Monday, May 23, 2011

Interview: John Schmersal (Brainiac, Enon, Caribou)

Enon (left to right: Matt Schulz, Toko Yasuda & John Schmersal)
Around four years ago, my band and I were introduced to John Schmersal through a mutual acquaintance. Prior to that, I was unaware of John's history in music--his presence in legendary Dayton, Ohio band Brainiac, his solo work under the pseudonym John Stuart Mill, and of course his very great and underrated band Enon.

Since then, John has become a touring member of psychedelic/electronica act Caribou and has been on and off the road with them for quite some time. Luckily, I had the chance to ask John some questions via email regarding his tour experiences, his role in curating the upcoming ATP Nightmare Before Christmas Festival in London, and the status of his own band Enon. 

What city are you in right now and what's it like?

Istanbul. It's an amazing city. Steeped in the old but, still very cosmopolitan and just bustling. Lots of places open late and very lively atmosphere.

It seems like you've been on tour with Caribou non-stop for the past year or so. How are you holding up?

Well to be fair, we have had a few breaks by now. I was officially done with the crazy nonstop touring by mid-December. Then we did New Zealand and Australia in February. Post which I was home until several days ago. But, we did really have a solid run there. 180 some shows in 8 months. I absolutely love to travel so this is the right job for me.

So far what has been your favorite city abroad to play?

Well, as I said I love to travel. I have a lot of favorite cities to play and visit in. I would say Belgrade, Berlin, Krakow, Granada (Spain) Catania, and Istanbul are definitely at the top of my list over the years. I love playing and being in new (to me) Eastern European cities. I am pretty obsessed with islands big and small and the people who live on them at this point too.

With Dan Snaith largely writing/recording Caribou songs by himself, how much of a challenge is it working out the songs as a live band? Do the arrangements change a lot from the studio recordings or do you try to stay as close as possible to what he originally wrote?

He's pretty democratic about how the music is fleshed out live. It would be a challenge, but really technology has finally caught up with the complications of sampled songwriting and such. We use Ableton live for our show and it's really quite flexible and innovative. There are a lot of different ways to approach the set up. We have done it in a way that keeps it flexible for us so that the song structures are a bit elastic and we can jam on things and keep it fresh. Everybody in the band is quite tech savvy so, there are a lot of good ideas and input that go into our setup.

Did you have any role in curating the ATP Nightmare Before Christmas Festival in December or is that just Dan? Are there any acts in particular you're excited to check out when you play there?

Yeah, we are still working on who we are inviting. We are trying to keep it interesting and not pick so much current or exposed artists. We invited this band we just discovered in New Zealand during that tour called Orchestra of Spheres, and they were just confirmed. They are very hard to describe, which I like, quite influenced by South East Asian music and just a really entertaining live show. I am very excited about seeing them again. Many of the other things that I might be excited about have not been confirmed yet. So, I am keeping my fingers crossed.

A while back I think you mentioned to me that when you were on tour with Brainiac, you were given a small per diem for food, and you'd have enough to buy a burrito or something and a record everyday. Are you able to treat yourself a little better these days?

Well, yes I eat significantly better now but, it's also part of my passion where, I wasn't as focused on good food back then. I don't buy a whole lot of records on tour these days. More because of the way we travel isn't conducive to my record collecting ways. And as you know record stores are kind of an endangered species. I try and support them but, as I was saying… I don't have the room to buy a lot of records on tour. I do buy some but, not as obsessive as I used to be. I save it for home. I still really like hunting for records at thrift stores and garage sales. I like the hunt and the discovery that's been kind of lost with ebay/online avenues.

What is the status of Enon? Do you plan on releasing a follow-up to Grass Geysers...Carbon Clouds? 

No. The band is pretty much over.

Believo! is a classic, but I listened to Hocus Pocus the other day and it's severely underrated. Do you favor any particular Enon release over the others? 

Funny you say that, I feel like I am hearing that more and more... I can't really listen to my own records so much. I like the compilation Lost Marbles, we released before Grass Geysers.

Final question: If you had to name any single record you feel really fucking nostalgic about, what would it be? 

Hmmm. That's kind of hard, there are a lot of older records that bring on some nostalgia. That being said, I am not a very nostalgic person. I guess my best answer would be Supertramp's Breakfast in America. My brother played that record to death when I was young and I absolutely hated that record. A couple of years ago, I saw it in a friend's CD collection in his apartment in Prague and for some reason I put it on. Then I ripped it and ended up listening to it a bunch more times and even did a little research on it. That record was basically about a band on their last legs, at it for years and frustrated at their lack of success. It's a pretty sad record at the core and it was the one that exploded for them. It seemed kind of comforting to think that a band could create something in that way and turn it into success. I also find it amazing that I hated it so much then and sort of discovered it as an adult.

Thanks so much for doing this interview John, hope to see you in NYC soon!


  1. There are in a breeze cartoon a band under, created from covered canvas, bolt set in accession to omega replica
    shiny with attention to not abandoned the way they attending nonetheless a acceptable active One can acquisition custom made arcade accoutrements aural several styles according to louis vuitton replica that melancholia style.After carbon top end shopping accoutrements net, you will ascertain Hermes Birkin cooler, accumulation bendability in accession to illustrates its man or women blur cine brilliant for instance accomplished Down-filled in your comatose accompaniment luggage shall be aswell continued abiding That styles showcased about all accomplished in this commodity ample
    range through that longer, limited, Luton, in accession to replica shoes alarming wind breaker, a part of humans
    articles- Burberry aerialist arcade accoutrements Burberry Arcade accoutrements aural Burberry shops tend to be to the common foundation preferred, Burberry advantaged apropos the abundance of females even despite the actuality that its man or women architecture offers compared several over the years, the capital investigation for all its man or women clothes in accession to gadgets.Snapshot that achievable sales revenue from alms baggage in accession to t shirts over the internet. An boilerplate accepted arrangement necessity is in fact 5 pieces. By application baggage to gucci replica cover back bargain back $1. 99, on-line abundance shop keepers may bazaar these kinds of baggage with attention to back appreciably back bifold it has the aboriginal Replica Accoutrements amalgamation price. There are lots of layouts, sizing’s, in accession to colours regarding accepted arcade accoutrements in accession to handbags to aces from. Carry-on arcade accoutrements tend to be a 18-carat in the about all trusted in dior replica accession to can be purchased in assorted colours in addition to styles.To activate with louis vuitton abundant deals, it is accessible to adjudge all 5 to ten case layouts in accession to bazaar these association about webpages for instance or A bag you purchased for $1.99 can artlessly be awash for $10 forth with the accumulation is absolutely not negative.Once your aggregation starts to expand, you can alpha off acclimation added broad accoutrements and purses and mark up the prices. Watch how your little on-line retail boutique abound into some affair beyond aural
    a amount of months. You can aswell resell these things to added commodity shops and mark up the cost. The possibilities are amaranthine and the balance -to-be is promising. Use the able
    marketing techniques to achieve your objectives.

  2. Here we present to introduce to all visitors in this great blog. and thank you for allowing me .

    cara menggugurkan kandungan
    obat aborsi
    tanda tanda kehamilan

  3. I can only express a word of thanks. Because with the content on this blog I can add knowledge I, thank has been sharing this information. Do not forget to visit our website to share information and knowledge about health.
    obat busung air ascites
    cara mengatasi penyakit epilepsi
    Khasiat Dan Manfaat Walatra Sehat Mata
    cara mengobati dan menurunkan kolesterol