Yesterday, a band called Philistines Jr were added to the All Tomorrow's Parties festival, curated by the National this December. Blank looks all round, but I actually interviewed them way back in 1994 and we kept in touch for a while. I was hopeful they might be added as the National have helped raise their profile by covering one of their songs last year on a kind of 'tribute' album to the Philistines, which also featured Frightened Rabbit and Mercury Rev. Here is the original of the song which the National cover, complete with a video containing cute cats as well as a toddler. Internet gold really.
**this article dates from Autumn 1994 and was published in Weedbus fanzine, issue 8**
“The continuing struggle of the Philistines Jr”
Connecticut bunch Philistines Jr have had such a horrible time dealing with the music industry that brothers Peter and Tarquin Kadis, along with drummer Adam Pierce have resorted to living back at home with their parents. Rather than be disconsolate about this, they've saved their money, built a 24 track studio in the basement and set up their own label – Tarquin records. Their main release so far has been a mini-LP engagingly titled 'The Continuing Struggle of the Philistines Jr' and the song '145 Old Mill Road' actually uses their address as its title. I spoke with Peter from the group as he tried to explain this continuing struggle.
“I guess ever since we started we've been thinking we've been doing well, but things always seemed to bottom out. We don't want to sound like we're complaining but it's a sort of weird thing being in a band. We came over to England a couple of years ago and did a Peel session and signed what we thought was a record deal, but that went bad and killed nearly a whole year. Same thing happened in the US.”
Since the single 'Happy Birthday Captain Columbus' you have had a long lay-off. Why was that?
Well 'The Continuing Struggle..” actually came out last Fall (1993) so we had a year without releasing anything. Another label screwed us over and we still owe lawyers money over that one, I'm afraid. We want to release everything ourselves now, but it's difficult. We fund every release, we record and manufacture them ourselves. We would consider bringing in other bands as well, we all play in other bands – such as the Happiest Guys in the World, Iris, the Zambodies (??) but most of those are sillier than the Philistines, but the music is good!
What do your parents think of all this musical activity? You've actually got some soundbites of them on the album (their Dad is heard saying “you know, it's not too late to enrol for medical school”)
“Dad is very uncomfortable with what we do but our Mom basically lets us do what we want, she's not as nervous about it. They're both doctors, psychiatrists, so they would like us to do something more professional!”
With your own studio do you take a fresh approach to recording? I haven't heard it,but I know you have one release with one song in the left channel and a different song in the right.
“ We just think about we can make things different. It's a balance between doing things really well and trying to be really different. Actually recent stuff we have recorded but have yet to release will probably make us more unpopular, but it gets more interesting.
How have English audiences responded to you?
“Our tour pretty much fell through, it's part of the continuing struggle! There's a line in one of our songs, “Have you ever hoped something was true even though you know better?” It's like we run into that all the time. We were supposed to tour with the Family Cat and then Radiohead, but the dates that weren't pulled got cancelled, Although we ended doing four shows in London,one in Exeter and we recorded a second Peel session so it was worth coming over.
John Peel was really the first person to pick up on you, wasn't he?
“Absolutely, he made it possible for us to play in England. He just called us one day when he got our first 12” 'Greenwich, CT' and we thought it was someone pulling our leg, but he wanted to know if he could read our address out over the air so people could write to us, so we ended up being deluged with letters. So later we nervously asked him could we do a Peel session and he was like “Of course, come on over!”
Your music is best described as a fresh, almost humourous version of Pavement-style rock. What sort of music do you find yourselves listening to?
“We've always loved Jonathan Richman, and I really like a new band called the Mommy Heads. We played with King Missile in the US a few weeks ago and that was good, I like the current Pavement record. I like bands that aren't pretentious. Fugazi are cool, I like what they are all about.”
Interview by Jonathan Greer
and just for luck, here is the National's cover of that song