The End: Kurt Wagner of Lambchop | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Saturday, June 22nd, 2024  

The End: Kurt Wagner of Lambchop

Up All Night

Sep 30, 2022 Web Exclusive Photography by Mickie Winters Bookmark and Share

To end the week, we ask Kurt Wagner, the creative force behind Lambchop, some questions about endings and death. His approach to the task was quite different than any other artist who has taken part in our The End interview series over the years.

Lambchop’s latest album, The Bible, came out today via Merge. It’s the follow-up to 2021’s Showtunes. The Nashville-based Wagner began work on The Bible in Minneapolis in a decommissioned paint factory turned practice space. There he worked with his piano player Andrew Broder and producer Ryan Olson, marking the first time Wagner has let an outside producer oversee a Lambchop LP.

“Ryan and Andrew, they’re like two sides of my personality,” Wagner said in a press release announcing the album. “And if you put them together as a team, they represent me.”

The Bible coalesces a wide variety of sounds and genres—indie rock, jazz, funk, country, disco—into a truly unique listening experience, as we’ve come to expect from Lambchop.

Read on as Wagner, in interconnected answers, recounts a long and sleepless night.

How would you like to die and what age would you like to be?

I am driving in a rental car. It’s going to take most of the day and a night to get to my destination. By the time I arrive at my hotel for the night I suspect I may have aged a bit. But with all the traffic, who doesn’t? I suspect there will be things along the way that I may or may not enjoy but overall it should be a worthwhile experience.

What song would you like to be playing at your deathbed?

After I’ve checked into my room for the night. I find the bed is there is in its usual spot. There are a few signs of a recent cleaning and the smell is a bit on the citrus side. The TV welcomes me with a greeting and a song that is both regrettable and unfamiliar. Its intent is to be buoyant and upbeat. Its presence is less than welcoming.

What song would you like to be performed at your funeral and who would you like to sing it?

Out the window is the parking lot where I can see several cars lined up in a procession of sorts. One by one they break away from the group to park in an unoccupied spot. All the cars are black. One is covered in flowers. There’s another one with tinted windows and one with the windows rolled down. I can hear music coming from inside it. I recognize the song.

“Who let the dogs out?”

What’s your favorite ending to a movie?

Later that night, after returning to my room after a last smoke outside, there is a film on the only movie channel available. It’s dreadful and I won’t mention its name. I will mention that after I switched over to watch the baseball game things improved and I wished all movies could end this way.

What’s your favorite last line in a book?

After the game I tried to do some light reading, sometimes I read the last line first just in case I have doubts that I’ll get that far and wonder if it’s worth the time getting there. Often I find that the last line makes very little sense. If that happens I know there’s a good chance I’ll enjoy the read.

What’s your favorite series finale last ever episode of a TV show? (Or what’s your least favorite?)

At 2 a.m. it looks like I’m having a little trouble sleeping tonight. There’s a weird sound coming from the hallway and the air conditioning is cutting on and off way too often so I turn on the TV. At random, I switch to a channel to what appears to be a show on its last legs. It’s Bosom Buddies at least it looks like it’s Bosom Buddies. As the episode concluded the characters embrace. I ask myself, “Dang is that Tom Hanks?”

What’s your favorite last song on an album?

Sleep alas, remained elusive. There’s been times when I try to listen to the radio to fall back to sleep. The announcers never seem to mention if the songs they played were the last songs on an LP. They have their reasons.

What’s your favorite last album by a band who then broke up?

There’s also a failure to note if the songs were on a last album or if the group involved broke up. There is an assumption on their part that we possess this knowledge. I’m sure some of us do.

Whose passing has most affected you?

One thing I try to do when reading or watching don’t quite get me to “drift away” is I try counting things. But the number of people in my life who’ve passed away is not one of them. But hey, I don’t make up the questions. Now I’m really awake.

If you were on death row, what would you like your last meal to be?

Fuck it, I’m heading back outside past the lobby for another smoke. The morning staff is setting up for the free continental breakfast. Steam tables steaming. The menu is pretty straightforward as you could imagine. Never the less it could be the last meal I get for some time. Travel is so unpredictable these days.

What’s your concept of the afterlife?

The sun’s coming up as I gingerly cram my butt into the “Smokers Outpost™,” which incidentally is also smoking. I think if it’s on fire. These things have a life of their own, as do I. Looks like I’ve made it through another night ready to face the day. Check-out is at 11.

What would be your own personal version of heaven if it exists?

Had I requested a late check out it might have been heavenly.

What would be the worst punishment the devil could devise for you in hell, if he exists?

Sadly, I did not which means I’ve been devilishly locked out of my room at 10:45 a.m. as I try to return to retrieve my bags for check out at 11.

If reincarnation exists, who or what would you like to be reincarnated as?

For this reason I imagine my returning later about 11:05 a.m. as a brand new room key.

What role or achievement would you most like to be remembered for?

Somehow getting to the destination on time.

What would you like your last words to be?

“Wow, I made it.”

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