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Our previously unpublished interview with The Suburbs

July 13, 2018

There was severe disappointment after Mustard Daze was cancelled last September from fans as well as the musicians scheduled to play. The Suburbs were set to headline and, thankfully for local fans, they are making their way back to town this weekend for the Think Bank Down by the Riverside free outdoor concert series.

Here is John Sievers’ interview with Chan Poling, keyboardist and founding member of The Suburbs, that we’ve been holding onto for the glorious moment when they make their Rochester appearance. The time has come!

Though The Suburbs haven’t played Rochester, you’ve played here in the last several years with The New Standards. What are your impressions of Rochester?

I really like Rochester. I’ve been there many, many times. It’s got the Mayo and all of that but I don’t see why it can’t be one of the major cultural centers of the state as well. Beautiful location, great people.

The Suburbs released “Hey Muse!” this year (2017) which marks your 40th anniversary. What was the process of putting it together like?

It all started around 2010. My wife had been ill (hence the many visits to Mayo) and she taught me, encouraged me, to live as fully as possible. She always said to me that The Suburbs was one of my greatest legacies, and why not celebrate that? I started writing rock songs again joyfully and have been doing so ever since, first with “Si Sauvage,” now with “Hey Muse!”

One of my favorite tracks from the record is the up-tempo “Our Love.” It has some great lyrical surprises like the comparison of love to “Cheerios crushed beneath the leg of a kitchen chair.” What comes first for a song like this?

That song came together sort of all-together. When I realized the lyrics were sort of surreal and free, I was allowed to go more ‘off the cuff.’ Some songs, like ”...Can’t Take You Back,” are more succinct, maybe have a little story. In general, I start with music, but oftentimes I find a title in my notebooks that triggers something. It’s always been that way.

“Hey Muse!” and your last record “Si Sauvage” were both crowd funded. What is your attitude to crowd funding to produce new music?

The idea of controlling your own operating capital is always intriguing to me. We don’t make music that competes with Taylor Swift. We make music for a more unique market and you need to find ways of funding that like any other business. When we realized people actually wanted to be part of these crowd funding things, it was a relief … When I found out we could control our own destiny by simply offering our record for sale before it’s made, I said let’s do it. It’s more empowering, it’s about community, and it’s a closer tie to the fans.

Some of your music has taken on a life of its own. For example, “Love is the Law” became a part of the campaign to legalize same-sex marriage Minnesota. What do you think this says about your music?

I’m very proud of this. It’s that sort of thing that keeps me going!

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