Wednesday, June 3, 2009, 07:04 PM ( 7634 views ) - Interviews - Posted by dagmarsieglindeI interviewed Jeremy Haines and Sammy Rubin of Project Jenny, Project Jan before their Seattle show in March. I am ashamed to admit that I actually misplaced the interview but the coincidence of losing the interview and the fact that one of my favorite songs of theirs, Negative, concerns lost negatives is not lost on me. The loss of the interview really upset me and discovering it on my computer a couple weeks ago was such a relief. Anyway, enough about me. PJPJ comes from Brooklyn, New York and their songs combine all sorts of sounds - they are fearless in incorporating whatever they want in their music. I love that. Their new EP, the Colors, is out now and you should get it. Really.
Q: I love the video for Negative Ė where did you find the footage of the girl dancing & the negatives?
Sammy Rubin: The girl dancing was just easy Ė I just found some footage. The negatives are the interesting part because that was how the whole song started. We had to write a whole bunch of songs in a really short time because somebody asked us to play a party and we didnít even have any songs. We were writing, working and drinking. Iím working on the music for it and Jeremy canít figure out what this song is going to be about. He goes, Iím gonna take a walk and get some beer. On the way back [he has] plastic negatives in a sleeve. I was working on my computer and he just stuck it on the screen. He was just like, thatís what Iím writing a song about. We ended up scanning them and putting them into the video. Those are the actual negatives we found. Somebody lost those negatives.
[The original of the video is no longer on the site but you can see it in the background of the live version above.]
Q: Do you like directing and producing videos?
S.R.: I donít really consider myself doing video at all. I want to stop. I want somebody else to do the videos for us. I want to just work on the music.
Q: The video for Zoobar is cool too.
S.R.: Which one?
Q: The one with the toys.
S.R.: I didnít make that one, thatís Chris Herbeck.
Q: You have a different video for it?
S.R.: We use the one live that we made originally for it, which is actually worse. Do you remember Meet the Feebles? It was Peter Jacksonís first thing Ė they looked like Muppets but they were really warped. I used that. Itís also distasteful and quirky in its own way.
Sammy Rubin - photo by Dagmar
Q: Do you have any musical guilty pleasures?
S.R.: I donít feel guilty [about music]. I like Billy Joel. There was one the other day I was thinking of and I wouldnít tell anyone about it. Iím trying to think of it so I can tell you right now. It was something really, really bad.
Q: I like Aqua. The whole album (Aquarium) is great.
S.R.: Oh yeah. We came into today and there was a station just playing techno. Did Aqua play Barbie Girl?
S.R.: We drove into today and they were playing [this techno music] and Jeremy was like, are we in Russia? It was fun to listen to, I mean, we didnít change the station.
Q: Is this your first band, or have you always played music?
S.R.: Iíve always played music. When I was in music school I had a band there. Jeremy was in a band in college. He was the lead singer. We became friends and didnít form a band - it didnít even occur to us for a while. All the sudden we were like, letís start making music.
Q: What instruments did you learn as a child?
S.R.: I started with piano and learned saxophone and then moved to bass guitar. I was a bass player for a long time before I did this. Iím into bass a lot. Itís both rhythmic and melodic. I think that ends up coming out in our music. Most of our stuff is bass driven.
Q: You studied music theory?
S.R.: Theory, composition . . . it was at University of Rochester.
Q: Do you like classical music?
S.R.: I got into Chopin for a while and Beethoven.
[Jeremy Haines joins us]
S.R.: We were talking about classical music.
Jeremy Haines: You know, the girl before asked me that too. She was like, it sounds like you guys have classical references in your music. I said that Sammy used to play jazz, and thatís why.
Q: I havenít seen the movie yet, but you two did a cameo in Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist?
J.H.: I play this character named Randy, who has a band called Are You Randy? - which is us. Weíre integral to the plot development. Theyíre trying to go see their favorite band, Whereís Fluffy? They think thatís it going to happen at this one place, and everyone goes, and then we show up. Everyone gets sad and leaves.
S.R.: Yeah, they all walk out. I liked that.
J.H.: Itís fun to be the villains. My character comes and goes throughout the course of the movie. Heís the guy that keeps coming back. It made our fan base a lot younger Ė a ton of teenagers saw it. A small percentage of them were interested enough in our characters and music to look us up. Now weíve got a lot of fifteen-year-old friends on Myspace.
Jeremy Haines - photo by Dagmar
Q: What were your initial impressions of each other?
S.R.: I thought he was an idiot.
J.H.: I thought he was a jerk. The first time I remember meeting him heíd just crashed his car after a long drive from Long Island. I thought he was crazy. He was like, I just crashed my car, I need a drink.
S.R.: I had to get it towed. I was so frazzled by it I needed whiskey.
J.H.: He was friends with my best friends from high school so they put in a good word for him.
S.R.: Otherwise he would have thought I was a big jerk.
Q: Jeremy, you studied art, do you do all the posters and artwork for the band?
J.H.: I do all the drawings. In the videos Sammy puts them altogether Ė heís the editor/director. Thatís what I went to college for. I moved to New York to pursue it.
One of Jeremy Haines' posters - brilliant.
Q: Do you ever read reviews of your live shows?
Q: Does it make you self-conscious?
J.H.: You think youíre above it all, youíre like, whatever . . . but then you read something sometimes and youíre like, that hurts.
S.R.: Even if itís filled with misspellings and a readership of two, it still stings.
J.H.: Itís like a critique when youíre in school, sometimes you get bombed.
Q: Iíd want to comment back.
J.H.: Thatís the other thing. With critiquing you can defend yourself.
Q: I read some interview, I think in Orlando, where you wanted some Disney characters to show up. Whoíd you like to turn up?
S.R.: Depends where. The Disney characters kind of suck.
J.H.: No they donít, what about all those princesses? Tinker Bell is kind of lame, but if she was really here, sprinkling fairy dust on everyone so that everyone could fly Ė this night would be crazy. Everyone boozing and flying around.
S.R.: That would be awesome.
J.H.: I like the effect Tinker Bell that would have on everyone.
Tinker Bell by Disney
Q: Do you remember your first show as Project Jenny, Project Jan?
J.H.: Totally. We have it on video.
S.R.: We never put it up.
J.H.: Because it sucks.
S.R.: Itís not horrible.
J.H.: But itís not that good.
S.R.: If I remember right, it looks like a high school talent show.
J.H.: Iíve got long hair.
S.R.: And Iím sitting down. I think we only had three songs. It was a variety show.
J.H.: It was a fun show Ė we had a great time. Our friends were all there and we got a show directly from it.
Q: What kind of clothing style or fashion would you like to see come back?
S.R.: Maybe hats. How about the earring that connects to your nose?
J.H.: That was sweet.
You can see more photos I took of their show here.