2010 Artist Survey: David Hartley of Nightlands & The War on Drugs | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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2010 Artist Survey: David Hartley of Nightlands & The War on Drugs

Dec 13, 2010 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

For Under the Radar’s 8th annual Artist Survey we emailed some of our favorite artists a few questions relating to 2010. Pick up a copy of Under the Radar’s Year End issue for interviews with: The Antlers, Bon Iver, Caribou, Club 8, Delphic, Rose Elinor Dougall, Gayngs, Hot Chip, Lost in the Trees, Love is All, The Love Language, Mogwai, of Montreal, Okkervil River, Yoko Ono, Owen Pallett, Plants and Animals, Mark Ronson, Superchunk, Tame Impala, Vampire Weekend, Sharon Van Etten, and Vivian Girls. Here’s a survey from David Hartley of Nightlands & The War on Drugs.

Top 5 Albums of 2010

As usual, in 2010 I devoted my ears to old records like Bo Hansson’s Lord of the Rings and Sparks’ Kimono My House. Nonetheless, these blew me away:

1. Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti: Before Today—The rare combination of precisely crafted songs with really loose production. It sounds like Lionel Richie meets The Basement Tapes to me. Bizarre and hilarious and catchy.

2. Sharon Van Etten: Epic—Such a great record. It just makes sense. The songs are strong and the lyrics have that universal quality that makes you want to pump your fist.

3. Ape School: Early Retirement—Weird pop from Philly’s criminally underrated Michael Johnson channeling Echo and the Bunnymen and Prefab Sprout. Great sounds and textures.

4. Megafaun: Heretofore—You can really feel the love on this album. These guys play music in the moment and aren’t afraid to stretch out and take chances.

5. Wolf People: Steeple—This is what Gandalf queues up on his iPod right before he mounts Shadowfax and storms Helm’s Deep with Erkenbrand.

What was the highlight of 2010 for either you personally or for the band?

Finishing my record. It was a hyper-nebulous project and something that I wasn’t sure would make sense to anyone but me.

What are your hopes and plans for 2011?

Bringing Nightlands to the stage in a creative way. Making three more albums.

What are your thoughts on President Obama’s job performance in the last year? Has your optimism, if you were an Obama supporter, waned?

I admire him as an orator and a thinker, but I feel he really wimped out. Ultimately, though, his failures more thoroughly reflect the impossibility of an intellectual negotiating the quicksands of American bureaucracy rather than his shortcomings as a statesman.

What are your thoughts on the Tea Party movement?

“If we believe absurdities, we shall commit atrocities.” – Voltaire

With the Internet making every artist’s music potentially available to a wide audience, is it now easier to find listeners or more difficult because you have to compete with so many other musicians?

It’s fun because your audience is the world. It’s daunting because there are SO MANY BANDS.

Who would you rather listen to—a totally original musician whose compositions are groundbreaking but difficult to listen to or a musician whose songs are immediately enjoyable but derivative? Why?

False dilemma. I wish to hear people make superbly listenable music in an unconventional way.

In the race to find new bands, are too many unworthy bands being hyped up by music blogs and websites? How are music fans supposed to filter through all these new bands being hyped?

I think a lot of listeners are responding by honing in on certain record labels that they vibe with. So, while the role of a record label has shrunk considerably in the last decade, they are still important in that they help people make sense of all the Internet static.

If your house was on fire, what would you grab as you were running out?

My cat, my tapes, and my hard drive.

Have you ever been starstruck when meeting another musician? If so, by who?

I met Jack Black many years ago during a time I was heavily into Tenacious D. I clammed up and asked him for weed. He was a good sport about it, though.

If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring musician, what would it be? What was the best piece of advice that you’ve ever gotten?

Don’t be a businessman. Be a musician.

In 2010, what was the best movie you saw, book you read, comic book you read, video game you played, and/or TV show you watched?

Film: Synecdoche, New York. Book: The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, Carson McCullers. Comic Book: The Walking Dead. TV Show: Mad Men.



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July 14th 2016

JA,I see evidence that the Universalists exist and that they exercise considerable power in the withholdings section of every pay stub.  There are other things, like the propensity of Washco to involve itself in foreign wars, social reructrtusing, etc., but the pay stub is the big one for me.