By Scott Reid | 12 September 2008
Not a lot to introduce here: Women released a really great self-titled debut album a few months ago on Flemish Eye (and soon to be released in the States on Jagjaguwar), we naturally freaked out over it and grew curious. Pat Flegel was kind enough to respond to our fandom.
CMG’s Scott Reid (CMG): First off, congrats on the record. I’d love to get some insight on what the group’s creative process is like. Did you collectively have an idea of what you wanted to create from the start? Was there a lot of improv involved?
Women’s Pat Flegel (Pat): Thanks a lot. We definitely knew that there were going to be drastic changes throughout instead of the same track ten times in a row. Some tracks were recorded days after they were written and others had been arranged for a while. I would say we have a very clear idea of what we want things to sound like. What actually ended up happening is interesting. There was some improvisation.
CMG: It’s also a very concise record—was that a conscious thing from the outset or just sorta how things happened?
Pat: We knew that we wanted it to be short…like our attention spans.
CMG: How involved did Chad [VanGaalen, who recorded seven of the ten songs] get? Did he take the role as more of a director, or did he stand back and let you guys do your thing?
Pat: There were some tracks where we definitely let him push the songs in different directions as far as mixing and editing was concerned but generally he just asked us what we wanted to do and helped us as much as he could engineering etc. Chad was always really enthusiastic and would sometimes just start hitting something while we were tracking. He elaborated on some ideas, the drone and stuff. The culvert was his idea.
Since we first started getting together in my apartment we knew how we wanted to approach the recording. We just wanted it to sound like the recordings we listen to. Chad was into it and I think that’s why we got together in the first place. A lot of the time we were saying “Make it sound shittier.” I personally don’t think it sounds that “lo-fi” but people can say whatever they want! We watched Blade Runner so many times. That was also a group decision.
CMG: You’ve known each other since childhood—I take it Women has been a floating project for ages, in one form or another? How has the songwriting evolved since the earliest days? Like, did you used to be a grunge band or something?
Pat: Women became Women late in 2007 more as a recording project to help us deal with the winter than as a motivated aspiring band. I suppose that’s kind of changed now because it seems like more of a real thing, but if we seem to transcend speech I have yet to witness it. We have been playing together in some form or another since our early days, but I would not willingly give away any hint of what kind of music we used to play.
CMG: Have you been following the press response to your record at all?
Pat: We weren’t expecting anything so it’s very surprising. It’s nice to make something that you want to hear, with yourself in mind and then have other people enjoy it.
CMG: Has it been a difficult process prepping this record to work live?
Pat: It’s totally different. We are a rock band.
CMG: You mention the band hasn’t been together all that long—has performing live been a lot of learning from mistakes, or has the chemistry been there from the beginning?
Pat: We are thoroughly inconsistent when it comes to playing live.
CMG: What kind of stuff have you been listening to lately?
Pat: I’ve been listening to so much US Maple, Aids Wolf, Arab on Radar, Black Tambourine, Les Rallizes Denudes it’s ridiculous.
I like the old New York bands. I just got that really great nowave book, the Thurston Moore one. Glenn Branca’s old bands and some of his symphonies are in the rotation usually. Swell Maps, Autechre, Stars of the Lid, Tim Hecker. Matt listens to the Clean anthology almost everyday. This band called Your Food has these demos that I really like. I’ve got a Mission of Burma compilation called Peking Spring that i’ve been listening to. The Runners Four [Deerhoof], The Idiot [Iggy, natch]. Mass Production is so amazing, it’s filthy.
CMG: What about local acts, or even just artists you’ve played with?
Pat: Azeda Booth [featuring Chris Reimer and Mike Wallace of Women] just put out a great album on Absolutely Kosher. It’s insane. The Neighbourhood Council (opening for Deerhunter and Times New Viking in Toronto and Montreal) put on a great live show. Our friend does this nice thing called Knots it’s really good. There was a really great band called the Ostrich that just broke up but they have two amazing seven inches. There’s also the Famines from Edmonton. Metz from Toronto were easily the best band we saw on our last tour of Canada. They’re playing some dates with Young Widows out east, one with Monotonix.
CMG: Is there any significance to using Felix Greene’s art for the record beyond just it looking awesome?
CMG: Let’s talk the future: your debut hasn’t even been released in the States yet, but what’s next for Women? What hot-shot producer will you hitting the big time with?
Pat: We are torn between Rick Rubin and Ric Ocasek.