Pity Sex make it all seem effortless.
New album 'White Hot Moon' is out now, and the crisp execution marks it out as a vivid voice in Stateside indie rock.
Delivered with no small degree of intelligence, the record matched some fine songwriting to delirious, torn 'n' tattered riffing.
An ambitious return, it marked out by absorbing lyricism that pits a dissonant touch against a real poetic-ism.
Clash spoke to the band's Sean St. Charles about his literary influences...
- - -
- - -
What is your favourite book, and why?
I’m not really one for favourites. Picking one thing necessarily reduces all other possibilities. I want to be open to more more more. Right now I’m really interested in short and micro-fiction. Here are some collections I’m in love with: Joy Williams – The Visiting Privilege, Stuart Dybek – Estactic Cahoots, Lydia Davis – The Collected Stories, Lucia Berlin – A Manual For Cleaning Women.
In really compact fiction I think there’s the possibility of writing every sentence perfectly. A perfect sentence becomes sorcery in the right hands. What could be more magnetizing than that?
What draws you to certain books?
The only thing that matters to me in a book is the voice. I don’t care about plot or thematic intent or anything like that. Give me a writer who makes me feel like they’re the only one who could say what they’re saying and I’ll be a fan for life.
It’s all about idiosyncrasy. A language, a world. I think that the most honest and useful thing a writer could do is share their particular minutiae. There’s something so comforting about accessing another human in that way.
Do your literary influences have a direct impact on your songwriting?
Absolutely. I mine what I’m reading for content all the time. Almost every song I write uses a found sentence as the launching off point. Beyond that, I work to write in a way that is true to what I respect in other writers.
What was the first book you remember reading as a child?
The first books I remember reading were from the Redwall series. For those who don’t know, Redwall is a many book series about anthropomorphic animals living in a fantastical medieval-esque world.
Did you make good use of your library card as a child?
I was really privileged to have parents who really cared about fostering my interest in reading. I’m spoiled to say that I didn’t often have to use my library card.
Have you ever started a book that you simply could not finish?
The only book in recent memory that I started and didn’t read all of is Rick Moody’s story collection Demonology. I don’t want to throw too much shade on Moody, but he’s exactly what I don’t like: all head and no humanity.
Do you read book reviews?
I do often read book reviews, especially when deciding whether or not to read newer releases. No one needs to read a Carver review or a Bolano review since their work has become so ubiquitous, but there are plenty of contemporary voices that won’t be canonized for years. I fell in love with Elena Ferrante after discovering her through a glowing New Yorker write up. The same is true for Karl Ove Knausgaard and Laszlo Krasznahorkai. There’s something thrilling about growing up with someone destined for posterity.
Would you ever re-read the same book?
I would, especially if it were poetry or short fiction. You can pick apart the author’s craft in a way that is much more difficult in longer forms. It’s fun to figure out how a story or a poem works on a technical level.
Do you read just one book at a time, or more than one?
Never more than one at a time. I’m not the best at staying focused and could never keep more than one thing straight.
Is there an author or poet who you’d love to collaborate with?
My outlandish answer is Haruki Murakami. I think we’re interested in a lot of the same things. Murakami’s work is this wonderful blend of classic pop culture, sentimentality, tedium, and the strange. He manages to be effortlessly cool, without losing any bit of earnestness. I’m not sure what it would look like exactly, but building a world with him would be a dream.
A much more realistic answer is my partner. She’s just now finishing her MFA in poetry at the University of Michigan. Earlier I talked about how a perfect sentence can be like sorcery. She has that. We joke all the time about the band we would have together. Maybe that’ll come to fruition someday.
- - -
'White Hot Moon' is out now.