Rocking hard porn style

Carl Newman conceived the ultimate touring plan: skip the hick towns in favour of big cities and forget about living in a van for a month.

"I have a theory which might have some credence to it… if you can get popular in the major places then the smaller places just follow," says The New Pornographers guitarist/vocalist.

On the road to popularity, The New Pornographers are touring in front of their debut record, Mass Romantic. Playing The Night Gallery Sat., Nov. 11, Newman says slaving on the road ain’t all it’s cracked up to be.

"I just find when you’re a pretty small band it’s, like, a lot to ask of somebody to sit in a van for a month and play a ton of shitty shows," he says. "Going through Canada, nothing against Canada, it’s like when you’re playing Tuesday in Regina, there’s just no way it could be good unless you’re getting a ton of money."

Any cash-in for the Vancouver band is going to come courtesy of distortion-loving, art-rock fans. Mass Romantic is a record full of ’60s pop melodies and vocals, glam rock bombast and avant garde lyrics. With songs like the spy-music "Mass Romantic" and the Beatlesque "The Slow Descent into Alcoholism," The New Pornographers are as playful as Weezer or Ween and as cocky as T-Rex. Still, the Zumpano member doesn’t strut with ease about the album.

"Sometimes I would listen to it and just think it was too homogeneous sounding," he says. "It’s a very full-bore record."

Mass Romantic is more like skim than homogeneous. The adventurous sound not only varies song to song, but so do the vocal duties. Besides Newman, guitarist Dan Bejar, drummer Kurt Dahle and alt-country vixen Neko Case pipe up to lead different tracks. Case, in particular, is noticeable on the title track and "Letter from an Occupant." A member of Cases’ Boyfriends band, Newman says having the country muse along has helped with getting gigs.

"When I think about it, we probably should have her as our agent," he says. "She’s toured enough, she’s got got such a reputation with her country thing she can pack most places across the country so it makes sense that she has pull with the people at the clubs."

As for a live Pornographers experience, Newman says the subtleties from Mass Romantic might be lost but something else is on the band’s mind.

"Things change when we get to playing live; I think we become concerned with things like rocking."

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