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The New Pornographers on ice.
The New Pornogrpahers on ice

The New Pornographers

Everyone, even Dan Behar , is joining Carl Newman on the road this summer with the New Pornographers

By Scott Thomson

“There are some people who think that you should just leak your entire album beforehand” says Carl Newman, front man of Vancouver’s The New Pornographers.

“A lot of albums have leaked and gone on to be huge”

Newman, speaking about the release of the bands fifth studio record Together, has taken has a different approach to the issue. Instead of leaking it outright, the band released some teaser tracks weeks before the May 4 release date and then launched a full album stream on the venerable National Public Radio (NPR) website and on

Together, according to Newman is “a lot more rock” then their last release

The hope, of course, is that by the release date, enough people have heard the record, and purchased it, to continue with The New Pornographers’ string of successful albums.

“Nobody knows who their fan base is, but when I think of the people who will buy our record, they are probably the same people who buy The National, Band of Horses and Broken Social Scene and The Hold Steady.” He says. “They all have records, if not within the same day, but within two weeks.”

May is going to be a big month in the indie rock world, but Newman is not worried. “I think the world is big enough to hold all the bands.”

Carl Newman
Carl Newman

Together, according to Newman is “a lot more rock” then their last release, 2007’s Challengers

“I think as we go along, we try and fuse together what we have done through the years.” He says. “I think this record, even though it has some of what Challengers had, it is a lot more rock in a way that perhaps we haven’t been since Electric Version.”

The record will feature three songs by member Dan Bejar, which seems to be the normal amount for New Pornographers album. Newman, the bands principle songwriter joked that “it is kind of the George Harrison number.”

With members all having their own bands, or solo careers, getting time together can be tricky, but Newman says that the process of writing a record is not that “difficult.”

“It is essentially Dan who writes three songs and I write the rest of them. We do not start jamming and go ‘hey, let’s make that into a song.’” He says. “I usually bring in a song and then we start working on it. It unfolds from there. If someone is not around to work on the record as much, then they don’t have as much input.”

“Obviously you don’t want to cut anybody out. Maybe we are unique that way. The only other band I can think of with a similar working condition is Broken Social Scene.” He says. “There are ton of people in the band. There are a bunch of different singers. There are people in the band that are not always there, even if they are on the records.”

The band will kick start the tour for Together a few days after its release, with a full lineup, which includes the busy Neko Case and Bejar.

I feel if we can maintain where we are, then that is success. It has been doing well for me.

“The thing about Dan’s side projects is that they are all studio things.” Newman says. “Now that Dan has a daughter and he has a family to support, I think it is actually easier to get him on the road. When you are a single guy, it is easy to go ‘I don’t need much to live. If I don’t want to tour, I’m not going to tour’. But now he gives in to touring.”

“And Neko, of course she busy, but the thing about her is she is still really into the band. Since we began, she has always been busy.” Newman says. “Trying to get her to play some gigs in 2000 and trying to get to play some gigs in 2010, obviously her career has taken off, but it is still the same thing.”

Newman seems a bit conflicted when asked about touring himself.

“I like staying at home.” He says. “As you get a little older, I just bought a house in Woodstock (NY) and I like working in the yard and being with my life. I like having a regular-guy life. I miss that when I am gone. I also know that it is ridiculous to have complaints about my job because it is a really good job.”

He says he also enjoys touring with the group because “I don’t see those people that much.”

The band, which technically has been around for over 13 years, hope to continue with their string of success. Each record, starting with 2000’s Mass Romantic through to Challengers, has done better then its predecessor. The latter reaching the 34th position on the Billboard 200.

Newman says that success “is hard to quantify it with sales.”
“I feel if we can maintain where we are, then that is success. It has been doing well for me.” Newman says. “When I look back at the last few years of my life, I think ‘God, that would be crazy it if kept going like this.’”

“Maybe it is not the way you are supposed to look at it, but if I can keep going like this, I can be rich. In a few years, I’ll be rich.” He says.  “Part of me just wants to make records, and make enough to live. Have my house, and live a comfortable life. That’s what I think on a bigger level more then on ‘where is my rock career going to go’”.

“There is the music that you make, and then there is the living from the music. Of course they are connected, but you try to keep them separate.”

Newman, who aside from his work with the Pornographers has also released two well-received solo albums, says he has a bunch more songs ready to use. The trick is, he is not sure how to use them.

“Sometimes I have an idea for a song. Sometimes the words won’t be there yet but I will have the melody, the chords, and a vague version of a structure. I will play it into my IPhone. I will send myself a voice-note.” He says. “Then I won’t think about it. I will think ‘okay, that was that and it seemed like a good idea. Sometimes a month will pass and I’ll go though my ITunes or Voice Notes and listen back to stuff. It is interesting because at that point, you would have forgotten about it.”

He says that he goes back and listens to the track “as a listener” or as “someone who is listening to it for the first time.”

“If an idea comes to me I will just play it into whatever I have around.” Newman says. “That way, I feel like I am always working on something.”

He says he can’t “tell the difference” at all between writing a solo song, or something for the band. ““Honestly, sometimes it just has to do with what I am working on. When I did my last solo record I thought, well, I am working on my solo record and what have I got lying around for music.”

In hindsight, the decision on where to use a song may not have always been what he would have done.

“On my solo record, there is a song called “Prophets”, which is one of my favourite songs on the record, and I listen to it now and think “I kind of wish I made that a New Pornographers song.’” Newman says. “It had so many of the elements. When it was finished it had so many of the elements of a New Pornographers song. I didn’t because I was working on my solo record.”

“Ultimately I think who cares?”

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