Micheal Nau didn't anticipate that within three years his solo project Page France would have three albums under its belt, a well-rehearsed band of friends, and a national following. Page France's latest album, ...And The Family Telephone, was released this past May on Suicide Squeeze Records and shows the band as strong as ever.
I recently saw Page France play at the Nite Owl in Dayton, OH (located in the Oregon District, featuring excellent Italian eateries, comedy clubs, bars, and erotica stores), which was one of their last stops on a short tour with Bishop Allen. I met up with Michael inside the venue an hour before opening. We discussed Page France's popularity in the indie world, getting involved with Suicide Squeeze, how he views Page France compared to the media, and the glockenspiel.
Has anything humorous happened on tour yet?
Everyday has been humorous, actually. We've had a lot of van troubles and since today's the last day, in retrospect, it's all kind of humorous in a way. Yeah, we've had some long drives and we've been spending a lot of our time in our van, so there hasn't been a whole lot of time for much to happen. But yeah, something is always going on.
Yeah you look pretty tired.
Your popularity has been growing pretty steadily the past two years, especially since Suicide Squeeze re-released Hello, Dear Wind, and now with ...And The Family Telephone, it seems the only way to go from here is up. How does that feel?
I don't know, I can't really view it that way. It's been good and things have been going well and steadily improving. But as for the future, I'm not really sure what's going to happen; we'll make another record and see what happens. I try not to think [on] any other terms other than the present, so we're just kind of taking it a day at a time.
So, how did you get involved with Suicide Squeeze after Fall Records?
It just came to the point where we felt we needed to sign with a record label who had distribution and things that would help us out a lot while being on the road. We hooked up with a booking agent, and we met a few label folks through him. So it kind of came about that way; Squeeze wanted to re-release Wind and do the next record, so it kind of just happened, rather quickly and seamlessly. So, I thought it was a pretty seamless process.
Do you think it's important to be on an independent label?
[Notices his Coke is ready at the bar] Um, hold on one second -- what was that again?
I um... do you think--
[Whitney is walking by the bar] Whit, will you grab that Coke right up there? I'm sorry.
[Laughing] Heh, it's fine.
But yeah, independent labels, is that the question?
Yeah do you think it's important to be on one?
I guess it depends on what your agenda is, and for us, it's about making records and making records we want to make and having as much control over that process as we possibly can. You either work well that way or you don't, or you work better in another environment. This seems to be what's best for us right now, in terms of the records we make. I think we only fit in a certain environment, so I think that's important for us, and up to this point, it's been good. So I can't really speak for anyone who has done it any other way because I haven't, and it's very unfamiliar to me. This is the world I know, and it seems to working alright, of course.
...And The Family Telephone explores some new territory for you guys. What were some major differences recording the new album compared to your past releases?
I think just in the process of completing the songs, whereas with this new record, It was very much a group effort. We spent time actually rehearsing the songs and reconstructing the songs after their original demoed form. That's something we had never really done before, and I think that was a very energizing aspect of doing the new record, and I think you can really see the natural growth that occurred in that span of time from working together. It comes through musically, and I think it just feels like a record that was made by a band. And we were just having a good time making that record and just jamming out the songs. It was a pretty raw process. That's really the biggest difference to me; I haven't listened to the last record in a long time, so I'm sure there are a lot of differences outside of that, but that's the biggest one to me.
One of the reasons your sound is so unique is because some of the instruments you use. How did the glockenspiel become an important member of the instrument family?
Ahh man, I dunno. Whenever we first started playing, there was no glockenspiel, and then Jasen [Reeder, bass] had an old glockenspiel whenever he joined the band. We just started to use it on the record, and it kind of became somewhat of a focal point, and it was certainly subconscious when we started throwing it into the songs. I liked how it gave the songs kind of a toyish and playful feel, and at times, we were really digging that. So yeah, it's almost become its own member of the band. Everybody's always asking about the glockenspiel, and I never really knew anything about the glockenspiel really before this.
I see, I see. Alright, you may hate this question, but wait until I finish it out. [Micheal laughs] A lot of bloggers and reviewers have commented on the Christian symbolism, especially with Hello, Dear Wind, and now they are commenting on the lack of it in the new album. It's almost as if these writers and reviewers are trying to over-analyze it and trying to find hidden meanings that aren't really there. So how do you define yourselves to how the media defines you?
For the most part, I try not to think about it. For the most part, we're just making records, and it happens so quickly that I don't have time to think about those things, and I think that people need to understand that there was about a year and a half between those two records and myself as a person was going through different things at that time and believed with a different belief system. It was just naturally taking shape over that year and a half, and I think it's like that for everybody, whereas my thoughts happen to be documented in a different way. And you know, both records are trains of thought, and I don't have an agenda, and I'm not trying to say anything more than what's there. So yeah, it's interesting to see how people take it and to talk to people about it, but that's really what I'm coming from. I'm just writing what's inside my head, and if people like it, they like it, and if they don't, they don't. That's what's good about music. You don't have to listen to it; you don't have to buy it. To each their own, and I'm glad that people do enjoy it. So yeah, that's kind of the long-winded answer.
It's cool, man. So what excites you about music today? Like any particular artists or albums you've been listening to lately?
I really like the new Low record, Richard Swift who released stuff on Secretly Canadian -- he put out a really good record, and I like the new White Stripes record. I haven't heard a whole lot lately, just constantly going on the road. But yeah, that's three that I've really been digging.
Awesome, if there is a chance, later on, can I touch the glockenspiel?
[Laughing] Sure man, sure, no problem.