88 New Year’s Eves a Year with Jon Gutwillig and The Disco Biscuits
The members of the Disco Biscuits are currently featured on the cover of Relix. Relix/Jambands.com Executive Editor Mike Greenhaus spent time with the band in the studio when the Biscuits was first working on Planet Anthem in 2006 and followed up with the band numerous times over the past six months. While the July Relix cover story tackles a number of issues such as guitarist Jon Gutwillig’s recent wrist injury, the band’s crossover single “On Time” and the four musicians’ relationship off the stage, a number of topics were left on the cutting room floor. Relix.com and Jambands.com will be rolling out additional interviews not included in the Relix cover story over the next few weeks. Below, Gutwillig gave in early May, shortly after the guitarist removed the cast from his wrist.
A related interview with keyboardist Aron Magner recently posted to Relix.com.
First off, your recently took your cast off. How is your wrist feeling?
It feels pretty awesome, good as new. It’s a little bit stiffer for the right hand, but stiffer is better because you want fast really specific motions for that hand so I feel like that’s better in a way. I’m trying to look on the bright side of everything, you know? I feel like my wrist is going to be great and the last month was really fun.
It has been a few months since Planet Anthem was released. Looking back, did it turn out the way you initially planned?
I think the album turned out great. It is so interesting from front to back—I feel like it’s gotta go classic one day. We set out to make a hip hop album and ended up with something very different. When you were first in the studio [in 2006] you heard some of the really raw sketches and almost none of those songs ended up on the album. We made a lot of songs so it really could have been a lot of different things. The earliest songs on the album were “Fish Out of Water” and “Camouflage Soul,” which came out not on the album but on the iTunes version of the album.
Since you wrote the album over such a long period of time, do you think Planet Anthem connects lyrically?
Good question. I think, lyrically speaking, every song is a sort of a snapshot of a certain idea. It is not trying to be a big cohesive album in terms of the lyrics. It just wasn’t a priority to make the album like a big artistic, Hot Air Balloon style concept. The priority was making the coolest music possible in the studio.
People like can take the lyrics and they can get all emo and stuff like that but that is not what we are consciously trying to do. I wrote a really emo song which was one of the leaked tracks, and it may well make it on a Biscuits album eventually. We’ve definitely had some “we’re having a bad day songs” over the years. I had two “I’m having a bad day songs” that we play all the time now, and I just rewrote the lyrics for them to be not such a bad day lyrics. I try and keep the same meaning just a little different, a little more positive perspective sometimes. I think the lyrics of “On Time” are really, really interesting and unique. We really did a lot of work on the lyrics for this album.
How do you feel social media has changed your relationship with fans?
I mean, I think it is great. I guess you are tearing down the wall a little bit, but I don’t mind that. I love being able to have my own direct line—like people read my status on a Facebook page, I can comment whenever I want. Its just like another kind of freedom, you have the ability to contact large groups of people, you know, whatever you want to say. It’s pretty awesome, you’re making connections. It helps the Biscuits, it helps us get our message across because this album is having a lot of mainstream success. We don’t get a lot of mainstream success in our band because to some degree our music is not very mainstream friendly. But with Facebook, I get out information to large groups of people without needing to change the message to fit the mainstream
But if you want to talk to lots of people, you gotta make the message worthy to send out. Now that I have a Facebook people tell me what songs they want us to play. But we always had a direct connection with our fans—we were ahead of the curve in that regard. I mean, musically we were ten years ahead of the curve as well.