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The Submarines Interview

Published in Blog Archive, Culture Bully. Tags: , .

Currently winding down their North American tour, the Submarines and the Morning Benders will be retuning to Minneapolis Wednesday night when the bands play the Triple Rock Social Club. Culture Bully’s Chris DeLine recently caught up with the Submarines’ Blake Hazard and John Dragonetti to discuss the recent split single they did with their tour-mates, remixing their 2008 album Honeysuckle Weeks and French Canadian cuisine.

You recently played Montreal—did you try any poutine?

John Dragonetti: No. Poutine makes me do bad things.

Blake Hazard: Yeah, no poutine, but I had a nice chat with a wide-eyed squirrel on my morning run up snowy Mount Royal. So I had some local flavor there.

Do you typically have much time while on tour to explore the cities you’re visiting?

John Dragonetti: Typically there isn’t a lot of time. When we were in Europe last, I think we had all of nine hours in Dublin. Still, we do our best to explore—especially if there’s a day off. Record shops, vintage clothes stores and vegetarian restaurants usually get us in to the part if town we’d want to check out.

Blake Hazard: Yes, and because I run most mornings, I get to see a lot of the cities we visit on foot, which is great.

You recently covered “Waiting For a War” by your tour-mates the Morning Benders for a split single—is that your favorite song of the band’s.

John Dragonetti: That song hit me right away. There are others, since touring together, that have really grown on me.

Blake Hazard: I had originally wanted to try “Doctor Doctor,” and there was no shortage of cover-worthy songs to consider. John was sure about “Waiting for a War” from the start, so that made the choice a bit easier.

What’s the appeal in performing someone else’s music? Did you enjoy the Benders’ rendition of “1940″ that they did for the split?

John Dragonetti: All the hard work is done for you. You don’t have to go through the struggle of writing. It’s all there and hopefully you can bring something fresh to it. I loved the Benders version of “1940.” They really made it their own.

Blake Hazard: I loved their version. I find writing and performing to be totally separate endeavors, so it feels like as great a challenge to cover a song as it is to record your own. I like having a chance to sort of re-imagine some else’s song, even if it’s not a radical departure from the original. It’s daunting, but that’s a good reason to do it in itself.

For what it’s worth I think I’m still partial to your album Declare a New State—do you enjoy the fresh feeling of performing new material while touring, or do you prefer playing music you’ve had time to grow into?

John Dragonetti: I think I’ll always be partial to that record as well. However, lately it has been more enjoyable playing material from Honeysuckle Weeks. Maybe it’s because we’re playing with drummer, Jason Stare. Fresh is good but it’s true that you can convince yourself that the new song is better than the old song, simply because you’re bored with the old.

Blake Hazard: I guess I feel a different emotional relationship to each song, whether it’s from the first or the more recent album, so they all continue to interest me live, though I find trying new arrangements of older songs exciting.

Are there any songs from the new album that you especially enjoy playing live? If so, why?

John Dragonetti: “Thorny Thicket.” It feels different from the record. More energetic with new guitar bits.

Blake Hazard: I agree, and have been really into playing “1940″ and “Symphonika” particularly.

Are there any plans for giving Honeysuckle Weeks the same remix treatment as you did Declare a New State back in 2006?

John Dragonetti: We actually just mastered a new EP with remixes by Amplive, Ra Ra Riot, Wallpaper, Styrofoam, Morgan Page, to name a few. It’ll be released on iTunes but we have a limited edition CD that we’re selling on tour. It features artwork by the amazing folks at Asthetic Apparatus.