SPINZONE
October 2002 Interview with

IVY


PRELUDE

The only way this band would be interviewed was live or by phone, and since the former could not be made possible I had to opt for the latter. Contraptions and gadgets were strewn thruout my kitchen on an early October evening as I tried to pry into the secrets of what is arguably the best American band on the scene today. The interview may therefore be scattered, as it became more of a bull session than interview, but hopefully it sets in order the history of this band and eliminates much of the misconceptions.
One thing is for certain: Typing it all out sure sucked.

What follows is my talk with 2/3 of the band, singer Dominique Durand and her fellow band mate and husband Andy Chase. It took over two months to transcribe off the tape, so I hope it's worth it. You may want to print it out so you can read it on vacation as well.
And special thanks to Scott Zimmerman at Twee Kitten for the use of the bottom right pic in the collage, culled from his personal archives.


Spinguy - Adam Schlesinger could not be with us today, and knowing how cosmopolitan he is, I'm wondering if he's doing a spot on 'One Life To Live' or something?

Andy - (laughing) Well, you never know with that guy.

Dominique - Where is he today?

Andy - He had a cameo on 'As The World Turns'. Actually, he had to go out to Jersey with his wife to see his wifes grandmother, or something. (everyone laughing) I'm sure he would have rather been here.

Spinguy - Well, it's actually touching that pop stardom hasn't gone to his head and he still has to go visit Grandmothers.

So for those of you that might not know, Dom and Andy are married and have a 3 year old girl named Justine. Is she there with you?

Dominique - No, she's in the park right now.

Spinguy - I was wondering, because I have a 5 year old and to get enough peace to do this I had to shove a fist full of money in my wifes hands and say "go shopping". That did it.

In doing some research for this, I came across the fact that people seem to butcher Dominiques name a lot when they send her emails, and the funniest one I saw was Domingo Durango, which sounds like it's some SUV. (Ed. Note: I can hear the ad, "test drive the new Durango with quad 4 steering and room for your whole band") Does this happen a lot?

Dominique - Yes, it does happen a lot. Just the other day someone asked if my last name was Durango, and I had to say "No, no, it's Durand."

Andy - I've seen that before, and that was one of my favorites too, Domingo Durango. What I like to call her sometimes now is Domabeek. It was one that came in Domabeek Dudand. What happens is, they catch her name on a mailing list, mine too, but they're never funny enough to repeat.

Spinguy - So Dominique, you came to the US around 1990 to study English. Was that the English language, or English literature...?

Dominique - No, just to speak English.

Spinguy - That makes it seem like you had some ulterior motive, because couldn't you have done that in France?

Dominique - No, of course I could have done that in France, or I could have done it in England. In school I studied other languages, I studied German and Latin, but to survive in Europe you have to speak English because it's obviously very important. I felt instead of going to school I should go to an English speaking country for 6 months to a year, that way I'd learn very fast. That was my plan. I decided to go to New York because England was too close to France and maybe too similar, and I'd never been to America and New York was a place I'd always fantasized about.

Andy - I think what people don't understand is that, when she first came here and I met her shortly after that, she didn't speak English. You wouldn't have met her and said she was fluent in English. She could put a sentence together like someone here could in Spanish, you pick up a few words but not enough to talk in that country. From the time she came here till the time we formed Ivy, there was a huge, huge improvement.She got fluent really fast.

Dominique - Yes, that's what happens when you live in a country, instead of going to classes for many years.

Spinguy - So, you decide to go to a club one night and saw his band play. Was this when you first met Andy?

Dominique - No, I met him before because we had a friend in common, so we met at a party and he told me he was a musician and in a band and even though I wasn't in a band I was involved with a lot of music.....

Andy - They call them groupies.... (laughing)

Dominique - ...so, I was involved with a fanzine in Paris and my family was involved with music so it had been part of my life. So when he said he was in a band I was interested, and he asked me to come check them out as they were playing next week, so I went there.

Spinguy - I understand after hearing them you told him it wasn't your 'cup of tea'.

Dominique - That's right, I didn't like their music. After that we still became friends, and that was it.

Andy - You know, there's nothing like love to make you improve at whatever you're doing....

Spinguy - Wait, so the whole thing boils down to the simple fact that you weren't her 'cup of tea'?

Andy - Oh yeah absolutely, you know, you want to get the girl, you want to do whatever it takes to get the girl, and so, it helped he have an epiphany about my whole life at that point and my whole musical past. I took a sharp left turn at that point, as I had been writing on the keyboards and she's "that's not my cup of tea", so well, what's you're fucking cup of tea? And she says "I like the Smiths... blah blah blah" She named all these bands that I liked but wouldn't necessarily call them influences at the time as far as writing as I was a keyboard player so I was listening to keyboard oriented bands. So I immediately bought a guitar and started learning how to play the guitar and as soon as that happens you start paying attention to guitar oriented bands which influences your writing style, and I haven't looked back from there on.

Spinguy - So you met Adam by putting an ad in the paper?

Andy - Well, I ended up quitting my band, and trying to start a new band which was focused around the songs I was writing on the guitar. So I put an ad in the paper to try to find like minded musicians and Adam was one of the first people that responded. But you have to remember this was still for a band for me singing in. Dominique was at the time like she said, just someone who was a fan with great taste in music and we didn't know she was going to be a singer. So I was just putting a band together for my next incarnation.

Spinguy - When you put in an ad like that, does it turn into the scene from the Commitments or American Idol, where strangers show up at your door singing "Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now?"

Andy - Yes, it's horrible. I mean, usually they don't even listen. You try to put references in the ad as I did, like looking for people who like the Go-Betweens or Prefab Sprout. I tried to name bands that were somewhat obscure too so that I could filter out the um..

Spinguy - The dregs?

Andy - ....bottom feeders and dregs. But you get people trying to bullshit their way thru. In the end you get the feeling that they've never heard of any of these bands and you finally confront them and say "Dude, have you ever even heard of Everything But The Girl or not?" and they say "No, but I'm sure I'd like them, I can play all styles." So you have to sift thru all that kind of stuff to find the Adam Schlesingers, who also called.

Spinguy - It was two years after that point until you wrote the first song for Dominique. Why did it take so long?

Andy - Well, I did put a band together, but it didn't work out with Adam....

Spinguy - So what, did you catch Dom singing in the shower one day or what?

Andy - How did that happen?

Dominique - I think it's because of a song we wrote together, remember...

Andy - Oh yeah, it was in France actually...

Dominique - ...yeah, we wrote the song together, sort of, and you said "why don't you sing it, because it's in your key. Just try", (Ed. Note: Why don't I have a key?) and I did, and then we didn't know what to think of it, it was just a little joke doing it. But we went in the studio and recorded it, and then Adam came from another project and met Andy at the studio and he played it for him to put a bass line on it and when he heard it he went "Great, it's so cute, I love it! It's exactly what I've been waiting for." So pretty much he was the one pushing us to do more, and that's how I started.

Andy - He was in a band at the time and I was in the new band I put together and we were both banging our heads trying to get record deals, and since I had met Adam after that ad I hadn't hung out with him much, and was always looking for a chance to hook up, so this song I did with Dominique was a pretext to invite Adam, but he got so excited when he heard it that we ended up hanging out more. That was a time in the indie scene when being an amateur was OK, it didn't matter if she could sing, or we could play all our instruments that well. So it wasn't that hard to get a record deal with just a batch of demos.

Spinguy - Your first album is definitely folkier than your later recordings, is that due to any attempt to sound like influential bands like Prefab Sprout?

Andy - I think we just did what came naturally. Realistic came from Lately or first EP, which were our first recordings (our first demos that got us signed) Realistic was the first concerted effort to put together originals by Ivy. I don't think we were trying to emulate anyone, we were just trying to find our way thru the maze that is making a record and finding out who you are and what your sound is.

Spinguy - So what is your favorite Prefab Sprout song?

Andy - Oh... There's too many....

Dominique - I think it's "Cruel"

Spinguy - How about the Go-Betweens?

Dominique - For me it would be "Streets of Your Town", probably.

Andy - I like Haunted House. With my favourite bands I usually don't have a favourite. My favourites of Prefab Sprout would be like 7 or 8 songs.

Spinguy - Yes, that's true. My favorite album overall of theirs is Steve McQueen though. (Two Wheels Good in the US)

Andy - It's my favourite. Bonny is the first song I ever heard by them so I'm partial to it.. It might not be my favorite but it's a special moment.

Spinguy - The cover of Realistic has a girl under a bicycle. Is that Dominique? If so, who came up with that idea? Is she that bad a cyclist? I thought all the French rode bicycles with proficiency.

Andy - No, it's not Dominique. That was a picture from an old drivers education class. Bizarre, huh?

Spinguy - So anyway, you get that first album made, and it goes thru the roof, single of the week in the NME etc... Was it a shock when it happened?

Andy - Ummm... I guess yes, you know it was. Our trajectory was very atypical, Dom became a singer by accident, we got a record deal without really trying, and without having been together or having an agenda as a band. It happened fast and unexpectedly and a lot of the press kept surprising us. Especially for Dominique, because our first show was pretty scary, as she had never performed live before, and by the time of it there was a lot of expectation put on us....

Dominique - The pressure was pretty horrible for me.

Andy - Well, for all of us too. It was the first record deal for any of us, and to get that kind of press. But Dominique, she was on another level because she was the front person. At least I had been playing the guitar for a couple of years.

Spinguy - Did all the touring you did help push it along do you think?

Andy - I don't think so. That helps sustain and generate regional press, when you come thru a town and the locals write about you. But the way your record is perceived by critics and the US in general, is all done before you've even done your first show. We went out with Lloyd Cole, Edwyn Collins and opened for Oasis once, but that all happened after our record had been out there for a while. Touring has a lot to do with making you feel more comfortable. Certainly making your future records and performances better. There was a huge difference between Dominiques nerves before our first show and after the first year. There was no comparison. She was really a different singer.

Spinguy - I heard your favorite game on tour is called "One Sentence Argument", where someone says something and it gets everyone going. Do you still have them?

Andy - They were usually directed at Dominique.

Dominique - Touring can be so repetitive and boring, and so intellectually unstimulating.

Spinguy - So their answer was to pick on you then?!

Dominique - They always did that. It was like a war, and they had to pick on me. And I'm very argumentative, so it works. (laughing) So they would start fights. Plus I was the only girl out of all of them.

Spinguy - That's awful, and not very fair.

Dominique - No. But we often did create fights just to stay alive.

Spinguy - I bet you won most of them though.

Dominique - Yeah, I did.

Spinguy - After the first LP was received so well, is that when the majors started sniffing around?

Dominique - Not really, no. The first was on Seed, and that's part of Atlantic. So the next album came out on that. Even if someone else was interested we were contractually obligated to them.

Spinguy - Oh, I see, your success meant you were deemed good enough to be seen with then.

Dominique - Yes, and that's when we made Apartment Life, but soon realized dealing with the major label was completely different. Expectations are so much higher, and by then 2 years later it was a completely different scene. Even though Apartment Life did OK, and we went on tour, they dropped us right in the middle of it.

Spinguy - For what reason?

Dominique - Just the reason that majors do that all the time. They drop bands if you don't sound like their other three hundred thousand records. That's the way they are. They want all the bands to sound alike. So that's just what happens.

Spinguy - That's always been a paradox because they certainly control what goes on. They decide who gets the promos, and what songs the radio stations play. The stations have no say in it at all, and if they do their own thing they get cut off, which would be suicide. So they control how much something gets played, and if it gets played it gets popular, so I can't understand how they can turn around and blame you for anything.

Dominique - Well, it is and it's not. They decide if they will spend a lot or a little money on someone. Also, even if it's played, people still have to want to go buy it, and that's something nobody can control. It's just life, there's no explanation. (Ed. Note: There's an explanation. People are sheep) Nobody can predict which song will get big for some strange reason, they just do. And the record companies just want to see the numbers. If you don't sell, that's it.

Spinguy - That's all true and well said, but that's part of the problem with their own creation. For years they've been trying to streamline music into one sound to make it easier to sell, like it was candy or something. It's their fault then that they can't market something that's different.

Dominique - That's right.

Spinguy - There was a really big change in sound from the first record to the second. It got more "sweeping", electronics became more prominent in it. How did this happen?

Dominique - I think there are a lot of reasons. First, we had a bigger budget. With Realistic, we had almost no money to make it, so we couldn't afford a lot of musicians or effects, and the studio we worked at was very basic. By the second, we could afford a bigger studio, we could afford more musicians for horns and things and we had more time. And we also just knew what we were doing more by then, and the touring made everyone better musicians. Andy became a better engineer and Adam a better producer, and all that came together. We also sat down and decided we wanted something a little more produced, and maybe not as guitary as before.

Andy - I feel like Apartment Life was the record that we were trying to make when we made Realistic.

Dominique - I'm not sure about that....

Andy - That's how I feel.....

Dominique - No, we were very into guitars at that time. We were NOT into keyboards.

Andy - For Realistic?

Dominique - YES.

Andy - Yeah, but part of it too was feeling like we were very much attached to the indie scene, and that scene was very guitar oriented and while making Realistic we felt there were some ground rules that we were compelled to adhere to. We did it with Kurt Ralske, and we didn't have a lot of other options, so we did it very bare boned on a small budget, and didn't think we could afford keyboards and all the other extras, so fuck it. With Apartment Life we thought more about it. For me, I did a lot of the things that had passed thru my mind during Realistic. Taking time, experimenting more with other instruments and horn arrangements. Things we might have considered with Realistic, but they didn't seem...realistic.

Spinguy - That sounds almost defamatory. I wouldn't be hard on the first LP. I love it, and it might actually be my favorite of all of them still. Actually, I love them all. For the record I currently don't think there is a better american band than you guys. There isn't.

Dominique - Oh, thank you!

Spinguy - And it has nothing to do with how many records have been sold, we all know that. There isn't anyone putting out anything better than you.

Andy - Well you know, my parents would agree with you.

Spinguy - That's nice of them. About two years ago I had a problem with the CD player I had, as it started playing, or rather not playing, some tracks on some albums, and one of them was your Apartment Life cd. So I got another one off Ebay (I SHOULD have upgraded the player, and since have) and when it pops out of the envelope, here it was in a different cover, and I'm thinking "what's this" and then I notice it's on Sony as well. So I put it in, and the songs are recorded differently, some subtly so, and some not. It wasn't even the same album. So what happened?

Andy - It's pretty simple. When Atlantic dropped us and we signed to Sony, one of the things they were saying which got us excited was that Atlantic hadn't done a good job with it and they thought it had more potential and the first thing they would do is re-release and promote it the way it should have been. Now, that's the first thing every band wants to hear about a record that came out and didn't do so well. We fell into that lure and immediately signed with them and conceded to things we didn't want to do to placate them on the re- release. One was the packaging. Did we want to repackage it? No. We were happy with it's original. But you have your little meeting with the record company, and you tell yourself "Well, it's going to really make them much more excited about working on this" and you've got to make them feel like they had their hand in making it different so OK, we'll repackage. Then they make the suggestion that "Some of these songs might sound better and have more potential on the radio if they were remixed." Did we want to do that? No. We felt compelled to meet them in the middle, and didn't overhaul it as radically as it could have been, and that was at our insistence. But we did redo some at their request. I think to you, there might be a big difference, but to the untrained, non Ivy fan, there really isn't that much of a difference. That's my opinion.

Spinguy - Is that the first time that's every happened? I can't think of another situation where a band put out the same record under two different labels, AND mixed differently.

Andy - Yeah, and it's about to be three labels, because we intend on re-releasing it. It's not out anymore on Atlantic or Sony. They are not allowed legally to make anymore, so there's no more out there and we own it. Whoever we decide to license it to put it back out in the stores will be label number three.

Spinguy - Do you think it will go to Minty Fresh?

Andy - I don't know, I don't know, but it's going to be funny, because I don't know of any band that has had an album released by three different labels.

Spinguy - You had your own studio, Stratosphere Sound, which you lost to fire. When did you build that?

Andy - I had owned a studio called The Place for a bunch of years, and about the time we were thinking of making Long Distance I had bought out my old partners at the same location and had given the studio a little face lift. And I had two new partners, Adam and James Iha, who is a friend of ours. So we had only been open about six months and had just started to record the tracks for Long Distance and the fire happened.

Spinguy - So was it arson?

Andy - I was only trying to light the ground floor, I didn't think it would go up to all of them. (Note: He's the only one that didn't laugh at this :) They never figured out who it was, so they never figured it out conclusively, but it seemed pretty clear it was arson. Within four months the landlord had kicked everyone out and the building was sold for a hefty sum.

Spinguy - I saw two conflicting reports, that the masters were lost, and that they were miraculously saved "in the ashes". Which is correct?

Andy - Well, both are true. We didn't know the condition of the building when we first heard that it had been consumed in the fire, and all the tenants were kicked out for structural reasons. All we knew was our tapes and computer files were there. We had no idea if it was salvageable. Once we got into the physical studio, we saw it was mostly smoke damage and physical damage from firemen who busted doors and broke the walls down. Nothing was really destroyed and everything was retrievable and the album was only a third done so we packed it all up and brought it back to our loft, which is fairly big so we had enough room to put the gear there and keep recording.

Spinguy - This all happened when your daughter Justine was born, and then right after all this you get a phone call from Sony saying "We are dropping you, goodbye". We're hardly catching a break at this point, are we?

Andy - Yeah. It was just a barrage of elements to deal with. The birth of our daughter, and it wasn't easy being new parents and suffering from sleep deprivation and trying to make a record, and after a month of tracking the album we just gave up and said, "fuck it, we can't deal with a new kid and make a record" so we went on vacation and the first day of vacation we got a call about the fire in the studio. So we came back to New York and had to deal with that, and then brought the stuff to our apartment, started recording again, and it was within a month or two we were notified by Sony that we had been dropped.

Spinguy - Are they nice when they do it? Send flowers etc...

Andy - No. You know what, our A&R guy never even told us. Never called us to apologise, or say how sorry he was that despite his best efforts they were going to drop us.

Spinguy - Would you say that in your experience the majority or major record executives are fucking pinheads?

Andy - Ahhhh...not all, but the majority certainly. Look, it's not an easy thing to fire somebody, but there's an honourable way and a cowardly way, and typically it's done in the cowardly way. They don't make the call, or they don't apologise, or take you out to dinner and say "I'd still like to be friends". Instead, your lawyer gets a phone call and that's it, you never speak to them again.

Spinguy - Sounds like heartless automotons. I also heard that after that they had the audacity to demand the masters of what you had been working on.

Andy - Yeah, it was kind of a strangely fucked up scenario, and for people not in the business it might be hard to understand. We were making this record in our apartment, so the physical songs themselves in whatever stage they were in were in our apartment, but technically speaking Sony owned them. So when we were dropped, just because you're dropped doesn't mean you retain ownership of your songs. Typically when you're let go by a label, the label owns all the masters. So we were let go, but they owned all our songs. There was this weird, nebulous period when we didn't know if we were going to have to pack up the computer in our loft and have to bring it to Sony. We didn't want to. We wanted to finish the record and take it to whoever would want it. But legally we didn't have that right, and it took us a while to iron out all those legal kinks.

Spinguy - They eventually gave you the right to everything, didn't they?

Andy - Yeah. Our managers at the time convinced them that the honourable thing would be to not only give us the masters to Long Distance but to our whole back catalog, and they did.

Spinguy - I'd like to know what magic potion they blew up Sony's ass then. That's quite a coup for you at least. Now, I've heard that in the studio Dominique can be a real tyrant, as she doesn't stand screwing around and it's all business.

Dominique - What did you say?

Spinguy - I've heard you are very serious in the studio. You know, the task master, the mean one.

Dominique - I'm the mean one? (laughing) No, I think in the studio, I'm kind of the editor. It's like.... like we're making a movie..... I don't know how to explain it.....

Andy - Bitch with a whip? click for sound effect

Dominique - Just like everything else, there's three different people with three different ideas, and different ego's so there's always going to be some fighting,.....and a lot of times I win, like I always do.

Andy - She keeps us on track. When you're producing yourself, even though Adam and I produce other people, when you're doing yourself sometimes you need objectivity, so in a way Dominique is the ultimate producer. She stays focused on the big picture, and you really need that.

Spinguy - Now it's hard to say, but when looking at pictures of your band one tends to get certain impressions. Adam always looks like he's looking thru a window puppy shopping, Dominique tends to look cool with perhaps an air of casual indifference, but Andy always looks like he's pissed off.

Andy - I have one of those expressions that if you don't know me, everyone always thinks I'm mad. I get that all the time, people are like "Hey dude, are you OK?" and I'm like "Yeah, what's your fucking problem?" (laughing)

Dominique - They think he's stuck up.

Andy - I always get these comments that I cannot stand like "Hey, cheer up, it's not so bad" which actually then gets me mad, if I wasn't before. But normally I'm fine. It's just my relaxed expression looks like I'm pissed. I can't help it.

Dominique - He has a "tight" expression. But you know, you are kind of like that, you're angy, right Andy?

Andy - I guess you could say I'm an angry young man.

Spinguy - Well, no big deal, I am too actually. So at this juncture, with all the bouncing you've done, do you still consider yourselves indie or not?

Andy - I don't. I think indie is your aesthetic, and I think our roots are indie but when you look at our music it's now more polished. I wouldn't say we're sophisticated, but from the indie standpoint we're more sophisticated than what would be deemed an average indie band. So I don't think we're indie anymore, and don't think we have been.

Spinguy - I suppose it's a matter of semantics. Indie can mean a musical style, but it can also refer to a state of general unknownness, bands who are deserving but for whatever reason are not achieving major success for whatever reason.

Andy - Well, I don't mind the monnicker, but I don't think there are really many indie bands anymore.

Spinguy - Wow, then you live in a bubble now. If you go and read my site you'll see there are plenty, just tons of stuff.

Andy - I'm not saying there aren't but what I attribute to the "scene", when we got started there were bands everywhere and it isn't like that anymore.

Spinguy - Part of that is it's so much easier to record your record at home, so there's no need to "go to the city" to make your dream happen. So there's actually probably more going on now, only there's no central point to it, no "scene" as it were that you can visit.

Andy - And you know frankly that makes the distinction to me whether you are indie or not. You couldn't be indie if the sound of your recordings reached a certain "calibre" and I know that's subjective, but for me personally part of the requirement of being indie was if when I heard it it was too slick or produced then it couldn't be indie.

Spinguy - Well then, are the Smiths indie?

Andy - No.

Spinguy - NO!?

Dominique - Andy, of course they were indie! They were totaly indie, they were the epitome of being an indie band.

Spinguy - New Order wouldn't even let their pictures be taken, and their music was slick and produced.

Andy - (after some fumbling) College radio was in the 80's what indie was in the 90's and I don't think either of those exist anymore.

Dominique - No, indie means independent, that's really what it means. It's not about the sound, it's about a band who signs on an independent label....

Andy - That's the roots from where it came from, but most people don't know it denotes a certain sound or genre. Indie for me was typified by bands from the Sarah label. Very quirky, left of center, very simple guitar based and the record quality wasn't too sophisticated (Ed. Note: If I was in the Orchids or Wake I'd be pissed about now..) As soon as you breach any of those criteria you become less and less indie.

Spinguy - I think you're right in that that's how the majority of people look at it, but I personally agree with Dominique because there are plenty of bands that don't sound anything alike, especially techno bands like Erasure. They are slick and produced simply due to the instruments they chose but there is no question they are indie, there's no other way to classify them. And there are bands that have gotten large but still record very monotone and nobody would call them indie.

Dominique - Here's another great example, Prefab Sprout. They are totaly indie, but they are so produced and slick. Now Tears for Fears were never and indie band. They started on majors and had major success and they were really slick sounding.

Andy - What a minute, Tears for Fears were huge also...

Dominique - That's what I'm saying....

Andy - I mean Prefab Sprout... (Ed. Note: I think we're cracking him at this point)

Spinguy - No, Prefab Sprout were never big.

Andy - Wait a minute, I think Two Wheels Good sold over half a million in Europe.

Spinguy - Maybe a few more people in Europe know them, but if I went down to the local mall and went into a music shop and asked for Prefab Sprout they'd look at me like I was nuts, and if I asked anyone in the mall, nobody would say they ever heard of them. Nobody.

Andy - In England in 1985 they sold half a million records... (Ed. Note: I would like to see these figures corroborated somewhere)

Dominique - Yes but they were never on the same scale as Tears For Fears....

Andy - Well, Tears For Fears were enormous worldwide...

Dominique - That's what I'm saying, that's where you see the difference. Andy, ....you don't know that...... Andy doesn't know because he wasn't into that. When I met you you didn't know the difference.... and you still don't know the difference. (everyone laughing)

Spinguy - I think we have a one sentence argument going....

Andy - There you go. (laughing. Note: For the record he was very good about it) For me college radio was what I call indie, and today I don't have names for it. Maybe New Romantic could describe romantic pop, could describe some of those bands....

Dominique - That was NOT indie. New Romantic was not indie. New romantic was Spandau Ballet, Tears For Fears and ABC etc.. all the bands you loved, but they were not indie. Indie is Joy Division, the Smiths, New Order, those type of bands. It was also an attitude. It was all of that.

Spinguy - There is a grey area too. There are bands that are horrible like Loverboy that everyone knows about, and then someone nobody ever heard of like the Wake, but then there are the ones in between like Spandau Ballet who touch the stratosphere for a second with one song and then are forgotten forever by most people even though they make plenty more records. It's hard to label it.

Andy - OK, How about Everything But the Girl?

Dominique - They are totally indie.

Spinguy - Yes, I would say so.

Andy - But are they now...?

Dominique - They had one big success but are still considered indie. Only the people who discovered them from that single a few years ago maybe wouldn't consider them indie.....

Andy - Well, that's the majority of their audience who discovered them then. People like you and me who liked them from their first or second album are few and far between compared to now.

Spinguy - I don't know where you're pulling these numbers from but I would wonder how much larger their sales actually are now compared to 1987, and indeed don't believe they were overly low to begin with. They were one of those well known unknowns, like Prefab Sprout. I still think if I stopped people on the street, very few to none would know who they were. (that is probably true of Ivy as well)

Andy - But I don't think anyone would dare call them indie today...

Spinguy - (large exhale) I think you're trying to label it by measuring one success...

Andy - No, it's just a sound....

Spinguy - No, it's not a sound because....ok, is the Jesus and Mary Chain indie?

Andy - I don't know. When I heard them, it was in the days with REM before you started calling bands indie, and you'd hear them on college radio. For me they were a college radio band, today I don't know what you'd call them...

Spinguy - They're indie, because nobody knows who they are, even though some of their records have sold well and received acclaim.

Dominique - Yes, they're indie.

Spinguy - Now REM are not, even though they started on an indie label IRS and their sound has not appreciably changed, everyone knows who they are. The same could be said of U2. At the time of the October album they were indie, after War they were not.

Well, enough, we're beating a dead horse here. Where even were we? Oh yes, So after the disaster during the third album, how did you wind up on Nettwerk America?

Andy - We just started talking to labels and they just seemed like a great choice for us. I think so far it's been the best marriage we've had, with Ivy and labels. When you look at their roster and aesthetic, it's the most logical fit so far.

Spinguy - You are still with them?

Andy - Yeah

Spinguy - So they just did not want to put out Guestroom?

Andy - No. It's still a mystery to us, and they never fully explained why.

Spinguy - So are you signed to two labels?

Andy - It's not really a proper signing. We're signed to Nettwerk, but were allowed to release other things with other people if they pass on it. We can make records on our own if we have to. Guestroom was already half made because it was a collection of covers we've done in our career, so we went in and did five new ones from scratch and added it to the five we'd done over the past eight years and asked Nettwerk if they wanted to put it out and they said, "No". So after scratching our heads and wondering why we said "OK". We're good friends with Jim and Anthony at Minty Fresh and they wanted to put it out so we did. But it's what you'd call a one off. When we make our next original Ivy record it will be on Nettwerk. (Ed. Note: If they want it that is :)

Spinguy - Did you choose the songs covered because they were your favorites or because you felt they would sound best covered by your band?

Andy - They were our favorites. Songs that for one reason or another we wanted to cover for years. That's why some are from the 80's, and some are more recent like the Papas Fritas which Dominique wanted to do. They're just songs that we love.

Spinguy - It's almost odd that it took four albums in before she sung a song in French too.

Dominique - Yeah, yeah...

Andy - Which?

Dominique - L'Anamour. That song was released many years ago actually, for a compilation on March records.

Andy - Yeah, it was recorded for a compilation that Skippy did.

Dominique - He asked a lot of american bands to cover french songs. So Lloyd Cole and others did one and I chose that song in particular that I love.

Spinguy - I'd like to hear you do Blondies "Sunday Girl".

Dominique - The Blondie song? That could be cool.

Spinguy - Yes, I think you'd cover that well.

Dominique - I never thought about that. It would be really cool....

Andy - Except that it's going to be a long time before we do another cover. We're all covered out.

Spinguy - The Go-Between song is interesting too, because you actually sped it up a bit.

Dominique - Which one?

Spinguy - Streets Of Your Town

Andy - We might have sped it up a bit, you know, with most of those, unless we changed it radically, you find the original tempo strumming your guitar and then based on Dominiques singing and where you're going to take it you might have to speed it up. We don't stick closely to the original. We like to make it our own. It might be more, but that's one we stuck pretty closely to.

Spinguy - I wasn't implying it was a bad thing. There's been a lot of tribute LP's lately and on some of them I get the impression the bands aren't happy unless the song doesn't even sound like itself anymore.

Andy - I think if we have a good idea for making it different, not for the sake of making it different but because it just seems intrinsically right when playing it we'll do it. But by the same token if we start recording it and it seems natural to stick more closely to it we're not afraid of doing that either. Really, our versions aren't that far from the original.

Spinguy - No. It just has your stamp on it.

Andy - We didn't take it as far as Orange Juice, which, you don't even recognise from our version. There's no agenda when we do a cover.

Spinguy - It's curious you chose "Lets go to Bed" as well. Weren't you tempted to do "Boy's Don't Cry" or would that have been too obvious?

Dominique - I think that's been covered so much, and actually when we used to play live during sound check he used to use that bass line. It's actually been a big joke that we'd cover that song one day. And it was fun, because I love the Cure, but I wanted to do the song Love Cats but Andy and Adam were like "NO!"

Spinguy - Really!?

Andy - You know, I have to say I did love the Cure growing up, and I knew almost all their songs but for some reason Love Cats used to annoy the shit out of me. All that " do do dodo MEEOOWWW..." Every once in a while you have a favorite record but you wish there was one song that wasn't on it and it's that song. Dominique really wanted to do it but I said "No fucking way."

Spinguy - Wow. What a bastard. :) I would have guessed you might have done "A Night Like This". I think you'd do that well.

Andy - We had a couple of really good ones we didn't do. There was one we started as a joke but we started seriously considering it, "If you like Pina Coladas..." the Margarita Song or whatever it's called. We thought it would be really cute to have Dominique sing that.

Spinguy - Did you have songs you finished and then tossed in the can because you weren't happy with them?

Andy - Ummm... I don't think so. We did spend a lot of time trying to figure out three Prefab Sprout songs, and just gave up on them. That was about as close as we came to trying to do something and giving up. We wanted to do a Prefab Sprout song but their chords are so complicated, but we are going to go in and try to record Cruel this week though as a bonus track for the japanese version.

Spinguy - I'm sick of that. Every time a record comes out the japanese version has bonus tracks on them. And you can't even buy them if you want to, and if you do find them they cost a fortune.

Andy - Well, do you want to know why?

Spinguy - No, but tell me anyway.

Andy - Most people don't understand why the bonus thing started in japan. When you understand how records are released there you realize why. First of all, japan gets shafted. By the time the record comes out in japan the record has been out in the world for a while because nobody gives a shit about japan. So by the time you release it there, imports have flooded in and an import in japan for whatever fucked up reason costs like nothing, it's like $10 cheaper than their domestic version. (Ed. Note: That's another reason to be pissed) So you're a japanese consumer and you have the choice of buying the import version or buying the domestic version for twice as much. What's your incentive to get the domestic one? You need to give them a reason to buy the domestic version and the bonus tracks are that incentive.

Spinguy - I didn't realize it was that messed up. I don't think I'd pay twice as much for one more song though.

So what about here? Do you see any light at the end of the tunnel that the american music scene has degenerated into?

Andy - No. Not really.

Spinguy - No? No hope of a pop revolution coming? Some grand "awakening"

Andy - Uhhh... I don't see light at the end of the tunnel, except the way radio may be changing. But it just seems to be deteriorating more and more.

Spinguy - I thought I began to feel an undercurrent of frustration in people with the whole hip hop diva thing, and every song sounding the same. But I don't know what that will do as it comes down to what the majors allow them to hear as an alternative and we all know that will be nothing.

Andy - Possibly. When it's possible for people to monitor radio stations on their computers and hear stuff from everywhere and not have to rely on the K Rocks for music, then maybe. There are very few radio stations in the country spitting out music that would be interesting for people like us, KCRW is one of the few you can name. There used to be more.

Spinguy - Yes, that was better in the 80's. But I think part of the problem is that indie as we know it doesn't exist above ground anymore. It exists and has it's home on the internet now and most people, even those who were into inde, aren't aware of that.

Andy - We'll see. What's changed is that bands I think are more able to survive to make records for the few people appreciating them because they are able to make money in other areas besides radio. Even eight years ago we were one of the first bands to be licensed for commercials, and even though it was a Volkswagen commercial we got flak for it, but now fans don't think twice seeing their favorite bands on a commercial, it's cool for them. We've even had fans write and say they discovered us watching Roswell. Anything to make money so we can keep making records.

Spinguy - Is the Nissan commercial featuring How Soon Is Now a sellout?

Dominique - NO, not anymore. I don't think so.

Spinguy - After everything Morrissey said in his life about it, even refusing to make videos?

Andy - For all we know he had no say over it. He might be suing whoever did it as far as we know.

Dominique - REM always used to say they'd never put their face on the cover, but then they did. You say things, but then you change because you grow up and realize there are things you can control and other things you can't. I care about integrity and ethics, but there are times you need to be flexible. To me, I wouldn't say it's a sellout. Certain things I find just outrageous, like Sting doing that, well first of all I hate him...

Spinguy - Oh, you hate him too?

Dominique - Yes, I do. When you see him doing that commercial in that...uhh car....

Spinguy - The jaguar...

Dominique - Yes, ...that to me is just ridiculous. It's like come on, just stop... that....

Andy - But why is that different from us doing Holland America cruise lines, which we're about to do?

Dominique - But it's very different...

Spinguy - Wait, you're doing a commercial for Holland America?

Andy - Actually.....yeah.

Dominique - But we're doing a very different thing...

Andy - Oh that's right, he appeared in that commercial.

Dominique - Yes, yes, that's what I'm saying.

Andy - But that helped sell what at the time was a dead record and make it go double platinum. (ED. Note: More reason to hate him) It wouldn't have happened without that stupid commercial. But for me it's a sellout because he used to be cool and successful at the same time without doing that sort of thing. Everyone knows that by now he doesn't need the money, so to do something that crass is inexcusable. At our level, this commercial can mean the difference between making our next album or not.

Spinguy - So what song is it going to be?

Andy - Edge of the ocean. Now, maybe there's people who look at us and that as a sellout. But I pose the question would you rather hear another Ivy record or never hear another record again but we won't do any commercials?

Dominique - And also you know what. If people get pissed off at us for doing that I just tell them "You know what, I've got kids to feed." We have to raise our family, we have no choice. We're not magical people.

Spinguy - Oh, I have no problem with people like you doing it. It's just that in the 80's Morrissey was the banner boy for all the anti establishment going on. If it was viewed as an evil, he was against it. Money, videos, major labels etc.. He also doesn't need the money now either. I just think it's funny.

Andy - I don't know. I still feel like I can objectively point my finger at who sold out and who didn't. I weigh in a lot of factors, whether they really need the money, what the product is, if it's a car commercial or kentucky fried chicken, there's a peer level of respectability with the product....

Spinguy - What, you wouldn't do a spot for the Colonel?

Andy - (laughing)

Spinguy - You and Jason Alexander. How the mighty have fallen....

Andy - I weigh it by how it looks, and how cool the band is to begin with. Michael Jackson it's no surprise. REM would be.

Spinguy - So you would actually turn things down?

Andy - Oh yeah, of course.

Spinguy - Have you?

Andy - Well, there's nothing that's been below our standards yet. We're pretty low as I've discovered. No, I think we turned down stuff, but I don't remember what. We've said no to radio mixes that the record companies wanted to do. They wanted to edit in dialogue from Something About Mary which we said no to.

Spinguy - I think that's another proof that you are an indie band. Morals. Do you think Creed would give a fuck in that case? Or the Stones? It's quite refreshing that you don't play their game.

Andy - There's so many requests for licenses we've said no to, I don't really remember them all.

Spinguy - Are you going to be doing the Paco album, your side band?

Andy - Yes, That's really easy. It's a collaborative effort between us and our friend Michael Hampton, so what we're focusing on is melodies and lyrics. It's a lot like Ivy. When we do the album a lot of the music is already composed by our friend. So it's like part time work. We can work on Ivy and it at the same time.

Spinguy - And you have another child coming in December. Is it a boy or girl do you know?

Andy - A boy.

Spinguy - Do you have a name picked out?

Andy - Yes, it's Julian. So it's going to be a busy year. It's not as time consuming as people think. You have time to write and get a wealth of material over time. It's not like being in the studio, which is a 12-14 hour commitment.

Spinguy - Is it the melody or lyrics first?

Andy - Chords. Just going on vacation and taking a guitar and being alone and strumming. So the winter months and having a kid, it will be a good thing. After a couple months we might go away and recuperate, and that will be a good time for it.

Spinguy - How long do you envision Ivy lasting?

Andy - Well, two thirds is me and Dominique, so unless we get divorced or something there's no reason to end it. It's easy and fun. As long as we can make a living at it, which IS getting easier to do, then we'll keep doing it.

Spinguy - Well, I've been on board from the beginning, and I love all your albums.

Andy - Well thank you.

Spinguy - At this point the conversation degenerated into chit chat that went on for another 15 minutes. It boiled down to no tour for this LP unless it is still selling strong in the spring, with work for the new Ivy Lp going on next year for release late in 03 or 04. We wish them the best of luck with everything,and if you don't own anything by this band you ought to do everything you can to remedy that.