I got pretty lazy in my editing after doing a load of little movies in a row. I forgot to cut some footage off the end of friends putzing around at Brighton Sound the next day, and I don't feel like going back to fix it now either!
Mt. Eerie (Phil Elverum) covers Bjork's "Undo" with some audience participation. Recorded at the old Vera Project space Seattle, WA Nov. 5th 2005
Two friends (Matt and Laurel) and I (Craig) drove from Salem Oregon to the Department of Safety in Anacortes to see the Mt. Eerie concert. Phil was playing songs that would become 'No Flashlight.' He played an acoustic guitar, and he would tap the drum beat on the guitar, and then say something like, now pretend that the beat continues like that throughout the song. Sometimes he would play the drum beat throughout the song so that we didn't have to imagine.
I recorded the concert using a video camera. I think the quality of the sound is pretty good, and I would like to post it online at some point, unless Phil doesn't want it posted. During the concert, a cell phone rang, interrupting one of the songs. Then Phil stopped and was pretty pissed off. About five minutes later, another cell phone rang, and he stopped in the middle of his song and said something like 'okay, everyone turn off their cell phones. right now.' And he ranted a little bit about Jared Diamond's 'Collapse'. He continued the set, and in the middle of another song, another cell phone rang, and Phil was furious. (I wonder if someone made their cell phone ring on purpose.) I can't remember what he said, but then he apologized for being such an asshole about the cell phones, but then also said that he was still pissed off. If I was him, I would have been annoyed.
One nice thing about Phil's concerts is that he asks the audience if they have any questions. Not always. But sometimes. In this concert Laurel - who doesn't listen to the Microphones or Mt. Eerie - asked Phil what 'Mount Eerie' is or means. Phil's response is ambiguous, he doesn't seem to know... it's what he's trying to explain. I liked how simple a question it is.
The interview came about because Matt (the interviewer) and I were both doing an independent study filmmaking class, and somehow this fit into it. I'm not sure how it fit, as we both proposed to make other films, which we made, but somehow this was part of the class. I'm glad it was.
I really like these two interviews, part 1 and part 2. I've done another interview with Phil in 2006, after a Thanksgiving concert. But it doesn't capture the same sort of moment that this does. I mean, pt. 1 was nearly perfect, since it was one take, 3 minutes, and very unplanned. Both Matt and Phil are good at responding in the moment. The camera was not intimidating to either of them. I thought that the only flaw was Matt and my pre-conceived idea to have even the camera person be asked questions. It didn't work out very well. I hope you enjoy it.
It's taken me a long time to figure out how to get these videos on the internet. In any case, here they are. I like the quality that you can have on vimeo. It's much better than the quality that I could get on youtube.com.
Matt Iverson is the interviewer in this video. He's a talented man, very talented. He's good at thinking about words that are words both forward and backwards but aren't palindromes and making cardboard installations with crayons. He's a good poet, musician, filmmaker, essay writer, english major, etc. He has a strong memory. Based on this video, he has a rarely used skill, but one the could blossom into a job with nbc.
Right now (mid-October, 2007), I'm not sure what he's doing. I would guess that he's in California committing a felony. Last spring he worked on a plot of land trying to make a sustainable farm-type-thing out of it. I've talked to him only rarely as of late.
Last time I talked to him, he was excited about this fruit and nut tree map idea of his. He noticed that in the town that he lived, there was a lot of wasted fruit on the ground. A plum tree, but no one at the plums, they rotted on the ground beneath it. Nut trees, but only children picked the nuts up, and their mom's were probably like, 'don't eat those. they're bad for you!'. Free food wasted.
His response is to locate all of the public fruit trees in the world (well that would be the ultimate goal) and describe their locations on a map, perhaps a google map. He's used google map up until now because it's convenient, but I guess if you could get a really big map of the world that was detailed enough to show precisely where the fruit trees are, he might find that more appealing. I would find that more appealing, although perhaps less practical. The map might be the size of the world, or at least it wouldn't fit in your pocket. Or maybe each continent would have a map. Or each city would have a map. But then even the open spaces would need a map. I think Jorge Luis Borges would write (or has already written) an interesting story about an idea similar to this.
Anywho - that's Matt, although we're only touching the tip of the ice berg. Phil is one of my favorite musicians. You probably know that he's the lead singer / only member of Mt. Eerie. He's produced a lot of albums under the name the Microphones. He also made one album under the name "the Microphones", which is slightly different than the Microphones. I especially like the album 'Mt. Eerie' by the Microphones because it feels like a vast expanse, an alternate universe, or perhaps a real Universe that you can explore and be in, and the way that the music is made it's much better to listen to it alone with headphones. It is quiet in that way, but loud in other ways. If I listen to it in a car, I don't get the same effect... There is more to say, but I think I'll shut up. I hope you like Phil's music too. He's a nice guy. visit his website and buy things that he makes: pwelverumandsun.com.
P.W. Elverum plays a solo set at Open End Gallery in Chicago.
I went to this show to get an interview for my documentary on Thax Douglas, but ended up recording Phil's entire performance. Couldn't help myself.
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