Where Is My Mind?: Conversation with Enemies
- by Bill McThrill
Supernatural-lovin’ indie pop outfit Conversations with Enemies
will be celebrating the release of their second concept album The Good Times
, a prequel to Nowhere, OK
, at Johnny Brenda’s tomorrow night. The pirate-themed event will be full of (you guessed it) good times as well as music, face painting and mermaids. We caught up with CWE leading man Josh Craft to talk about the new album, Rock to the Future, his upcoming nuptials, and much more below.
The Deli: Nowhere, OK conceptualized an elaborate love story that featured a devil, a vampire, and the living dead. The Good Times conceptualizes a story with pirates, werewolves, and devils. Can you tell us about the process that goes into weaving such tales and putting music to them?
Josh Craft: Sure. The story is the simple part. As a writer and a musician, I am constantly writing music that goes along with my stories. Many of the songs focus on a certain character's struggles and some are a bit more narrative. After writing the story and the music, we section out the comic for our artist friends to work on.
TD: Can you give us a preview of The Good Times back story?
JC: The Good Times is a story of a dark, twisted love triangle between a devil, werewolf pirate and a vampire. Like the prequel to Star Wars, we are going back in time on this release. We are tying loose ends on our first release Nowhere, Ok. We are giving the listener and reader a full storyline that connects among our full-length albums. You can expect a ton of different drawing styles including a graphic novel, Sunday morning cartoonish, anime, and many others. The comic comes complete with a full-length album. The package comes complete at our release for the small price of $10.
TD: Both of your concept albums have been accompanied by a comic book that walks the listener through the story. Can you tell us a little more about the process of putting the comics together, and the artists that you've worked with?
JC: Musicians and artists tend to relate with each other and inspire one another to create something beautiful. In this instance all of the artists we worked with are really good friends of ours. In the first comic, we worked with Kristyn Fayewicz, Eric Remer, Kit Layfield, Jessica Lowe and insert work by Helen Bradley. On the second full-length, we worked with all the same artists but added two new artists including Jesse Rinyu and fifteen-year-old Rhiannon Iwer. On the first album, Jessica Mckay worked on designing and formatting the comic but this time around, I spent countless hours working on putting together everything. We couldn't have been more happy with the outcome of this comic book.
TD: You chose to let your fans and friends name the album this time around. Can you say why you decided to go with The Good Times? And can you provide a B-side of some of the titles that didn't make the cut and why?
JC: We finally settled on the album title The Good Times after reading through the comic and discussing several names provided by friends. We chose the title that stood out. After listening to the album, the song "The Good Times" stood out as the most memorable part of recording the full-length. We recorded the album last summer at Headroom Studios in Big Momma's Warehouse. We recorded the song "The Good Times" the day a hurricane warning was in effect for the area. People were warned to not go out of their house yet a good number of our friends trekked out to the recording studios, and we had some good times.
Some B-side Names:
“In with a Quake, Out with a Shake” (meaning - the first day of recording, as we strummed our first guitar chord, we felt a medium-sized earth quake. On the final days of recording, we experienced flooding and a minor hurricane - this album title didn’t make the cut).
"Hoist the Sails and Sail Away" (lyrics from the album - not strong enough to stick).
"Hoist the Sails and Howl Away" (an adaptation on the lyrics - like it but not love it).
TD: The many music-related projects of your band members include Cloud Entertainment, Rock to the Future, and The Best Westerns. How do you find the time to manage so many projects, and tie them together?
: Sometimes this kind of responsibility can be overwhelming. Most of the time – it’s just amazing. Many of Cloud Entertainment touring bands who come through end up performing at Rock to the Future before their nightly performance. We have had some really amazing performances at the school from Valarian Swings (Italy), Boom Chick (NY), Fairweather Friends, Frances from Hop Along
, Hilary from Lion Versus
, Andy from The Armchairs
amongst many other performers. Many of the performers are really into teaching kids and talking about collaborating or what kind of process goes into writing a song.
We have gotten the kids at RTTF on Algernon Cadwallader
's newest record and most recently on Hop Along's new record. We have also gotten the kids to open 76ers games and even on XPN's Kids Korner.
Through Cloud Entertainment, RTTF and the numerous amounts of bands I have played in, I have made lasting relationships with amazing people who support a very important thriving community of supportive musicians in Philadelphia. Tying everything together is one of the best parts of life.
TD: Can you give us a status update on what's new with Cloud Entertainment and Rock to the Future?
: This summer, things at Cloud Entertainment are slowing down till after September. We are still putting energy into larger events like Clark Park Festivals, CWE's record release July into 7th, and the return of Rock and Read Fest (September 16). Rock to the Future has been growing exponentially. We have some many amazing volunteers and supporters that believe in this program. We have tons of staff and volunteers from local bands including Dangerous Ponies
, The Extraordinaires
, The Externals
, Little Black Rainclouds
, Early Ape
, Algernon Cadwallader and many more. We are entering our 3rd year, and we continue to expand the amount of students. The first year we had about 13 kids. This past year, we were at 21, and next year we are looking to expand to 30.
Things will pick up for Cloud Entertainment with some bigger events at some new DIY spots and some venues in the works. Expect some big news in September. Sign up for our mailings, and visit our website (www.cloudentertainment.org
) for more information on booking and how to get involved with us. We are always looking to expand our creative staff and volunteers.
TD: Wedding bells are about to ring at Enemies Central. Congratulations! At some shows, you've mentioned that you might be celebrating among friends and family in the future. Tell us more about that.
JC: Jess and I work together, play music together, and now we are taking the final plunge into a happy marriage. On August 18, we are having a carnival-themed wedding, and we couldn't be more excited about it. If you didn't make the list, don't worry – we still love you and would love to see you at the release on July 7 at Johnny Brenda's. Place a gift in the treasure chest near the merch, and we always remember it.
TD: Word on the street is that you already have a 3rd album in the works. Can you give a preview of it?
JC: Sure thing! We have been recording some music for an upcoming EP vinyl split in the winter/spring of 2013. This album will not be a concept album. This will be a collection of fun stories about ghosts and guidelines for success as a band among other tongue-in-cheek pop jingles.
TD: Who are some other acts that you enjoy playing with from Philly and beyond?
: We really enjoy playing with The Extraordinaires, Cheers Elephant
, Allison Weiss, Dinosaur Feathers, Algernon Cadwallader, Little Black Rainclouds, Hop Along, Arrah and the Ferns
and The Really Cooks
. We love playing out with such amazing talented locals and regional touring bands.
TD: What do you love about the Philly music scene? What do you hate about it?
JC: I really enjoy the amazing local bands Philly has. Through Rock to the Future, Cloud Entertainment and the numerous bands we play in, we have some amazing people who have become really close friends. I don't like companies that hold a monopoly on what we listen to and where we go. There are so many great local bands out there that no one goes to see. We all wish we saw Weezer touring The Blue Album so go out and cheer on your new local favorite band, Conversations with Enemies.
TD: Can you tell us some moments that the band has experienced in regards to the good, the bad, and the ugly?
One of the best moments for me was at our last record release, when I announced my engagement to Jess. So many friends and family were present for this, and I couldn't have been more excited about the announcement. This year's record release highlights a more mature album for the band, and we are all really proud of this upcoming release.
Every long tour we went on, we would always break down in Mississippi. We are utterly cursed to not enter the state of Mississippi. Paying for repairs can be a huge financial burden to take on (1 to 3k usually). For the past tours, we were traveling in a 29 foot RV that was disgusting in gas cost. Every time we filled up, it would cost about $150/$200 and that would hopefully get us 6 or 8 hours. If we were stuck in traffic, it would only get us 3-5 hours. Most tours - we would strive just to break even, but with breaking down in bumble Mississippi two times, our dreams were never a reality.
The past tour we were stuck in Meridian, Mississippi for over 5 days. We made up some of our dates by renting a van and borrowed equipment, played random college open mics, and bargained with record stores to play outside of their shops. Throughout the worst of times, we still maintained to keep our heads up and pushed through. You can't always appreciate the best of times without a clear understanding of how bad it can get. My bandmates are some of my best friends and we can get through anything.
One night on tour, we decided to only drink White Russians. One of the bandmates has some lactose intolerance, and threw up in the RV while we were sleeping.
One tour we all had a 24-hour stomach virus that went through each of us. Every day someone different was sick with it.
We arrived at a music venue, and was greeted by a gentlemen who bought us a pitcher of beer. The man was waiting, and complained about having to leave for work. I then asked him where he worked and he told me "I babysit handicapped children." That was ugly.
TD: Can you give us a preview of the album release party?
On Saturday, July 7, Johnny Brenda's is being taken over by a rowdy crew of pirates in celebration of Conversations with Enemies new album The Good Times
. The event is being hosted by Johnny Brenda's and R5 Productions. Local bands Little Black Rainclouds (featuring members of Dangerous Ponies) and The Makes
(featuring Rick Taite of The Roots
) will rock out in celebration of this joyous occasion. We will have real pirates and mermaids at this event! We will have a pirate face-painting station where people can get their face painted by pirates. Philly local pirate rockers, Captain Scurvy and the S.S. Pancakes
, will be serving up beautiful sea shanties in between the bands set. You don't want to miss out on this performance. Come one, come all to experience THE GOOD TIMES
TD: What's your favorite thing to get at the deli?