Jeff Bottari, Getty Images Kelly Rowland's new gig has caused her to cancel and…
- Posted on Jan 13th 2010 1:15PM by Shelley White
Pallett began with his usual self-looped solo performance before being joined by new stage-mate Thomas Gill, who added deft percussion. The new 'Heartland' songs proved to be an artful continuation of his signature sound: lush yet intimate tracks with a perfect layering of strings and vocals that alternately soar and whisper.
Pallett told Spinner a couple nights earlier he "can't talk" about his name change -- beyond noting no animosity exists between him and Square-Enix, creators of the iconic Final Fantasy videogames. But Owen did open up about bar fights, Twitter, Animal Collective and the "insane" month in Prague that produced 'Heartland.'
During the recording of 'Heartland,' you worked with an orchestra in Prague, right?
I had been contacted by [UK producer] Mark Ronson to do orchestral arrangements for the Rumble Strips. I initially said, "No, I'm too busy, I'm making a record," and recommended some other people. When I finished tracking all the ['Heartland'] beds in Iceland, it was early December and Mark called me again. I thought, "I really don't want to, but I love the band and I'd be eager to work with a Grammy award-winning producer."
Then he said, "We're planning on recording in Prague." The part of my brain that doesn't usually turn on very often -- the selfish business person -- thought if they're going to fly me to Prague, I could do the 'Heartland' arrangements there and record them at the same time. So basically I had one month to do the Rumble Strips record and finish all the 'Heartland' arrangements. It was an incredible amount of music all written for a full orchestra and it was just... insane.
Why was it such a difficult time for you?
When I arrived in Prague, I had 10 days to complete all the arrangements. So I holed up in a hotel room and would work until I felt tired and then I'd sleep for a couple hours and then wake up and work until I was tired and then fall asleep for a couple hours. I did that for 10 days straight. I ordered room service, I didn't even get out of bed. I worked Christmas Day. At the end of the 10 days, I was in just a complete state. I went to the strings session [for 'Heartland'] and was drinking so much coffee so I wouldn't fall asleep and was completely fretting over all the details of the album and had nobody to edit with, nobody to share it with. I was there entirely by myself. It was just a very stressful experience for me.
Mark Ronson flew in from London and we had a couple drinks. I just didn't sleep all night -- I was up and in a terrible state. I chatted with a few friends on the phone who made me feel better, but the next day was insane. Mark and I were working on the arrangements in the hotel room and every time he'd leave to talk on the phone or whatever, I'd burst into tears. He'd come back and I'd be like, 'Oh yeah I'm fine, I'm fine.'
I didn't want it to seem like this person he had hired was a crazy person.
Does it stress you out to hear 'Heartland' now? Or are you pleased with how it turned out?
It's interesting because I love it. But I don't feel like I made it, because it was made under such duress. From the time I left Iceland I was just such a walking zombie. I don't want to say I was depressed, 'cause I don't think I was. I used to feel that it was something like a creative endeavour, like an act of self-destruction or something. I was constantly questioning myself about the worth of the work. It wasn't really until mixing that I started to feel human again. It was a pretty horrible experience.
There is a central character called Lewis threading the songs on 'Heartland.' Can you explain Lewis and the album's theme?
I really want for the concept to just be an intrinsic part of the record and not be like program notes. This record is sort of a fantasy thing and I was very conscious of what makes a good fantasy novel. With science-fiction, it's often about explaining the science behind it. The technology authors like Arthur C. Clarke or Phillip K. Dick are describing is what's so exciting. But with fantasy books and movies, it's almost better if they don't explain anything.
Look at 'Willow.' George Lucas or Don Bluth didn't sit there saying, "Well, basically the Brownies are very small and they speak like French-Canadians... " He didn't provide anyone with any background information about who those races were. It was just like, "That's a Daikini baby, they're not one of us." I think that maybe on the Final Fantasy message board I've given away more than I should have, because I'm like, make up your own interpretation.
You are an avid Twitter user. Why are you into it?
I started doing Internet stuff when I was quite young. When I was 10, I was logged into BBSs and message boards with a dial-up modem. I did it through my teens and saw ICQ destroy friendships because people didn't understand that sarcasm could not exist in online chatting. One of the things that made me less interested in being online is what anonymity can do. If you're posting anonymously, there's absolutely no reason for anyone to back up any of the claims they're making and as a result I think it's giving people free reign to run around the Internet, basically talking s---.
The whole concept of "overrated" is a direct product of anonymous commenting. You can say something like, "Animal Collective has the album of the year," and then 500 other people can say that. Then people say, "Animal Collective is such an overrated band, I hate them." Well, you don't hate Animal Collective, you hate the fact that 500 anonymous people won't shut up about them.
I'm not trying to be a bitter little bitch about it. What I'm saying is that Twitter combats anonymous posting because people are actually thinking before they tweet. I don't know how many times someone has shown something to me and asked, 'Should I tweet that?'
You tweeted you were in a bar fight. True?
Yeah, it was true. I was at this club and there was this guy who decided he wanted to sit at the table that me and all my friends were sitting at. Under the table was my bag. When it was time for us to go, I said, "Hey, can you get up so I can get my bag?" He said no. I said, "I'm not taking your seat or anything, I just need my bag." He said no. I said, "You really should move 'cause we gotta go and I can't leave without my bag." And he said no.
So I grabbed the table and pulled it out and he fell on his ass. We all started laughing because it looked really amazing, and he came up and shoved me really hard. But we were sitting on this bank of couches so I just fell on the couches which were really cushy and beautiful. I stood up and he pushed me again and I was like, "Dude, maybe you should try punching because this is more like getting tickled." Security came and said, "You have to leave."
I got my bag, but the ironic part was they started escorting my friends out and left me and the guy who pushed me. So I was like, "I'm the guy you want to escort out," and he shined the light in my face and said, "If you don't keep quiet, you're going to get kicked out, too."