|Food Will Win The War
|the organic approach
Mike Levine - March 1, 2011
Singer Rob Ward both grounds and lifts you into space simultaneously. Painting enigmatic conversations as surreal portraits with his trademark baritone, his band Food Will Win the War explores a space Iargely unexplored even in Brooklyn's dense music scene. There's a delicate balance in this music between the fun of surrealist fantasy and the acceptance of life's realities.
The inviting acoustic roots rock of this band will lull you into a private space, but there's some intangible quality here that reminds you, even during this voyage's more fantastic moments, that Rob is a real person with the same questions and troubles we all find ourselves wanting to know the answer to.
This is a man whose lyrics speak of traveling to far off destinations, even as the music speaks of already being home.
I've always thought your lyrics shared an interesting relationship with your music. What do you write first? Your words or your music, or do they happen simultaneously with the group?
I try to take a somewhat organic approach to my songwriting and to my grocery shopping. With songwriting, that means that sometimes the lyrics come first (for example: “The Astronaut Song”) and sometimes the music comes first (for example: “Shatter Today”). Whatever my inner-being-song-factory tells me. With respect to my grocery shopping, it means that I get really delicious eggs.
I heard a dream inspired the lyrics to 'The Astronaut Song'. Do you use this or similar approaches when writing?
A lot of my song lyrics incorporate narratives from my dreams, but we also have songs that are based on news stories, personal experiences, great film and literature, fortune cookie fortunes, and sometimes a combination of those sources. Most of the lyrics contain at least a brief reference to dangers of sun exposure.
You work with some great musicians. (Matt Epstein anyone?) How much does the group's sound change the direction of a tune?
We spend a lot of time as a group working on the finer details of the arrangements. That being said, most of the songs are written with these performers in mind, so ideally, a song comes to the table pre-calibrated to come alive through the group’s sound. It’s definitely refreshing to have the extremely varied musical backgrounds of the band members inform the creative process.
Has there been a push/pull between your personal life and playing with the group? Does this lead to any complications or do they fuel one another?
There’ve been a lot of complications. That being said, there’s not really much of a boundary between our personal lives and the band. The group is composed of a bunch of close friends. We are together often, both on the stage and off. We like to have dinner together. or watch a movie together. or bake banana bread together. yum.
I have to ask… did La Monte Young influence any of the sounds I'm hearing in "Shatter Today"?
Haha. Your new research technique is unstoppable. La Monte is an absolutely amazing composer. Not only has he had an immeasurable and very direct influence on my perception and understanding of music, but he has also had a huge influence on various other artists who have informed the work of Food Will Win the War (most notably The Velvet Underground). It’s hard to filter out the exact influences that go into each individual song, but the drone that I built for “Blue Tomorrow” is a pretty clear example of La Monte’s influence. My love for licorice is another example.
So what's going on now? Are these demos I'm seeing on your myspace the beginnings of a new record?
New Record = Forthcoming. For news about the release, sign up for our mailing list at http://www.foodwillwinthewar.com
Also, we’re playing two shows at Rockwood Music Hall in March, on the 10th and 24th.
Jam on it.