The Books will be coming to campus on Nov. 24. AS Productions Pop Music is hosting the show, which starts at 7:30 p.m. at the PAC main stage. Tickets are $7 for Western students with ID and $10 for general admission.
The AS Review caught up with Nick Zammunto, member of The Books, to find out about the band, their sound and what touring has been like.
AS Review: How and when did The Books form?
Nick Zammunto: We formed right around the turn of the century, about ten years ago in New York City. Paul and I lived in the same apartment building and we were introduced through a mutual friend. We had a similar approach to sound and started working together right away.
ASR: For those Western students who are not familiar with you guys, how would you describe your sound?
NZ: I guess collage is the one word that sort of describes it. We pull a lot of samples off of old records, audiotapes and videotapes … and then we find a way to knit it all together by our own playing and our own singing. We’re looking for ways to make ordinary moments into something really unexpected and I think it’s a wonderful place to be. When you see something familiar, in an unfamiliar way, that’s a lot what we try to do. We’re always trying to stay away from the mainstream in that kind of way.
ASR: Your most recent album, “Music for a French Elevator” came out in 2006. Are you currently working on a new album?
NZ: Yes. I am just putting the finishing touches on it now. It will be out in the late winter or early spring.
ASR: Is this record different from your other albums?
NZ: Yeah, I think all of our records are pretty different from one another, and I think this record is no exception. A lot of the samples from our previous records are pretty laid back. We have had a lot of stuff recently that is really outgoing. The music has to rise to the occasion and match its tempo; that’s why some of our new stuff is faster and harder.
ASR: How did you come up with the name The Books?
NZ: Like most of our work, we always have a list of potential names. We showed this list to a bunch of our friends at a dinner party, and I think The Books was universally not chosen by anybody. The other stuff on the list was totally ridiculous; it was a list of headless things, like The Headless Frogs. The Books seemed simple and open ended and useful.
ASR: Do you have any unique hobbies when you are on the road touring?
NZ: The one habit that we keep is that wherever we travel, we try to hit the local thrift shops, and that has led to some really interesting finds. We go through their audiotapes, videotapes [and] answering machines to see what kind of audio we can find.
ASR: How many instruments do you play?
NZ: Well, it depends on your definition of “instruments” and your definition of “play.” I am not a fantastic musician. I do what I can, guitar … electric bass, anything I can get my hands on and I make a lot of recordings on interesting things that way. Paul has been cellist since he was five, so he is the cello in the way that I could never be the guitar. He is an amazing player.
ASR: Do you make your own instruments?
NZ: Yeah, anything that can make a sound is fair game. I worked with PC pipes quite a bit, and lots of silverware, some sub woofers and filing cabinets, that kind of thing.
ASR: What can students expect from your show on Saturday?
NZ: Well, if they are familiar with our work already, they are going to see a bunch of new stuff – six or so new tracks, most of them off our new record. Our shows are somewhere between seeing a live concert and seeing a movie because we use video in our shows as a frontman in a way, like a lead singer, a dancer or a light show. A lot of attention is soaked up by the video, and the video is synchronized in a really rhythmic way with the music. So, we’re there playing our instruments and singing and then synched up with it all is the video. More and more we have been composing the video at the same time as the audio, so they feel really integrated now in a way that maybe they didn’t before.