LSTN 12: Crystal Stilts
With whispers of organ and monotone vocals, Crystal Stilts make the kind of stripped down music that sounds like it was recorded in someone's garage...and that's the whole idea. According to bassist Andy Adler, while the band name might be meant in jest, the strong influence of '60s British beat bands is certainly not.
Your album doesn’t drop until the beginning of the new year, but do you have a tour planned yet?
We have a single coming out in a week or two, so the records are all done. I’m sure we’ll figure it out. We went to Europe a few times and it would be fun to go back.
How were you received abroad?
Pretty well. There were a few times we played big festivals, but we weren’t the big draw. I think it was probably Neil Young.
How is touring abroad different from touring in the U.S.?
It’s really different. In Germany especially, there’s a lot of state sponsorship of venues. The hospitality level is a lot higher. Maybe you’ll get some food in a bar here, but a lot of places over there they’ll make you a nice, sit-down meal. We also have a driver there.
Do you have any favorite roadside stops?
Kyle is pretty good about finding better, out-of-the-way places. We do a little research to find good, cheap, local cuisine.
How did you get involved with Crystal Stilts?
JB and Brad had been playing for a while and they had recorded most of the record and then they were looking to play live more. I knew Brad from working at the same record store together. We were all friends, so it was pretty casual. They wanted more of a regular, solidified band for live shows and recording.
JB and Brad grew up in Florida, so where are you from?
Right outside of Boston. The music scene was good because I had access to record stores and some great pre- and early- internet college radio. Most places didn’t seem to mind if a 15-year-old went to a show if you said you wouldn’t drink. So many college and good bands were around.
What about now, do you see a lot of live shows?
Not as many as I once did, due to aging. I still go to a lot of shows. I just went to see Van Dyke Parks, which was one of the best shows I’ve seen in a while.
Where does the name Crystal Stilts come from?
Brad came up with it as a goof, sort of meant in jest to a certain degree. I’m not sure how we came up with it really. It’s not meant as a totally joke, but it’s a ridiculous image I guess.
Having an organ player is pretty unique. How did that come about?
I think it just outgrowth of liking the sound, and liking records with that sound. A lot of ‘60s records, and we thought we could use that quality.
Bob Dylan, The Animals…British beat bands.
Is that the sound you’re going for?
That’s definitely part of it, we like the Blue Orchids and later bands that use the organ. I think a lot of bands throw out references to describe their songs and then everyone uses that to compare them to. There are a lot of influences that we take from and try to put our own spin on: Thirteenth Floor Elevators, country records, Lee Hazelwood.
Where do you get your album art from?
A lot of old magazines and weird old books. One of our 12-inch singles had an image that came form an old psychology textbook.
What do you enjoy when you aren’t playing music?
I like to go to movies–I’m a film nerd. I eat a lot and watch sports. I’m pretty hum-drum and run-of-the-mill.
Are you a film snob or will you watch anything?
I don’t think so! I’ve always been interested in it. I take it all, I see a lot of obscure avant garde films but I’m not snooty about my choosing. I just went to the New York Film Festival and saw a film by Raul Ruiz, “Mysteries of Lisbon.” It’s four and a half hours but it’s worth it.
Where are some cool places to check out in Brooklyn?
Prospect Park is better than Central Park. It’s more park-y and Frederick Law Olmstead designed it too. Stay away from Williamsburg and come to Park Slope instead, it’s better. I quite like Great Jones Café in Manhattan, they do excellent Cajun food, but I’ve been trying to cook more lately. My girlfriend and I made mussels in a white wine cream sauce and it came out so well! It’s a slow process learning how to cook properly.