By: Rob Brayl
ROB BRAYL: I first want to say that I love your music! For those who may be new to your work, tell us, who are The Milk Carton Kids?
JOEY RYAN of THE MILK CARTON KIDS: Thank you. Beyond what can be culled from Wikipedia, I’d say we’re an impossibly quiet duo that is the result of two tremulous flounderers steadying in their collision with one another.
RB: NPR recently described the song ‘There By Your Side’ as a “gorgeous contemporary folk ballad.” And although I agree wholeheartedly, I think that label is fitting for your entire catalogue. Was it your intention to create music to move right through people?
MCK: Our intention was to distill the musical expressions of ideas from our lives and imaginations and observations into their simplest forms without, of course, losing the intricacy and complexity that makes them worth listening to.
RB: Would you ever cover a Beyonce song? Not that I think you should, but I’ve seen a lot of artists of different elements take on mainstream singles and it surprisingly works — like when Florence + The Machine, who recently covered Drake in the UK earlier this year.
MCK: So far we’ve steered clear of any covers at all, contemporary or traditional. It’s a bit of a paradox I suppose, but the tradition of songwriters from which we take our cue compels us, at least in the beginning, to stick to our own songs even as that same tradition could provide fertile ground to harvest material. Regarding any homage to our more well-known contemporaries, especially in a cross-genre effort like a potential Beyonce cover, I’d only be concerned that our attempt could become more commercially self-serving than artistically driven. As entertaining as it can be to see a painfully quiet acoustic duo perform a version of a gigantic pop hit, our motivation has to be to offer a unique perspective more than it is to participate in the zeitgeist.
RB: Why do I find it hard to believe that you guys are from Los Angeles? There’s just something so non-Metropolitan about your music. Maybe it’s the beauty of it all.
MCK: Los Angeles isn’t much of a metropolis in many ways (often to the chagrin of the residents) although I think the geography of the area inspires a sense of possibility and openness uncommon to other cities. We both, for example, were raised in the foothills above the city, looking down on it rather than surrounded. That perspective is a common one, especially for those born in Los Angeles, who I find often surprise people into comments like, “you don’t seem like you’re from LA.” The commonly stereotyped Los Angeles is more the result of the many who moved here from distant homes for a very specific purpose.
RB: Last album purchased.
MCK: Sarah Jarosz – ‘Follow Me Down’
RB: Biggest influences.
MCK: Satisfaction, Love, Contentedness, God, Coming-of-Age, and especially the lack of all these.
RB: Guilty pleasures.
MCK: Guilt is a valuable evolutionary emotion vis-a-vis pleasure. We should heed it.
RB: I know you’re all about live shows and you guys are bloody brilliant. Four words: Please. come. to. Brooklyn!
MCK: Are you sure you’re not in Manchester? (We will be at Joe’s Pub in NYC March 3!)
RB: So you’re all about giving your music away…(Most recently with the amazing album ‘Prologue’) — Why?
MCK: The recordings are in service of the live show, not the other way around. Every decision we’ve ever made as a band can be explained in that way.
PLEASE DO YOURSELF A FAVOR AND WATCH THE VIDEO BELOW.
You can also download the stunningly beautiful ‘Prologue’ album by The Milk Carton Kids, for FREE(!), HERE.