Talking about the Lateness of Dancers

A year or so back, M.C. Taylor of Hiss Golden Messenger and William Tyler passed through our shop whilst touring together. We spoke at length about record shops, weed, the civil war and Michael Chapman (we'll re-post that here sometime soon) for an issue of Deluxe. We've been firm friends with both ever since so it was a nice opportunity to drop MC a line to talk about this excellent new album.

Drift: So forgive my ignorance, I know nothing about Eudora Welty, tell us a little about her and Lateness of Dancers.

M.C: Eudora Welty was an author of novels, short stories and essays from Mississippi. In all honesty, I'm far from an expert on her work. When reading her novel Delta Wedding I cribbed the phrase that became the album title. But because that phrase was hanging out in my notebook with no attribution, and I had forgotten where I got it from, it wasn't until I told my pal Brendan that I was naming the record Lateness of Dancers that I realized it was a Welty quote. But I think it fits in some way.

Drift: The album feels like a collection of stories, is this how you saw it? Is it like a book in itself?

MC: Maybe a book about my life? I might be the only one that understands the whole narrative arc of it, although there is certainly an emotional arc that is relatable to a lot of people. All of the songs were written around the same time, so they all definitely share themes (and sometimes even words, I'm told).

Drift: The album was recorded in a tin-roofed barn outside of Hillsborough... it sure as hell doesn't sound like it! It's such a rich and warm listen. How meticulous were you about the arrangements or did you trust your esteemed band of collaborators?

MC: Even though we record HGM records quickly, we spend a lot of time on pre-production-- thinking about what the songs want to be, rhythmically, lyrically, instrumentally. By the time we had our recording rig set up in the barn, I generally knew the record. There is always plenty to uncover in the recording of any album, no matter how much thinking you do about it beforehand, but the emotional timbre of the songs that appear on this record was consistent from when the songs were first written. Also, I consider my band, on a purely technical and soulful level, to be one of the best bands working. I don't mean to sound arrogant. I just really feel strongly that the people with whom I work understand the kind of American music that I love on a really deep and profound level. So I trusted everyone to just play what they felt.

Drift: I was reliably informed that the touring band have been getting amped back stage to Curtis Mayfield... You're a funk, soul, country band led by a balladeer... do Genre's even matter anymore?

MC: Genres don't matter so much to me, but I understand why they exist. I'm easy with the concept of genres. If someone needs to describe me as a country or folk songwriter, that's fine with me. It's not a big deal. I spent many years sort of arguing against being categorized, but ultimately it's not up to me, I can't control that discussion, and there are much more interesting things to grapple with.

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The 'Lateness of Dancers' is available now on Merge Records. The video below was shot by, it's dead good.


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