With their new album Brill Bruisers, The New Pornographers are keen to celebrate their return after a four-year absence, says frontman and songwriter, A.C. Newman.
“With this record, I just wanted to make a rock’n’roll record, or what I thought was a rock’n’roll record,” he says. “It was fun to do because it was the first record on which we ever used a vocoder and we’d never used arpeggiators very much; it was fun to try all those things. It happened that all the songs I was writing lent themselves to that kind of arrangement, so it all worked out. It’s scary and exciting to know that a lot of people are going to be hearing it, but I feel confident in it.”
Four years may seem like a long time between albums, but Newman hasn’t been idle.
“I put out a solo album in there, so that took up some time,” he says. “I also had a kid; I’ve got a two-and-a-half-year-old son. Kids take up a lot of time, and time just flies, you know? Sometimes you don’t even notice that it’s been four years between albums. I knew my solo record should be a lot more subdued. I wanted it to be a lot more singer/songwriter; a lot more personal.”
The Canadian eight-piece – featuring Neko Case and Destroyer frontman Dan Bejar, among others – are often labelled a supergroup; something Newman doesn’t take too seriously.
“It’s definitely a bit of fun,” he says. “People called us a supergroup when we began, and we weren’t a supergroup. Now I look at us and I think, ‘sure, we’re a supergroup’. Why not, you know? I don’t fight it; I’ve just accepted it. Now, I think if we’re a supergroup, we’re a supergroup; that’s just the way it is.”
With eight members involved in their own separate projects, Newman admits it can be hard to bring them all together come tour time, but the end result is worth it.
“It’s an endless hassle,” he says. “It always has been, but it’s just the way it is. There’s nothing we can do about it. It’s the weird part of our band. It’s our greatest strength and our greatest weakness, you know? “Touring is fun to come back to. When we played a few songs recently it made me think, ‘wow, we’re a good band’. I forgot we’re a good band. We’ve done about four of the new songs live, and that’s been very cool. In this day and age you don’t want to play all of your songs too early because then they all end up on the internet. The new songs feel like they belong in our set; they don’t feel weird. They went down well, which is always a good sign. Sometimes when you play new songs people are looking at each other like, ‘when are they going to stop playing new songs and play the old songs?’ But I feel like they fit in very seamlessly.”
So, will Australia be featuring on the Pornographers’ tour schedule any time soon?
“We want to but it won’t be until next year,” he says. “We’ll have to figure it out.
“We’ve always loved playing in Australia, so I’m looking forward to it. The most exciting thing that ever happened was the first time we played in Sydney in 2006, and Dave Faulkner from the Hoodoo Gurus was at our show in Sydney. We met him and I remember we were really excited because we were massive Hoodoo Gurus fans. That really jumped out as an exciting thing to have happen the first time we went to Australia – to have one of our favourite Australian musicians be there.”