Volume 92, Issue 42
Wednesday, November 18, 1998
|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Philosophies fit for a king
Photo by Gil Reynolds
By Christina Vardanis
"We're like a pop band, without the fame or credibility to actually define popular music," explains Gerald Eaton, vocalist for The Philosopher Kings. Not exactly a glowing self-perception, but then again, this band's philosophy goes beyond the surface.
With their second album, Famous, Rich and Beautiful climbing the charts, the Toronto-based band with roots in soul, jazz and pop is still experimenting with their style. While most bands struggle to find their niche in a music industry saturated with band clones, The Philosopher Kings relish their anonymity as a chance to continue developing.
"We aren't really pigeon-holed yet, so we can do whatever we want to do," Eaton divulges. "That's one reason we've always enjoyed being in the genre of pop music, as much of a bad word that is today." Eaton goes on to define the version of pop music to which he has devoted himself. "Pop music to me is people like Michael Jackson and Madonna, artists who don't rely on genres. They just make music which starts to define what everyone is listening to."
The melodies which define the soulful Famous, Rich and Beautiful possess an ethereal quality achieved by a conscious effort of the band to approach this album more instinctively than their self-titled debut. "With this album we felt more confident in trusting what we feel. It boils down to us being more confident. When you're not as confident you can rely a bit more on your brain. You try and intellectualize your way through it," Eaton states.
Perhaps the strongest evidence of their intuitive design, surfaces on the single "I'm the Man," which Eaton explains commits the band to the album's course. "It was a working title. We started it and thought, 'of course we can't actually call it that. We have to think of something with that meaning.' But then we thought, 'Well, Marvin Gaye would say I'm the Man.' So we decided, fuck it. I'm the Man. It started the whole new [philosophy]."
The band's new approach materialized into an enjoyable studio experience, marked not by stress, but an overall feeling of comfort. Does the band worry they will become too relaxed and lose their drive?
"Our definition of relaxed is most people's definition of neurotic," Eaton clarifies. "Engineers and producers go crazy because we all have input and we all have very definite ideas of what we want to hear."
Eaton also credits the band's goals and aspirations to the success of their recordings. "We all have a high standard when it comes to music and songwriting which we're trying to lower as much as possible so we can get some success with the climate of music being the way it is," Eaton adds jokingly, with a touch of cynicism.
The Philosopher Kings' ambition doesn't stop in the studio. The video for "You Don't Love Me" featuring two snails caught in unassuming positions is one of the most unique ideas to hit the video screen.
"The footage of the snails is from a movie called Microcosmos which we were watching one day and were like 'holy shit, this is the most erotic thing I've ever seen.' Who would've thought they were so gentle?"
As long as these unsuspecting kings maintain their ambition, they'll be ruling the land of pop for years to come.
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