Richard Edwards on his own music

I talked to Richard Edwards, frontman of Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s quite a bit over the past couple of months at places like Drunken Unicorn in Atlanta and at DeLuna Fest  in Florida as well as multiple phone conversations for a feature that will go live in tomorrow’s (March 20) Paste Magazine mPlayer.

At the tail end of one lengthy conversation I asked him to discuss his favorite songs he had written for each album and which one he’d like to change. It was more of a fanboy moment than a journalist moment, but I wanted to share part of the transcript. This particular interview took place on January 30 via a phone call.

On favorite tracks written for each album:

Dust of Retreat – The only one on there that I can still listen to without cringing – I think “Skeleton Key” is a really interestingly laid out song. I get why people like it. I wish the lyrics were different – but the one whole song on there that I still think is pretty good is “Bookworm.” I know it’s probably not most people’s favorite, but that one sounds a little bit mature, I guess, than any of the other stuff on there.

Not Animal – I don’t think it’s the best song on there necessarily, but I really like that “Shivers” thing. I just like listening to it and it was always fun to play. It never seemed to go over that well; that’s why I think we quit playing it. I don’t think that’s the best song on that record. That record has some songs that are pretty good, but that’s definitely one of my favorites.

Animal! – It’s not quite as easy. “O’ What a Nightmare!” is always kind of up there for me. I really like that “Mariel” song. I still think “My Baby Shoots Her Mouth Off” is a creepy, cool song. If I had to pick out of all of them I’d probably say “O’ What a Nightmare!”

Buzzard – It’s tough. I still like quite a bit of those a lot. Probably “Birds.” It’s probably the best song I’ve written in general. It’s number one on there. I think “New York City Hotel Blues” and “Claws” are pretty good songs. I really like “Tiny Vampire Robots” a lot. It feels really cool when I listen to it.

Rot Gut, Domestic – My favorite song on there is probably a song called “Fisher of Men.” It’s kind of another rock song. It’s another one that I don’t really know if it’s the best song on there technically, but I like it the best.

On the song he would want to change the most:

I can’t get into Dust of Retreat that much and I’m happy for people who can. I was still very young and didn’t quite have my voice as a singer. It’s hard to listen to it without wishing I could have discovered my voice which I guess I have found since that record. That whole record is kind of difficult to listen to.

I really, really, really wish “I Am a Lightning Rod” was not recorded the way it fucking is. And “A Love Song For Schuba’s Bartender.” Those are the only two major regrets that I have as far as recordings and they are kind of huge major regrets. I think “Love Song” was a nice kind of funny ballad and it got worked over to where it sounded – I don’t know. It doesn’t sound like us. It sounds like a band trying to record a song that they feel self conscious about being a ballad. “Lightning Rod” was one of my favorite songs and I kind of thought of it as sort of – I don’t know. Forget what I thought it was, but what it ended up being I really, really have a problem with some of the guitar stuff on it. I think it kind of Radioheaded it up. It’s another one that I listen to that when those moments come up it kind of bums me out because I feel less like naturally what comes to us and a little bit more like it’s trying a bit too hard to mess with something as opposed to playing it pretty naturally like we would. I wish that song was a lot more sparkly. I wish I would have just recorded by myself with an acoustic guitar. Then it, at the very least, it will sound like us and not like a stretch.

After those songs specifically I became a lot stricter and proactive about making sure that nothing was happening on tunes that didn’t feel like it came from me or us naturally. I like the songs and that’s the bummer; I just wish that they were done with a bit more whatever-who-gives-a-fuck mentality.

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