Best Policy Feature
Munro: the Interview 2020
by BPM Staff
December 6, 2020
Our friend Munro talks about his upcoming album, 2020 Out.
Why this album? Why now?As a lot of artists are pointing out, now [pandemic lockdown] is a good time to lock yourself in the studio and get some work done. Why this album? Do you mean the song selection? Well, I have a few songs I’ve been kicking around, looking for the right opportunity to do a good recording of them. Songs like Fairy Tale and Cecilia [Helena Payne]. Then there are the demos like the Moon song and Dime that it just made sense to include because they’re “new” and I like them. Some of the older ones were picked because they are fan favorites from my old bands, and none of them were officially released.
What’s different about the process of recording this album?Obviously I couldn’t get a band together or do live tracks or anything. This was recorded in the newly-revamped BPM studio and it relies more heavily on MIDI than anything I’ve done before. That means it’s more refined than most of what I’ve done in the past. Also, I think we spent a lot more time mixing these songs. When the Orange Cones disc was made, we recorded everything externally, rushed to mix it, and put it out just to get something out there. I never was happy with that product. For one thing, every time I listen to it I’m fine until the vocals come in. WAY too loud and dry. We were definitely conscious of that when we mixed this one. Something else that made the Cones disc feel incomplete was the lack of keyboards or guitar solos or other textural elements. For years I’ve been wanting to get those master tracks and fix them. Unfortunately they’re just not accessible to me. That’s really the reason I rerecorded some of the old songs.
What are your expectations for the reception of this album?You know, I don’t go into it with specific expectations. It would be nice if people like it, and if I could get a song or two placed in commercial spaces, that would be cool, but I’m just making a list of things I would like, not things I expect. I know that’s the way you’re supposed to do it: talk about your “product” like it’s the next sliced bread or whatever, how everyone’s going to love it so much, but I take a lot of pride in my honesty, which is why I got involved with Best Policy Music in the first place. Even if it’s not a lie, I feel dishonest talking about it the way I’d like it to be rather than how people might really see it. I’ll tell you this: I put a lot of effort into putting forth this public attitude that my stuff is good, that I work hard and someday I’ll be rewarded for it. My personal tendency is to be really self-deprecating and critical. If I look at my past successes, there, I’m done looking at them already; if I base my expectations on that then we’re throwing money away. If I’m positive and hopeful and let myself believe, then I’m thinking maybe we’ll pay for the release with sales. That’s really optimistic. I’m torn, as I often say in blog posts and whatnot. I’m torn between wanting to be a success and not wanting the demands put on me that successful people have. If you’re making money, people want in. That’s just how it is. If I don’t make any money, don’t garner any attention, then people leave me alone, which is my preferred state of existence. It’s kind of why, in the song “Don’t Need a Dime”, I talk about posthumous success: I’d like for my work to be appreciated and valued, and for my family to benefit from it, but it’s okay if that happens after I’m gone. Speaking of optimistic, as dark and negative as the song “Too Old to Die Young” seems, it’s actually more of a disguised ray of hope. “Death does wonders. I wonder what it’ll do for me.” That refers to the increase in sales and interest an artist gets once they die. That’s a complicated issue for me too. Someone’s catalog increases in value after the person is dead, but zero times anything is zero. It’s a matter of who champions my stuff and gives it that initial value. Everyone knows that music is not successful simply because it is good. By that same token, it isn’t necessarily successful if it is good. There’s great stuff you’ll never hear, and there’s terrible stuff you hear all the time. I feel like my music has its high points and its low points, and probably neither of them reach either of those extremes: the best parts probably aren’t “great” but the worst parts hopefully aren’t “terrible.”
The album title and your online descriptions of it suggest it is a commentary of the year, which you call “arguably the worst year of the century”. Is there social or political commentary on the album?Not exactly. There is a line in my appropriation of Dylan’s “Song to Woody” that speaks of “the leaders we chose” but it doesn’t go into detail. The most topical subject is the song “Ode to Bobby K.” which talks about my cousin who was murdered in Montana in September. He was my best friend years ago when I lived in Riverside, California, and then I didn’t see him for a long, long time. I saw him last year when I went with my family to Montana to visit my parents. We had Thanksgiving dinner together. On my birthday this year he was shot five times and killed by some random person.
So there’s nothing about COVID on there?Actually, it does come up in the Bobby song. My mom and my aunt both contracted the virus after they went to a memorial service for him. My aunt is his mother. I’m happy to say they’re both okay.
You posted something about some “B-sides” from the album. Tell us about that.Well, not everything can make the album, you know. One of my favorite older songs, Margaret, didn’t make the cut. I don’t know, I just wasn’t feeling it. It’s one of the most enduring of my songs, which is to say I’ve remembered it the longest. When I recorded it, it just didn’t excite me. It didn’t fit with the stylistic realization of the other songs. Then there’s the ballad of your founder, Ichabod; the fabled song that talks about “the first time” he died, in the earthquake. The Broccoli Blues was the birth of the legend, and it was never recorded. So that’s on there. Other than that, I’m just still recording, and until I release this, I will keep adding to it as I align more magnetic particles.
Tell us about the name. While the cover art sticks with the “Munro” logo, the album is officially credited to “Munro Coutant.” Why is that?Munro is my real name. It’s a middle name. I was born with two. My mom always thought it would make a good doctor or lawyer name. Oh well. Anyway, because my first name is so not interesting, and I met several David Coutants on Facebook, I used my middle name. Actually, the drummer of Orange Cones started it. It’s funny, it’s the name I was embarrassed of when I was a kid, and I pretended it wasn’t part of my name. Now it’s all I want to use. But, as it turns out, there’s this industrial progressive metal band in the UK who uses the name, so when I went to publish the album, I needed something to distinguish my act from theirs. So I used my real name. David DM Coutant is my writing name, and it’s the name I released Minor Hero under, back in 2012. Now I’m just using the last half of my name.
So what does the “D” stand for?Don’t worry about it.
"I’d like for my work to be appreciated and valued, and for my family to benefit from it, but it’s okay if that happens after I’m gone." - Munro