PropertyOfZack Senior Writer Jesse Richman sat down with Bob Nanna (Braid) and Mark Rose (Spitalfield) at SXSW a few weeks ago. We chatted with Bob and Mark about their SXSW experiences, growing Downwrite, podcasting, future music, and a ton more. Check out the interview below!
by Jesse Richman
POZ: So how are you guys doing?
Both: Doin’ great!
POZ: So let’s start with Bob. You just got offstage at the BrooklynVegan day party [at SXSW]. How do you feel like your set went?
BN: I feel like it went really well. It’s always weird, you know, when it’s just one person. In this case, I had Lauren, my fiancee, come up and sing a few songs with me. Either way, it’s quiet, it’s a fest, there’s music everywhere, but I think it went well. There were enough people up front where everyone could hear if they wanted to hear.
POZ: Cool. You have been playing quite the South By schedule this year. You’ve been doing a lot of shows! What was the decision behind that?
BN: There really is no decision. When we decided to come to SXSW — and this is the same as when Braid came, I actually played some solo shows and with Lauren as well (as Jack And Ace) — you just try and play as much as possible. Because that’s what you’re here for, to play music in front of people. At least for folks like Mark and myself. So when we decided to come down I just started getting on the phone with people, I was like “can I play your showcase? Can I get on your show?” So I played the Topshelf one and the Count Your Lucky Stars one and the BrooklynVegan one. I try and play as much as possible. And then we did our own showcase as well.
POZ: One thing I was going to say is, you had a decent crowd in there at the BrooklynVegan showcase but it was definitely smaller than the crowd up at the Topshelf showcase I was at. That was the one you didn’t end up getting to play at [the show was shut down by police before his set]. I guess I’m just wondering, you know, “emo revival” is all the talk right now, and yet for all the talk that Pitchfork and these other sites are covering it, and how it’s now “cool” again, it seems like maybe there’s still a divide here.
BN: Well, a little bit, but it’s not… there aren’t even playing fields. The line to get in here is stupid. I had friends texting me beforehand like “can you get me in” and no, I tried, but it’s at capacity, they won’t let anybody in. I actually had to sneak someone in the side. So the playing fields aren’t level. Tonight, at Count Your Lucky Stars, it will be like anyone who wants to come should be able to get in. But here, if you’re not waiting in line to see the Hold Steady or something, or if you just want to catch my set and leave, it’s impossible.
POZ: So one of the sets you played while you were down here was the Downwrite showcase that you and Mark put together. Why don’t you tell me a little bit about the decision to put that together and to bring it down to South By?
MR: It was fairly last-minute. We knew that we wanted to be down here — we were going to come down no matter what, just to meet up with friends and guys in bands and songwriters that we know, talk to management, PR people, about Downwrite. But kind of last minute, a buddy from Chicago who’s in on the [Blind Pig] Rooftop on 6th let us know that they had a slot available. So we talked to Josh Berwanger from The Anniversary, who’s on the site, and Steve Soboslai from Punchline, and we were like, “you know what, lets do a two hour block, the four of us will play, and we’ll have something official to at least advertise.” It was cool, it was fun. It was early afternoon Thursday, beautiful weather, open rooftop show, and it felt good because while we’re up there playing — I played, Bob played, Steve and Josh — it really wasn’t competing with a lot of the noise on 6th St. I feel like a couple hours later and it would have been impossible to hear us. It was cool. I’m happy to be down here repping what we’re doing in general, but the showcase in particular was cool because people were coming in specifically to hear what we’re talking about and what we’re trying to do.
BN: And for the free beer!
MR: That’s a big bonus.