Although the arrival of the Brood II 17-year cicadas has been heralded for a hundred…
- Posted on Dec 23rd 2011 5:00PM by Cameron Matthews
Spinner recently caught up with bearded frontman Micah Middaugh to talk about the band's newest foray into children's books with their 7-inch single 'The Listeners/These Train Tracks.' Just in time for the holiday season, Middaugh's year-long project of printing and pressing over 1,000 unique books is finally finished. In celebration of the band's most ambitious project yet, the singer told us about his dreams of Shel Silverstein living down the street, how Breathe Owl Breathe are better off without a label and why an unlikely friendship between a mole and an ostrich is so effective.
Just in time for the holiday season, you guys have released this wonderful children's book and 7-inch record. How did you put all the elements together?
Over the last few winters, during some really slow times, I was getting a studio together above my gram and grandpa's cabin. I just have a flat bed press, so I can print out the initial print there, then a friend took me under his wing and he has the old letter presses. I had a lot of help along the way. Some of the stripped-down graphic design there, they were all from woodcut prints. There was a time when it was all going to be through the letter press, but I just ended up doing everything myself on the print, in the middle, where the vinyl rests. The dosey-doe design, they both meet up with the letter press.
Breathe Owl Breathe
I guess I just like the idea of not knowing who you're going to run into. That book is dedicated to friends, wherever they happen. When you move around lot, you share a lot without knowing -- and sometimes you don't -- and you meet friends that you'll never see again. When I recorded with Andrea and Trevor, it was a chance for us to record a couple of songs in a way that we never had before. Not getting caught up in them in anyway that we'd have to ever perform them. We were just trying to learn a different kind of recording. I think the whole project was a nice way for us to explore another avenue.
In the past, Breathe Owl Breathe's live shows have been pretty theatrical experiences. Do you still wear capes or are you onto something new?
[Laughs] You know, we haven't in a really long time. That was the 'Ghost Glacier' phase. When I was younger, I had a dress-up treasure chest. My dad was a carpenter and my mom became a nurse when I was in sixth grade. My parents are kind of like elves in a way. My dad would make me wooden swords from scraps of wood and shields and my mom would sew capes. We lived on this dead-end road and the cabin where I live is still down a dead-end road. I don't know if my mom was into making them -- the capes with the hoods. She said, "I don't think you know how much work goes into making these." And then she just made three [laughs].
Breathe Owl Breathe
When I was younger, we used to have 'Where the Sidewalk Ends' by Shel Silverstein lying around. Before I'd go to bed every night, my mom would open up to a page and read the two poems on those two pages and I would fall asleep. Having that book of drawings and poems and having a barefoot, bald guy on the back; it was really amazing. It felt like such a presence, like he lived just down the road.
The album and book are titled 'The Listeners.' How important is it to you to be a listener these days? Is it harder to pay attention to the beautiful things in life?
Wow, that's a good question. Yeah, it's really tough having that kind of speed and gadgets around with all these technologies. I have a hard time. Some of my closest friends have a hard time getting a hold of me, but I think you're meant to have all this time and being able to connect with people is so much easier these days and so much harder. When I go for a run, it slows things down for me. We just got a credit card swiper for the iPhone, so it was like, you sign with your finger. It's the future! The future of signing on a screen with a finger! And then I hand them the book. That's the best. That's something we were aware of, with the book -- wanting to have the vinyl inside, wanting to have the book inspired by the book from the 1950s, when you can make everything and have it a digital book that you read on a screen, we wanted to have a book that you can smell.
Breathe Owl Breathe
We're excited about this kind of art label that we're moving along with -- something new going into the winter called What Is Rad. Making sleds, making skateboards, making sculptures. We kind of have studios in different places. It's a really positive thing. The site should be going up in December. We'll put all of the albums on there.
You're not seeking out any label? You guys are really DIY.
Through all of our journeys thus far we've learned a lot of and made a lot of amazing friends and we wanted to keep working with all these amazing friends that we have close by. Yeah, we're really excited.