Thursday, March 10, 2005

RFC Interview: Resplendent

Last month, former Number One Cup and Fire Show member Michael Lenzi performed his first and last solo show ever as Resplendent. RFC recently caught up with Lenzi to talk about the end of Resplendent and his swan song, Am I Free?/I Am Free. Radio Free Chicago: So you recently played your one and only solo show as did it go? Michael Lenzi: The show was really good from a performance perspective. Although I just started to get comfortable and it was over. I have to admit that knowing it was the first and only show for that group made me not enjoy it as much. It felt done already. That is unfortunate. I thought the group itself sounded full and correct. RFC: What made you decide to hang up making music as Resplendent? (and why did you only play live once?) ML: I have struggled with my feelings about being any entity other than myself for quite a while. Resplendent as a thing is connected to the Fire Show and that is connected to Number One Cup. At this point it is all played out for me. I am tired of the name, the game that goes along with it and the message of the music. I have never wanted to make music that seemed like it was whiney. I have had the uncomfortable realization that many people feel that way about it. Or they feel that I am just trying to be arty or abstract for the whim of it. I have read that my lyrics are stream of consciousness or some shit. That is bullshit from my perspective. I didn't set to limit myself to a method when I wrote lyrics. The only method I have is to say what I feel and think. Sometimes that meant not being obvious because where my thoughts are going is not obvious to me when I am in the moment--in that space and time. It comes clear later. Maybe others write lyrics to fill in the song. I don't. I write words and really pour over them for a good while before I commit them to the song. Then I even go back 3 or 4 times and gut them and start over. So it is just an insult to hear that people think I am just saying whatever. I also know that if you don't go into the listening process ready to accord respect to the artist, it usually is a self-fulfilling thing. You end up not really respecting it very much. So in that light I guess that is where people are coming from when they say that. So, to answer your question, I am ready to move on. Move on from all my frustrations about perception. RFC: Stepping back a bit, let's talk about the new's a bit more straight-forward (standard verse/chorus/verse guitar, drums+vocals) than the past three EPs you released. What inspired the shift in musical direction? ML: What inspired it was people and time. I was set to do another sample sequence collage style set of songs then I started working with my friend Derek See who plays guitar. His input moved me it in that direction. To address something that you mentioned that is inaccurate, all my songs are verse chorus verse. I don't know any other way really. So having guitar in there just led you to that realization. I don't make music to confuse people with complexity. I make the music that I can. The sample based stuff is me playing my Akai MPC samplers and writing songs that way. I am a shitty guitar player so the samples become my guitar and band in a surrogate way. I am very comfortable with that. The byproduct of that is that I seem like I am being avant or something because the backdrops or music accompanying the lyrics is a little more alien. It sounds normal enough to me. But I guess I enter into the realm of electronic music and then I am judged against Squarepusher or some shit. I have no more in common with Squarepusher than I do with Hoobastank. RFC: I really like how you've released it as a double CD of "Side A" and "Side B." Is this merely an aesthetic attempt to recreate the feeling of an old LP record, or is each side a unique set of songs with a connecting theme? ML: The record is two parts: Am I free? & I Am Free. The first set of songs deals with the first sentiment and the second set with the second sentiment. I wanted to divide the listening experience because I hear it that way. You can't divide a CD into sides as you know. So I enforced that way of initially presenting the music. When it gets dumped on a computer then so be it. It is altogether then. I wish records were shorter now. I lose interest when a record is over 40 minutes. I rarely listen to music for background purposes. I listen to hear songs and stories and beautiful sounds. I don't think it should be a labor to get through a set of songs. So I went further with it and basically said listen to it 20 minutes at a clip. RFC: Speaking of which...Overall, your releases have always had great minimalist packaging. Much like you're music, the accompaning artwork has always been refreshingly start and you work on the art and packaging yourself or is it done by someone else? ML: I do it all myself. For me it was a mix of economics and aesthetic. It costs money to make something that looks good. I didn't want to print and pay for a bunch of CDs then be stuck with them when they didn't sell. I also did not want the releases to be about much more than the music. I realize now that I have a foolish approach. When you don't know something, all you have is the visuals to judge it on. The packaging made it very hard to sell in stores and the minimalism made it all but invisible. So I shot myself in the foot twice. Then people probably looked at it and thought that I was too cheap to pay for a nice package. I think it backfired for me. I was really trying to do something totally simple and honest. I don't think it worked out for me on that level. As a music maker I am very happy with the releases and feel that I did what I felt regardless of the consequences. That is very important to me. RFC: Is the new record available in stores in the area? How about your back catalog? ML: Everything is available on my website or on the Perishable Records website. Anyone can email me for purchasing details: resplendent(at) I also sell all the Fire Show releases and the Number One Cup stuff too. RFC: So now that Resplendent has been put to rest...what's your next project going to be? ML: The next project will just be Michael Lenzi. I figure I won't be changing that name for a while. Maybe I'll return to Resplendent at a later date. Who knows. I change my mind all the time. The new songs I am writing are all about my life in Chicago which is pretty broad I know. The music will be very very minimal. The vocals will fill a lot of the space. RFC: Anything else you'd like to add? ML: I don't really know. There is so much else to add always. Go see Dalek when they come around again. Buy the new Trail of Dead record. Buy the early Talking Heads records. Sit down and listen to Notorious B.I.G.'s record "Ready to Die" from start to finish one night. Love yourself a little less and love others more. ----------------------- more about Resplendent... Favorite record of 2004: I listened to the Christie Front Drive "Anthology" record more than any other record in '04 because that is what I fall asleep to every night. It came out a long time ago. How many pints in a quart? 2 I think. I drink 4 pints of Old Style a night sometimes. Artist or band that inspired you to make music: Tricky. The Nearly God record excited me and scared the hell out of me at the same time. The song Poems is totally the one for me. That song is love. He turned the light on for me about making broken songs with samples and vocals. Digital or analog? Analog for recording and photography. Why? Because I like it. Digital for the everyday life. I just wish that it wasn't always so fucking either...or all the time. Tastes great or less filling? I don't worry about getting filled up. I worry about having stuff to enjoy. For the latest Resplendent news, MP3s and more...check out


Post a Comment

<< Home