Timing is everything.
Just ask Olympic figure skaters Stanislav Morozov and Tatiana Volosozhar of Ukraine. The dynamic duo finished ninth out of 20 in Sunday’s short program competition in Vancouver. And they would have finished even higher had Morozov, a relative giant by skating standards at 181 cm (that’s roughly 6-foot-1), been able to land his first jump. According to one of the broadcast announcers, he had yet to nail the triple toe loop with which the pair opened their routine in practice that week. This was mentioned with startling nonchalance, as if it were common sporting knowledge that Morozov can’t time his landings.
That’s right. Dude is an Olympic-caliber skater who is apparently well known in skating circles for, um, not being an Olympic-caliber skater. Amazing.
Even more amazing was what the Ukrainians were wearing: shiny, skin-tight, metallic-blue jumpsuits. It was like they were extras in a Turkish knockoff of Avatar. Even more amazing than that? How the TV announcers treated the Ukrainians and their admittedly bizarre — even for figure skating — outfits.
Now, before we go any further, I should note that I have never been a huge fan of figure skating. Though, as a fan of sports in general, I can certainly appreciate the athletic ability required to compete in the discipline at an elite level. But the sport’s forced theatric elements have always turned me off. Until now. And I have Canada to thank.
You see, when NBC — via local affiliate WPTZ, with whom Seven Days has a wonderful partnership … ahem — went to commercial during men’s moguls, Plus One and I flipped over to the Canadian broadcast on CTV, which was showing figure skating. [By the way, a totally underrated aspect of living near the Canadian border is having the option to watch Canadian coverage of the Olympics. And also Canadian melodramas such as “Little Mosque on the Prairie.” But I digress.]
Anyway, we tuned in just in time to watch the Ukrainians enter the rink and, more importantly, to witness the bewildered reaction from the Canadian announcers. It went something like this:
Announcer 1: And here we have the Ukrainian pairing of Tatiana Vo … oh. Oh, dear Lord.
Announcer 2: Are those … speed-skating outfits?
Announcer 3: I think you can see his …
Announcer 1: Oh, dear Lord.
OK. I’m exaggerating. But only slightly. The next two minutes and 30 seconds were maybe the most entertaining in Olympic history, as the sportscasters tried to report the proceedings without either cracking up in hysterics or excoriating the Ukrainians for heinous crimes against skating, the Olympics and perhaps humanity itself. It ended with a practically apoplectic Canadian announcer outraged that anyone would dare denigrate the Olympics by wearing such scandalous attire — even if they really did just look like shinier speed-skating unis. You could feel a palpable sense of relief as the next team emerged onto the ice … wearing frilly body suits impossibly (but tastefully!) bedazzled with sparkles. Oh, Canada.
The point is, I’m now hooked on Olympic figure skating. But only on Canadian TV — I’ll watch everything else on WPTZ, I swear! And all because of a fortuitous fluke of timing. And also, certifiably insane announcers.
By now, you’re no doubt wondering how the hell this all relates to local music. Well, it doesn’t, really. But due to a series of unfortunate flukes (and flakes) we’re left with an usually large amount of real estate to fill this week. There were not one, not two, but three different interviews slated to appear in this spot at various points during the week, two-and-a-half of which fell apart at the last minute.
Because, as Ukrainian figure skaters will tell you, timing is everything.
I mentioned that two-and-a-half of the three potential interviews for this week’s edition blew up in my face. The remaining one-half? A Q&A with drummer-cum-alt-country-savior Jason Boesel, who is playing with SoCal band Dawes at The Monkey House this Sunday.
I’ll be totally honest. Boesel was the backup plan. To my backup plan. In fact, the resulting Q&A was a backup to the backup backup plan. Confused yet? I am.
What follows is an interview conducted with Boesel via email, a tactic I promised myself I would never again employ following a disaster with Zack Galifianakis a couple of years ago. I’m so afraid of facing the bearded comic that I haven’t even seen The Hangover yet. It was that bad.
Anyway, literally within minutes of backup plan number one evaporating before my very eyes, I received an inquiry from Boesel’s publicist asking if I’d be interested in an interview. After some wheeling and dealing it was agreed upon and all seemed hunky-dory. Until he dropped the e-bomb: It would have to be an email interview.
With no other real alternatives left in play, I reluctantly agreed.
Now, were it almost any other artist — at least among those playing in Burlington this week — I probably would have declined anyway. But I think you’re really going to like Jason Boesel.
Prior to appearing in these pages, he was the drummer for such noted acts as Bright Eyes, Rilo Kiley, The Elected and, most recently, Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band. Now he’s touring behind a lovely debut album, Hustler’s Son, which publications from Paste magazine to e-rags such as the Huffington Post and Daytrotter are touting as alt-country’s saving grace. Or, as Kansas City alt The Pitch put it, “For every Phil Collins and Don Henley, we occasionally get a Dave Grohl.”
Nice. Personally, I woulda gone with Levon Helm. But nice.
Anyway, the album really is terrific, and Sunday’s show should be a good one. So, without further ado, here’s Jason.
SEVEN DAYS: You’ve been an in-demand drummer for the last 15 years. Why switch gears now?
JASON BOESEL: Writing songs and making a record is something I wanted to do for a while, and this seemed like a good time to do it. “Seize the day”-type shit.
SD: Compare the satisfaction of writing a good song to coming up with a good drum part.
JB: Writing a good song is far more satisfying than writing a good drum part. I love the drums, but you can’t talk shit through a drum part.
SD: As a front man who has spent most of his career drumming, do you find yourself more conscious of the drum work behind you? Are you more critical of backing drummers? Less?
JB: I am not too aware, because remembering lyrics requires so much concentration. I hope to be critical of my drummer soon, though…
SD: Has working with Jenny Lewis and Conor Oberst influenced your approach to songwriting?
JB: Absolutely. Knowing them both so well and watching them work made writing great songs feel very real and possible.
SD: David Rawlings plays on the new record. There’s no question here. That’s just fucking awesome.
JB: I concur. He’s one of the most special guitar players on the planet, and such an awesome and weird dude. A real friend and inspiration.
SD: Describe the challenges of touring on your own, versus as part of more established acts like Bright Eyes or Rilo Kiley.
JB: Driving in a van and sleeping on the floor again [are] a bit of a challenge. It feels appropriate, though. My singer-songwriter persona has to pay his dues. My drummer side is at home sleeping on the Tempur-Pedic.
SD: Last question. What’s the best record you’ve heard in the last seven days?
JB: Probably the Aziz [Ansari] comedy record. I, for some reason, didn’t want to like it, but I totally did. Does that count? Also listened to Dr. Dre’s Chronic 2001 yesterday and couldn’t believe how good it was.