Inbox: Telefon Tel Aviv

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Sure, we're always curious to know about an artist's upcoming release, most recent tour, or arsenal of analog gear, but XLR8R's also got a curiosity for quirk. Thus, each week, we email a different artist and find out what makes them tick, in the studio and in life. This week finds us talking about the Chicago Cubs, Kurt Vonnegut, and enslavement of ex-girlfriends with Josh Eustis and Charlie Cooper, the boys behind Telefon Tel Aviv.

What are you listening to right now?

Josh Eustis: Grouper, Dragging A Dead Deer Up A Hill. I've burned it out; I play it so much. I'm also heavily jamming "It's My Life" by Talk Talk, a very underrated record that hipsters overlook because it was popular. Everyone goes "Oooh, but see, like, 'Spirit of Eden' is the one, man..."

Charlie Cooper: I have to agree with the Grouper record. “Heavy Water” is the best new song I’ve heard in years. Also in heavy rotation are Fleetwood Mac (Rumors, Tusk), Danzig (The Lost Tracks of Danzig), Wire (Chairs Missing), Raekwon (Only Built 4 Cuban Linx). You can’t mess with Fleetwood Mac for sheer songwriting genius. Danzig is a major weakness for me from way back. This new comp of outtakes and rarities is actually really good. Mostly classic sounding tracks recorded in a more raw way–good shit. That wire record is so dope also. I can’t believe how ahead of their time they were. What can I say about Raekwon? Track after track of genius beats and lyrics. Love it.

What's the weirdest story you ever heard about yourself?

JE: From Wikipedia: "Charlie Cooper is an avid shoe collector and has been known to take up to 21 pairs of shoes while on tour. During a show last spring in Moscow, Russia he had three outfit changes, including one "encore set" that featured a vintage pair of UNC (University of North Carolina) Blue Air Jordan's with matching t-shirt. [Citation needed]"

CC: Guess Josh has me covered on this one. Someone is enjoying themselves.

What band did you want to be in when you were 15?

JE: Skinny Puppy, or nothing. Seriously.

CC: Would have been NIN, or The Cure, probably.

Worst live show experience?

JE: It's a tie, I think. It was either the knuckle-dragging Rotterdam simpleton that threw a Heineken bottle at my head in Amsterdam or the ridiculous and reproachful hippy-trance-diva that yelled, "You fucking suuuuck, get off the stage," while we were finishing our set and thanking both of the fans in front that enjoyed the show. Shpongle was on next. What can I say? She hurt my feelings.

CC: Ditto. Oh yeah, I remember playing a house party with Josh back in the day when we first started out, and this retard in the room kept heckling us and asking us if we were making the music or was it our computers. What a dickwad that guy was.

Favorite city to play in?

JE: Wow. Napoli? Rome? Istanbul? Ann Arbor? Those four, believe it or not, are all well in the running. We've had a blast playing shows in all of those cities. Istanbul was completely bananas. I was surprised.

CC: I love all those cities also. I have to add in Austin. Really great people out there who have been bringing us out and supporting us for years.

How do you, as your website states, “quantify and qualify nostalgia?”

JE: Good question. I have no idea. With a tape machine, or something, I guess...

CC: I’ll get back to you on that one.

What is your favorite thing you own?

JE: I don't really care much about anything that I own. However I think that I would like to "own" my ex-girlfriend, make her my slave, or have some similar arrangement. She's fantastic and I'm still hung up on her. A real catch. A contract of ownership thereof would really be swell.

CC: I’d have to say I love my Arp Omni II. It’s an old string synthesizer. I always loved the sound of them on all sorts of records. It’s like playing a really good memory.

Name one item of clothing you can't live without.

JE: My Helmut Lang hooded jacket that Eliot Lipp gave me as a Christmas present in October.

CC: Hanes black no-tag t-shirt.

Your music most closely resembles which Captain Planet hero (choose one): Earth, Wind, Water, Fire, Heart.

JE: "After the Love is Gone" by Earth, Wind, and Fire.

What did you always get in trouble for when you were little?

JE: From the time I was about six years old up until about 13 years old I basically did not stop talking–or beefing in church.

CC: For always doing the exact opposite of what I was told to do. Sometimes it worked out, mostly not.

What other artist would you most like to work with?

JE: For me? Stupid answer, but Steve Reich. My lifetime dream is to play piano on a performance of "Music for 18 Musicians." I know all the parts already, from studying them in college and practicing like crazy.

CC: I have no business in the same room as these people, but if there ever was a reason I’d like to work with PJ Harvey, Antony Hegarty, Bowie, Burial, Animal Collective.

What's the last thing you read?

JE:Samedi The Deafness by Jesse Ball. Radical.

CC:Armageddon in Retrospect by Kurt Vonnegut. To me, [he 's] the most important contemporary writer. That’s just me though. R.I.P.

Complete this sentence: In the future...

JE: ...all the hip kids will wear Z. Cavariccis and hyper-color t-shirts. Wait, we are already in the future.

CC: No worries… We won’t exist.

Stupidest thing you've done in the last 12 months?

JE: I allowed myself to become deeply emotionally invested in the Chicago Cubs. I watched well over one hundred games of this past season–irrevocably stupid.

CC: Oh man, you might have to bump a few articles to accommodate my dumb shit. I’ll spare you.

What's next?

JE: I don't care and I can't believe that anyone else does, either.

CC: Lots and lots of jetlag.

Telefon Tel Aviv's Immolate Yourself is out January 20, 2009 on BPitch Control.

MP3: "Helen of Troy"

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