Bonus Interview: The Only Children



We didn't have room in the paper this week to run this interview freelancer Roy Kasten did with Josh Berwanger of the Only Children, who is playing at Cicero's (6691 Delmar Boulevard, University City; 314-862-0009) on Wednesday, June 20; tickets are $10. But here it is anyway, for your reading pleasure.

Whatever you want to call the Only Children -- rootsy, Stonesy, twangy -- you can't call them emo. Or can you? After fronting emotive kid faves the Anniversary and releasing two albums of earnest guitar and synth pop, Josh Berwanger decided to ditch the whole thing and reform as the Only Children. The band is closer to his native Midwest's classic guitar-riff roots, but still relies on unfiltered feeling, as if Berwanger is forever singing the first thing that comes to the heart on his sleeve. B-Sides called Berwanger at his home in Lawerence, Kansas, to get the scoop on where he's been, where he's going and the new album Keeper of Youth.

B-Sides: I was warned not to ask you about the disbanding of The Anniversary. Josh Berwanger: Really? I never said anything like that. I don't care about talking about it. It's just boring. And it's very personal. We were best friends, and it was a bad break-up, a bummer.

On the scale of break-ups, better or worse than first girlfriend? Worse than any break-up with any girlfriend. I'll never have what I had with that band again. I'll never experience that camaraderie and friendship. It's as close to a family as you can get.

What was the best thing about quitting that band, that people stopped calling you emo? It's really weird, when the first Anniversary record came out, I didn't even know what it meant. Now I hate the label alternative country even more. I don't even like that kind of music.

You've been called "country rock" or "meat- and- potatoes pop." Aside from the fact that you don't write country songs and your steel guitarist is a vegetarian, that's pretty silly. For the first record I can sort of hear it, but this record has nothing to do with that. Is Steve Earle alt-country? I have one his records. I like him.

Have you ever heard of an Austin songwriter named Michael Hall? No.

He has a song called "Sometimes I Wish I'd Never Heard The Rolling Stones." Ever feel that way? No, no. But if he hadn't written that song, I would have. Even if people say we're a B-grade Rolling Stones rip-off, that's a compliment to me. Just having their name somewhere near ours; they're the best band ever.

So this new record is your Emotional Rescue? Well, maybe not that one. A better influence is Black and Blue. They were getting into the reggae thing.

And the new record has strings on a couple songs. That probably comes from "November Rain," Guns ´N Roses. People in St. Louis probably don't like that band.

Uh, no. You've said that you wanted to make an album that sounded like shit. You'll have to try harder next time. I went into the new album thinking I wanted it to sound like shit, but it ended up not sounding that way. I just didn't want to spend a lot of time setting everything up, choosing this mike or that mike. There was no second guessing, just track it and go with it.

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