Don't tell a soul? British band's singer can't stop talking about the Replacements
The thickly accented, Kermit-the-Frog-voiced singer for London's garage-punk band Art Brut holds a grudge against the Hold Steady frontman from back when their bands toured together in 2007. If only Argos had been introduced to a certain someone else back then.
"You'd think that somewhere along in the tour, Craig would have said, 'Hey, Eddie, have you heard of this band the Replacements?'" Argos said in a huff. "But he never mentioned them to me, leaving me to my own embarrassment."
As is now well known to Art Brut fans, Argos only just discovered Minneapolis' bastards of rock last year. It was such a eureka moment that he churned out a tribute song, "The Replacements." It's hardly the most enthralling track on Art Brut's lively and snarling third CD, "Art Brut vs. Satan," produced by Frank Black of Pixies fame, but it speaks to the joy of rock fandom and the thrill of discovery with lyrics like: "This time I really want to believe / Another record with my heart on the sleeve / I hope I've finally found a band / That's not gonna let me down."
Talking by phone two weeks ago, Argos, 30, made it clear he enjoys talking about rock 'n' roll as much as he enjoys singing about it.
Q. So how did you finally discover the Replacements?
A. I'm embarrassed to admit I found them after I read a review on Pitchfork. There was a link there that took me to hear "Talent Show," and I thought, "This song is (expletive) amazing." I spent the rest of the night just Googling the Replacements. The next day, I went out and bought a couple of the albums. I would've bought them all then, but I'm not that rich. Every album is just fantastic. I think "Hootenanny" is my favorite.
Q. I can guess the answer, but have you heard any reaction from anyone in the band?
A. Nothing from the band, but it has drawn quite a response from Replacements fans. I was worried they'd be like, "Who the (expletive) is this band?" But it turns out Replacements fans are some of the nicest people in the world. We played in Chicago, and there were all these people walking up with a bootleg or even a Big Star album. I love it.
Q. Writing rock songs about rock 'n' roll is tricky. What's your approach?
A I just love music. When I write lyrics, I want to write them like a conversation, as if I'm a guy in a pub just chatting. And chances are if I'm in a pub I'll wind up talking about music and whatever I'm really into at the time, like the Replacements or DC Comics.
Q. So the song "DC Comics and Milkshakes" is true, too?
A. Yeah, in fact, I was reading a Booster Gold comic drinking a chocolate milkshake on a bus listening to the Replacements when I thought up that song. I had this wave of euphoria, like, "DC Comics are so amazing." I've read them all my life, and no matter what's going on — if I had a bad breakup or a (expletive) job — they always cheer me up. And they're cheap. They're only like 2 pounds, and a milkshake is 50 pence. So as long as I've got 2-pounds-50 on me, I'm kind of invincible.
Q. Having Frank Black as a producer sounds either scary or wonderful. Which was it?
A. I thought I'd be nervous around him, but he's such a terrific guy. All the advice he gave us was just brilliant. We'd recorded four songs before I'd even known we'd done it. I thought we were just rehearsing and he said, "You've done four songs already," and I said, "When did we do that?" That's how easygoing it was.
Q. And how did you like touring with the Hold Steady?
A. I love that band. We still see them a lot. We played in New York a couple months ago, and Craig came out. Obviously, we talked about the Replacements.