A little over three years ago, I started work on a new record. I had just arrived in Berlin. I had never been there, I didn't know anyone, and I wasn't sure how long I would stay. I was there escaping my recent history and looking to make a new one. My roommate in Brooklyn had suggested Berlin and, a month or so later, there I was.
When it actually came to writing music, I was eager to try things with arrangement and texture I hadn't explored on our first two albums. However, I was not only anxious to move out into the unfamiliar, I also wanted to push deeper into my own history; to make unexpected connections within or between records I had always loved: Talking Heads, Bo Diddley, Desmond Dekker, Young Marble Giants. I was looking to get lost in records, songs and beats that had been swinging around my head for years. It's the hidden points or the less than obvious fissures that always excite me. It's like playing a cultural hopscotch game. Ladysmith Black Mombazo following Pet Sounds following Animal Collective following Archie Shepp.
When you read about music everything is compartmentalized. Innovations are segregated off from one another until you lose the things keeping them connected to everything else. Then it becomes "Rock & Roll" or it becomes "Punk" and then "Post Punk" when all along it was always simply folk music. Only the fashion and the technology change. Then it takes someone like a kid in the Bronx named Afrikaa Bambataa ripping it up all over again, cutting back and forth from Kraftwerk to Sly and reminding us how to step out and up and dance again. It's the people selling who keep us from the party. They don't want us dancing, they want us buying and you can't buy what you can't name. Once you've called it by its name you can own it and, more importantly, you can reproduce it. You can make a formula for "It." That is, the "It" with a name, not the unknowable unnamable "It." What that "It" once was quickly becomes something else. That's the difference between The Ramones and any of the billons of cookie cutter bands since that have sounded exactly like them. Before they were "punk pioneers," they were spotty kids hopelessly in love with the two minute thirty symphonies of Phil Spector. The connection between what they loved and what they made doesn't belong to the context of history and classification, it belongs to the topography of that untraceable map whose details are obscured by those same ephemeral fissures I was looking for in what I loved when I arrived in Berlin some three years ago.
Now, I'm back in Brooklyn, my record is done. This Tuesday (May 8), it will finally be released. Now I get to read about it and see how it will be segmented off and what "It" exactly it will become. I've only read a few of the reviews so far and one of the things that seems quite striking to me is the difference in pieces written by journalists who know our first record and those who don't. I like the latter. Free to deal with the thing itself, they wander where they will and their reviews seem to touch on a number of things I was thinking of when I made the record. That makes me happy, and even happier still when they start connecting it to things I hadn't thought of. When that happens, I get to drift off again and get a little lost with them. It means the record is still becoming.
Some of the former on the other hand, they seem stuck to the first set of connections; references to The Pogues and the like which seem a bit removed from what is actually there in this record. It's certainly not something I was thinking of. I suppose that's the power of suggestion in action. It's hard to separate oneself from one's first set of assumptions. The first album gave them a starting point and their map draws out from there. I suppose it ultimately doesn't matter, but the contrast between the two types is interesting and it does make me wonder what map Forts will end up on or if it will at all or if it will disappear into some uncharted blank territory. Though, all of that can wait, really. Three years ago I landed at Schönefeld airport in Berlin more than bit unsure of where I was going. In a sense, this Tuesday I'll finally get there. So now pardon me, it's time to celebrate being somewhere for a minute. Someone uncork me a bottle please, it's time to dance.
The Boggs' album Forts comes out May 8 via Gigantic Music.
Catch The Boggs On Tour:
06.01.07 - Brooklyn, NY (Union Pool)
06.07.07 - Chicago, IL (Schubas)
06.09.07 - Denver, CO (Larimer Lounge)
06.12.07 - San Francisco, CA (The Fillmore)
06.13.07 - Los Angeles, CA (Henry Fonda Theater)
06.15.07 - Los Angeles, CA (Echo)