Eric Bachmann of Crooked Fingers on the time he spent in Denver and Breaks In the Armor
After the breakup of his influential underground pop band Archers of Loaf, frontman Eric Bachmann formed Crooked Fingers (due at the Larimer Lounge tonight with Strands of Oak and Ian Cooke) and had a kind of second chapter in his long musical career, one favored by some over the Archers.
Bachmann is a literate songwriter, and he has a certain emotional tenderness in his vocals. He makes the kind of music that sounds earnest without ever moving into the overwrought, using organic and electronic sounds with equal skill. His affecting pop songs incorporate a strong streak of sonic experimentation that has garnered fans and critical acclaim alike.
For a brief spell, Bachmann lived in Denver, where he was involved in the local scene a bit before moving on to life adventures elsewhere. We recently chatted with him about his time hin Denver and Crooked Fingers' latest album, Breaks in the Armor.
Westword: Will this be more of a solo acoustic tour or a full band?
Eric Bachmann: It's a full band: a bass player, a drummer, two guitars, a piano, Moog -- lots of stuff.
How did you come to work with Tom Hagerman of DeVotchKa on To the Races?
I met Tom through DeVotchKa touring; I guess it was 2004 or 2005. Crooked Fingers and DeVotchKa did a tour together, and obviously we got along with them quite well. So Tom just became a really good friend from that experience. I started dating someone who lived in Denver, so I moved to Denver, and Tom was kind of my entrance into the music community, and he introduced me to what ended up being the community in Denver with Elin Palmer and Ian Cooke and all the DeVotchKa folks and Ben DeSoto from the hi-dive.
How long did you live here?
I lived in Denver from about 2006 to about 2008. I guess about two and a half or three years. At first I lived in Boulder for three or four months; then I moved to Congress Park. After about a year and a half, I moved to northwest Denver. Not in the Highlands, but near the stadium. I lived in a warehouse.
What made you want to come to Denver, of all places?
A great woman. I don't date her anymore, but I dated her for about two and a half years. It didn't work out, but she's the reason I moved there.
What were or are your impressions of Denver?
Well, I loved it. I liked the people a lot. I met so many people that I like, like Patrick Merrill, the artist, and Jeff Linsenmaier...tons of people, I don't want to name them all, but people I'll probably have relationships with for the rest of my life, like Gary Isaacs, the photographer. So I met all these creative, brilliant people. I like the mountains. One thing I didn't like about Denver is I like being near the water, and Denver doesn't have much water. I liked living there a lot. I miss it.
How did you meet Ian Cooke, and what is it about his music that you enjoy the most?
He'll be playing that show with us. I think his music is distinctive in a good, refreshing way. I met him through Elin Palmer, as she was dating Jeff Linsenmaier, who was a friend of Shawn King, from DeVotchKa. I needed a cellist because I had a show booked somewhere far away, like in the Virgin Islands. Elin and I were going to go, but I needed a low-end instrument. She knew Ian and thought he might be good to do it.
We called him and rehearsed for a day or two, and he was great, and we got along with him. He's just a superb human being. We rehearsed for those two days and flew to the Virgin Islands and played the show. We're not that close, but I talk to him maybe once a year. I do think he's great. He's very sweet, nice guy, a gentle human being.
Did you actually do a sandwich cart at some point?
Yeah, I did that in Denver. I did it for about a summer. I did it to figure out a way to make a living and stay home, because my whole life I've made my living by touring. I was trying to make the relationship I was in work, so I was staying at home. It was great. I enjoyed it. I was making it work.
But it was hard to keep doing it when I was getting offers to tour for a lot more money. That was the tough part about it. So I ended up doing it that summer, and then I got a call from Neko Case asking me to do these opening slots, opening for her in Central Park and being paid a lot of money to do that. So I was just like, "Well, I can't turn that down." So I kind of fell back into music.
Did you specialize in any particular kind of sandwich?
Yeah, it was Cuban sandwiches.
With Archers of Loaf, did you feel like you were part of some kind of underground scene or community at that time, and how do you feel things have changed since that time for you?
I think what's changed is Internet culture, which is obvious. It's had a massive impact. But I don't feel like we were part of anything other than a bunch of friends in other bands that were playing as well. I guess that's what they call a community.
We didn't feel like it was socio-political effort. We weren't trying to fit into any underground. We were just kind of playing music, and only a certain amount of people liked it, and we just toured with certain groups. Our world was finite. And if we tried to go into another world, we were quickly rejected.
In that sense, I guess, there was a community. I think that doesn't exist as much now because everybody's on Facebook -- that virtual community. And that's fine. It's just the way it is now. I'm not a Luddite; I don't hate technology. But I do think it's changed in many ways negative, in some ways positive.