Music » Music Stories

B-Sides is in a Party Dream, chillin' with José González

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Freeze up the shot luge: Gil Mantera's Party Dream is about to blitzkrieg St. Louis! Due to "conflicting schedules" (read: totally partying), B-Sides interviewed the antics-prone synth-popping duo separately. The result? Compare/contrast answers of what it means to live the Party Dream.

B-Sides: Scientifically speaking, what is the Party Dream?

Gil Mantera: A band that is, literally speaking, us two dudes.

Ultimate Donny: It's Dominique Wilkins and Garth Brooks combining forces to rock this country!

How does it differ from the Ultimate Party Dream?

GM: There are no other Party Dreams, so there's no need for an Ultimate. Competition is none.

UD: The Ultimate version is just me with endless cases of Great Lakes beer in my living room equipped with a television and stereo and virtually no responsibilities.

What would be a Party Nightmare?

GM: Choking on a fart.

UD: All dudes. No alcohol. No broads. No Smurfs.

I've heard that you can't stop the Party Dream. Doesn't that technically qualify you as a type of sleep paralysis?

GM: Technically speaking, it can qualify as you losing your job if you keep this shit up, lady.

UD: No. We're more of an unstoppable universal force.

Are you worried that scientists and doctors are working on a way to stop the Party Dream?

GM: The Illuminati influence affects us all, especially those with the biggest hearts and minds. I'm not bragging, either.

UD: It'll never happen. As individuals we can be stopped just like any other human, but the Dream will live on.

If a parent wanted to throw a Gil Mantera's Party Dream theme party for a child, what would the games and snacks be?

GM: That's too personal of a question for me... personally speaking.

UD: Plenty of Starbucks rainbow cookies and a game that Gil, Jackson [of Grand Buffet] and I made up called Super Bomb Man. Please note that a pool is required.

Donny, what makes you Ultimate?

UD: My bones remind people of Themistocles.

Gil, do you feel dwarfed by Donny's Ultimateness?

GM: Only where it counts.

Since you guys are the party experts, can you settle the debate of the ultimate party city? And can you provide suggestions to help St. Louis coup the title?

GM: I'm not too crazy about anywhere in particular, but if you want to get on my good side, you can start by kissing my white ass.

UD: We don't have too much experience with St. Louis, but we loved the diversity of folks at the convenience stores. Seriously. St. Louis seems to already have it going on.

On a more serious note, what's up next for you guys?

UD: We just recorded some songs in Hoboken and NYC with Shane X. Conry, who recorded our last album. We hope someone wants to put it out and spend some money on pushing it to the world. We're without a label right now, but heart and determination are always within a few paces, if not resting on our bellies.

GM: My birthday is coming up.

— Kristyn Pomranz

9 p.m. Tuesday, March 18. The Bluebird, 2706 Olive Street. $10. No phone.

Folksy González
The trance-like flow of José González songs is as far from any and all trends in popular music that his success is as inexplicable as it is hopeful. To even quote sales figures for his 2003 debut Veneer — 700,000 worldwide and counting — seems to tarnish the fragile spirals of his vocal susurrus and angel-hair stringed guitar. In Our Nature, the newest album from the Gothenberg, Sweden-based troubadour, barely disturbs the quiet, even as he deploys an urgent whisper to protest war, capitalism and fundamentalist myths. Gonzalez spoke to B-sides about his songwriting process and spirituality on the advent of his first St. Louis appearance.

B-Sides: It's been four years since your first — and last — album. Can you explain why In Our Nature took so long?

José González: I started touring and I tried to write on tour. I've wanted to make the second album for a while. But I noticed that I wasn't good at writing on demand. I didn't have the time I need to write.

But you haven't been touring for four years.

Depends on how you look at it. I do about 100 shows a year, and have been away from home for more than half of the year. The quality time I had for writing wasn't much at all. I write very slowly, it's not enough to have two weeks here and there.

Do you have to isolate yourself from other people and commitments?

It's more about having a routine. I get jealous of friends who can sit down at the start of the day and wind up with a finished song at the end of the day. I need to have half-finished songs that I keep for weeks, that I work on now and then and make better.

On this record you've discovered new subjects.

I had this idea, I had part of the music, and I knew I wanted to write about more urgent and serious subjects. I've always liked the aesthetics of protest music. It's weird for me to think of that. I am not an angry or political guy, but I like the expression of angry music. So I didn't want to write love songs. There are so many good ones already. In my search for topics, I found human nature and religion, aspects that many people think about, so they have a universal touch that good love songs can also have.

In this country, religion and human nature have become very hot political topics. Is that the case in Sweden?

Actually, yeah. It's a very secular country. Growing up, we didn't go to church more than once a year. At school, there was never talk of God or anything. But now, coming back to Sweden after touring, there's a revived discussion of religion and society. There's a lot of immigrants with religious beliefs. The Danish cartoonists drew a figure of Muhammad and that started riots, which has started discussion. Recently, Danish newspapers reprinted those drawings. I think the basic view on dividing church and state and not mixing supernatural beings with science and ethics are all part of the discussion.

Do you think of yourself as an atheist?

Yes, that's the practical stance to take when there's no evidence for God. So I'm 99.9999 percent atheist.

But listening to your voice, the tone of it, it doesn't sound like someone who doesn't believe in the supernatural.

I think it's interesting. Many times we confuse a belief in the supernatural with the way religions package it. Spirituality can be something you can indulge in without feeling the necessity to believe in things you have no evidence for. I like the idea of indulging in music and losing oneself in art. That's something I try to convey in my music, using repetition. It's close to meditation sometimes.

— Roy Kasten

8 p.m. Wednesday, March 19. Graham Chapel, Washington University. 6445 Forsyth Boulevard. Free for Wash. U. students, $10 for the public. 314-935-5917.

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