Photo Credit: Phil Puelo
Every day each one of us spends way too much of our time and energy on things that, in hindsight, could be viewed as a waste – but is that such a bad thing? We Owe and I discussed not only that, but also what borough of New York City the new album ‘Major Inconvenience‘ feels most like, and so much more in this back-and-forth exchange.
Kendra: When you were first starting to get an inkling for music back in the day, what swayed you towards the bass? And how long after you got a grip on the bass did you start to explore other instruments?
We Owe: What led to me playing bass was my rudimentary guitar skills. I taught myself some basic guitar skills from playing along with records. My friend Kevin McGinnis (Twiggy Branches) whom I still play with today, played guitar much better than me so I would play bass. I’ve always had a knack for picking up instruments. Not technically good but I can make stuff happen on most instruments right away. A musical dilettante but bass is definitely my main instrument.
Kendra: Since then you’ve embarked on a career that spans about 30 years, much of that spent playing alongside others in bands. How did you realize that it was time to venture out on your own as a solo artist before you dropped ‘Small Truth’ back in 2021?
We Owe: I’ve been making music of my own all along. For 10 years I composed music for a Japanese makeup company called THREE which is how I developed my home recording skills but I had been recording myself from the beginning. After THREE I decided I should put my own music out. I planned on an instrumental album to release when I would have been on tour with Swans for the Leaving Meaning record in late 2019. Well, that didn’t pan out so during lockdown I switched gears and wrote a more in depth record than I set out to.
Kendra: Fast forward to today and you’ve got the sophomore follow-up ready to go, but being a lifelong New Yorker, I’d love to know – what Burrough do you think ‘Major Inconvenience’ matches sonically the most, and why?
We Owe: While I’m definitely affected by my environment the act of home recording is very isolating. I go into a time and space void when I’m buried in my music. It doesn’t matter where I am anymore when in that zone. I do live on a noisy street in Brooklyn and my recordings have tons of street noise bleeding on the tracks. Sirens, horns, and trucks all over the place so in that sense the borough that literally sonically resonates on this record is BROOKLYN.
Kendra: So let’s talk about “Time Suck” because I really love your sort of philosophy about wasting time. You’re all for it because, as you said, “I think everyone should waste time…cause there probably isn’t anything in the future to look forward to anyway.” In recent years, it really does feel like that more often than not, but as someone who is a constant professional both on and off stage, do you have to force yourself to find time to waste?
We Owe: Wasting time comes absolutely naturally to me. I’ve spent my adult life in social environments for work. Bars, clubs and restaurants. When I get home from tour I have very little psychic energy for social stuff. I go into a torpor state and I often have to force myself out of it. I don’t know what the purpose of life is but I’m pretty sure it isn’t getting stuff done. Maybe more like survive with as little pain and suffering as possible. Good luck y’all!
Kendra: You also worked with a lot of good friends on this record from Thor Harris to TRZTN. When bringing on collaborators, do you go in with a game plan in mind or do you welcome input along the way?
We Owe: I’m a no game plan planner. Those who plan to fail. No battle plan survives contact with the enemy. The best way to make God laugh at you is to tell Her your plans. Plans are a dish best-served cold.
But for reals, I love getting contributions. They always feel out of place and make you rethink things and how the music is working. I want to explore that more going forward. Maybe with more of a plan next time. Thanks, TRZTN, Thor, and Phil!
Kendra: Time for a side note – with it being November, a month we give thanks, I’m asking everyone this…what is one album you’re grateful for, an album that inspired you to do what you’re currently doing right now as an artist?
We Owe: ‘Curtis Live’ by Curtis Mayfield.
I first heard it at 18 while living in San Francisco. It killed me. I moved back to New York and I ran into a guy selling it on vinyl on the sidewalk of Flatbush Ave. He was in Vietnam when he was 18 and his mother bought all the records she thought he would like so when he got back he had the latest records. All those years later there we were. He finally sold his collection to me, who just heard the record for the first time and there it was at my feet. I still have that copy.
Kendra: Lastly, with ‘Major Inconvenience’ out on December 1st, what can we expect as we finish out 2023 and head into 2024?
We Owe: Well well well. I would like to say the Mothership will be landing but it’s probably gonna be the Fathership. But from me, two more singles will come out before the record on December 1st and I just performed on KEXP with Medicine Singers and that is out now. It’s fantastic, go check it out.