Sorry, Mr. Smith, but there's no radio that likes to play the songs of your lover's sorrow/Just sing us a jingle, and we'll float you some bread/And all it will cost you is your heart and your head."
In the opening lines of his song "Artists and Repertoire," Richard Swift poignantly reflects on the toils of his career thus far. A married father of two, he sounds like a guy who's encountered his share of letdowns at the hands of industry handlers. "Sorry, Mr. Swift, but you're much too fat," he sings in the next verse, "and could I persuade you just to wear a cap?" The sweetly melancholic song, along with the album it appears on, Dressed Up for the Letdown, have, ironically, garnered accolades for Swift. We asked him how he felt about his newfound critical acclaim and about his upcoming projects.
Westword: Your new record has been getting a lot of praise. Would you call this a breakthrough of sorts?
With Wilco, 8 p.m. Friday, Saturday, September 1, and Sunday, September 2, Fillmore Auditorium, 1510 Clarkson Street, $35/$55 two-day pass, 303-837-0360.
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Richard Swift: I don't really have a clear perspective on that stuff, necessarily, because I keep myself kind of hidden away in a cave, let's say. All the press that's been sent to me via managers or friends has all been nice and positive. It seems like there are some people out there who get it, for the most part. I just try not to get wrapped up in that stuff, because it could completely change: I could put out this Instruments record; I could put out these rock-and-roll EPs; I could put out my next record — and they could be just as good in my eyes, if not better than my previous work — and people could possibly hate it and just totally pan it and not really totally understand where I'm coming from. So it's hard to say, but I'm going to keep making records that are interesting to me and totally different. That's what I'm in it for, ultimately.
You've been working on Instruments of Science and Technology. How's that been going?
I think, primarily, people think of me as just some dude behind a piano singing, you know, like sad-bastard songs. That's part of what I do musically, but there's the Instruments stuff, which is strictly instrumental electronic music in the vein of Can, early Kraftwerk and Neu! to Aphex Twin, Squarepusher, Venetian Snares and all that kind of stuff. And I've got this weird rock-and-roll record that I'm going to release, probably in January. Then we're releasing the Instruments LP in February, and then releasing the second rock-and-roll EP in March.
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