The Jealous Girlfriends

<img src="https://www.qromag.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/10/thejealousgirlfriendsinterview.jpg" alt=" " />Right before appearing with Shudder to Think and heading off on tour, The Jealous Girlfriends sat down with QRO....

  Three-fourths of The Jealous Girlfriends (singer/guitarist Josh Abbott was at a wedding) – singer/guitarist Holly Miranda, bassist/keyboardist Alex Lipsen, and drummer Mike Fadem – talked about their self-titled debut full-length (QRO review), their next record, their last tours, their upcoming tours, tour burn out, tour vlogs & Polaroids, music videos, being a New York band at New York’s CMJ, the ‘magic hour’, going the wrong direction in Kansas, a man sandwich with fellow Brooklynites Sam Champion, and much more…

QRO: Why this one-off date with Shudder to Think (QRO photos)?

Holly Miranda: Because they asked us, and we love them.

Alex Lipsen: Their manager knows [our management].

Mike Fadem: Craig [Wedren] has seen us multiple times; he’s played with us.  He’s just a friend…

QRO: How was your last tour, with Sea Wolf?

MF: It was awesome.

AL: It was amazing.

MF: They were great.

AL: We became best friends…

QRO: You’re going to be touring the east & south with Wedding Present after this.  How did that come about?

MF: Our booking agent submitted us, and then, a couple of months later, we heard they offered us some dates.

QRO: After that, you’re going to Middle America with Nada Surf (QRO album review).  How was your previous tour with them?

HM: Great…

QRO: Do you have any further touring plans after that?

AL: No – just writing, working on the new record.

QRO: How do you fight ‘tour burnout’?

MF: What’s that?

AL: You just burn out, and then you don’t turn for a bit.

MF: Tour until you burn out, take a break, and then tour until you burn out again…

AL: It’s hard to avoid, because we’ve done four or five tours, and we’ve never really brought anyone extra.

MF: Just the four of us…  We really love each other…  We don’t want anybody else…

AL: I think, when people have a couple extra people, tour managers, you’re lucky enough to have a bus…

HM: When you’re lucky enough to get more than one hotel room a night…

AL: We’re pretty tough.

MF: Maybe there’s a place you’re staying with two couches…

HM: Or somebody’s couch is a futon…

QRO: Which do you prefer, opening gigs such this as at big places like Webster Hall (QRO venue review), or headlining shows at smaller places, like that one at Union Pool (QRO venue review)?

MF: It just depends.  In New York, it’s great to headline, because we know that everyone there is there to see us, and we get this great interaction with the crowd, and friends.

But when we play another place, it’s hard for us to draw as well as we do in New York.

AL: It’s great, as a young band, or whatever we are, to play with bigger bands when we do new markets.

MF: It’s great to play in front of different audiences that wouldn’t have seen you, otherwise.

HM: It’s also strange, sometimes, when we’re opening up for an acoustic act.  The audience is there to see them, and we’re just like, “AAAGH!”  Maybe it’s also kind of awesome, though…

MF: That was the one weird thing about Sea Wolf: we were loud rock band, and they were acoustic…

AL: I think now it’s also that, now that we’ve played a bunch in the Midwest and the West Coast, I think now we would be excited to headline, because we actually have some fan base in Chicago, California…

I think it would be really fun now, to headline.  I think we’ve evolved to that point.  But we’ll see…

QRO: Exactly how many shows have you done with Sam Champion (QRO spotlight on)?  It seems like a helluva lot…

MF: It’s actually not that many – I think you’ve seen them all.

AL: Probably one more, in Syracuse.

MF: We’ve played with them like, five times, maybe…

HM: We’re playing together in a couple of weeks.

We played this one show in Syracuse, at this place called ‘Funk ‘n’ Waffles’.  And their whole shtick was that everything you ordered was served on a waffle.  It was an ‘alcohol-free’ – and it was the night of some huge football game, so nobody came to our show.

But we did smuggle in a bottle of something in our merch.  There was some drunken – the last song of the night was all eight of us on stage, singing “Rockin’ in the Free World”.  And that’s something that will never be seen again…

And I fell off the stage…

MF: And the after-party was all eight of us, in our Motel 6 room, with pizza we got from the gas station we got from down the street.

HM: And beer, and a bottle of…

AL: We somehow decided it would be a great idea to let them crash…

HM: For all eight of us to sleep in one room.

I was in a ‘man sandwich’…


QRO: Are you going to be at CMJ this year?

HM: Yeah – we’re playing with Sam Champion.

MF: We’re playing the new downstairs room [at Webster Hall, Studio @ Webster Hall – QRO event listing].

HM: And the Bell House (QRO venue review)…

MF: With Sam Champion there, too (QRO event listing).

QRO: What do you think about ‘industry showcases’ like that, or South-by-Southwest (QRO Festival Guide)?

HM: Kind of blows.

You know, you have all these people that are supposed to show up, and half the time, they don’t show up.  And half the time, you’re playing to a bunch of suits with their arms crossed…

MF: That’s the thing: you’re not playing in front of music lovers.  There’s no interaction.  You’re just supposed to get up there and play your twenty minutes, after you’ve run from another gig.  It’s the worst sound, because you don’t get to soundcheck…

AL: It’s cool to meet a lot other bands, I think.  ‘Cause it’s a unique situation, where you wouldn’t ever meet other people.  Otherwise, it’s just stressful.

HM: I mean, it’s been good to us: CMJ, last year, we got a booking agent out of one the shows; we got signed to a label…

AL: The last SXSW was work.

MF: A whirlwind…

AL: It was hell.  Exhausting…

QRO: What’s it like, being a New York band at the New York-based CMJ?  Do you think that makes it less special?

AL: Yes, absolutely.

MF: Because they take SXSW, and they put it in New York City.

AL: In all the venues you already know…

MF: And it’s not a good idea.  Just ‘cause, in SXSW, everything else shuts down, but in New York, nothing shuts down.

AL: You wouldn’t even know.

MF: You’re running around, just like you do in Austin, but with New York traffic, New York people…

QRO: Have you ever had to play venues at CMJ that you knew, as New Yorkers, that you didn’t want to/wouldn’t play otherwise?

MF: Oh yes…

AL: Absolutely.

MF: Last CMJ, we played at Midway [now Rehab] (QRO venue review), which blows…

HM: That was actually a fun show.  We played with Illinois (QRO spotlight on).

MF: They’re amazing.

AL: That was actually one of our best shows.

HM: We played Midway again after that – do you remember all those girls screaming for “Lay Around”?…

QRO: During the summer, you appeared as part of Celebrate Brooklyn! at Prospect Park Bandshell (QRO venue review).  What was that like?

AL: Amazing.  My favorite show to date.

MF: The venue’s incredible.  It’s like playing a big festival, but it’s just a normal show.

AL:

And it’s just nice, because we’re from Brooklyn, and we rarely get to play in Brooklyn.

MF: The space is gorgeous.

AL: It was a real hometown vibe.

HM: My good friend, Nadine Gellner, works for Celebrate Brooklyn!, and was kind of rooting for us to get that show.  So showing up, and having her there, ‘Is there anything you need?’, was just amazing.

AL: It was great, because it was right before it got dark, so it was the perfect time to play.

MF: It was literally the ‘magic hour’…

HM: It was the magic hour because we played…

MF: I think of that show as the ‘magic hour’…

HM: I think of all of our time with you as the ‘magic hour’…

AL: And Ghostland Observatory had so many fans!  It was insane.

MF: We never get to play in front of dance crowds.

AL: They had the most incredible light show I’ve ever seen…

MF: Lasers…


QRO: How was making The Jealous Girlfriends different than making your first record, Uncomfortably Comfortable?

AL: It was a completely different process.

HM: Yeah, that was just me & Alex, with an engineer, Scott Martin.

QRO: Did you feel any extra pressure, with this being your first full-length, full band album?

HM: No, I mean, when we made the first record, it was under the guise of it being a solo record for me, and Alex was producing it.  And then, as it progressed on, he joined.  There was never any preconceived notion…

AL: And then, when we first added Josh and made the record, I don’t think we had any pressure.  We were just writing songs, and then we put those songs, and recorded them.

HM: We recorded everything at Alex’s studio, Headgear, so usually we were working on the off-hours, getting it half-price.  We made it over the course of two years…

MF: And then it took two years after that to come out…

QRO: Was it a relief when it finally came out?

AL: Oh my god…

MF: It was almost beyond that – ‘Come out, already!’

HM: It was like the after-birth…

AL: I call it ‘first record-itis’ – even though it wasn’t our first.  It takes so long to get your infrastructure going; I think that was the record where hopefully the next one will be…

QRO: Where are you guys on the next record?

MF: About halfway done.

HM: A little more than half of all the songs, we’ve been playing out.

QRO: Are you all on Last Gang or Good Fences?  Or both?

AL: Both…

MF: We’re signed with Good Fence, and then Good Fences has a distribution deal with Last Gang.  So we’re kind of on both.

HM: And kind of on neither…

MF: We only had a one record deal, so it’s basically done.  We’ll be shopping for the next four years.

QRO: How did the band all meet?

AL: We, [Holly & I] met doing that project, and I own Headgear Recording Studio, and Josh was the manager there.

MF: At the time, he was just interning…

HM: And then we asked him to play one show – Josh was a drummer.  And we started playing as a trio.

AL: And I was going to this coffee shop, religiously…

MF: And I worked at that coffee shop.

HM: He’s also a drummer.

AL: Whenever we would play, I would see him, and I would be like, ‘Are you into our material?’…

HM:

And Josh started singing, started bringing in his own material, and having a singing drummer was suicide.  Every single show, the sound guy would just turn his mike off

– so I would be harmonizing with nothing.

So we made Josh learn to play guitar.  Literally – he had never played guitar before.

AL: So we needed another drummer.

HM: It’s gonna be a year-and-a-half transition, but maybe it’ll be worth it, I don’t know…

MF: Still not sure…

QRO: How does it feel when you get songs on TV shows like Grey’s Anatomy, C.S.I: Miami, and The L Word?

HM: Means I can like, pay rent, when the money comes, in like, a year.

AL: We might be able to continue touring.

No, we’ve been very lucky with that.

HM: But it’s been total luck.  It’s not like, ‘my aunt works there’…

QRO: How did making the video for “Organs on the Kitchen Floor” go?

HM: Our manager had this vision.

This guy came to film one of our shows at this venue in the city – we wanted to do a live video, but the [venue] wanted us to pay a lot of money to do it.  So we kind of had the idea to just make this video on a soundstage – have more controlled elements, but essentially just live.

So it was kind of his vision, the director, and our manager, to do it.  But we did it all for like $500.  We just kind of showed up, set up, and played…

QRO: What was winning the iPod Music Video Contest for your “How Now” video like?

MF: Oh, that was amazing – they handed us this huge check…

HM: They did not

AL: It was more for the director, Sarah [Soquel Morhaim] than for us.  We were happy for her, obviously, but we had nothing to do with it.

The best part of that video was that we didn’t even have to be there…

HM: Hey!  Nobody knows that…

AL: Oh, yeah – that was a mystery…

QRO: That was the next question – who were actually in those spacesuits?

MF: Alex & Josh are the two guys – playing lover aliens…

QRO: Will you be doing any more tour vlogs?

HM: I’m releasing another one, for Sea Wolf [tour].  I do all of those.

I’ve done one for every tour.

MF: Really cool.  It’s fun to look back at it and go, ‘Oh yeah – I did that…’

HM: I’m trying to make them a little shorter.  The Kevin Devine one was three-parter, of like twenty minutes each or something.

MF: You’re honing it…

HM: I love teaching myself those things…

AL:

That’s how you deal with tour burn out – you learn to do things.

HM: It’s just something to do on the van in the next tour: log the videos from the previous tour.

QRO: Do you still take Polaroids?

HM: I took like about a hundred Polaroids at South by Southwest last year, and I took a bunch on the Nada Surf tour.  I found this Polaroid Spectra camera at a really good thrift store in Ohio, where I can control the flash, and there’s a timer – it’s sweet.  It takes these wide Polaroids.

QRO: You know they don’t make that film anymore…

HM: Usually, I can find that film, though, because it’s a little more… usually, people are buying up the regular.

QRO: Are there any songs that you particularly like playing live?

HM: I like playing “Monkeybrains”.  That’s a new song.  Mainly, all of the new ones…

MF: We’ve been playing the old ones for so long.

QRO: Are there any songs that you don’t like playing live?

MF: I think it changes, when we just don’t play them, night by night.

HM: We’ll take songs out of the rotation, and then you’re like, ‘Oh wait!’  It’s like a little treat.  It’s like getting sick of your own sunglasses: so you tuck them away, and then, next summer, they’re fresh again…

QRO: What cities or venues have you really liked playing at?

AL: Chicago…

MF: D.C….

HM: Birmingham, Alabama – we love The Bottletree.

AL: Vancouver…

MF: The Metro…

HM: I like Stubb’s, in Austin.

MF: Schuba’s [in Chicago] is amazing.

HM: Opera House in Toronto.

AL: San Francisco…  We like playing clubs…

HM: L.A….  The Kasbah, in San Diego.

AL: The only thing that’s random is Boston is totally random.

MF: Vancouver…

HM:

In Vancouver, the crowd just walks in, and they just reek of the finest marijuana I’ve ever smelled.

AL: We went there, and I went into the club, and I was like, “This is going to be awful” – and then it was the best show…

QRO: Are there any places that you haven’t been to that you want to go to?

MF: We haven’t toured Europe at all.

AL: Basically Europe…

HM: Australia…  We didn’t get to go to Victoria [Canada] on the last tour.

QRO: Do you have a favorite tour story?

HM: My favorite tour story is when the bank cut off our credit card, when we were in the middle of Canada!

And Alex deals with that stuff – none of us really knew what was going on; we’re in a parking lot, and we just heard Alex screaming into the phone…

MF: [as Lipsen] “We’re in the MIDDLE of CANADA right now!!!”

HM: We had no way to get gas or anything…

MF: All these banks now, if you’re using the card, and you’re traveling…

AL: Instantly cut it off.

HM: Instead of calling you, they just cut it off.  While you’re trying to get hotels…

QRO: Which, of course, makes it the worst time…

MF: Yeah, exactly.

HM: I also have a good one where I drove.  It was pretty much going to be a day off, almost – we only had like an hour to drive; we were going to spend the whole day in Kansas, but it didn’t matter, because we only had an hour-and-a-half drive.  And I was driving…

AL: Oh my god…

MF: Love this story!

HM:

Josh was navigating, and we totally drove the wrong direction…

  We were driving to like, California.  We went two hours, and then turned back around, and we had to drive the other two hours back to where we started.

AL: And Mike & I were sleeping, and we both woke up, “What the?…”

HM: There was some confusing – it wasn’t just straight out… it was the Midwest.

And we like missed soundcheck, we were so late.

MF: Not only that, but we were going to Lawrence, Kansas – like the worst club in the world.  So it was a really bad day – not only were we driving all day, but where we going…  It was a bad day.

QRO: I think that happened in Dumb & Dumber

HM: Watch it…

AL: That was a great, classic moment…

HM: I actually did that on purpose, just so I don’t have to drive.  Take one for the team…

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