Family Time, Part One

<img src="https://www.qromag.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/familytimeinterview1.jpg" alt=" " />As they finished up their three-week residency at Union Hall in Brooklyn, Jeff Curtin and Adam Schatz of Family Time shared their thoughts....

Family Time : Q&A, Part OneAs they finished up their three-week residency at Union Hall in Brooklyn, Jeff Curtin and Adam Schatz of Family Time shared their thoughts.In Part One of the interview, the pair talked about their Carl Sagan-inspired space-rock opera, Champollion, last year’s ‘recap rock’ phenomena, Previously On Lost, where these ideas come from, the residency, playing Champollion at NYC Fringe Fest, playing Previously On Lost at the Kennedy Center, and much more…

QRO: How has this residency at Union Hall (QRO venue review) been going?

Adam Schatz: Really well.

Jeff Curtin: The food’s been great…

AS: The food’s great, the people who work here are great, people have been coming out to the shows, the bands on all three nights are just really good…

That was thing; we got to do this, so we had complete control.  I booked everything – it sorted ended up happening that way.  But it ended up working out – there was no gamble.  Just awesome – it feels good to play in between great bands.

QRO: You picked to play in between, as opposed to being the headliner?

AS: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah… yeah.  It’s better that way.  ‘Cause we’re just working in new material, doing other stuff.  That’s the way it goes – we don’t want to put too much of a spotlight on us.  Just make this a kind of celebration, get people out.

QRO: How did it originally come about?

JC: Well, we had these new bands, which were becoming confusing to juggle.  We wanted to play a bunch of material from each project, blending the space opera, Champollion, the other being Previously On Lost.

Both of those albums we recorded last year, kind of were working on simultaneously.  And then with our new Disney album, and then other kinds of originals that we’re moving into, we just wanted to set up a few shows to showcase all the material.  Sort of be a ‘chimera’ of a band…

QRO: So you play from all three things?

AS: Oh yeah – and then some…

QRO: But the band is called ‘Family Time’…

AS: Yeah, that’s sort of the idea.

After these shows, who knows what name we’ll be performing what, but the ‘Family Time’ name, regardless, is the umbrella name under which all of these projects exist.  The Family Time group is the Previously On Lost album, Champollion, Love Live King Richard, and whatever else we dream up.

QRO: So you did both Previously On Lost and Champollion last year?

AS: Yeah, busy year.  Busy year…

JC: The Lost album was recorded along with the progress of Season Four.  That was how the project was presented: every week, after the episode, we wrote and recorded a song in one day, and posted the song on MySpace.  So the album is a collection of those one-day efforts.

QRO: Is the album the same recording?

AS: Yes, we’ve done nothing.  For better or for worse…

JC: They’re totally ‘pure’…

AS: They’re not ‘tainted’ by the outside world…

QRO: They’re not tainted by knowing what happens in the next episode?

AS: Oh, no – gross!

JC: We would never speculate…

QRO: You did Champollion at the 2007 NYC Fringe Fest, with video projections and dancers.  How did that come about?

JC: Well, before we recorded it, it was kind of treated as more of a multi-media stage show, where we had a group of dancers from this Mark Morris Dance Group, and Supermarche was our video team.  They do a lot of work in New York, and Mark Morris is sort of a modern ballet group in the city.

We did visual projections and dancing, to tell the story and do the soundscape of the show.  It was about an hour long.  We applied and got a week run at this venue in the Village.  It was just a way to showcase the music, and make something bigger of it.  And then, since then, we’ve just scaled it back for performing and doing the music.

AS: Rehearsing to perform the Champollion set was the first time that we had really been rehearsing this music as a band, intended to play it as a band.  Before, we did a year’s worth of rehearsals, leading up to these stage shows, but it was always thinking about the bigger picture.  It was just a different way of doing things, a way we’d never done before.  So it’s been really fun to take these songs, and do them the way we know how.  They definitely develop new tendencies that – we think are awesome, by the way…

QRO: So you wrote Champollion before Previously On Lost?

AS: Well, Jeff, you wrote it with Juan [Pieczanski]…

JC: We mainly had this thing going on, and we brought Adam on to help us finish that one and put it up.  A lot of the people we’re playing with now, we got together for that show.  But then we both discovered our deep-seated passion for primetime television…

AS: It’s our ‘long-lost Lost love’…

JC: That’s good…

So then, we kind of branched off and did this Lost project, and then brought the same people back in to play.

QRO: How much of that can you translate to the stage at Union Hall?

AS:

We barely fit on the stage – but I think it works for the energy of the show.  Things are bursting at the seams – we’ve got ridiculous quantities of gear, but we use it all, and we use it all well.

The Lost sets, we’ve kind of been blessed at being successful with, so we’re used to playing these big stages, where Jeff and I have this space to be exclusive frontmen, wander around and work the crowd.  And at these shows, for three songs, I’m jumping off the keyboards, and Eric goes from guitar to keyboards, and I’m singing lead along with Jeff, but I’m surrounded by guitar pedals.  It’s more of a punk rock show – we’re really crammed.

QRO: Do you still do any video projection stuff?

AS: No – we don’t do it enough.  We’d love to have more traveling video.  Those things take time…

QRO: Have you taken your shows on the road much?

JC: With Lost, we’ve gone all over the place.  With Champollion, we just – I guess, both bands are large.  So it’s hard to take any of this on the road.

But we went out to L.A. with the Lost band to do a series of shows for TV land people, see if we could scare up some attention there.  We were able to meet some of the Lost writers, we did a little run with Apollo Sunshine (QRO photos) to Boston and [New York].  We went to the Kennedy Center in D.C. to play these Mark Twain Comedy Awards show; that was fun for us.

We’ve made a habit of making brief skirts out, but we haven’t gone on any kind of ‘full blown’ tour?

QRO: What are your plans after this residency?

AS: God… ritual suicide?…

We have thirty other projects in the work.  There’s a lot more recording to be done for Long Love King Richard, and for all these other things that haven’t even surfaced yet.  This is sort of a test to get the live band in shape on all the material.  This is not the last you’ve seen of us!  We’ll probably take a month off from doing any shows.

JC: Just with our involvement, recording and producing other bands, we work on a few TV shows here; we’re sort of involved in projects that are based in New York, that we kind of enjoy being a New York-based group that kind of ‘does its thing’.  Just having the freedom to record, and operate, and do a lot different projects at the same time, is just something we’re trying to hold on to.

AS:

One of the points about having the name for everything is so that people can learn to trust our name, and then begin to anticipate our projects and sort of seek out our back catalog.

It’s a way to unite all of our different projects, even if they might be completely separate from each other.

QRO: Where did the idea of Champollion come from?

JC: Well, one from watching Cosmos, which was a bunch of years ago.  I kind of brought that one back to life and revisited it.  And then, also, some of the plot and characters were based on the characters from [Yukio] Mishima novels, this Japanese author.  So it was based on those two things: Carl Sagan and Mishima.

We love fantasy stuff, and sci-fi, Pink Floyd…  It was a way to combine our two big loves, which are Pink Floyd and Disney musicals.

AS: Those are the big two – they rule!

JC: In the show, we say a prayer to L. Ron Hubbard.  A lot of it’s kind of tongue-in-cheek sci-fi, but then it kind of drops to the serious, space-rock level at times too.

Family Time playing “The Prayer” live @ Union Hall in Brooklyn, NY on February 24th, 2009:

QRO: What was making the actual record like?  It seems like you’ve had it for a while…

AS: It’s been recorded three times…

JC: There were demos to teach the band with, the first time the stage show went up.  But I guess we were fortunate enough to have put it up and heard it live before we had to record it.  So then we kind of approached it from a different angle for the second time – or the third time, whatever it was…

AS: It took a while.  Jeff and Juan had been working on it before I met them, so I was sort of lucky enough to be able to throw my input in, after the fact, on all this stuff.

But it was interesting, too, because Champollion was maybe four-fifths finished, and then we did a concept album about Lost.  And then, coming from that, we sort of grabbed all these new cool, Casio approaches, and vocal techniques – we threw those back into the mix.  Sort of the ‘icing on the Champollion cake’…

QRO: Where did the idea of Previously On Lost come from?

AS: I remember the day – I will rue the day…

QRO: ‘Previously on Previously On Lost…’

AS: It was after one of the Fringe shows that we were tossing around these ideas.  I had just started watching Lost, we were talking about things, and sort of agreed that there was a pretty colossal fan base, so if we did something musical associated with it, we could really tap into something huge.

The initial idea was to do a ‘Seussical’ – there’s never before, and I still will do it about something.  I think it would be incredible to do a Seussical about something, which is to do Dr. Seuss-esque rhymes, but it’s not about Dr. Seuss!  It would have been about Lost

JC: Not to be confused with a ‘Kazoosical’…

AS: Step Two: maybe do a Kazoosical…

We’ve looked into getting a bunch of Dr. Seuss books for research, but the truth is, we ran out of time, and the season was about to start, so we were sort of forced into the hardest approach, which is to do a new one every week.  But it ended up being really fun; we ended up being really good at it.

QRO: How did you keep it up?

JC: It was easy at first…

AS: The first three were a breeze

QRO: Well, you could the easy stuff, but how much more can you say about Kate & Jack after a certain number of episodes?

JC: We never address the by the same name twice.

AS: We give them our own nicknames.

QRO: Sawyer-style…

AS: Kate & Jack, in our universe, they’re dead already…

JC: And Daniel Faraday is some kind of king…

QRO: How do Family Time and Previously On Lost shows, like the Season Five premiere party at Bell House (QRO venue review), compare?

AS: There’s a lot more people [at Previously On Lost]…

JC: There’s a lot more inflatable ponchos on the stage…

Our whole set and performance when we do solely Lost performances is kind of elaborate and more island-themed.  It is a tropical island fantasy – Gilligan’s Island on a rock stage.

With Family Time, we brought banana necklaces and other leas, but it is different.  More costumes, fog – well, no, there’s fog in both shows.  Well, not tonight.

JC: Not tonight.  It’s a more intimate environment, but it’s kind of cool in that way too, because we’re closer to everyone.  It’s a totally different scene.

At the Kennedy Center, we were like thirty feet back from the audience.  And that was a totally different thing.  It’s almost more theatrical that way.

QRO: What was it like to play Previously On Lost at Kennedy Center?

AS: It was packed, it was amazing, lot of old people – it was so fun, man…

JC: That was weird, because we’d actually gotten the offer to play that show maybe the first month that we had started the Lost band.  It was kind of offered way in advance, because the awards show was in November.

AS: We didn’t know if we were going to have a live band at that point – we didn’t even think about the live ensemble.  In one of our press things, we were just like, “Accompanied by a seventeen-piece orchestra…”  And the lady, she wrote, “If you ever do get that orchestra together, would you think about playing the show?”

JC: We thought we might end up there playing the tracks with kazoos as a duo or something.  But by the time that came around, we’d had something going, so we brought it all down there.

And we wrote a special George Carlin recap, because of the fact that it was a George Carlin tribute.

QRO: How did you arrange an interview with The Washington Post?

AS: [Jen Chaney of The Post] loves Lost…  She reached out to us twice, came to the show with a Driveshaft shirt on…  Great girl – so good to us…

JC:

That’s the great thing about the Lost band, the sort of exposure it gives to all our projects: there are people that are obsessed with Lost in every profession, all ages, they work everywhere

– They walk among us…

Family Time playing “Hams To Yourself” live @ Union Hall in Brooklyn, NY on February 24th, 2009:

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