NadaMucho.com Interview – The Murderers’ Accordion
Q & A with Steven Takeuchi
By Matt Ashworth
Steve Takeuchi was the singer/songwriter for Mayor West, a local alt-country band that garnered big local success on the strength of just a single EP, sharing bills with the likes of Bobby Bare Jr. and Split Lip Rayfield in the band’s first (and apparently only) year in existence.
Before Mayor West even went kaput, Takeuchi started putting together another outfit to showcase his strong songwriting talents, Murderer’s Accordion. In preview of that band’s performance this Saturday at the EMP Liquid Lounge, we sat down with Steve to find out what went wrong with Mayor West, and what fans can expect from his new project.
NadaMucho.com: Hey man, how’s it goin’?
Steven Takeuchi: Hanging in there.
NM: Let’s cut the crap and start right out with the thousand-dollar question: what’s up with Mayor West? Has it gone tits-up already?
ST: I’m guessing that Mayor West is finished. Although, as with most things related to that group, I could never seem to figure out which way the wind was blowing. Last I checked we were drummer-less and gig-less. We also had some differences of opinion about recording, touring and rehearsing. That said, I enjoyed playing with those guys. Everyone in the band was such a good player, and when we were on we could really bring it.
NM: Will you play songs you wrote for Mayor West with the new group, or keep the two projects separate?
ST: I initially used Murderers’ Accordion to debut songs that have been sitting around for a while. But playing with these guys has brought some new thoughts to the old material. In Mayor West we played and recorded a bunch of songs I had written while in a previous band, so the pattern continues. I like the songs too much to not play them anymore, but to try and recreate the past sometimes feels like being in a cover band.
NM: You’ve played several shows now under the name The Murderers’ Accordion, each time with different accompaniment. Do you plan to keep your backing band varied, or are you just not settled on a steady lineup?
ST: It feels like we’ve settled into a lineup. But since the last show we’ve brought Alon on board to play bass and he’s a bad ass. Hopefully he’ll stick around for a while. We’re still looking for a couple of pieces, but as of now things are sounding really good. Hopefully that mystical lead player is out there someplace, but if not, harmonica it is.
NM: You’ve described MA’s sound as “Dylan meets U2.” Do you think mixing those two influences is necessarily such a good idea?
ST: Did I say that? Dang. Well, lyrically we aren’t anywhere near Dylan and musically we aren’t anywhere near U2, so maybe there is some common ground in that sense. I think we struggled to find an identity early on, but as of now we’re settling into â€˜our’ sound. Rob’s a hard hitter on drums so that’s pushing us down the rock and roll path, Alon’s got a jazz/punk/funk thing going on so he always brings interesting ideas to the table, and I’m trying to arrange the songs so they work well with this group.
NM: Do you plan to record an album as Murderers Accordion, or is it just an outlet to play more of your songs live?
ST: We’ve started on the new album already. We did initial tracking at Brad Button’s studio, I believe it’s called The Barn. We hammered out the drums there and now we’re going to overdub the rest in our home studio. The only problem there is that it’s almost too relaxed; the pace slows down quite a bit. It can be good and bad.
NM: “Murderers’ Accordion” sounds like it should be the title of a Nick Cave album. Are you a fan?
ST: I haven’t heard much Nick Cave. I’ll give him a listen and let you know.
NM: As a singer/songwriter, you probably shouldn’t admit that you’ve never heard Nick Cave in public too often. Give us an idea of some folks who have influenced your writing.
ST: I’ve got a horrible music history, actually. My parents, while very encouraging regarding the playing of instruments, didn’t really listen to much music. All my listening was via my friends’ influences, but until we were 16 we all were on bikes and skateboards cruising around the neighborhood so I didn’t glean much from them. Once cars entered the equation my eyes were opened. I started hearing a lot more stuff outside of the mainstream, which to me was much more interesting. The local scene was starting to get really exciting, grunge was breaking out of the clubs, it felt like the pendulum was swinging back to people playing instruments again, and the vocals felt right on the edge between singing and screaming. I was at an impressionable age and the music scene happened to match what I was looking for. To this day I enjoy songs that have a point and use the music to emphasize that point.
NM: What can folks expect from your EMP show this weekend with A.C. Cotton and Colin Spring?
ST: I’m very excited to see both A.C. Cotton and Colin Spring. In A.C. Cotton, us Seattleites have the opportunity to see yet another great Portland band on the brink of Regional/National success. By the way, how good is that scene looking right now in Portland? In Colin Spring you get a local stalwart and great songwriter playing with a full band. I believe I’ve only seen Colin play solo so it will be cool to see how his music changes with a band. With the Murderers’ Accordion you’ll get three hacks looking for a beer sponsorship. Should be a great show.