Interview :: Math and Physics Club [8.1.10]

One of our favorite records of the year is Math And Physics Club's I Shouldn't Look As Good As I Do. We talked to singer Charles Bert about the band's size, their sound and whether or not Barry Manilow can make you miserable for a lifetime.

32feet: Top 5 Desert Island Records?

In no particular order…
-Stone Roses Stone Roses (favorite track: Elephant Stone)
-REM Life’s Rich Pageant (favorite track: Fall on Me)
-The Smiths The Queen is Dead (favorite track: Cemetery Gates)
-The Housemartins London 0 Hull 4 (favorite track: Happy Hour)
-The Softies Holiday in Rhode Island (favorite track: Write It Down)

Describe the recording process for I Shouldn't Look As Good As I Do? Was it different than the EPs or the first full-length?

We recorded our first two EPs ourselves in James’ basement, and we didn’t really have a clue what we were doing. For the first full-length we recorded the basic tracks at a proper studio, but we had a really small budget so most of the overdubs were done at our engineer’s house. For the new record we had more time and a bit more money so we did everything in the studio, which was nice. We also worked with Martin Feveyear for the first time, and he was great. He really helped us dial in the sound we were aiming for. The writing process was also different. We had less time to practice together because we’re all so busy with our personal lives, so a lot of the songs were arranged by trading files over email. We only played the songs together as a full band a few times before we recorded them.

To badly paraphrase Hornby, do people listen to pop music because they're miserable or are they miserable because they listen to pop music?

I don’t think I’m miserable because I listened to too much Barry Manilow as a kid, but then again…

What is one influence on your song writing that people never pick up on?

REM was a huge influence growing up. James and I both play Rickenbackers because of Peter Buck. I hear a lot of that influence in our music, especially in James’ guitar playing, but we rarely get accused of sounding like REM.

This is our one staple question: Let's say Math and Physics Club are on a sinking boat in the middle of the ocean and there's only one life preserver. Who gets it and why?


I called you an "intentionally small band." I meant it as a compliment. What is the aspirational vision for the band?

When James and I were starting the band, we really just wanted to release a 7” and play a few shows. When we were in college, our friend Ken was in a band that got played on John Peel’s show, so that seemed like the coolest thing in the world. I don’t think we’ve ever had a grand plan. We’ve had the opportunity to do way more than we ever expected, even though we’re not a household name by any means. We just keep adding modest goals as we go along, but it’s still just a glorified hobby. Next year it looks like we might get to play in the UK, which would be a dream.

What is one thing people don't know about your band that they should never forget?

We can kick your ass at croquet.

Listen :: Math And Physics Club - "Jimmy Had A Polaroid"
Listen :: Math And Physics Club - "Love Or Lonliness"

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