Low - Val.net interview 9/98
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from Val.net

In the world today, normalcy can seem like the greatest eccentricity of all. So it happens that the eccentrically normal Minnesota city of Duluth is the home of Low, a band that has centered itself as the calm eye of the hurricane that is contemporary rock music.
The music of Low is meditative, deliberate and thoughtful; terms which describe the members of Low as well. Muse spoke with Mimi Parker and Alan Sparhawk as we caught up to them on the road in Texas.

Muse: I loved seeing you perform in Los Angeles this summer. And I know it isn't easy for an indie band to tour so widely.

Alan: It's pretty much our determination. Most bands will take along tour support and tell the record company that they need 5000 dollars to tour for a month. But we don't, we travel real light. We do what it takes to not need someone else's money.

Muse: The focus and discipline you display during your performance is really impressive. And exciting really, which seems surprising considering the mood of the music.

Alan: If you're only going to strum the guitar once in the same time that someone else would strum it 20, then you'd better make that one time good. You can't miss. And when the vocals are so naked you try to be as in tune as you can. It's really exhilarating. You need so much concentration.

Muse: Mimi, I appreciate your drumming so much. It's really like the heartbeat to the music.

Mimi: My instrument doesn't stand out, but it's an integral part. I know I'm there just to keep the beat, but there's more to it than that. It's taken a lot of practice. The way I play, there's so much space between each beat that I feel like if there's a fraction of a second off, it throws everything off. But I guess it works.

Muse: The fact that there's so much space seems like it would be easier to get lost.

Mimi: It is, at first it was hard. I had to really think. At first it was hard to sing and play. The same thing with playing really fast. I know some rock drummers who say, 'how can you do that, you play so slow', and I say, well how do you do what you do? How do you play so fast?

Muse: Do you ever play a full drum kit?

Mimi: We did just pick up a full drum kit while we were on the road, so I'll take that home and play around with it. I don't have much with experience with a full kit. I don't know if we'll ever incorporate it into the band.

Muse: Do you study the styles of other drummers, Mimi?

Mimi: (laughing) I'm really ignorant about... everything! The other day an interviewer asked me what my favorite Rush song was. And I said I don't have a favorite Rush song.

Muse: Do you have a feel for what kind of music your fans are attracted to?

Mimi: I think our fans run the gammut. Bands like Red House Painters appeal to our fans. I'm thinking of people in other bands, even some hardcore bands are into us, which is cool. I like that fact that we can appeal to people who don't necessarily play or listen to the kind of music we do. We don't listen to the kind of music we play.

Muse: Are you creatively aware of writing music to fit a particular genre of music?

Mimi: I don't know here we fit in, we're kinda weird. We hardly ever sit down and rationalize who's going to do what. It just happens.

Muse: Do you feel a kinship with any other bands?

Mimi: I admire a lot of bands, indie bands, that have been struggling doing their thing and having fun with it. Like Unwound... and we're really good friends with Lois.

Muse: How do you decide which songs will be recorded? I love your voice, Mimi. I wish you would sing lead vocals a lot more.

Mimi: Alan just has a lot more songs. And I like singing harmonies.

Muse: What is your inspiration or ideal as a singer?

Mimi: When I grew up my parents listened to old country, and I think that may have influenced the way I sing. I don't try to be overly dramatic or do something that I cant do. I just sing very straightforwardly. When you live in Northeren Minnesota and you live 600 miles from a big city, thats what you listen to. Not much of the popular culture coming in.

Muse: Your voice is very pure and unaffected.

Mimi: Every once in a while Alan will say, Be careful, now don't get carried away. But with all these people watching, the last think I could think of is trying to affect my voice. Strange.

Muse: Playing the kind of music you do, you have a lot of faith in the audience to be there with you, to listen as attentively as they do. That's dare-devilish, I think.

Mimi: Alan is more of a daredevil. I don't think most people would look at us and think that we're daredevils, but I kind of think he is.


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