Interview | MJ Lenderman


(Photo by Charlie Boss)


 

Rapid-fire Questions

1. What have you been listening to lately?

Sparklehorse, State Champion, and Vic Chesnutt


2. What 3 historical figures would you start a band with?

Wind, land, and water


3. Sometimes I get the interviewee to roast me because I think it's funny, but I have a feeling you’d be too good at roasting me. Can you toast me (say something nice) instead?

Yes


4. Is it true that your full name is Michael Jordan Lenderman?

I can’t comment on this right now


5. Can we expect an MJ Lenderman cover of Señorita (by Justin Timberlake) anytime soon?

No


6. Want to start a band called Thursday?

No


7. Not really a question. More of a merch idea. NSYNC type marionette puppets but it's MJ Lenderman band members. Thoughts?

Sounds fun but probably expensive


8. I started growing out my mustache as a joke for my friend’s wedding, but for some reason it is triggering my anxiety and is taking a toll on my mental health. Should I stick to bit?

If the mustache isn’t funny enough to combat your anxiety, I don’t think it’s worth it. You need to be relaxed for your friends on their wedding day.


9. If we were to start a wrestling tag team what would we be called?

I think Vince McMahon has to decide the names.


10. Any local Asheville bands that we should check out?

Harsh Realm, Nostalgianoid, Walkhome, Landon George, Colin Miller, Lavender Blue, Corey Parlamento, there are more

 

To start things off, can you introduce and tell us a bit about yourself?


(Photo by Charlie Boss)

I’m MJ Lenderman from Asheville, NC. I’m a songwriter and I play guitar in the band Wednesday. I have 3 sisters. I currently live with Karly and we have a cat named Girl Girl.




I saw that you’re involved in other music projects like Wednesday, and Nash to Staudemire. Is it difficult to balance so many projects?

So far it has been ok. MJ and Wednesday are the only bands that tour so I haven’t had any problems.





I’ve had the opportunity to interview a few bands from Asheville now, how would you describe the music scene there?

The music scene is good. I have lived in Asheville my whole life and maybe it’s just because I have only been involved for the past 5 or so years but it feels like it’s growing and we are starting to get some attention from out of town. At least that’s what some people from out of town have told me.





The first song of yours that I heard was “Knockin’” Can you give us some background on that track?


John Daly: Knockin' On Heaven's Door (GOLF VERSION) | Golfing World





Congratulations on your upcoming release “Boat Songs”! How do you feel about finally being able to share that with the world?

It’s been a long time coming and I’m excited for people to finally hear it. In the past it has been easier for me to focus on writing new stuff when I’m not sitting on unreleased material.





What were the inspirations behind the album, and what was the writing/recording process like?

One of the biggest influences on the album was the album Planet Waves by Bob Dylan and The Band. Other stuff I was listening to was Sparklehorse, Leon Russell, Silver Jews/Purple Mtns, Warren Zevon, Johnny Paycheck, some other stuff I can’t think of off the top of my head.


I wrote the album at the same time as my last album Ghost of Your Guitar Solo so a lot of the themes that show up on Boat Songs are similar to that album.


I recorded this album at Drop Of Sun studios in West Asheville with Alex Farrar and Colin Miller. We did it in less than 2 weeks and watched a lot of old basketball and wrestling.





How does this album compare to previous releases?

This is the first album I’ve done in a professional studio so I think it sounds cleaner and more polished. Thanks Alex Farrar.





Is there a song that you’re most excited for everyone to hear?

All of them but I feel the most proud of TLC so I’m especially excited for everyone to hear that.





I think my personal favorite track is Toontown, can you give us some background on that song?

That’s one of the oldest songs from the album. I actually wrote that one in 2018 or 2019 with the help of my friend Andrew James (who made the album art for Boat Songs.) At the time I thought I was going to make a metal album so that’s why the chords are more doomy than other songs.





What did you personally take away from the process of making this record, and what do you hope other people get from it?

I had fun doing things in a new way by recording in a real studio. I hope the quality of the recordings makes it easier for people to listen to the lyrics.





What stands out the most to me is your knack for storytelling in your songs. What is your approach when it comes to songwriting?

The song usually starts with one line that I like and then I build from there. I try to make a practice of coming up with 20 or so random lines a day. Every once in a while I revisit them and most of them are garbage but sometimes one or two are good.





I read in a previous interview that you don’t really like to do demos. Do you feel like it helps to really capture the moment or feeling that you’re going for?

I feel like it keeps things fresh and exciting for me personally. I’ll record a take of me playing a song on acoustic guitar and singing in order to remember it but I try to avoid any other ideas until I record it.





Not really a question, but I just wanted to shout out Xandy for playing steel guitar. I’m a fan.

Me too




In our interview with your other project, Wednesday, I asked the following:





Is this true? I’d like to give you a chance to defend yourself.


Inside the van? I don’t think so.





You’re finishing up your tour soon. What has it been like being back on tour post pandemic?

It’s been pretty stressful trying to know how to dodge covid and also been in rooms full of people every night. But it’s nice to play for people again.





Most memorable show from this last tour?

I had a few great shows at SXSW. A highlight was playing at All The Sudden for the Dear Life Records (who is releasing Boat Songs) showcase and meeting label mates who I’ve seen on the internet but never met in person. There was a big backyard and a lot of nice dogs running around.





You’re in Austin (at the time of writing) is there anywhere you like to visit while you’re in Texas?

I am actually back home in Asheville now. I went to Buc-ees twice though. It was a lot to take in.





What can we expect to see/hear from MJ Lenderman in the near future?


(Photo by Charlie Boss)

Boat Songs out 4/29 via Dear Life Records. Probably some touring in late summer/fall.





To wrap things up, do you have any questions for me?

How many pushups can you do?

I used to be able to do 98 consecutive pushups, but I haven't tried it since I was like 21 so its been a while.

 

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That't it. Get out of here.