When did your interest in eschatology begin?
In fifth grade we watched this educational film series called “Voyage of the Mimi”, which starred a teenage Ben Affleck, and was all about these adventures surrounding a ship, the Mimi, and the crew aboard who were studying the Mayans. So, the science of excavation, carbon-dating, reading hieroglyphs, etc. One segment was about the Mayan calendar ending in 2012 and that being thought to coincide with the end of the world; I remember having no doubt in my mind that it would happen. This was also the late 90’s, at the heyday of disaster movies (and Ben Affleck!) with Armageddon, Deep Impact, Independence Day, Volcano, and Dante’s Peak. I grew up in a place with earthquake drills, and where people were always speculating about “The Big One”, the huge earthquake that’s apparently going to level the Pacific Northwest “some time in the future”. You can’t predict earthquakes, or volcanoes really, and sometimes I’d get worried looking at Mt. Rainier and thinking it’d erupt that day, like St. Helens, and it was scary. But the huge earthquake and that eruption could potentially never happen, or they could happen in fifty thousand years. The end of the world could be tomorrow, or it could be never. But, I’ve considered the idea with degrees of seriousness since I was nine.
What is it about the end of the world that you find fascinating?
It’s the communal, universal nature of an end that fascinates me, and the idea of losing parts of culture and having to rebuild. It’s interesting to imagine changes that will occur far in the future, and to imagine utopias, or dystopias, or post-apocalyptic societies.
Where are you planning on being on Dec. 21st?
I can’t really decide. I wanted to drive upstate, just in case, but then I wonder if I’m just being silly. It’s the 9-year-old inside me that would regret staying in the city, even if nothing happens.
What are your favorite songs about the end of the world?
“Gimme Shelter” by the Rolling Stones
“After the Gold Rush” by Neil Young
“Tar and Cement” Caroline Munro version
If the world does end, what would be the last song you want to hear?
“Ghost Riders in the Sky” (Johnny Cash version)
How would you describe ‘Almanac’ to someone who is deaf?
Almanac is like moving into a big old house in the woods with sheets covering all the furniture, and then taking all the sheets off.
If ‘Almanac’ was a painting, what painting would it be?
“Christina’s World” by Andrew Wyeth. Or any Wyeth, really.
What song is your favorite song to perform off the new album?
We’ve only played about half the songs from the record so far; two of them we even wrote in the barn. Currently it’s “Perennials”, but I’m really excited to play “Thick as Thieves” live.
What would you like to say to someone right before listening to your new album?
I would suggest they get comfortable and maybe offer them a drink?
What was the inspiration behind the album art?
We always knew we wanted a photograph to be the cover, because we love the look of old folk and country LPs from the 60’s and 70’s, the vast cannon of cover portraits in natural settings. Specifically, the covers of Wild Life by Wings, Sound of Silence by Simon and Garfunkel, basically all the Carpenters LPs. We were going into the process wanting to make something that wasn’t clearly part of our own time, or any specific point in the past. There’s also something in representing your music personally, and owning up to it by being on the cover, which appealed to us. We found the waterfall when we went to meet Kevin for the first time; it’s in the same park as Minnewaska (where we went swimming) and really close to Storm King. We were also influenced by Harvest, in terms of how cohesive the album art is, and by the gatefold. The Rumours-esque pose is more incidental, but that’s such a beautiful, iconic cover, so we’re not offended by the comparisons at all.
What is the song that you most wish that you would have written?
I wish I’d written “Jolene” by Dolly Parton.
Widowspeak ‘Almanac’ will be out January 22nd, 2013. (if the world is still around)