WK: It is a hard balance for a band, if an audience doesn’t know you but recognizes a cover. They’re gonna like you, but you’re there to show them you and not someone else’s work. How would you decide to include a cover?
BP: It is a funny balance to hit. On one hand, [I LOVE FISH] is a cover project, but in other ways it is a very unique album, to me at least, because there is so much reinterpretation happening. If we played these songs in the set I don’t think anybody who doesn’t know Fishmans would realize we are doing a cover. I still would feel that it is a Pine Barons set. But at the same time, do we want to be spending a lot of time on the ground playing cover songs when we have lots of original material? We are still feeling out how we want to balance that out.
WK: Like you said, you have plenty of songs to play and like people’s first show with a band where they might play two originals and a bunch of crowd-pleasing covers. It may feel like you’re back tracking once you start throwing in so many covers.
KA: We should give a shout out to Rae, she helped out a lot with the translations. I would come up with these poeticized versions of the translations and I wanted Rae to make sure I was saying the right things and converting the right sentiment and in the same way [Shinji] Sato did.
BP: Rae speaks conversational Japanese so she was able to hear the real lyrics being sung, see how we translated or translated and remelodisized, and helped Kieth get the sentiment just right.
KA: That was really important, to be saying the right thing in the right way. This whole thing was to make more people aware of Fishmans because they are a very important band to music and not many people know about them. A lot of that is due to Sato’s death.
WK: He died soon after [98.12.28, the live album and last concert].
KA: Yeah he died three months after.
WK: Do you think the barrier between English-speaking listeners is the language, or is it more exposure.
KA: The same way I found Fishmans, in this day in age we will hear music from all over the world. They also never toured outside of Japan but I think they would have if they kept going.
WK: If you don’t speak Japanese, it’s more of an instrumental thing; you’re more just following the contour of the melody.
KA: When I first started to listen, you could feel something in his voice. And I feel like with a lot of music, people don’t listen to the lyrics.
WK: That is a good point, because the first time you listen to a song the instruments come out first and the ability of the singer to convey emotion with basically just music is more important than the words.
KA: Yeah, but after finding what the words were I knew there was something there.
Pine Barons’ I LOVE FISH is out Friday, July 8th, via GrindSelect, and can be ordered here. The band plays live on Tuesday, July 19th at Liberty Point on the Delaware River; tickets and more information on the show can be found at WXPN’s Concerts and Events page.