Author: Yasmin Ettobi
Photo from Car Seat Headrest’s Facebook
While scrolling through twitter on February 14th, 2018, I watched a video posted by Car Seat Headrest entitled “Andrew Katz Gets Invited On A Podcast, And He Is Not Having It.” In this two minute clip, Katz stated in a heated rant, “if you want me to do an interview, why am I having to email you? That doesn’t make any sense. Send me a message on Instagram, Twitter, any of the million other ways you can contact me.”
More than half a year has rolled by since I originally watched this, and since then, the realization that scoring an interview with Car Seat Headrest’s drummer would be as simple as sliding into his Instagram DMs permanently resided in the back of my mind for no particular reason. In preparation for seeing CSH at the Vera Project on December 8th, I decided that the time to shoot my shot had finally arrived. Thankfully, Andrew agreed to Skype me, and I had the opportunity to chat with him about everything from his electronic-comedy side project 1 Trait Danger, to his beef with the entire music journalism industry.
KXSU: So, you guys [Car Seat Headrest] just got back from Europe how long ago?
ANDREW KATZ: A few days before Thanksgiving.
KXSU: That’s right, how did that go?
AK: It was good, it was a good run, we were all pretty tired by the end of it, but we had a good time.
KXSU: How are the European crowds of Car Seat Headrest fans different from Americans?
AK: It’s hard to generalize all of Europe, but the UK crowds are pretty rowdy. Anytime you’re in a big city regardless of what country you’re in, American or European, any big city’s gonna have better crowds, but in terms of European crowds, I’d say the British are pretty crazy. I would say the German cities are more stoic crowds. Even though they’ll enjoy it, like after the song they’ll clap really loudly and cheer, but during it they’re very polite, arms crossed, not moving a whole lot, so as a performer you’re like “oh f*ck, these guys don’t really like us,” but they like it in their own way. So yeah, I’d say some cities in Europe are more reserved.
KXSU: Interesting. Do you have any favorite songs to play, whether it be here or in Europe?
AK: “[Destroyed by] Hippie Powers” is always a fun one for me, because it’s super easy and I can just relax and watch the crowd. People usually like to mosh and stuff, and Henry our auxiliary percussionist likes to jump into the crowd with a cowbell.
KXSU: There’s some great cowbell action going on there. So when you play shows, you tend to change up your setlists a lot, do you get any say in the setlist? Is it a band thing or a Will thing?
AK: Yeah, well, we all have a say in it. Obviously, Will’s got the final say, but especially on this tour, we’ve tended to stick with the same set. We really only change one or two songs a night and kept the order pretty much the exact same. I think it was good to have a little consistency and really nail down a set. Back in the day though, we used to, it was just like five minutes before the show, and we’d be like “what the f*ck are we going to play?” And then it was more like, “well I don’t want to play that tonight, okay, let’s do this,” and then we’d all talk about it, but in the last few months it’s been a set list of songs.
KXSU: How are the covers you play chosen? Because I know that the covers usually change.
AK: I mean, I’d probably say Will comes up with the ideas most often. I can’t remember who came up with the idea for “Powderfinger,” it might have been Ethan. But yeah, Ethan will throw covers in there every once in a while. I remember suggesting we play “Hey Ya!” a long time ago and finally we got to do that.
KXSU: A good choice!
AK: Yeah, it was funny.
KXSU: And how about Darude Sandstorm? That was a good one too.
AK: That one was not planned, I’m sure you could tell, it wasn’t planned. Yeah, we were hanging out backstage and someone said, “you should cover Sandstorm,” and we were like, “ok.”
KXSU: And it happened! Anyways, so along with playing drums for Car Seat Headrest, you’re also the mind behind 1 Trait Danger, correct? And I feel like a lot of Car Seat Headrest fans have no idea what that is-
AK: Yeah, the fake-ass Car Seat Headrest fans!
KXSU: Oh yeah. I was wondering if you could give me a quick overview of how it came to be and what exactly it is.
AK: Well yeah, how it came to be was me on my laptop sitting in Will’s parent’s house in Virginia the day before we flew to Europe, and I was just d*cking around, making sh*tty songs on my laptop, and that’s how “Stoney Balogne” was invented. And I don’t know how familiar you are with the song, but in the beginning of “Stoney Balogne” he shouts out “OBAMA” and that was because I was laying in Will’s sister’s childhood bed, ‘cause that’s the bed I was sleeping in at their house. And on the wall, much like you have pictures behind you, she had a picture of Obama with a big heart next to it or something. And I just looked at that and gave him a shout out. But how 1 Trait Danger actually materialized into its own project was we just kept making songs and making songs and I kinda realized that we kinda had enough for an album, so let’s make this concept album, and it took off.
KXSU: How far do you plan to go with it? Do you see it more as a hobby or—because I know you played a show—so how seriously do you take it?
AK: I mean, pretty much as serious as the music. Obviously, there’s time devoted to it, and a lot of time, but it’s still just for fun, like it’s not a money making venture, so it’s just entertaining. But also, the fact that people like it now makes it- ya know, there’s more motivation to continue to do it, because there’s people that actually appreciate it.
KXSU: Yeah! So how was the New York show?
AK: It was really, really f*cking fun! You could imagine how a 1 Trait Danger show might be, because you can’t really mess up. That’s the beauty of 1 Trait Danger, there’s no mistakes because the music is already so bad that you can’t mess up. So everybody was having fun. We brought the Naked Giants guys onstage and they were doing skits with us, and Will had his little costume on with the gasmask and was dancing like crazy, yeah, it was a lot of fun.
KXSU: Do you have any plans for a hypothetical Seattle show?
AK: I wish, I mean I obviously want to do one eventually, but it’s obviously a low priority, I think Car Seat Headrest has to come first. But we had so much fun at the New York show, I’m sure we’ll do a Seattle show eventually. We’re gonna try to release this album in 2019, and if people like it we’ll probably play a show here.
KXSU: Awesome! So speaking of Seattle, you have a show at the Vera Project coming up, correct?
AK: Yeah! I think in December, yeah.
KXSU: Have you ever played there before?
AK: Yeah, I think we have, that’s why we decided to do the benefit, was because they’ve hosted us before. Otherwise we probably wouldn’t have done it. But yeah, when we played there last time, there was maybe 30, 40 people there, it was a really tiny crowd. It’s a tiny little DIY venue, and we’re happy to support them, for sure.
KXSU: That’s great. Do you have any other connections with the Seattle music community? I know that it’s pretty tight knit, there are some local artists also playing at the show, any other experiences with it?
AK: We’re pretty antisocial, so, if there is a Seattle music community, we are surely not part of it. I mean, we’re friends with Naked Giants obviously, and they’re a much more social group of people than we are, they’re friends with f*ckin’ everybody but we’ve never been that kind of band. We all keep to ourselves and socializing is kind of an energy-sink for most of us, so yeah. There is a Seattle music community for sure, we’re just not part of the close friend group.
KXSU: That’s fair, but hey! You’re doing the Vera benefit show, so you can now say that you’re doing something.
AK: Yeah, there ya go.
KXSU: As Car Seat Headrest grows bigger, there’s a level of fan intensity that’s also growing. I was wondering if you’ve had any memorable or funny fan experiences?
AK: Memorable or funny fan experiences… Well, kind of a funny one is similarly to this, someone reached out and was like “hey, I want to interview you and talk about some 1Trait sh*t,” these two dudes in, it must have been Boston or something, were like “we want to film this interview with you,” and I was like “sure, why not. After soundcheck, before the show, we can meet at a restaurant somewhere and we can do the interview.” So they came out and were really enthusiastic and were asking me all these questions, and then they were like, “oh f*ck, we weren’t recording, the camera wasn’t on, oh sh*t.” So I was like, “alright, well start recording now.” Then for a moment, they started asking me the same questions, and I was like “we’re not answering all of these again.” So, we ended up just like walking around in the park, there was a nice park nearby, I was like “let’s just go check out this park.” We walked around, and just essentially didn’t do the interview. They were like, “we’re gonna upload this video in a couple weeks, we’ll let you know when it comes out,” and I’m thinking to myself, “what video? You recorded like 30 seconds,” and of course, they never released a video, I haven’t heard from them since, which is pretty funny. I mean, it almost felt like to me they were just trying to get a dinner out with one of the Car Seat Headrest guys under the facade of “this is gonna be an interview” which is like… you know, I respect their tact, I appreciate it I guess, but, yeah, they’re full of sh*t.
KXSU: Hey, they came and they conquered, I respect them for that. The last thing I want to go over is that I feel like you have pretty one-sided beef with Pitchfork, and just kind of music journalism as a whole. As a communications major, I find it very funny and also pretty intriguing, so I want to know how do you differentiate good music journalism from poor music journalism?
AK: Good question, I don’t even know if I have an answer, that’s really good. I feel like I need Will to help me answer this. I mean, it’s hard to say what’s the difference between good and bad, because like, everything is bad, so I’m trying to…Actually wait, I’ve got ONE article, I mean, obviously I’m biased, but like seriously, the best piece of music journalism that I’ve read, which I don’t read that much of it. I mean, who reads a concert review? Like, there’s no way it’s gonna be a good piece of journalism. Unless Kanye punched Kim Kardashian in the face during the show, like unless something nuts happened, it’s not going to be an interesting story, it’s just a show. How are you supposed to write about a show? You were either there or you weren’t. Um, but one piece of good music journalism that I have read was a piece that this woman, oh God, I can’t remember her name…it might have been like Katie or something, she did a piece on the connections of the 1 Trait Danger album, 1 Trait High, and Twin Fantasy, I don’t know if you read it.
KXSU: I did, actually.
AK: Oh, you did?
KXSU: Yeah, it was great.
AK: Yeah, it was really well written, I was really surprised. And I remember, I wrote to her somehow on social media and was just like, “hey, this is seriously good journalism. The industry needs more like you, you’ve gotta keep this up.” It was just so refreshing to read, like obviously I’m biased because it was basically a fluff piece towards Will and I, but at the same time, it was like she did her research, she found all those connections! And when you read music journalism these days, these people, they’re not doing their research, they’re forced to write so many articles in so little time that the quality is just so poor and apparently it doesn’t matter because they’re all just selling clicks. Everything on the internet’s just clickbait now, as long as someone clicks on it, the quality doesn’t matter, and that’s the world we live in now. So, I guess what differentiates good from bad? I would say the amount of research put into the article.
KXSU: That’s fair. We don’t want anymore Twin Fantasty’s out there!
YASMIN ETTOBI | saturdays are for the boys (by 1traitdanger) | KXSU Music Reporter