They Didn’t Start the Fire
In early 2005, The Unicorns broke up to the shock
of many: they had mentioned on several occasions in their brief existence that
they were throwing in the towel, but never delivered on the threat. It quickly
became clear that this had been a messy split, the consequence of endless
touring as well as creative differences within the group.
Although Alden Penner has been keeping a low profile with his solo material,
Nick Diamonds and J'aime Tambeur have continued working together, this time as
Islands, and are getting to release their first album, Return to the Sea.
The album features several guest musicians, including The Arcade Fire's Sarah
Neufeld and Richard Reed Parry.
Though Islands are not positioning themselves as The Unicorns v. 2.0, the band
members have preserved their snarky sense of humor when dealing with the press
and are not afraid to show it.
Is Islands strictly a Nick & J'aime project, or does it include other permanent
members as well?
lawyer will field this one!
R. Vrable, band lawyer: Islands operates on what is known in some circles as the
Why did you
choose to revisit old Unicorns songs for Return To The Sea?
lawyer will field this one!
R. Vrable, band lawyer: Islands cannot divulge such information at this time,
and refuses comment on such questions should they be alluded to or intimated in
this similar fashion.
Have you found a label to release Return To The Sea in North America?
When will the album be released?
Nick: Our lawyer will field this one! Thanks!
R. Vrable, band lawyer: March 21st in North America on Equator Music, and April
3rd elsewhere (excluding Australia) on Rough Trade.
What are your plans for touring in 2006?
Nick: Hi! The lawyer's gonna field this one!
R. Vrable: They will perform in different cities and use vehicular
transportation to get to and fro each venue.
What can people expect from your live shows? Will you be touring as a 7-member
Nick: Hmmm... I think I'm gonna let the lawyer handle this question...
R. Vrable: Nick! These questions are completely insidious!
Nick: Hey! Easy! They just want us to be funny and clever, like their little
R. Vrable: It's just not within my jurisdiction...
R. Vrable: [refusing further comment]
Nick: [sigh]... There will be songs, dance, more "turkey in the straw,"
less "fartin' around," more awesome, more murder mystery games—7 or 8 or 9 and
at times 11, but never 13, on stage, with a full spectrum of musicianship and
instrumentation—no dulcimers, no harpsichords, no kazoos, no djembes, no MIDI
guitars, but triangles, steel drum, oboe, bass clarinet (not a saxophone,
people, repeat, not a saxophone), clarinet, djembes, vaina (mexican fruit),
Google, drum machinery, a live blogger and a portrait of Charlemagne.
How did you get a chance to do a couple of remixes for Beck?
Nick: We got asked to do one by him and his peeps. Ours was so nice that we got
asked to do another one twice!
What was the concept behind these two remixes?
Nick: Hmm... Dick?
R. Vrable: To take the existing song and forge some kind of new identity within
the structure created largely by the vocal track by blending new sounds, be they
percussive or melodic—to "remix" it, if you will.
Is Th' Corn Gangg, your hip-hop side project, on hiatus as of right now? Are
there plans for a full-length?
Some people say "Rough Gem" sounds like "We Didn't Start the Fire." Do you have
anything to say in response?
people say "We Didn't Start the Fire" sounds like [Prince's] "When You Were
Mine." It's pop music—it happens.
Do you really feel like the album leak will damage sales of your CD?
Nick: Yes and no. That's a complicated question. It's definitely a promotional
tool, but it might discourage consumers, and the last thing Islands want to do
is discourage consumers... We love our little consumers!
You've mentioned an interest in African pop music. Are there particular artists
in this genre you like and would recommend to our readers?
Nick: Sure, Mulatu Astatqe? Samuel Belay, King Sunny Ade, Mahmoud Ahmed,
Eritrea, Konono no. 1, Moukoussa band, and a lot of various "Hi-Life" and "Soukouss"
to The Stills? Do you happen to know?
Nick: One of them writes code for computer video games, one of them writes the
scripts for Porn Academie [a popular Quebecois adult DVD series], one of
them writes angry letters to Brown & Root "Tootin' Oaty Bites" cereal, one of
them tutors under Bill Keysing, a key proponent in the moon landing hoax expose,
and of them plays saxophone in a ska band. Wait, how many is that? Oh, and one
got a transgender operation.
Is Richard Reed Parry as hot as he seems in photographs?
Depends on the lighting, actually... AND on how much "green" he's wearing.
Are you willing to play weddings and/or bar mitzvahs?
Nick: For the right price, AKA "I love you Stevie Nicks have my