For those in the know, Menlo Park‘s legendary live shows are a heady mix of circus, cabaret and music suffused with just a hint of insanity. musicOMH caught up with their Philadelphian front man, Chris Taylor, for some quickfire Q&As…
musicOMH: Following your Shoreditch Town Hall gig, have you had any more 19th century courtesans while sat in a wheelchair, laddie?Chris: Naturally. I am constantly adding to my harem of fine specimens over the age of 200.
musicOMH: You are accused of staging theatrical, circus-like freakshows rather than gigs. How do you plead?
musicOMH: You’re from Philly – what ulterior motive made you move to Hoxton?
Chris: Philadelphia wasn’t grim enough.
musicOMH: Have you met the sherriff yet?
Chris: Yes, I have spent one night at Her Majesty’s pleasure.
musicOMH: We hear rumours of a Hungarian connection in your life. True or false?
Chris: True, my father lives in Sharvar; a quaint little town reminiscent of post World War I Russia. He is also moving to Hoxton soon.
musicOMH: When the live experience is so important to your music, aren’t your CDs a difficult proposition?
Chris: Yes, we are constantly striving to find the precise position for our musical fulcrum which will deliver the perfect equilibrium between a theatrical, circus-like freakshow and a Top 10 hit.
musicOMH: Is the new live CD an attempt to reconcile the live shows with the studio recordings?
Chris: No, the current EP (Greetings From Montauk) is the first of a limited edition of four musical “postcards”. The tracks on the “postcards” are written and recorded on location around the world. This EP was recorded using two mics and a DAT machine – no multitrack hence the live feel.
musicOMH: Do you accept comparisons with Beck Hansen (your voice), Pink Floyd (coat with lightbulbs)? (Supplementary question – *where* do you get your costumes from?!)
Chris: We accept any and all comparisons. We prefer the flattering ones as above. Costumes come from various high class purveyors of fine garmentry and are then customized by Menlo Park. Case in point the lightbulb suit.
musicOMH: How do you finance live shows like that at Shoreditch Town Hall?
Chris: We borrow, cheat and steal and in the case of Shoreditch Town Hall, we silver-tongued our label into spending £20K on one night’s entertainment under the guise of a cunning marketing plan …. alright, we were subsequently dropped for our efforts. The things we do for you …
musicOMH: In which country have you had the most success so far (define “success”…)
Chris: France. We had the most acclaim, we sold the most records, we ate the best food and they were nice to us.
musicOMH: Who / what are you listening to just now and who’s been a big influence on your music / life?
Chris: Currently listening to Clinics’ new album, ‘The White Sport’ and Johnny Cash’s ‘Cash’. Our band are from a variety of different countries and backgrounds so the influences behind our music are as eclectic as the music we make (Gabba to the grand ole Opry).
musicOMH: What would you be doing if not music?
Chris: Making more films / politics
musicOMH: Answer “good” or “bad” to the following things (and explain why if you like):
a) Christmas – Bad
b) George W Bush – Bad
c) coffee shop chains – Good
d) fox hunting – Good
e) music technology – Good
f) Philly – Very Good
g) London – OK
h) trains – Bad
i) potatoes in cans – Bad
j) The Divine Comedy splitting up – who?
k) Nashville – Good
l) Kristin Hersh – Good
m) the Euro – Good
n) religion – God
musicOMH: Is there anyone you’d love to collaborate with?
Chris: Easy! The Tiger Lillies or Kylie Minogue.
musicOMH: If you could be granted one wish (not necessarily just for New Year…), what would it be?
Chris: That Kylie Minogue would stop crank calling me.