Q&A with Eric Tischler of The Jet Age
This weekend, David Gedge, lead singer of The Wedding Present, will present his annual music festival, At the Edge of the Sea, in Brighton, England.
For most of us in DC, the festival may seem a world away, but to Eric Tischler of The Jet Age, it’s a party he won’t miss. You see, Eric and his DC-based band are friends and tourmates with The Wedding Present, and they have chosen to debut their new record, Destroy. Rebuild, at the UK festival in a performance this Saturday. (The album is officially available this Friday, August 28.) In a way, it’s completely appropriate, given Eric’s love for UK shoegazers and other English bands and how their genres shaped his own band.
Parklife DC caught up with the versatile guitarist and vocalist of The Jet Age to ask him about the influences on his band, how he approaches his craft, and his next DC-area show at Villain & Saint (7141 Wisconsin Ave., Bethesda, Md.) on Saturday, Sept. 12.
Mickey McCarter: You’re having a record release party in England. Can you tell me how that came about?
Eric Tischler: The Wedding Present have been friends of ours for a long time. We have a standing invitation to play at a festival of theirs. It seemed like a good time to head over and accept that invitation.
MM: Have you ever collaborated with The Wedding Present?
ET: I’ve mixed their music. We were going to have David sing on a record last year, but we already had Adam [Franklin] from Swervedriver and Mark [Gardener] from Ride singing on one song, and it seemed like overkill to have him sing.
So we didn’t bring him on but I wouldn’t rule it out. When the day comes, I will call him up and say, hey, man it’s time.
MM: The new album is very listenable. Can you talk about the sonic evolution of The Jet Age? In the past, you’ve been influenced heavily by your fellow shoegazers. As of now with your sixth album, have you changed your approach to guitar playing at all? Are you any different?
ET: For the longest time, I didn’t care about my ability to play at all. Then after playing for so many years, I started to care a little. Then I started to branch out into other styles of music just because I was interested. But I started to branch out too much. I like diversity but on the last few records, I was trying to approximate other styles. We did it well, and we got credit for doing it well.
But it made me think I was losing sight of what made us special compared to other bands or other genres. So our last record was an exorcism of those urges — let’s write a song like The Stones and be done with it; let’s write a song like The Go-Go’s and be done with it; let’s pay homage to Stevie Wonder and Duran Duran and be done with it. And that’s what we did.
Doing that helped with me with the new record. What do the three of us do that is unique? What are the roots of this band as a band and as musicians? It let us get back to a more pure kind of songwriting that just let us be us. It didn’t force us into these little boxes like when we had some fun trying to write these other styles.
MM: It was more organic?
ET: Yeah, after a while, it became a technical exercise. It was fun, and nothing on the record was bad. But let’s get back to a more organic process again.
MM: In addition to being yourselves on the new album, you really want to say what’s on your minds.
ET: Definitely. The last record again was more of an exercise. Now there’s so much going on in the last year or so in the world. It was so easy to write about stuff that was on my mind because I had so much on my mind!
I was not hurting for material to write about!
Listen to or purchase Destroy.Rebuild by The Jet Age on Bandcamp:
[bandcamp width=100% height=120 album=834885334 size=large bgcol=ffffff linkcol=0687f5 tracklist=false artwork=small]
MM: It doesn’t cross a line, however, when you’re writing about the state of the world. It remains observational without being confrontational.
ET: After growing up in DC, if there is one thing I hate, it’s didactic music. I’m rebelling against the rebellious music of my youth.
I don’t like preachy music. So I really try to avoid doing that: preaching through music. I don’t imagine I’m changing people’s minds, although I suppose I hope to do so with “I Can’t Breathe.”
I hope people who have the same struggle find solace in it. And maybe people will think about the things we are all struggling with, but I’m hoping it’s more of a dialogue than a sermon.
MM: It’s an interesting time to be a band in DC as so much music is happening in the city right now. There are new bands and new venues and new things taking root. Do you have any feelings on being a DC band right now?
ET: You know, I don’t feel like I’m a band in DC. We are really outside whatever is happening.
I have had a lot of friends in bands that have more or less retired. The Caribbean is the only band I know personally and know well that are keeping pretty busy.
I would love to play with some new bands; I just don’t know them! I’m old. [laughs]
MM: That’s a pretty interesting observation in and of itself! You guys have been doing your own thing for quite a while. And here you are still contributing to your sonic landscape but you don’t feel a part of it.
ET: We love to contribute! We would love to contribute more. We do what we can.
MM: You have a local show on Sept. 12 at Villain & Saint in Bethesda. Do you have any other local shows planned?
ET: No. That’s it!
For some people, it might be easier to get to Bethesda on a Saturday night than to U Street or Northeast on a Tuesday night. My hope is that people can make this show, and if enough people come out then this venue will prove to be a place where people in their ’30s and ’40s can easily attend.
MM: Any other news as to what The Jet Age might be up to? Plans to tour?
ET: A lot of people have asked. I won’t say no. We might do some dates, but we are kind of at a crossroads. We love playing together but it’s increasingly difficult to play together even in DC. It’s more difficult for us to put together shows here. While we can put together shows all over the country, it’s more difficult to tour. So we have to wait and see how things shake out the next few months.
We’ve got this show coming up but I can’t be more specific beyond that.
The Jet Age
w/ The Skull Practitioners, The Johnny Cohen Love Machine
Villain & Saint
Saturday, Sept. 12