Future Bible Heroes
With Claudia Gonson & Shirley Simms (The Magnetic Fields), Christopher Ewen & Anthony Kaczynski, Luxury Liners
628 Divisadero St
San Francisco, CA, 94117
Doors 7:30 PM / Show 8:00 PM
This event is 21 and over
Future Bible Heroes
On June 4, Future Bible Heroes will release Partygoing, their third album, on Merge Records. In addition, Merge will compile all three Future Bible Heroes albums and an additional disc of EP tracks into one newly remastered collection entitled Memories of Love, Eternal Youth, and Partygoing.
Future Bible Heroes is one of the musical projects from The Magnetic Fields' Stephin Merritt, who writes all the melodies and lyrics for the band. His longtime friend and collaborator Christopher Ewen composes the instrumental backing tracks. Joining Merritt on lead vocals is the Magnetic Fields' Claudia Gonson.
Partygoing features the signature Future Bible Heroes mix of dancefloor-filling club anthems and super-sad ballads. The record is their first release since 2002's Eternal Youth. Why the long break between albums? Well, the trio has been busy. Merritt has made four stage musicals, four Magnetic Fields albums, a Gothic Archies album, and done some film work. Ewen has been working on another band, the Hidden Variable, and DJing in Boston. Gonson has discovered parenthood while navigating the Magnetic Fields' busy post-69 Love Songs schedule.
Future Bible Heroes are known for their fantastical lyrical themes, which on prior albums were frequently preoccupied with B-movies, science fiction, aliens, robots, disco dancing, and committing suicide on camera. Along with songs like "Keep Your Children in a Coma," which is about keeping youngsters under sedation until they pass through their vulnerable teenage years, Partygoing features a number of songs that meditate upon both the good and bad sides of parties: there's the fun, and then there's the morning after. Running themes for this album are drinking, dancing, and death. "The songs 'When Evening Falls on Tinseltown' and 'A Drink Is Just the Thing' are quite old," Merritt says. "The first describes my experience of living in Los Angeles, and leaving it, which I did while recording Partygoing; the second describes solving all your problems with alcohol, which I don't do much anymore either. Writing true and heartfelt lyrics is pointless because once you get around to singing them, they're lies."
Memories of Love, Eternal Youth and Partygoing marks the first time the entire original Future Bible Heroes catalog has been available in one place. In addition to the three full-length albums, the CD collection includes a fourth disc that compiles the band's three EPs - The Lonely Robot, I'm Lonely (And I Love It), and Lonely Days - plus several tracks from outside compilations, including a song from the soundtrack to the film Welcome to the Dollhouse and the band's hilarious gender-bending rendition of "Don't You Want Me?" from a tribute album to the Human League.
Being on the road is generally not the optimal atmosphere for writing new music. Long drives, loading in, loading out, bad roadside coffee and highway motels have a tendency to dull creative expression. Carter Tanton was able to find inspiration in touring and after releasing Freeclouds in 2011 under his own name, he crafted They're Flowers while on tour in the U.S. with The War on Drugs and later, Lower Dens. Tanton had plenty of time to experiment with new ways of crafting songs using samples and other electronics, producing They're Flowers, his first release under the Luxury Liners moniker, one made with absolute freedom.
Tanton explains, "This record had me stepping away from the guitar and focusing more on my interests in electronic music production. Still, most of the songs were written on a nylon string guitar I found in a basement. I actually thought the record was going to come out like Nick Drake judging from the original arrangements, but I had to bend them to fit the laptop while on tour."
This restriction was ultimately a boon to his recording process and led Tanton to a key facet of his work, deconstruction, in part influenced by John Cale's production of Nico records. Tanton acknowledges the composer's "deconstructing layer after layer of song until the original arrangement is just a trace of its former self. I emulate that, my singing being the only thing which remains constant."
Cale's influence remains with the opening track, "Caribbean Sunset," which uses Cale's lyrics but alters the melodic structures dramatically. The song, originally recorded with the intention of becoming the first of a full album of John Cale covers, is the only one, as Tanton was drawn to crafting his own summery blend of electronic pop as well as recognizing other musicians who have influenced him. "Memphis Alex," written soon after Alex Chilton's death, loosely details a road trip – a car accident with a Mac truck in a snowstorm, ending up in Memphis and meeting Jody Stephens at the legendary Ardent Studios.
They're Flowers retains a clear, twinkling, pop-laced sunny sound as it explores drum programming and sampling via the laptop, Tanton's primary instrument used in crafting the record. Luxury Liners reflects growth, ambition, and, ultimately, the impact of inspiration.