2014 Artist Survey: Springtime Carnivore

Greta Morgan on 2014's Best Albums, Slimy Promoters, Her Childhood Celebrity Crush, and Bad Haircuts

Jan 26, 2015 Web Exclusive
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For Under the Radar's 12th annual Artist Survey we emailed some of our favorite artists a few questions relating to 2014. We asked them about their favorite albums of the year and their thoughts on various notable 2014 news stories involving either the music industry or world events, as well as some quirkier personal questions.

Check out our Best of 2014 print and digital issues for answers from alt-J, Camera Obscura, Chromeo, The Dears, Death From Above 1979, Deerhoof, The Drums, The Flaming Lips, Glass Animals, Hookworms, Sondre Lerche, of Montreal, Ought, Owen Pallett, The Rosebuds, Strand of Oaks, Teleman, Sharon Van Etten, The War on Drugs, Warpaint, Woman's Hour, Wye Oak, Zola Jesus, and others.

Here are some answers from Greta Morgan of Springtime Carnivore.

Top 8 Albums of 2014

1. Spoon: They Want My Soul-I have listened to the song "Inside Out" at least 500 times. It's the most beautiful and surprisingly meditative song they've ever made. Those synth sounds are glimpses into heaven. The first 100 times I heard that song, I was laying on my back in a park in Los Angeles staring up at the sun through the clouds. Now, whenever I hear this record, my head is totally clear and there are just golden clouds passing through.

2. Blake Mills: Heigh Ho-Blake's song "If I'm Unworthy" stopped me in my tracks when I saw him perform it earlier this year. He's obviously a guitar virtuoso, but it was the lyrical content that I found especially stunning. His writing contains these huge emotional ideas, but in the most simple, clear language. He's like the Raymond Carver of lyric writing. "My time before was wasted/But with you life's just not long enough/I'll wrap you in my arms, babe/See if they're strong enough/What if I'm unworthy of the power I hold over you?" 

3. Angel Olsen: Burn Your Fire For No Witness-Angel's voice is out of this world. It's like the female Roy Orbison. Totally timeless and chilling. Her songwriting walks this incredible line between masculine and feminine. If I were a music journalist, I'd invent a genre called "tomboy torch songs" and she would be the queen. All hail Angel Olsen! 

4. The Orwells: Disgraceland-The Orwells and I are on the same musical family tree, with roots dug into the Chicago ground. I love them all like brothers. That said, they aren't on this list because of nepotism; it's because they took everything I love about The Replacements and Iggy Pop and The Strokes and ran it through their youthful filter with an ambitiously soulful result. 

5. Twin Peaks: Wild Onion-"Making Breakfast" and "I Found a New Way" are two of the most energetic songs I heard this year. I danced so hard when I played with them at CMJ last week that my body was sore the next morning. They left the stage covered in beer and sweat and exhausted the audience. I was relieved Springtime Carnivore went on before them because it would've been hard to follow their act. 

4. Kevin Morby: Still Life-I dug Kevin's other band The Babies and have been thrilled to find such great songs on his solo records. "Motors Runnin'" and "Our Moon" are my favorites on this new record. There isn't anyone else doing this exactly, at least not as well. He's so young (well, we're the same age, both 26), but I feel like he has this incredible untapped well of a million songs waiting to pour out. 

5. Generationals: Alix-If a John Hughes movie died and went to heaven, this is what the angels would be DJ-ing. It's an intelligent party record that leads with some '80s tinted production, but feels totally modern. Richard Swift also produced this record and [I had] been listening to it a ton in preparation for my tour with Generationals [last] fall. I told Richard that I think he's the eHarmony of indie rock: he's an unexpected matchmaker because so many of the bands he's recorded wind up touring together. 

6. Future Monarchs: Deserters-Future Monarchs are also on my Chicago family tree and are touring bandmates in Springtime Carnivore. One member, Bobby Lord, is a major musical confidant and he mixes everything I record. Our friend Pat Sansone (from Wilco and The Autumn Defense) produced this record and, like everything else Pat is part of, it's a record of super solid, melodic, intelligent pop music. 

7. La Sera: Hour of the Dawn-This may seem like favoritism because I am a part-time member of La Sera, but the reason I wanted to play guitar in the band is because I loved the record so much in the first place. I wasn't involved in the recording of it, so I just fell in love with it as a fan and friend of the band. It's everything I love about The Pretenders and The Smiths. "Fall in Place" and "Hour of the Dawn" are my favorites.

8. Sharon van Etten: Are We There-"Every Time the Sun Comes Up" is one of the most beautiful and heartbreaking songs I've heard in years. It's such a crystallized soundtrack to the feeling of hazy weariness that can hit at certain tougher seasons of one's life. 

What was the highlight of 2014 for either you personally or for the band? 

Opening for The Zombies in August was a huge highlight. I also spent some time writing with John Sebastian from The Lovin' Spoonful, so I had a few huge idol moments this year. Sleeping under the stars in Yosemite and bathing in a river there in June is something I think about every day also.

What was the low point of 2014 for you? 

It was an abnormally calm and wonderful year. The worst thing that happened was that someone shattered my car windows and stole a bunch of my musical equipment, but ultimately, that's not a huge deal. 

What are your hopes and plans for 2015?

Looks like some great tours are coming together, so I hope to be exploring and playing a ton of shows, then making a new album in the fall or winter of 2015. 

U2's new album was downloaded for free into millions of users' iTunes accounts without their permission. Was it a wonderful gift to music fans or an invasive action that devalues music? Also, which artist, other than you, deserves to have their album automatically downloaded to half a billion people more than U2?

I wish that a spoken word album of a peaceful thinker could be included in every device. If the iPhone sensed its owner's stress level rising, it could automatically start playing Ram Dass or the Dalai Lama. Or maybe Brian Eno's Music For Airports would have the same effect. 

Did you take part in the ice bucket challenge? If not, why not? Grimes declined due to animal testing issues, was the grief she got for that deserved?

I didn't take part. The whole thing was sort of in my peripheral vision because I was kinda "technology detoxing" then. 

The shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri opened up a new national dialogue on police shootings and racism in America. Do you think anything will actually change because of it?

Wherever our consciousness goes, some change will occur. The Ferguson situation should teach us yet again that hysteria as a reaction to violent crime only begets more violent crime. 

What's your craziest theory for what happened to the missing Malaysian Air flight?

They are on mars and David Bowie is throwing them a welcome party. 

Mark Kozelek was criticized in 2014 for insulting his audience (calling them "hillbillies" for talking during his set) and for making fun of The War on Drugs when their sound bled over to the stage he was playing. What responsibility do performers have to be respectful of their audiences and fellow bands?

The most important thing to me is that a performer is authentic in the moment. I hate it when people put on a showbusiness-y act or say shit on stage that seems totally out of character. That said, performers generally treat their audience the way they'd treat their friends or any other individual. Mark Kozelek would probably say shit like that to friends too. 

"Weird Al" Yankovic was back in a big way this year. If he were to lampoon any one of your songs, which one would you want it to be? What would the "Weird Al" version's lyrics be about? 

I have a song called "Keep Confessing" on the new record with the lyric, "I already know all your secrets." Every time I sing it, I think the lyric sounds like "I already know Ryan Seacrest." That could be a good "Weird Al" spoof. (Full disclosure: I don't actually know Ryan Seacrest.) 

Which common criticism of your music do you most agree with?

Fortunately, this project is so new that the haters haven't discovered me. (Yet?)

What's the most uplifting or heartwarming fan interaction you've ever had?

A three-year-old fan wearing those cute kiddie headphones and dancing to the whole set. Totally uninhibited enjoyment. 

What's the topic no one asks you about in interviews that you wish they would? Conversely, if you could get journalists to stop asking you one question, which would it be?

I love reading about the process of how a song evolved from the initial idea to the final album version. I also would like to read about why bands tossed certain songs out, what didn't make the cut and why, etc. The whole "tell us the history of your band" question needs a more creative framing.

Who from your youth (such as a former bully, an unrequited love) do you most hope pays attention to the fact that you're now a successful musician?

Ha. That's a hilarious, amazing question. I ultimately make music out of love, not out of spite or vanity, but it is nice to feel recognition from people who have burned me in the past. There were a few slimy promoters or gross industry people that I feel very happy to have left in my dust. 

Which musician or celebrity did you most have a crush on as a child or teenager?

Almost Famous came out when I was 12 or 13 and Billy Crudup was my dream man at the time. 

Which subject do you wish you paid more attention to in school?

Foreign language. 

If you could travel through time, which historical event would you most like to alter the outcome of and why?

Oh man, I would cancel the Holocaust. Let Hitler keep painting, right? 

What was your most disastrous haircut experience?

I did Locks for Love twice, which I don't regret because it is a loving gesture, but I looked like a rain-soaked cocker spaniel after both haircuts. 

After years of hard work, Future Islands finally broke through to a larger audience in 2014 thanks to a much praised Letterman performance. Which other long-running lesser-known band would you also like to see garner similar surprise success?

There are a few bands and artists who I love and admire and I'm waiting to see them skyrocket: Any Kind, Cross Record, Sars Flannery, River City Extension. 

What out-of-date technology do you most miss?

I loved the simplicity of my Walkman.

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