As the New Deal gears up for their first headlining shows in Philadelphia and New York City this weekend, since returning to the live stage earlier this year, L4LM had the opportunity to ask tND’s Jamie Shields and Dan Kurtz some questions with regards to the decision to come back w/ new drummer Joel Stouffer, new music including their first studio effort in years “Sabotage the System,” their relationship with Marc Brownstein and Aron Magner of the Disco Biscuits – whose touring project Conspirator will be playing with tND at both the Electric Factory and Terminal 5 – and more.
Purchase tickets to the Electric Factory show on Friday, Nov. 28th HERE.
Purchase tickets to the Terminal 5 show on Saturday, Nov. 29th HERE.
L4LM: What projects have you been working on prior to tND deciding to get back together?
Jamie: As always, I’ve been busy writing music for TV and film – something that’s the antithesis of playing in the New Deal, haha. The most structured, regimented studio-oriented approach to music composition that can exist, versus the free and easy improv approach of the New Deal. Nice to have both sides available to me!
Dan: I’ve spent most of the last few years either writing or touring with Dragonette. There are a couple of little pop projects in the works that I, and the other writers and producers, are looking forward to growing into bigger pop projects over the next year.
L4LM: Everybody wants to know what was the major factor in the decision of the “Why Now?” in the reasoning to come back and hit the road once again?
Dan: Well, it certainly was a confluence of a couple of things. One was when I heard that new Daft Punk record, it was a signal that EDM was quickly broadening its palate to re-include the retro side of bass music. ‘Retro’ meaning where it all started, and we have always had our feet in that world from the beginning. And the last couple of years with Darren we were kind of increasingly coming up with music that was super hi-fidelity, super loud EDM sounds that didn’t lend themselves particularly well to what we do and how we do it. And I kind of felt like what we did at the time, or at least what we did really well wasn’t where things were headed in the scene we were playing. So, I felt that the re-inclusion [with the Daft Punk release] of those sounds and sensibilities with real instruments, and maybe even more of a melodic sense, was back in play, and we could be a part of that. That’s a very esoteric assumption that I made.
And then beyond that, in terms of the nuts and bolts of it all, Jamie and I had more time working together on movie soundtracks and music in general, as I had moved back to Toronto (from England). We discovered that 25+ years in playing together was something we realized we had missed. So we figured that having the ability to play again together, as I was now off the road with Dragonette, who I was touring with pretty solidly for two and a half years, the fact that we were enjoying working together again, and people were interested in having us come and play, was affirming in getting us back out there. Then the only wrench in the plan was that Darren wasn’t able or interested in going back out on the road. This was a conversation that started last May, over a year ago, so this was something we have been thinking about for awhile now.
L4LM: Is there one performance, in particular, that stands out in your mind as “the best” tND show since your return? Or the one that gave you that “fuck yeah, we’re back” feeling?
Jamie: The last show that we played always tends to be the one that was the best, but I think that in this case, it’s actually also true. Our last gig at Hulaween (Live Oak, FL) at the beginning of November really stuck out to me as one of our best shows w/ the new lineup. The set just flowed so smoothly and effortlessly, which is always the hallmark of a good set.
Dan: Man, there are too any of those to remember. Sometimes that feeling happens for just 5 minutes in one show and it’s enough to make it feel like the best show I’ve ever played.
L4LM: tND isn’t known as a studio band, but recently released a new single, “Sabotage the System.” What was the reason for the single release? Is a potential studio album in the works?
Jamie: Just to make some new music as a unit. We just felt like putting something out so people would be able to hear the creative process that the new group has… the New Deal always tends to follow its own path and make its own decisions on its own time, and that was no exception. We had some free time, we said “hey, want to make a song?” and we did!
As for a new album – I wouldn’t say no, but I also wouldn’t say yes. If the fancy strikes us then we’ll do it! A standard New Deal response to a situation…
Dan: Who knows. The process of making that one track felt really easy and fun. We’re gonna do it again and see what happens… Step and repeat….
L4LM: How do things feel with Joel behind the kit?
Jamie: Great. He’s a great guy and an awesome musician. It’s tough being the drummer in the New Deal because you have to do something which you weren’t taught to do as a drummer, which is lead. Usually drummers are taught to follow – follow the bass player, follow the chart, follow the groove, etc. – to sit back and play your part and let the song unfold around you. Playing in tND takes the exact opposite approach – everybody has to lead the song and help develop it, drummers included. This took a while before it became second nature for joel, but he handled it perfectly and it’s a treat to play w/ him onstage and hang out w/ him offstage.
Dan: We did a lot of playing together, and luckily, Joel understood it very quickly. In retrospect, it really wasn’t a surprise, because Joel came up playing as a jazz musician. So the idea of improvisation and playing off one another, and not just playing part-oriented music, was pretty easy for him. What we were concerned with was just getting on side with the message of transitioning and communicating that Jamie and I would be very hard-pressed to rewrite, you know what I mean? Well, the two of us do it this way, so instead of us changing, as opposed to the three of us coming up with something from scratch, well, you’re going to have to integrate into doing it the way we do it. It wasn’t like a fuck you thing, it was more like it would be very hard to undo 1400+ shows of Jamie and I working together.
L4LM: Your last headlining NYC show was at BB King’s 12/31/11 after Phish at MSG. You ready to bring it to Terminal 5?
Jamie: Always. If you’re not ready to step up when you’re playing in NYC, then when will you ever be ready to step up!? We’ve played New York so many times (150?) that it’s like a second home to us. I love it there. I love the crowds, the energy, the shows, etc.
L4LM: You have a lot of history with Marc Brownstein, Aron Magner, and the Disco Biscuits (having performed in The Join and Suckerpunch) – are you excited to have Conspirator on the bill for Terminal 5 and Electric Factory?
Jamie: Any time I get to hang with two my favorite musical friends, it’s a good day. I love those guys and cherish every minute that we get to hang out. I’ve created about seven or eight side projects with Marc over the years, solely as a reason for us to play and hang out together. As Aron Magner has said many times, “it’s all about the hang.”
L4LM: Any possibility for some sit-ins during each band’s respective sets?
Jamie: You never know! With the New Deal nothing is decided until that note has been played!