The New(er) Deal
That being said, given that both you and Dan have spent a lot of time in the studio over the last few years, and you guys want to avoid being on the road as much as you were in the height of The New Deal’s time, would you consider doing another studio album or studio live hybrid?
Jamie: Oh yeah. Maybe not a studio album, but a bunch of tracks, sure—remixes, whatever, absolutely. It’s kind of a one step at a time thing. Not even one step at a time, but just like, “Okay, let’s just focus on this a little bit. Let’s get ourselves back in game shape, make sure Joel feels 100 percent in line with us musically.” He’s certainly got the ability, he’s got the chops, and he’s certainly got the feel and the listening. So it’s just a question of further developing our musical communication. He can bring a lot to the table, and I wasn’t thinking about anything, about music, about anything for an hour. I want him to do the same. The only way you do that is just keep on playing, keep on playing. And once we’re comfortable with that, then we’ll start worrying about what are we going to lay down, what are we going to record and how are we going to present that? But our first and foremost goal was to play live.
Dan: I don’t know. I think something, sure. Something when the identity of this new version of The New Deal, the Newer Deal, feels like it’s on its own two feet. I think that will be the first time we’ll ever talk about that. The issue for me about making records as The New Deal is the minute you get into a situation where you sonically have to compete with production, especially in the pop side of the dance world. The pop side of dance for these purposes would be like a Deadmau5 record, or a Skrillex record, or whatever—something that people have really worked on and honed and whatever else. To some degree, it takes away from what The New Deal’s essence really is. I’m sure that we’ll make some sort of record. I’m sure that we could write a really good track, and with some of the other guys that I work with on all the music that I’m making for Dragonette and some other artists, like there’s definitely a lot of people around that could shape what The New Deal does into something that could compete with an Afrojack record or whatever. But I just don’t know whether that’s what the purpose of The New Deal is, to make tracks.
It was always high energy, there were no lulls, even the slower moments.
Joel: Yeah, exactly, so there are some big shoes to fill there and I hope I don’t let anyone down. We’ve been having so much fun in the rehearsals and we basically just started. I guess I can’t really call them rehearsals—they’re really just jams. I’m so used to calling them rehearsals coming from Dragonette, where it’s like we’re rehearsing a set of songs, sort of a production for the show, versus just showing up and just playing. That’s what we do. We just show up and we play. But yeah, it’s been going really well. We’re all surprised at how easy and how quickly things are progressing, and we’re very excited to see where it will lead.
You touched on this a little bit when you were talking about his bass a while ago, but given all the types of music he’s played recently, what have you noticed about Dan’s playing that’s changed since those last New Deal shows? Maybe not so much technically but maybe just the feel that he’s brought given that he has evolved, just as you and Joel have evolved.
Jamie: It’s more in the sound. His playing is always incomparable to anyone else. He’s a fantastic bass player, but he is really a fantastic musician. Like he’s a good bass player, but he’s a really, really good musician. I was thinking about that yesterday, and I was like, Dan, people who know him know that he’s a good bass player and all that, but they don’t understand his sterling musicianship. He can just sit in and come up with anything at any time. He’s amazing. So how has it developed? Well it’s developed that that’s just gotten better. He brings more of a modern kind of electro thing in terms of his sound and in terms of how he plays in relation to those sounds. But The New Deal, the whole time, he was always kind of being himself and just playing kind of what he wanted to play. And so he’s still playing what he wanted to play, but he’s just kind of I don’t want to say modernized the sound, because he’s always had a fairly modern sound, but just added more aggressive stuff into his rig—a lot more synth-based stuff here and there. I mean, he’s playing it all on the bass guitar, but that kind of thing. If you tag yourself onto something that’s popular in modern music right now, you’re just dating yourself. That might have worked for six months in 2002, but it’s not going to work now. So if you just kind of keep your performances as a representation of you as a musician or you as a person, then you really can’t go wrong, which is why a band like us can exist again today and have people be excited about it — as excited, if not more excited, as they were in 2001. You create this kind of musical relationship with the audience. It’s not about the style that’s currently being played that’s popular or about a style that’s nostalgic—it’s just about your own style. And if you do that, and you do it well, then you can do it forever. So what does Dan bring to the table? Well he brings an upgraded version of his musical style. Even in Dragonette, he didn’t play too much bass anymore. He was busy playing keyboard bass, or he was busy triggering samples or whatever it was that he would do with Dragonette, all important stuff, it wasn’t really about the bass playing. So I know that he is super excited to be behind a bass guitar again.
Dan: What’s amazing is I haven’t played bass guitar like I play in The New Deal since the last day that I played with The New Deal however long ago, and I was really fucking anxious that I wasn’t going to be able to remember how to do that. But the one thing I knew that I could rely on, especially reinforced over the last few months of working on that soundtrack with Jamie—that I know Jamie’s next move every single time. And he can say the same thing for me. Like, okay, at least I’ve got that to go on. But it’s Kevin, who has been The New Deal sound guy since the very beginning. When he was at the jam, I remember his jaw dropped after about five minutes, and when we finally took a break 40 minutes later he’s like, “Oh my God, I’m very pleasantly surprised to see that you guys can still do this with the fluidity that you’ve always had and it’s great to see. “It sounds like The New Deal,” is what he said. And Kevin is a pretty dry sense of humor guy and doesn’t swing compliments around us. So like, okay, we passed the hardest test. Kevin has watched everything we’ve ever played. It’s great to know that The New Deal is in my DNA basically, and I think the same thing for Jamie.
As of now, you have lined up a few shows. Do you plan to tour into the early fall or focus on sporadic dates and festivals for the next few months?
Jamie: I’d rather lump it into summer and fall because we’re really not going to start playing anything until July. There were a number of offers but we were keeping it low key. We didn’t want people to start getting hopes up about something that may or may not happen four months ago. But Phil was asking around and there were a lot of offers that were coming up. We were actually going to be doing some stuff in April, but Joel couldn’t swing it because of his sister’s wedding. And it was like, okay, well we’re not going to go get Darren for two shows and then go back to Joel. If we’re going to come back, we’re going to come back, and if it’s going to be with Joel, it’s going to be with Joel, and if it’s going to be with Darren, it’s going to be with Darren but it’s not going to be with both. So it’s one or the other. It just turned out over time that it was going to be Joel. So with that in mind, we’re like, well then we can’t do these awesome shows in April. So then what’s the next good looking spot for us to reintroduce the band? And the next thing we knew it was July. That seemed like the best spot to do it. So that being said, you’ve got a show there, you got a show here, I think a couple in July. I know that we have some in August. I know that we have some in September. And I know that we’re talking about doing some in October and November. So I know that we’re running all the way from the summer into the fall. They won’t be eight-week tours, but it will be certainly more than we’ve played in the past three years.