As it turns out, Eddie Argos, lead singer of Art Brut, and I feel the same way about the DC comics reboot. Eddie Argos is exactly as you would expect, forward and hilarious. The leader of Art Brut sat down to talk with The Wild Honey Pie about the band’s newest album, his thoughts on singing and, of course comic books.
Art Brut’s Brilliant! Tragic! Is out now, and absolutely worth a listen.
The Wild Honey Pie: This is the second album that Frank Black has produced for you guys. Was there anything different this time around?
Eddie Argos: He didn’t want to step on our toes before. We were just sort of getting to know each other last time. But we’ve been friends now for two years. It was almost like he was in the band this time. I’d be playing the guitar and he be like, “try this, try that.” He taught me to sing, you know. I think he wanted me to sing last time, but I don’t think he knew me well enough [Laughs], all that kind of stuff. We’re mates now, you know, so it was really like he was in the band this time. It was kinda cool.
TWHP: So, speaking of him teaching you how to sing this time, did you go into the studio knowing that you wanted to sing?
EA: Our manager phoned me up before I left to record and was like, “he’s going to make you sing this time.” And I was like, “he can try.” Cause I really didn’t think I could sing, you know. It’s like, whatever, go on then. It’s not the first time. Everybody has been like, “try and sing this Eddie,” and I’ve not been able to do it. So, yeah, I would stand up and he told me, “sing me some of your lyrics.” [under his breath] Everybody wants to be sexy sometimes. “Now sing it.” And I’m like, yeah ok, I’ll sing it. [under his breath] Everybody wants to be sexy sometimes. It was kinda cool, man. We just sort of–me, him and Jasper [Future], Jasper plays the guitar–we almost harmonized. We sang back to each other, and it really gave me a lot of confidence. “Lost Weekend” actually was the first song that we recorded, and I thought it was a trick [Laughs] that he got somebody else to record it. And it was me!And I think it really fits on the songs where I’m singing. “Lost Weekend” is like a hangover or something, so it needs to be sung like that. It makes sense, I think it was time, you know.
TWHP: Do you think you are going to sing on the next record?
EA: Um, a little bit. It’s more like a stage whisper [Laughs]. I mean, yeah, I think so. If the song requires it. I do quite like talking, it’s more to the point. I like to have a new door open for me. I didn’t really know that my voice was an instrument before. It’s nice to sort of have that idea in the background.
TWHP: You’ve said before that you spent a little bit longer in the studio recording this record. Tell me about that.
EA: We had more time, I think, this time. It was an excuse to hang out as well. We were in the studio for ten days last time, and this time it was a few weeks. It just happened that was this time, I suppose.
TWHP: Do you like spending more time in the studio?
EA: We recoded fewer songs, but we spent more time on it. It was great to take songs apart and then put them back together. Go, let’s stretch this out. “Axel Rose” was a really short two minute song. And [Frank Black] was like, slow it down, slow it down, slow it down. And we were like, he’s lost his mind! But it worked out. I like it. He can see things that we can’t really, and it was good to have the time to do that.
TWHP: You’ve mentioned Axel Rose in previous songs and now he has a whole one. What attracts you to Axel Rose as a subject matter for your music?
EA: I’m not sure. I think, in the real world, it’s not very practical to be like him. Growing up, you see Axel Rose as what you want a rock star to be, you know, he does what he wants. I think you go, “oh, that’s cool,” when you’re 15-16, “I wanna be Axel Rose.” There’s something about him in that way that makes him interesting. I wrote that song about my brother, really. My brother did sort of grown up idolizing Axel Rose. He helped my brother sort of find his place in the world. That song is pretty much verbatim what my brother said. It’s like a conversation I had with my brother. I sort of wrote down his half of it and made it rhyme.
TWHP: Is there any figure in culture that you are attracted to in the same way?
EA: I like playing around. I’ve always liked it when bands do references. I like that in other bands. I think it creates a narrative through the band. It’s quite interesting to write about other people, other musicians. I’ve started writing a song about Bob Dylan, but I might just throw it away [laughs].
TWHP: So you commissioned a comic book for Brilliant! Tragic! How did you come up with the idea of doing that?
EA: I love comics. I’ve half talked about it before with Art Brut, “we should do a comic that would be cool.” I love comics, I want to own one. So I thought- I got all these people I like a lot, I should get them all together on a project. I was too shy to approach them, so I gave the emails to my manager and said “could you email these people, I’m a bit scared of them.” I was thinking they would all say no or something, but every single person I asked said yes. I’m very, very proud of the comic. I mean, I wrote the lyrics but it’s become so much more than that. It feels like me being part of the comic is sort of like me taking credit for someone else’s work or something.
TWHP: Speaking of comics, what are you reading while you are on the road?
EA: I read a lot of DC comics. So, I’m a bit worried about this reboot—you know they’re rebooting DC. They’re restarting Batman. I’m a bit worried. I’m just catching up, cause I got a bit behind. Jamie [McKelvie] who did the art on the Art Brut album works for Marvel. He lent me Grant Morrison’s X-men
TWHP: So, your moving over to Marvel now?
EA: Yeah. I feel bad saying it. I didn’t really like Marvel growing up. Comics were like, dudes fighting, and Superheros. But Marvel was more trying to find your place in the world and stuff. I never really understood that—but now I’m reading it and am like, “Wow, this is awesome!”
TWHP: Are there any favorite artists or albums you listen to when you’re on tour?
EA: We just started touring now. You know, people will bring comics to shows, I didn’t plan it, honestly, it was a surprise. Records, I’m not sure. I was listening to Tullycraft on the plane. I thought I pressed repeat on the album, but I just pressed repeat on a song so I listened to “Pop Songs New Boyfriends Too Stupid,” like, 500 times. So yeah, Tullycraft and DC comics.
From The Wild Honey Pie, 6/30/2011: http://www.thewildhoneypie.com/eddie-argos-of-art-brut-talks-comics-axel-rose-dylan-interview/