The shuffler: David Williams, drummer for the atmospheric, dynamic Australian rock band Augie March. The band's latest, Moo, You Bloody Choir, came out in America in August, and Williams and company started a monthlong tour of the U.S. on Sept. 10.
David Bowie, "Love You Till Tuesday"
David Williams: I actually have a German version of this as well: "Lieb Dich Bis Dienstag." I'm not a huge David Bowie fan, but I really like what he does. Especially what he did with Lou Reed. Of course, my favorite thing he's done was his bit on Extras.
Das Pop, "We Live Again"
DW: They're a band from Belgium. I met the singer because his girlfriend is my girlfriend's friend. We had a good New Year's Eve party. They're quite big in Germany right now, and they're quite good. They're just a pop band.
AVC: Would you listen to their music if you didn't have that connection?
DW: I wouldn't have found them. I've heard nothing of them in Australia. They've never been here, and they don't want to come here. Like most people in Europe. [Laughs.]
AVC: How do you find music usually? What leads you to certain bands?
DW: Friends and websites. When you look at something you're interested in online, quite often there are links to similar types of stuff. I love MySpace. You can listen to any band you want whenever you'd like.
Wilco, "Dash 7"
DW: I've got quite a few of their albums. A.M. is probably the one I listen to least.
AVC: Do you prefer the later, jammier records?
DW: Yeah, A Ghost Is Born is great, and I haven't gotten the new album, but I've listened to it, and it's really good. But my favorite is probably Summerteeth, which they put out just before Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.
AVC: What about Wilco appeals to you?
DW: [Jeff Tweedy's] voice. It just sort of makes a connection. I think it starts there and ends with the band, which is just terrific. I can't fault them in any way. We played with them once in Denver, and it was one of the best gigs we ever did. There were 3,500 people, and we got to meet the guys afterward. They're all great. They played for three hours that night. Just terrific. And our tour manager, who is American, told us to be careful about what we drank in Denver, because each beer is like three beers up there.
AVC: Was it true?
DW: Oh yeah. [Laughs.]
Züri West, "Glücklick"
DW: "Glücklick" is Swiss for "happy." This song is all in Swiss, so I don't really know what the words are. This is another one that comes from my girlfriend. These guys are huge in Switzerland. They're one of the only bands that sing in Swiss German, so they're pretty much cutting off all of their audience before they start.
AVC: That's a hardcore move, to sing in Swiss German?
DW: Yeah, it basically means your audience is just there in Switzerland, and nobody else can listen to it. That's why a lot of those bands don't do that.
A friend of mine is in a Swiss band, and they sing in English. But they don't speak it that well, so they have someone check the lyrics before they finish the song, so everything makes sense.
AVC: Do you speak multiple languages?
DW: I'm trying to learn German, but it's not going well. I'm like a 2-year-old.
AVC: Is your girlfriend European?
DW: Yeah, from Switzerland. A lot of the guys in the band hate that. I'm going to get shit for talking about it. [Laughs.]
Wilco, "I'm A Wheel"
DW: Back to Wilco, from A Ghost Is Born. I have a lot of Wilco, but I wouldn't have thought that the player would go back to it, because I have a lot of other stuff, too.
AVC: What did you think about the band's change from the more produced, orchestrated stuff on Summerteeth to the more stripped-down, jammier stuff on A Ghost Is Born?
DW: I thought that it was an interesting way to make a record. They're not afraid of letting things develop. They just decided, "We're going to do this now." With Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, you hear that direction formulating. It's just a natural progression. And I don't think they overdo it. Everything they do is there for a reason. There's no superfluous jamming.
Ennio Morricone, "Dialogue #1"
DW: I'm sure this is from a film, but I don't know what. I don't speak Italian. At high school and primary school, we had to learn Italian, but I can't remember one word. I know the swear words. [Laughs.]
AVC: Why would this Morricone track be in your collection?
DW: I think it's really good. The spaces, the quirkiness, all the little "boings" and things like that. You can imagine a spaghetti Western going on just listening to it. Our last tour, we were looking for some entrance music, something to go onstage with. We settled on an Ennio Morricone track with a lot of accordion.
Zhivago, "Me Myself and I"
DW: Another friend's band. I'm getting a lot of friends' bands. This is that other Swiss band I was telling you about.
AVC: The one which does sing in English, but has to check
DW: The lyrics, yeah. They're very guitar-based. They're just starting, and they're off to a good start.
AVC: The Swiss music scene hasn't quite broken in the States yet. Is it pretty thriving?
DW: It's not too bad. I guess the center is in Zurich, and I've seen some interesting stuff there. One of the more interesting was two guys: One was reading from a book while the other was playing a piano. Of course, they're doing it in Swiss German, so I didn't know what they were saying, but they seemed to have a great sense of humor. All of the sudden, they'd jump over to beatboxing and rapping, and then go back over to the piano. Really interesting, but I can't even remember what they're called. I had too much E that night.
Peter Van Poehl, "Going To Where The Tea Trees Are"
DW: The album's called Going To Where The Tea Trees Are, and this is the first song. It's just really gentle and sweet. There's a good saxophone solo. I had never heard a good saxophone solo until I heard this song. [Laughs.] It's as gentle as the rest of the track.
AVC: When you listen to music, are you generally listening for the overall feel of the song, or are you listening to the lyrics, or the melody? What appeals to you first?
DW: Feel. Feel's first. The first pass, I never get all the lyrics anyway, so that would never be it. Just, if it connects, I think you can tell in the first few bars if it's something you would like. Or just if it's pretty enough to get your attention. And you think, "I better give this more listens." But generally, first of all, you don't know what it is, but you're intrigued.
Wolf Parade, "You Are A Runner And I Am My Father's Son"
DW: Something I've never heard before. This must be one of those things somebody gave me and I've never gotten around to. [Listens.] Oh wait, I have heard this.
AVC: It got some radio play. It's Canadian.
DW: We go to Toronto in a couple of months. We got robbed last time we were in Toronto. It was Halloween, and we got there around 10 o'clock and went to a bar. We got back from the bar at 1 a.m., and someone had broken into our van and stolen all our stuff. But not into the trailer, where all of the music stuff was. And someone said, "Oh wow, that never happens." I guess we were pretty unlucky.
AVC: Did you get any of your stuff back?
DW: We missed the guy by about an hour. We went to the pawnshops the next day, and missed the guy. Nobody had bought our stuff, because it was so weird. He stole a roll of tape we had been recording on, a Homer Simpson clock, and an Iron Maiden lunchbox we had just bought. I think he took my iPod charger, which turned out fine, because when I got home, I got robbed as well, and they took my iPod. [Laughs.]
Elbow, "Great Expectations"
DW: When they came to Australia, we found out that the singer Guy Garvey had liked our last album. He asked us to come out to the show, and we met him afterward and got quite drunk together. He's a nice guy. He promised that when we go back to England, he knows a great pub in Manchester that will lock us in for the whole night. I'm looking forward to it.
AVC: Elbow has some stylistic similarities to Augie March. Do you find that you're drawn to bands that sound like your band, or to bands that don't?
DW: I think I like anything that's interesting. It doesn't have to be rock 'n' roll. There's a band here in Australia—I don't know if they've ever made an album—but they just put together samples of big bands, and it sounds great. It's just interesting to listen to, and it challenges your intellect at the same time. At the same time, rock 'n' roll is interesting as well. The genre isn't as important as what's going on.