Thursday, December 18, 2008

Deleted Scenes

“Get Your Shit Together For The Holidays” is not just the final track on Deleted Scenes' debut album, Birdseed Shirt, but the phrase most likely to be screaming through the quartet's waking thoughts. After a fair amount of deliberating, the New-York-by-way-of-D.C. band will celebrate the arrival of its self-released full-length with dual record-release shows in its respective hometowns just before Christmas. Then there's a self-booked, three-week tour looming on the horizon. In short, there are bags to pack, e-mails to send, and a lot of achingly melodic and subtly spiritual songs to rehearse before the calendar rolls over into 2009. The A.V. Club talked to singer/guitarist Dan Scheuerman about the ways in which Deleted Scenes has been getting its shit together for the holidays for the better part of this year.

Saving Up Some Cash

The A.V. Club: You're self-releasing Birdseed Shirt. How are you trying to get the album out there for people to hear?

Dan Scheuerman: We've just been spamming blogs a lot. We can't afford to do anything else. We're only pressing the records as we can afford to press them and sending e-mails is free. I have time to do it, I have a really boring job--I answer phones and escort people up the elevator at a design firm in NYC. Temping is getting difficult though. The more people lose their jobs the more people want to temp. It used to be the perfect solution for musicians. You could go on tour and count on having employment. But as soon as Bear Sterns closed I spent the whole spring begging for an eight-hour shift. It was depressing. I felt like I was in a bread line.

Trying To Get Right With God

AVC: You've mentioned that you're a big fan of Danielson Famile. Are you into the Christian component of that music? Does it influence your approach to songwriting?

DS: My family is Catholic, but the expression of our faith was Charismatic Catholic--you know, the hippie branch of the Catholic Church. My understanding of human nature remains unchanged from the basic Christian idea of original sin and humility in general. That outlook is the biggest part of my lyrics. I wouldn't say they're Christian per se, but… I mean, “Mortal Sin” is a song about being an American swathed in luxury and taking shit for granted and being sort of a walking, sleepy, oaf of pleasure.

Reaching Out To Those Who Are Less Fortunate

AVC: You guys have done a couple of longer tours now. Are people starting to figure out who you are?

DS: Booking this tour was a lot more successful, the more people you meet and stuff. Certain cities are starting to know us now. People in Omaha and Nashville know who we are. But the process of booking a tour is one of the most tedious things ever. You compile a list of, like, 50 local bands and write to them all on MySpace. It's delicate because sometimes you're desperate if it's close to go-time--and there aren't 50 great bands in every city.

AVC: Do you like the music of all of the bands that you e-mail?

DS: Not always. It's the most disingenuous thing, sometimes I feel like shit. But we've also hooked up with some really awesome bands. We're actually making a mixtape of the bands that we're playing with to listen to in the car to get familiar with them.

Learning From Past Mistakes

AVC: Has the band suffered any soul-crushing disasters?

DS: The most depressing thing that ever happened, we were all in D.C., we bought our new van. It had no vinyl on the seats. We were driving this thing, going up the New Jersey turnpike and then something happened, it started making noise. It was our second New York City show and we felt like we really needed to get there. So we sprang for a rental van for $350 and then when we got there we played for, like, two people.

Singing A Few Christmas Carols

AVC: Are there other songs on the record that carry the spiritual vibe?

DS: It's all over the place, all over this record. There is obviously a song called “Got God,” which is a sort of nursery rhyme/drinking song. “Get Your Shit Together For The Holidays,” is definitely another. It's the most emotional song I've ever written. It's about forgiveness, going home for Christmas and being strung out and coming to terms with your family. There's a line in there, “The candles melt in the advent wreath.” This advent wreath just came into the song for me, lyrically, a symbol straight from Catholic symbolism.

AVC: Is the song autobiographical?

DS: It's pretty autobiographical, which is weird to admit, and the payphone in question is in College Park at the corner of Knox and Guilford Avenue.

Knowing That You Can Always Come Home

AVC: Not so long ago you moved out of D.C. and up to Brooklyn. How's that working out?

DS: Um, actually I'm probably going to be moving back to D.C. I like New York, but it smells way worse than D.C. After the tour I'm forecasting having a really hard time getting a temp job in New York. I'm probably going to be crashing on couches in D.C. --Aaron Leitko