Friday, January 16, 2009

Band of the Week

The Mystery Books

"I closed my eyes and then I opened them, took four sleeping pills and closed them again."
The reason I never ask musicians why they do what do is because the answer is always the same, "Because I have to." I suppose a better question would be, what would you do if you weren't making music? How will you fill your days, or release all that confuses and scares you?
For the man behind The Mystery Books, Riley Fink, it is clearly about the thrill of the project. A few weeks ago I received his album Russia in the mail and what first caught my eye was that Riley has sent me a package and not just his CD. Inside were hand written notes (on orange paper), two cds, and poetry. It was an experience, and the album was a joy to listen to. Riley is a great story teller, and uses quiet acoustic instrumentation to tell his stories.

Recently, Riley was kind enough to answer a few of my questions.

Orange Alert (OA): You have a released an album called Russia. What can you tell us about this album?
Riley Fink (RF): I can tell you that it has nothing to do with Russia. I put it in quotation marks so that people focus on the word instead of the place. It is not a "concept" album about a country in Europe. It is about what I think of when I think of Russia. I think of a place really far away, that is very isolated and cold and extreme and at the time when I wrote these set of songs I felt isolated and cold and extreme. I felt like "Russia". The music is an acoustic guitar, an upright and electric bass, and an old organ from the 60's. The bass is bowed alot and the organ just comes in every once in awhile.

OA: You are handing out free copies, and also have it available for free download through How did you discover, and how did you decide to give away your album for free?
RF: Someone showed me the website one day and I thought it was good. I like for people to hear or see things that I do. I don't really know what else to do with my time. If I am promoting something then I have something to do, otherwise I get into habits of sleeping for an entire day or just laying around and feeling bad. That is why I do things that I do. So that I have something to do. I wish that everyone would have things that they created with them all of the time. It would be interesting to hear every one's voices and thoughts. That is the only thing I am interested in with people, I think. It is also fun to give people things. I like giving my cd's to waiters that I have in restaurants or just put it in someones bike basket on the street. I also like to hide them in books at the St. Marks bookstore in New York and at the University of Florida library in Gainesville, Florida.

OA: On Russia you have a song called That Night With the Green Sky that was first a poem by Tao Lin. You are also working on turning a poem by Andy Riverbed into a song. Do you see a connection between poetry and music?
RF: I think that poetry is just a basic format for communicating. It seems like it is like looking into someones mind and seeing something the way that they see it. And when I write lyrics it is almost the same for me as writing a poem. Poems are easier because you can phase things the right way without having to shorten or condense them for the sake of a melody. But I think that it is all basically the same thing. The final result is that you get to pretend like you are someone else for awhile and hopefully they feel better than you do.

OA: Do a lot of your songs begin as poems? What is your song writing process like?
RF: I think that my writing style for songs is that I try to be really vague when I describe my thoughts or feelings and when I write poems it is less vague and more straight forward. It is more of a story I think with poems. My writing process is different for both. With songs I sit down with a guitar and write the lyrics and music at the same time. And with poems I like to sit and stare at a computer and type things and then be distracted for awhile with email or youtube and then write more.

OA: Your lyrics, much like the poems or Tao Lin and Andy Riverbed and many other young poets, seem to center around the idea of boredom. Do you feel that is an accurate assessment?
RF: Yes. We are the "Bored Generation". We are very bored all of the time for some reason. It is a strange thing.

OA: What's next for The Mystery Books?
RF: I am writing songs for an album called "sleep forever". I wrote the title of the album before I wrote any of the songs. I think that most of the songs will be about over sleeping and dreams and sleeping pills. Maybe it will be dedicated to sleeping pills. I think that would be funny.
Maybe we will do that and then maybe we will stop playing. We will just be sleeping all of the time. Maybe we will play more in our dreams. Maybe you will be there in your dream.

Bonus Questions:
If you could sit down to coffee with anyone (alive or dead) who would it be?
RF: I would want to sit down with the Old Dirty Bastard. No. I would want to be walking quickly with the ODB on the side of a country road with no sidewalk. We would be saying things so fast and not even looking at each other. Just at the ground ahead of us. I would like that alot.

OA: What was the last great book you have read?
RF: I read "Honored Guest" by Joy Williams recently. Tao Lin sent it to me in the mail. I read most of it in a park in Florida by my house. I felt like things inside of me were moving around all weird when I was reading that book. It felt good.

For more information on The Mystery Books you should check out their myspace page.


andy.riverbed said...

hell yeah.

Izzy said...

You think that you don't exist, but you exist now more than ever.

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