2012 Artist Survey: Free Energy
Paul Sprangers Reflects on the Last Year
Jan 18, 2013
For Under the Radar's 10th annual Artist Survey we emailed some of our favorite artists a few questions relating to 2012.
Pick up the print version of the Best of 2012 issue to read responses from the following artists: Alt-J, Fred Armisen, Bear in Heaven, Camera Obscura, Chad Valley, Charli XCX, Choir of Young Believers, Clinic, CSS, Dan Deacon, Desaparecidos, Django Django, Efterklang, Egyptian Hip Hop, El Perro Del Mar, Grimes, Halls, Richard Hawley, Hercules and Love Affair, Ladytron, Liars, Lord Huron, Lower Dens, Mount Eerie, My Morning Jacket, The Mynabirds, The New Pornographers, of Montreal, Peaking Lights, Porcelain Raft, Laetitia Sadier, Tame Impala, and Tegan and Sara.
Then download the digital version of the Best of 2012 issue to read all those surveys, as well as bonus responses from the following artists: !!!, Clare and the Reasons, Codeine, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., Esben and the Witch, The Fresh & Onlys, Get People, Islands, Kwes, Lost in the Trees, NZCA/LINES, OFF!, Plants and Animals, Still Corners, Violens, Xiu Xiu, Young Dreams, and Zambri.
We are also posting additional web-exclusive artist survey interviews to the website. Here are responses from Paul Sprangers of Free Energy.
Top 6 Albums of 2012
1. Santigold: Master of My Make Believe-I saw her perform on The Colbert Report and it was so good that I instantly bought the record. There's this cool '80s pop vibe going on under some bonkers production and wild drum programming.
2. Titus Andronicus: Local Business-People are saying it's not as epic as The Monitor but I disagree. The songwriting is the best to date. Stickles is channeling Big Country. Ain't nothing more epic, folks.
3. The New Lows: I Couldn't Sleep
4. Tame Impala: Lonerism
5. The Soft Pack: Strapped
6. Ford & Lopatin: Channel Pressure
What was the highlight of 2012 for either you personally or for the band?
Finishing our record with John Agnello. Buying a water distiller.
What was the low point of 2012 for you?
I can't complain.
What are your hopes and plans for 2013?
Tour the world. Find true love. Exercise every day. Watch the world slowly heal.
To what extent did the poor world economy affect your ability to make a reasonable living as an artist in 2012?
I live very simply. I don't really buy much. I have a lot of books and records. So I do all right. (Keep in mind I also don't have health insurance, a home, a family, or a car.)
What are your thoughts on the 2012 U.S. presidential election?
It's a mindfuck, because money has completely and utterly gutted our democratic process. But Romney, being the king of leveraged buyouts through Bain, was just scary. He planned to gut the government, extract any remaining capital, and load it with even more crippling debt. That ain't cool, dogg.
Steve Albini criticized Amanda Palmer for recruiting musicians to play in her backing band for free. Was he right to do this and was Palmer right to change her mind and pay her musicians?
Look, is she technically obligated to pay her fans who come up on stage to play instruments? No, because that wasn't the agreement between her and the Kickstarter donors. Does common sense (and even karma) dictate that if you're flush from a windfall of cash and goodwill you should spread it out a bit? Yes!
What pop culture phenomenon from 2012 would you most like to erase from your memory?
I can't remember anything in pop culture from last month, let alone 11 months ago. This shit moves so fast.
Were you affected by Hurricane Sandy? Do you think that climate change was partly responsible for the hurricane?
I had many friends and family directly affected by Sandy. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that climate change was responsible for the hurricane, and I believe this is just the beginning.
Tell us about the most memorable fan encounter you had this year.
We have a fan in D.C. who is battling a life-threatening disease, and he wrote to his friends and family that our song "Hope Child" was motivating him to battle the disease. That is pretty mind-blowing.
What were some of the rejected names for your band?
Smokey Long Dong, Die U Die, Wrinkly Taintburger, Death Knife, The Gluten-Free Moms.
Tell us about your first kiss.
My friend Tori's basement. Girl's name was Kandi. She was really hot and had big boobs. We frenched right away. There were two other couples making out in the basement.
Would you survive a zombie apocalypse? Explain.
Duh. I'm going to live in a tiny cabin in the woods, and set up tons of traps Home Alone-style. Because, let's be clear, most of the zombie carnage will happen in major metropolitan centers. Zombies don't want to wander for miles through uninhabited forest. They're too slow to catch animals. I'm gonna be living large, suckas.
Did you watch this year's Olympics? What was your favorite event and which event would you be best at?
No! Pole vault. Weight lifting.
What artist or band deserves far more acclaim than what he/she/they are currently receiving?
Eddie Money. Dude has written some incredible hits. He has a great band. But he's still not taken seriously in the canon. Same goes for Huey Lewis and the News. WTF?
What should musicians do, if anything, to support Pussy Riot?
Try to stand up for what you believe every moment of your life. Support those who dare to raise questions and challenge the status quo. Bringing international attention to Pussy Riot is important, as is raising awareness of our particular local and national infringements on freedom of speech, like the razing of Zucotti Park and the suppression of protesting in NYC, Berkeley, etc. Pussy Riot is emblematic of the growing worldwide trend towards fewer personal freedoms.
What most scares you about getting old?
I love getting old!
Finish this sentence: 2012 will be known as the year
We make contact with the "Other."
What is the first thing you do when you get home from being on tour?
Grocery shopping and a hot shower.
Which song, other than one of your own, most tends to get stuck in your head?
"Bobby Brown" by The Soft Pack.
What's the riskiest thing you've ever done?
Fallen in love with a wild girl. It was worth it.
Who was the first person to break your heart?
The wild girl from the previous question.
What is biggest thing you got away with as a child?
Constantly doodling on tests and school assignments.
How should the U.S. proceed with the current Iran nuclear situation?
With compassion and a legitimate ground operation of community organizing and activism. It should not continue to arm Israel and use it as a U.S. military proxy to maintain the threat of force in the region.
With the looming crackdown on peer-to-peer trading and torrent sites, what effect do you think that will have on how people find your music? Will it hurt or help your ability to make a living?
We can't go back to the age of physical products. It's over. Fighting torrents is less constructive than building better sites that can provide people with a desired service while compensating artists fairly.
In 2012, what was the best movie you saw, book you read, comic book you read, video game you played, and/or TV show you watched?
Video game: Still Skyrim. Book: How Music Works by David Byrne. TV: Comedy Bang Bang. Podcast: WTF, Chris Rock interview.
The music industry is in the same boat as the film industry and the book industry and any other industry that relied on the production of physical products. It needs to restructure to accommodate the free exchange of ideas and information and art. The world is trying to wake us up. There are ways of organizing human society besides the sole accumulation of capital. We are supposed to be caretakers of this planet, and our fellow humans, yet we are effectively and mercilessly trashing the earth and treating each other like strangers. That ain't cool, dogg.