Thursday, July 14, 2011

In Their Own Words: My Cousin, The Emperor

My Cousin, the Emperor
Danny Wolf, Terry Quire, Michael Feinberg, Jason Reischel
My Cousin, the Emperor, a Brooklyn-based band, have been getting a lot of press lately. After winning WNYC Radio's Battle of the Borough, Time Out NY and even NPR have taken notice of their unique mix of alt-country-folk and urban atmospheres. I, also, could not help but take notice after listening through (twice) to their latest efforts: a pair of EPs built around the New York City 20-minute subway ride. I managed to arrange an interview with Jason Reischel, an already established singer/songwriter who now fronts My Cousin, the Emperor.

Originally raised in Asheville, NC, Reischel had began to establish himself on the New York music scene back in 2003. He'd spend his nights hustling at five or six clubs a night when he hit the streets of Manhattan. Quickly building a name for himself, he released two of his own albums (2006's Brown Bridge & Green Bridge and 2007's Irony-Free Parlor Music) and embarked on three US tours behind them.

Now, he's with MCTE and they're gaining a considerable amount of press attention; Reischel says he and the band are as prepared as they ever were. "There's pressure," he says, "but, it's always been there. When you put your name on something that will live forever, there's a pressure to do it right." As for awards, MCTE has won an Independent Music Award for Best Alt-Country Song (for the title track from 2009's A Long Way From Home) and won the WNYC Radio's Battle of the Boroughs in Brooklyn. "It's always nice to be recognized for doing something that you love."

Their sound, as described by Reischel is, "a mix of The Beach Boys, The Beatles and Hank Williams. We've been described that way and try our best at it." Astonishing to me was the fact that all of their albums and EPs are recorded live. "It really forces a commitment to the material. You walk in, push record and get it done." Reischel prefers recording this way, as it sets reasonable expectations when you see the band live, saying,  "whatever you hear on the record, you'll hear live."

Recording is something that My Cousin, the Emperor plan to do an awful lot this year. Reischel stated that "our next Subway EP is 95% done and we're doing a free cover song each month on our Facebook page." They released Depeche Mode's "Enjoy The Silence" in June and have just recently released The Beach Boy's "Girl Don't Tell Me." The band has further plans, including another EP within the year and a solo effort from Reischel himself. "We've hit our stride," says Reischel, "We're lifers, and I don't care if slow down or speed up, as long as we're a band and it feels good."

You can follow @MCTEmusic and @jasonreischel on Twitter, keep up with their free cover songs on their Facebook and stay up to date with the band on their website. Also, be sure to subscribe to their YouTube for awesome live performances. Special thanks to Jeff Kilgour, Jason Reischel and My Cousin, The Emperor.


What are your three favorites performance venues?
Joe's Pub, The Living Room and the Gramercy Theater, where they'll be performing on July 28th. (tickets)  

Assemble a five person band, one you'd either like to lead or see perform.
On bass and backing vocals, Sir Paul McCartney.
On drums, Steve Gadd, the legendary session drummer (think "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover").
On keyboards, Rick Wakeman, of prog-rock pioneers Yes.
A horn section comprised of Miles Davis and John Coltrane.

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