pure SHIFTER back at 7th St Entry: A conversation about songwriting, “heads-up moments," and dark secrets of the Kitty Cat Klub
Flip Rushmore and pure SHIFTER are playing Minneapolis’ legendary 7th St Entry with Denim Matriarch and VIAL on Friday, January 17. Find tickets here. Alex got both members of pure SHIFTER (John Genz and Doug Deitchler) on the phone to discuss the show and whatever the hell else.
As a member of Beasthead, Doug has "crossed paths" with various members of Flip Rushmore and Denim Matriarch in the past. Friday will serve as a chance to reconnect, as well as a chance to show off the difference between pure SHIFTER and Beasthead.
Alex: When you start a new project, there’s always a reason. So what was pure SHIFTER gonna allow you to express differently?
Doug: You want to take that one, John?
John: This music is pretty much all my stuff, and Doug came on to help me reign in some of my … how do I put this … Doug helps to organize the music and put it together. He’s an arranger, in a way.
Doug: We’ve actually had a little bit of confusion with this recently. Just with The Current and City Pages. I’m from Beasthead. And John and I brought Mitch Miller from Beasthead on the drums, so it sorta seemed like because there were two members (that it was a Beasthead project) … but the actual genesis of this was, this is John’s music. We just made songs out of it. And I don’t think I’ve picked your brain about this, John, but are the songs we’re playing right now, were they written in the past few years on acoustic instruments? This is sort of a rewrite of all those songs with different genres and newer tastes involved? I stepped in last spring to reform his songs and give them some new life. Making a live band and a show out of it.
You’re taking John’s original arrangements and reworking them. But are you sitting down together and doing that? Or is Doug just going into the lab and coming back with something?
Doug: When we got together last spring, John had all of this done. Pretty much all written.
John: A lot of was done, but sort of in imperfect form. The beats would be sort of made and laid out, and the songs would exist, but sort of, like, they’d just be a couple loops, maybe a chorus. Very little fully-formed stuff. Or it would go on for 10 minutes and nothing would change. Doug would be the guy who would say, “Let’s think about the average attention span here.”
Doug: He played me a lot of these nine-minute “blob ideas,” and I was like, “I can hear the 15 percent that’s usable here. Let’s carve out some songs. Early on, we ran into some things, like, you’re gonna have to rewrite this. Or rewrite lyrics. Figure out a different synth. And sort of against my instincts, any rewriting that comes up, I’ve purposely been uninvolved. Just to keep the core of it in the same stylistic vein … It’s interesting doing that with songs that I technically didn’t write, but did everything else for.
Alex used to be a journalist. He still wants to be one, apparently.