The Dutchess and the Duke are one of the best young bands around these days. They’ve followed up the excellent She’s the Dutchess, He’s the Duke with the even better Sunrise/Sunset. I was lucky enough to get the chance to introduce the Duke himself, Jesse Lortz. Here’s what he had to say.
How is Sunrise/Sunset different to your quasi-self-titled debut? Do you feel that you have honed your craft?
We did a month long tour playing acoustically with no vocal microphones or anything to hide behind or separate us from our audience, and I think that made us alot more confident with eachother and our songs.
You’ve supported Fleet Foxes in the past, but now you’re having more and more headline shows. Are there any acts that you’d love to have support you, or that you’d love to support?
We would love to do a Dutchess and the Duke / Gris Gris tour. But for now we’ll just have to settle for having half that band with us onstage. We would tour again with Fleet Foxes in a heartbeat. When we went on that tour we had literally played 4 or 5 shows, and I dont think we appreciated or took advantage of it as much as we maybe should have.
Pitchfork gave your first album an 8.2, getting something like this must be a real boost to the band. Do you feel that things like this have helped you gain a wider audience?
Definitely. This is our first experience in being in a band with any sort of label behind it. So seeing how the machinery of the music industry works has been pretty interesting.
Are there any reviews that really hit home? Do you concern yourselves much with what is said about your records and shows online?
We read it and its interesting, but for the most part it doesn’t really matter much. I like reading reviews that say our record is difficult to listen to, because that means it is doing it’s job. It’s making people react. And not to just noise or offensive lyrics. They are reacting to the way our songs make them feel about their own lives.
So have you ever got any really bad reviews that made you want to write a strongly worded letter to the editor?
Why bother? then they just know they have gotten under your skin.
Your album also featured on some Best of 2008 lists, and no doubt the new one will appear on many more next month, do you pay any attention to these?
If it helps sell some records, sure! And its nice to be appreciated.
The 00s are coming to an end, do you have a standout indispensible naughties album, one that if a gun was pointed to your head, that you could say “this is the best album of the decade”?
Jesse, you have a beard, and in this month’s Q Magazine, they categorised their best albums of the year in “With” and “Without Beards” categories. How integral are beards to indie folk?
Beards are about an unwillingness to shave. Folkies are lazy? I dont know. I have better things to do that shave.
Every band has a different approach to songwriting, what’s yours?
I keep track of melodies on my cell phone. Something will come to me on the bus or walking around or something. Then when its time to do a record, I listen to them and add the rest of the parts. I then make demos on an 8 track in my garage while chain smoking and drinking tons of coffee until 3 or 4 in the morning. Then we go record and I give Kimberly her lyrics. She learns the song through a pass or two and then we record it. Done!
You guys grew up together. Do you find sometimes you’re like an old married couple? Or Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon?
No, we keep it fresh by seeing other people.
Live shows take up a lot of artists’ time these days, do you find it tiring? Especially being away from your families and significant others? Or do they ever travel along with you?
Any plans to record new material in the near future? Perhaps an EP on the horizon? Or are you going to tour and take a break before anything new?
We will when we have to. I am working on a side project right now that I am gonna record with Greg from Gris Gris in the spring hopefully. We are touring the S/S record at least until March and possibly beyond that. Doing 3 two week tours regionally in the states. Then we will hopefully do the third album.
So hopefully we’ll have two records from Jesse next year. 2010 is going to be great!