Sunday, March 7, 2010


Simple and effective music is the style of playing that Brooklyn hipster band Bishop Allen has displayed through their career. A band that has received non-stop buzz via the blogosphere since the release of their debut, Charm School in 2003. The band's music has been featured in everything from video games, television shows and films and the band even found themselves making a cameo in Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist. As its members Christian Rudder and Justin Rice prep for their next piece of musical achievements, I had the opportunity to speak to one half of the band, as I spoke with multi-instrumentalist Christian Rudder about the band's music, members and why exactly they titled their last record Grrr. Take a look at my interview with Christian below..

At its core, Bishop Allen has always been you and Justin. The band has always seem to have a revolving door of back up musicians, will a solid line-up ever be introduced? Or is the fun of playing with as many musicians as you can the band’s key idea?

CR: We've had the same people for our last four tours. The band's been Justin and I, plus Darbie Nowatka, Keith Poulson, and Michael Tapper. I can only imagine we'll be that way for a while, so I think we've got a solid lineup. Playing with friends *is* a key idea for Bishop Allen, and we're lucky to have found three who are also great musicians.

The band formed in Cambridge and then came down to Brooklyn. What was the reason to come down from Massachusetts? Was the change in atmosphere a change on the band?

CR: Justin and I had been living in Cambridge for seven years, and while we'd always played music together, we weren't really a band then. We actually moved to NYC with the idea to become one. So we came to the City to play music.

Why do you think so many musicians from out of the New York area come down to Brooklyn to base themselves?

CR: New York City is an exciting place to be, and until you're really rich, living (and rehearsing) in Manhattan really isn't an option.

After you debut, you decided to release 12 EPs, one for each month of the year. What was harder, coming up with one solid record or doing a monthly session of a few songs?

CR: With the EP project, we had a very clear framework to write within. 4 songs a month, and everything had to be recorded in our practice space. It was a lot of work, but the structure we'd set up really helped us get it done. Writing an open-ended album is harder, it's more like choosing from infinity.

Will you try an experiment like the EP project again?

CR: I hope so. But it would have to be something totally different.

When working on “Broken String” you decided to pair very uncommon instruments together. From Oboes and banjo’s on "Like Castanets" and Saxophones and ukulele’s on “Butterfly Nets.” How did these fusions of instruments come together? Was it on purpose or pure accident?

CR: It was on purpose, but not planned per se. We were just trying a bunch of stuff and stuck with what sounded best to us.

After the musical fusions on “Broken String” came about, your latest record “Grr” was much more stripped down. Why did you decide to do the opposite on the follow up record?

CR: I'm not sure. I guess most bands follow one record with something different, and so did we. We wanted to make simpler, less bombastic music, and part of that was to keep things sparer than they had been.

Where does the title of “Grr” stem from? Are you angry about something?

CR: Not at all. We like animals, and that's one of the sounds that they make.

You and Justin have appeared in several films, from Funny HaHa to Harmony and Me to Nick and Nora. Will we see you guys act again both together and/or separate?

CR: I myself have no plans to act again, so the odds are low that we'll ever be in the same movie. Justin as far as I know will still be in films from time to time, but he doesn't seek those roles out, they come to him. So it's hard to predict when he'll be acting again. Every movie he does introduces him to more people making movies, so I'm sure his film career isn't over.

Video for "Click, Click, Click, Click" (Above) / Video for "Dimmer" (Below)

Special thanks to Christian for the interview!