and be fortunate enough to have some kind of success with all of their tongues talking things in their ears. We spent so much time talking about what song they wanted me to cover on the record. Or what font to use. Who cares? It creates this atmosphere of hopelessness for their bands. I'm not talking about Warner Brothers in the 70s, I'm talking about Capitol Records in the nineties. If the President gets fired everybody starts shaking, afraid that they'll be left out in the cold. It just fucks you up.
What is the weirdest thing you ever saw in the audience?
I was playing a show in Baltimore years ago. Nobody was there, except for this one lady, who decided to lift up her skirt. Not in a nice way. Anyway while she was lifting her skirt she fell on her face.
Did you stop the set?
No! I don't stop the set for anything.
If you could sing with anyone in the world who would it be?
What would you sing?
I don’t know, probably "Smile" by Nat King Cole. Although, I’d probably do nothing. I'd just lay down in awe of her voice.
All right last question. If you were hosting a gig in heaven and a show in hell, who would you have headline?
In heaven probably Brian Eno and Sade and Otis Redding and Prince. They can all play together as a group. And in hell...probably John Mayer. He can just own it down there as far as I’m considered. I’m sure he’s a nice guy, but his music is terrible.
Well thank you for talking with us.