Splitsville Interview:
«Just a bunch of unrelated songs»
By Robert Pally

The new Splitsville CD brings together the best of their previous albums. In the interview bass- and keyboard-player Paul Krysiak talks about humour, a concept, being rich and famous, financing a record and reincarnation.

E.C.: «Incorporated» sounds like a sum up of all your previous albums. The punky bits are there, the soft ones and some Power Pop. Is there some truth in that? How do you see the album?

Paul Krysiak: I think that's true. There are elements of all the other albums in there. Each time we make an album, we draw on what we've discovered in previous efforts about our own strengths and weaknesses. This one brings together the pop of «Complete Pet Soul» with the rock of the other albums, and then cranks it up a notch with the presence of Tony's voice and guitar.

E.C.: «Heart attack» sticks out of the album. To me it sounds a bit like Rage Against The Machine. Where were you heading musically?

Paul Krysiak: It's funny -- when Brandt wrote the song, I said, «You know I'd probably BUY that album, but I'm not sure I can MAKE that album.» It is shockingly different for us, isn't it? What I love about it is that it has a great sense of humour to it. There's a bit of Rage Against the Machine, and a bit of the Pixies in there, sure. But then it has this chorus that makes it some sort of strange party song -- «I think I'm gonna dance now!» (And I think Brandt lifted that unconsciously from the Tom Jones version of Prince's «Kiss».)

E.C.: What is idea behind the cover and the title of the album?

Paul Krysiak: Brandt and I had talked for years about calling an album «Splitsville Incorporated». We just liked the sound of it. Tony was putting together the artwork with Matt's wife, a friend found that image, and it just seemed right. There's a little bit of joking social commentary there -- the corporate suit & tie guy, caught «red-handed».....

E.C.: Were all songs especially written for the album or is «Incorporated» a collection of songs you haven written in the last couple of years?

Paul Krysiak: With us it's always a mix. Some songs will be written together in rehearsals leading up to the recording. Then some will be something that one of us had been toying with at home for months or even years before.

E.C.: How differently do you approach songwriting today compared to when you started?

Paul Krysiak: Hmmm... well, all our other albums were based around a «concept». We always structured the albums to have a definite beginning, middle and end, almost like a story. And we would write the songs specifically to fit into some over-arching theme or idea, «U.S.A.» being about childhood, «Ultrasound» about adolescence, «Repeater» about the realities of adulthood. And of course «Pet Soul» was entirely about concept -- the 1966 album that never was. But Incorporated is the first time we've just written a bunch of unrelated songs and simply picked our favourites.

E.C.: Whats your favorite song on the album and why?

Paul Krysiak: It's a different one almost everyday, depending on my mood. I'm pretty proud of my songwriting on «Headache» and «California». But I love the humor and energy of «Brink», and the fact that it was the first song written with Tony. «Trouble» and «Heart Attack» really showcase Brandt's half-serious, half-joking nature. And then there are songs like «Wish», «White Dwarf» and «Sasha» -- Matt has an uncanny knack for writing songs that really get an emotional hook into you.

E.C.: What made you write the punky «Trouble»?

Paul Krysiak: On every album but «Pet Soul» (which sort of doesn't count as an actual Splitsville album) there's always been at least one punk-pop tune by Brandt. They are always fun songs to play live. And they are always about something a lot more serious than they would seem to be. «Trouble» takes on racism, but does so in a really humorous way.

E.C.: How did you finance the record?

Paul Krysiak: This is the first time we ever put up the money ourselves to record an album. It's because we have shifted from being «signed» to a label that pays those up-front expenses. Now, we retain ownership of our albums and simply license them to the label for a limited period of time.

E.C.: Have you ever dreamed of becoming a rich and famous rockstar? If yes, when has this dream died?

Paul Krysiak: Who says that dream has died?! No, seriously, I think we'd all be much happier with a slow, steady career, where we can take our time with what we do. No one wants a big money corporation peering over our shoulders and pressuring us. We're much happier being free to make our own decisions and our own mistakes. It's part of how you grow as artist. It's not easy to grow and mature when you are busy cranking out «product» for mass consumption.

E.C.: Is there something you have not reached musically that you would like?

Paul Krysiak: Absolutely! I mean, this is probably the first album that sounds like Splitsville, as opposed to sounding like imitations of ten other bands. (Know what I mean?) We enjoy referencing other bands, but we want to continue to define «our sound». And I hope we'll become more courageous about experimentation, that we'll find ways to say something new.

E.C.: How many copies sold «The complete pet soul»?

Paul Krysiak: Only a few thousand, really. Let's face it -- it's a niche market.

E.C.: Why does a respected band like Splitsville look for a lable in Spain?

Paul Krysiak: Because for the longest time, no one in America seemed interested in the kinds of things we were doing. That's changing now, with the garage revival and all these very pop-sounding bands showing up on the radio and TV. But our best option for the last few years was to go with someone like Houston Party -- a label that's outside America's rigid, corporatized music industry and that really understands and appreciates the MUSIC.

E.C.: You have recently been on Tour in Spain. What memories did you bring home?

Paul Krysiak: We've actually done a few tours there over the last couple of years. We absolutely love it there. The food is great, the fans are great -- what's not to love?

E.C.: How is the situation for a band like touring the US. Is it easy to get gigs and do you get money for playing?

Paul Krysiak: No, actually it's pretty terrible. Between Splitsville and Myracle Brah, I've done easily twice as many gigs in England, France and Spain as I've done in America in the last five years. These days we tend to do occasional shows in New York, Chicago, L.A. and Baltimore, but it doesn't make much sense anymore for us to pack up the van and hit the road for a month or two.

E.C.: Where is Splitsville heading next?

Paul Krysiak: Who knows? Every thing that's ever happened with us, good or bad, has been a bit of a surprise. I don't even try to guess about the future anymore.

E.C.: As which band would you like to be reincarnated and why?

Paul Krysiak: Hmmm... tough one. How about the Bay City Rollers? All those teenage girls hanging our posters in their bedrooms, and our very own TV show. Plus, after a couple of years, we could just disappear safely and quietly into total obscurity.