Patrick Fleming of the Poison Control Center recently tweeted about being done with the band’s new album, something that seems remarkable to me because the band just released an epic, 17-track record last spring and have pretty much been on tour since it came out. Since I know Patrick and the rest of the PCC personally, I took it upon myself to email him and ask some questions about the new album. For the sake of disclosure, I love this band both as musicians and people. I’ve booked shows for them, blogged about them, and can’t see a future in which I wouldn’t sing their praises. So, we should all be very excited about this new album from the Iowa quartet. New Yorkers, take note: the Poison Control Center return to the Mercury Lounge on Sunday, February 20. They’ll play with My Teenage Stride, among others.
Download: The Poison Control Center – Being Gone
You recently Tweeted that the new album is done. What can you tell us about it so far?
Well its going to have a 11 songs. 10 rockers, 1 softy. This album kinda came out of no where and was done super quick. A few of the songs we were playing all year on tour while others were written in the month we had off over the holidays. Some of the songs still needed lyrics up until the point when the vocals needed to be recorded so it felt really fresh and exciting while we were working on it, and hopefully that is the feeling the listener will get from it as well.
Where did you record and mix? Who worked on the album with you?
We recorded it in an old Egyptian building in Chicago with some friends, and mixed it in Omaha with A.J. Mogis. A friend of mine from Indianapolis named Nathan Cook has been trying to start a studio for about 5 years and he has had a space in this Old Egyptian building for 4 years. It’s the same building where Bob Weston’s mastering studio is, so there is a Nirvana Gold Record housed there. Anyway Nate has been super slow about getting his studio up and running, so when we were in Chicago in October on tour we went and looked at the space and said, come on Nate get off your ass and get this place running, we will come here and record our new album! He was scared and said there was no way he could get it done in time to do the record in January but, on January 2nd we set up and shit and ripped it out with Nate and another Indiana boy named Mike Dixon pushing buttons and twisting knobs for us.
We had no idea where we were going to mix the record but I wanted to do it in a nice studio for the first time so when we got back to Iowa we decided to look around at places in Minneapolis, Chicago, Kansas City, Omaha, and Des Moines. We decided that ARC, the recording studio owned by Mike Mogis and Conor Oberst in Omaha was the best priced so I called them up and the gods were on our side cause their studio B was open for the next 3 days and A.J. Mogis was also free so we hopped in the car and drove to Omaha for 3 days and ripped it out again! So in 10 days we have all these new songs, recorded and mixed and got to be star struck twice cause in Chicago Pat from Wilco stopped in while we were there and in Omaha Conor Oberst stopped in as well! Not a bad 10 days!
Is it going to be out on Afternoon Records?
Most likely yes! Our contract is up with Afternoon but we have had such a great working relationship with them and they have said that they want to be our label forever, so that is very reassuring to us. They have been super supportive of everything we have done and I can’t really see any reason why would go somewhere else at this point. Also we would like to get this record out as fast as possible and I think with Afternoon that could be a lot easier then starting fresh somewhere else.
When can we expect to see it?
Fingers crossed by May or June. We still need to master the record, and then it’s usually about 3-4 months, I say that, but Sad Sour Future took like a year to get out! But if we can get it out by June then we will have released over 60 songs between June of 2007 and June of 2011 which is not quite the Beatles rate or quality, but it makes us feel like we are not just sitting on our asses.
Do you have a single picked out?
No singles picked out yet, and this is the first record in a long time where Donald E. Curtis has not written any songs for the record and he is usually the “poppy singles guy,” type writer. But I really think any of the songs might work as singles, well maybe not the softy one.
This is a real prolific streak for you as it hasn’t been a year since your last album came out. Do you feel like the band is hitting a creative stride right now?
We are pretty lucky in the sense that we have multiple song writers bringing work to the table. We have always said that all of our songs are written by the Poison Control Center, not as individuals so it’s really fun for all of us to collaborate and work on new stuff when ever we can. It also makes writing a set list more fun cause we have a lot to choose from, some times to much! I would love to get to the point where we could be a band like Guided By Voices or Wilco and play 2 hour sets every night and really stretch our wings. But I have a hard time thinking anyone would want the assault on their ears for that long. So maybe playing 30 minute opening slots are the way to go for now. But to answer your question, I feel like as a band we might not be writing as much as we have in other parts of ours lives but we are hopefully writing better songs then we ever have.
The PCC has been a band for like, 10 years now if not more. Are you getting a feeling of vindication now that you guys are getting some national press and attention?
It feels great to say that this band has been a part of my life for 10 year now, and it has gone at a great pace! It feels amazing when you pull into a town you have never played and someone there has your record. I guess I will never know what it’s like for a band like BEST COAST to be really popular before ever even playing a show.
The Poison Control Center has always been a band of friends first and it has never been a burden or stressful it’s always just been a part of my adult life. It kinda scares me a bit to think that it could vanish at anytime. Like that song, “Landslide,” by Fleetwood Mac is kinda how I feel about this band.
You’re going on tour again after spending most of 6 months straight on the road. How long are you going out for and what are your plans for 2011?
Our goal when we started our “Never Ending Tour” was to play 250 shows in 365 days and record a new record. As I write this we have played 140 shows and recorded a new record so we need at least 110 more shows to make our goal. We are also releasing our Unfinished Rock Opera from the year 2000 on vinyl later this year on a new label in Ames called Maximum Ames Records! Then who knows?
You’ve gained a reputation for a killer live show. How do you keep up that level of energy on tour?
Cliff Bars and Miller High Life. I don’t know, it’s easy to go to work if you love what your doing! Playing a rock show every night is pretty fucking fun and I have never called in sick to that!
You all live in different places now. After this tour, will life resume its normal course or is the PCC taking over your lives?
I don’t know, my wife and I just got an apartment in Des Moines and it’s nice to have an address again. As for the others Joe is getting hitched in September, Devin and Dave may go back to school in the fall, but like i said before the band has always just been there whether it’s what we are doing full time, just on weekends, or just once a month. It’s like old men who go on a fishing trip every year. This band is just our version of old fishing buddies getting together for a week to tell stories and hang out. Only difference is we are in a van and not on a boat.
What was the best thing that happened to you in 2010?
Watching my wife beat the shit out of a piñata at her 30th B-day party and well opening for Pavement wasn’t bad either.
Byrds of Paradise
Miracles of Modern Science
My Teenage Stride
Pillars and Tongues
The House Floor
The Poison Control Center