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Making music out of pure love of the art form is one way to go about building band notoriety. But according to Richard Edwards, lead singer/guitarist for indie-poppers Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s, his band are in the industry solely for the money. As Edwards puts it, “How would you make it without money?”
Ironic, then, when Edwards remarks during a recent phone interview that “none of us have made any money doing this.”
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The Indianapolis-based band hope their lack of financial success can be attributed to the changing dynamics of the music industry—two versions of their second album, Animal! and Not Animal, were released simultaneously last fall. The records share several tracks, though the playing order varies and each has its own unique songs. This split is the result of an artistic disagreement with their label, Epic Records: Not Animal is Epic’s choice, while Animal! is the version the band wanted released.
For Animal! and Not Animal, “we recorded a lot of songs for about four or five months,” says Edwards. “It was met with little enthusiasm by our label.”
At least on the day of this call, a lack of enthusiasm is clear from Edwards himself. When questioned about whether the label’s response is a possible reflection of the indifference he’s projecting, he sounds like a teenager asked to share how his day at school went: “I don’t know.”
After claiming to “not remember” how the eight-person ensemble (including a trumpet player and violinist) formed or came up with their wordy moniker, it seemed no wonder why Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s couldn’t come up with a more decisive name—the apathetic aura surrounding their main creative force seems to infiltrate every aspect of the band’s nature.
Still, the band’s euphoric sound can prove quite soothing—both versions of Animal! make great soundtracks to a stoney day. They’re that rare breed of record that can be played through completely, with no need to skip tracks or fast-forward inane interludes. Not that Edwards is necessarily forthcoming about how that sound is produced.
“I write all the songs and bring them in,” he says, “and then we all work on the music.”
So, what do the So and So’s hope to accomplish with their music? “I hope to make massive amounts of money, and we are absolutely not close to that,” he says.
How about that bright, shining moment in the distance when the band finally realize they’ve made it—their dream has come true—what might that look like? “Having a ton of money,” Edwards says.
Even discussing the band’s upcoming national tour (which includes a date at Detroit Bar in Costa Mesa) couldn’t bring this musician out of his fiscally fixated trance. “We travel by a modified school bus,” Edwards says, providing rare detail when describing it as painted black, fitted with bunks and known affectionately as “The Black Plague.” “We purchased it ourselves.”
The singer’s blasé commentary doesn’t do the group justice, since the band’s music has more substance than he lets on. “A Children’s Crusade On Acid” is featured on both versions of Animal! and tickles listeners’ inner youthful desire to begin an epic quest, aiming to conquer the indecencies of the world. Edwards’ self-professed favorite track, “My Baby (Shoots Her Mouth Off)”—from the band’s version of Animal! as well as their The Daytrotter Sessions EP, released in the summer of 2008—seems almost destined for radio.
Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s have drawn comparisons to genre giants such as the Shins and Arcade Fire. So, given the quality of the band’s music, maybe Edwards’ the sense of entitlement is at least somewhat understandable. Should the day come when the band does make it, what would they do with all the money they’d finally made?
“Buy two of everything,” Edwards says. “Because we can.”
Margot and the Nuclear so and So’s with Telekinesis and Everything Now at Detroit Bar, 843 W. 19th St., Costa Mesa, (949) 642-0600; www.detroitbar.com. Tues., 9 p.m. $14; $12 in advance. 21+.