We weren’t expecting it – but now it’s out there it seems like the most natural and perfectly matched collaboration we’ve heard in years. Adam Green and Binki Shapiro’s debut album is the sound of lush 60s Folk-Pop brimming with melodic hooks and broken hearts. We caught up with Adam to talk about how it all went down.
Bowlegs: You’ve been making records on your lonesome for sometime now – how did this record come about? What came first – the concept or Binki?
Adam: I had the idea to do it suddenly, I was just minding my own business and it popped into my head. I thought, wow a record with me and Binki together would be great. I was sitting down on my couch and I wrote it down in big capital letters on a piece of paper “MAKE ALBUM WITH BINKI” so that way I wouldn’t forget.
Bowlegs: So how was the record written – was it a joint process – or did you do all the writing? Is this the first time you’ve written and performed with someone else since The Moldy peaches? Feel good?
Adam: It was written together. I came to the meetings with a bunch of ideas and we’d go through them. Binki was good at making things up on the spot and she was patient to go through all sorts of lyrics that I brought. She’s very focused and she’d keep us on track in terms of theme. Y’know she’d say “Adam this is a cool line but the song is not about this!!!”. Binki’s very artistic and she’s great to write songs with, once we got on a roll we’d write one every other day or so!!
Bowlegs: Was the recording a harmonious affair? How was the working relationship – is there a certain dynamic between the two of you when in the studio?
Adam: Recording was a little bit stressful because we didn’t have much time, a little under 3 weeks. We had just written the songs on an acoustic guitar, like folksongs, and we really didn’t have a very formed idea about how we wanted to produce them. We were in the studio with Noah Georgeson who had produced both of our last albums, so that was a relief. We would spar a lot about aesthetic decisions because we both have strong ideas of what sounds good. I think most stressful was just experimenting because there was a sense that we didn’t have a lot of time to experiment, but we ended up coming up with pretty creative arrangements.
Bowlegs: These songs seem to have a running theme of relationships gone bad – did you consciously look to write a break-up album – or has your heart been stamped on a few too many times?
Adam: Yeah it was just what was happening at the time – and that kind of stuff always happens, but for whatever reason me and the Binkster found ourselves sort of singing together but feeling relatively isolated as well. And I guess the Moldy Peaches has that as well. I don’t know if my heart has been stamped on disproportionately often, but maybe it’s my own venomous reaction to heartbreak that paints it that way. I guess we were just looking to make an artistic and emotive album – so you sort of tread between vomiting up a bunch of art-noise/therapy and having a method and a structure.
Bowlegs: I love the production on this record – Don’t Ask For More sounds amazing. Did you have a certain sound in mind when you entered the studio? Were there records you had on hand as inspiration?
Adam: I think we wanted it to sound pretty, I mean me and Joe Steinbrick who played bass on that song are huge Herbie Flowers fans and we discussed his playing in reference to what we wanted. I told Joe to play as if he had dropped acid 30 mins ago and it was just starting to kick in – and I guess that’s the way Herbie played it on Melody Nelson. As far as the records production we were inspired by what was lying around the studio, a harmonium for example, some church chimes, a grand piano, a nylon guitar, various percussion instruments and keyboards. We just sort of worked in shifts tracking everything. I think Noah played a big part in how it sounds – if you listen to enough of his albums you’ll see he’s got a particular vibe.
Bowlegs: Many reviews have compared this record to Lee and Nancy – are they a touching point here? Do you have a favorite Lee and Nancy track?
Adam: I certainly understand the comparison and yeah maybe a little bit as far as the end of “What’s the reward” referencing the end of “Some Velvet Morning” but it hasn’t really been much of a talking point between the two of us. I think of most of the Lee & Nancy stuff as being a little bit bubblegum and that’s not really our vibe at all. I think it’s pretty dumb that everything old is supposed to be so classic – i digress.
Bowlegs: So what happens now – is there going to be another Adam and Binki record? When something is clearly working so well isn’t it hard to walk away from?
Adam: I don’t know, there’s talk of an EP. We’ll just have to see how the year unfolds!
Bowlegs: What track on the record turned out far better than you could have imagined. I guess some songs take on a whole new lease of life once they are arranged and down on tape?
Adam: Wow, I think most of them did! I certainly was surprised that The Nighttime Stopped Bleeding ended up sounding so cool
Bowlegs: Whilst gigging this record you’ve been playing alongside some great bands. Who has stood out for you?
Adam: Well we did some tourdates with Father John Misty – who sang some backups at the end of “I never found out” on our album – which went really well!! That record has some really great lyrics, and excited to go out with them again in May.
Bowlegs: I adore that short film you and Binki made – you know, the black and white one. It’s a great insight into the record. Was that cut from a load of footage? Are you into making videos – this was a great variation on making a music video.
Adam: We shot it at the bowery hotel. I like that place, I don’t think we were going for anything in particular. And the whole time the director was saying “No it won’t look like it was shot in a bathroom don’t worry!!” but it does kinda, which I don’t mind cuz I always sing in an empty bathtub – (What makes him act so bad video) but yeah I think it kinda looks fancy. I wouldn’t mind it if we started doing chanel ads or bulgari. I’m down to sell those fancy pens at the airport for Mont Blanc. But yeah I think my favorite parts are when we’re laughing. There was one scene I wish they kept when I told the story of how I tried to murder my bass player and how he forgave me for it.
Bowlegs: You’ve got a great back-catalogue – where does this record and the overall experience rank?
Adam: I guess I look at this record as my 8th album and I try to like all of them for different reasons. Gemstones came most naturally to me, so I really love that one. And Jacket Full of Danger is such an angry record – it’s crazy Nihilistic and it’s basically written for a German audience which is kinda strange. And I think that Sixes and Sevens is pretty underrated and has some of my prettiest songs, and somewhere along the line Buddy Bradley really crept up and got a lot of youtube views i don’t know how that happened!
-Interview by Sophia Ward-
-Photos by Laruen Dukoff-