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Lawrence Arms - Interview

  by Alex Halls

published: 12 / 10 / 2003

Lawrence Arms - Interview


Punk group the Lawrence Arms' latest album. 'The Greatest Story Ever Told' takes some of its influences from literature. Guitarist and vocalist Chris speaks to Alex Halls about the trio's first four years together

With a name that sounds more akin to your favourite local, Chicago's best punk rock export, the Lawrence Arms, return with an intelligent and moving album that glows eternal. 'The Greatest Story Ever Told', their fourth album, is a bold statement of intellectuality and cadence ; its power surges accompany a warming, gently tugging at your fingers before ripping right into your insides. Formed at the very end of the last century, 1999 to be exact, the Lawrence Arms, which consists of Brendan Kelly (bass/vocals), Neil Hennessy (drums) and Chris(guitar/vocals) have continued to use a dual vocalled approach,allowing the gruff but decisive voices to layer themselves over the guitars in perfect harmony, Making the most of comedic lyrics, the Lawrence Arms balance their art and literary entrys, lending a part of the album to every and any personality. For those who appreciate it all 'The Greatest Story Ever Told' is not short of perfect. By drawing on literature, such as Mikhail Bulgakov's 'The Master and Margarita', the album is so enlightening it could almost teach the listener, yet it holds itself away from doing so. Topped by spellbinding sleeve artwork and the most remarkable and innovative use of footnotes to the songs, explaining where lyrics came from and why they were used, 'The Greatest Story Ever Told' is of magnitude; it is of the highest order. 'The Greatest Story Ever Told' is inspiring and proves that a melange of literary references and comedic influences add spice to an album. Every song is an incredible testament to a band whose experiences play a large part in the formation of vim-filled vocals and errorless music. The Lawrence Arms have provided the music world with an album that takes their already quality releases onto a higher plateau and will certainly make people stop and take notice of them. Pennyblackmusic spoke to Chris about how the new album came together, their influences and attempted to gain an insight into the intellectual manner in which the album was written. PB: Your first album, 'Guided Tour of Chicago', was well received by the music press and fans alike. Does this give you confidence or set a tough benchmark for all your albums since, where expectations are high? C : We had high expectations for the record because we really wanted to put something together that we were all really excited about. I honestly don't think we were all that concerned with how it would be received. I think it's sophisticated and interesting and a total evolution from the last record. PB: What has your hometown, Chicago, given to you in your music or personally ? C : Chicago has been my home for 26 years. It's given me everything and inspired me in both ways. Chicago represents my youth. Music is a way of holding onto that. PB: At what stage do you see punk rock to be at present? C : Very normal. Very boring and normal. PB: What's behind the new album name? C : A cheesy movie from the 1970s or something... the crucifixion... really, it's literary and absurd. It's absurd and literary. PB: Is the content of the song or the music more important? C : Lyrics are what both Brendan and I model songs after. But, the music on this record I think is really interesting. They're both important. It's how they work together. PB: Your lyrics appear to make intelligent points. Is this something that occurs naturally or do you aim specifically to make these points? C: I think it's natural. We don't have hidden agendas or beliefs that we want to implant into the music. We write about what strikes our curiosity, try to convey our own experience, and if intelligent remarks bubble out of it, that\'s awesome. PB: Whose idea was it to include footnotes to the songs in the pamphlet? C: Brendan and I tossed the idea at each other a bunch. It was something we were both really excited for. They're fun and true and fake and playful, that's what the record is about.\ PB: You make reference to Chapter 13 of Mikhail Bulgakov's 'The Master and Margarita' in the footnotes. Was this inspired by religion or simply a sentiment of appreciation of his work ? C: Appreciation. He is a fine writer. Little to none of this record was inspired directly by religion. 'The Master and Margarita' is just a phenomenal book that gets to the core of human/spiritual/creative suffering. PB: Do you think bands in the future will use your music as inspiration? C: I've got no clue. Bands have done it for me. If we could do it for someone else than I think I accomplished just about everything I set out to do. The Lawrence Arms are a band that you can't help but be jealous of. Their bright and rousing music is of a quality unheard. 'The Greatest Story Ever Told' lives by its title; it is a story that will grip and tantalise every listener. Not for a moment does one wish to put this CD back into its case: it would be a crime to replace it with something that could only be described as mediocre, however good it truly is, against this magnum opus.

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Lawrence Arms - Interview

Lawrence Arms - Interview

Lawrence Arms - Interview

Lawrence Arms - Interview

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