Interview: You Say Party! We Say Die!

You Say Party! We Say Die! released their fourth studio album, XXXX last month. The album got positive reviews from All Music, Pitchfork, and I even gave it a pretty fair review. I got a chance to ask a few questions to bassist, Stephen O’Shea. We talked about R.E.M., the Winter Olympics, and Saved by the Bell.

What were some of your early musical influences?

Our earliest influences are Jem and the Holograms, Barbie and the Rockers and the bands from the Smurfs, the Snorks, and Fraggle Rock, and AC Slater playing the drums on Saved by the Bell.

You covered R.E.M.’s “Nightswimming” for Stereogum’s Drive XV. Did you have any great emotional ties to the song or was it just a good opportunity to get your name out there?

Becky and I chose to cover this song because of the connection we had to the song. Growing up as an early teenager, Automatic for the People was one of our favorite albums. Beyond the obvious singles, we chose “Nightswimming” because of our shared experiences of having run away to the local lake to swim. The lyrics of the songs were moving enough that we felt it was the most honest song we could cover. For more insight, feel free to go to the Stereogum Drive XV site and read our comments we made about the song at that time.

You’re new album is a called XXXX. The letters XXXX appear to replace the word “love” in the lyrics and as the album title. What was the reason for that?

Our first EP, the DANSK WAD EP, had 4 paper X’s on the cover. Becky created that album artwork and as she made it, she thought “there, those 4 X’s are my mark of love”. Those 4 X’s have been in the album artwork of every album since. When we were making this record and were considering the lyrical content, Becky brought up the use of the X’s and suggested XXXX as the title. We all knew it was perfect; we didn’t consider a different name at all.

How do you think XXXX compares to your previous albums?

It’s our most thorough work. We spent a lot of time on it, writing and recording. We wanted it to be our best record yet, one that we could be proud of having really invested ourselves in. Our previous albums were great, but they were rushed and we didn’t end up really communicating our vision as we had seen it.

What’s your favorite track off the new album?

“Dark Days”

You guys got to play at the Olympics. How did that come about? What was it like?

There was a cultural Olympiad component to the Games, lots and lots of shows for music, art, drama, etc. We were asked to perform in 3 events. Due to the complex make up of our band, not everyone was interested in being apart of the games. In order to reach consensus, we agreed to donate part of the proceeds to the Pivot Legal Society, who provide legal aid to individuals in the downtown east side of Vancouver, whom we felt were most affected by the games.

Did you get a chance to watch the Olympics? Were there any events you were particularly interested in?

I became totally obsessed with watching women’s curling. Also, we performed on the mountain the day of ladies ski-cross. That was really interesting to get to be on site and see the crowds as it happened. The venue seemed to be alive.

You are about to head out on a US tour. Do you see any major differences between US crowds and Canadian crowds?

Due to not having toured the USA for the last 3 and a half years, it’s hard to say. Being banned from entering the USA was a difficult time and it’s hard to remember back to shows from 2006 just how it was. Regardless, we look forward to playing to new crowds and new cities. It’s always exciting.

Does the band have any plans past the US tour?

Right after the US tour, we’ll be touring across Canada and playing all our favorite cities and venues. Our album comes out on may 17th in the UK; we have plans to head over there in April and tour till June. Probably head back to China after that.

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