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MUSIC: More from Haley Bonar and Eric Pollard
Haley: Are you fishing for labels for your upcoming album?
Eric: There are a few that are interested, so we are going to see where that leads us. And if not, we’ll just, I don’t know.
Haley: Whatever—put it out yourself.
Haley: Which is good but not always the best.
Eric: No, it doesn’t get you distribution and it doesn’t get you into record stores.
Haley: It gets you street credit.
Eric: It does. It gets you street credit, and that’s about it.
Haley: Do you have all the verses memorized for your 17-verse song?
Eric: No, no, I still don’t. I have about half of it memorized.
Haley: Okay, good, cuz I was gonna be like, “Dude, are you sure you’re sober?”
Eric: I’m sharp, but I’m not that sharp.
Haley: Actually, I’m going to skip ahead to a question that has to do with that. You’ve been sober for quite a while…
Eric: Almost two years.
Haley:: …Two years, that’s a long time.
Haley: Being in our industry, in that alcohol and drugs are always readily available and most of the time free, do you believe our industry is partially responsible for the high number of addicts in it?
Eric: Absolutely not. I think that artists are addicted to something, just being artists.
Haley: How so?
Eric: Art forces you into a different headspace. Chemicals and art have always been closely related as far as the creative process, whether it’s wine or weed or other hard drugs. So I wouldn’t blame our industry—although it is quite ridiculous when it comes to the doling out of free substances and it definitely has gotten to everybody at times—but who’s to say those people wouldn’t be addicted to something anyway, if they weren’t artists?
Haley: I guess the reason I ask that is because some people don’t realize that they’re addicts while being doled out free booze all the time, then five years into it they’re like, “Okay, I don’t know how to stop.”
Eric: Right, I completely understand that.
Haley: Then they’re left thinking, “Would I have done that if I wasn’t in the music industry?”
Eric: Yeah, I don’t know. That’s a good question. Sobriety definitely forced me to think about it. I didn’t realize I was going that hard. I mean, I don’t know, maybe it does.
Minnesota Monthly: Has being sober affected your creative process at all?
Eric: Yeah, in a good way!
Haley: Well you essentially started doing your project when you quit. All your feelings are coming out.
Eric: They are, a lot are. I had to hide a lot from people for a lot of years because of what I did. I had to go out of my way to be mean to people to keep people away because I didn’t want them stopping by my house or asking me what I was doing. I’m a lot nicer now, a lot sharper.
Haley: You’re free!
Eric: I am! I’m free to be a nice guy. I don’t have anything to hide from anybody anymore. So anyway, tell me about your new record.
Haley: It is hopefully coming out in the fall. I’m kind of in the same place where I’m talking with a couple labels; I don’t hold my breath for that but I’m hoping it works out. I’m tired of putting stuff out myself. I actually want this to be heard by more than just the Midwest. We got it done in two days. I recorded two songs in my apartment on one of those blue microphones—the yeti; plugs right into your computer. I was demoing with that and I ended up keeping it because they felt really good and I was like, “Well, it aint’ broke.”
Eric: Are you looking past this record at all? Are you going to fully emerge out of your comfort zone—make the “every girl” commercial record?
Haley: I hope this record is commercial! I want to do that, but I want to do it my way. Success is all relative: I always want to go do more, more, more, but at the same time I’m happy with what I do have and I’m grateful for it. But I do want to be bigger; I do want to be able to pay my bills and afford to tour and play for more than 30 people. (Eric and Haley high-five.)
Eric: Me too!
Haley: Yay! It’s been awhile since a record’s made it big that’s been dark. It’d be nice to have something like this that’s more fierce; this album has more balls to it than the male and female music out there. The males sound like girls now, and the girls are just sitting there singing about their high-school boyfriends. Not to diss anyone—I love music—but I just think that this could make it through the atmosphere.
Eric: Totally. I think with popular music right now, kids are making music only to get on the radio. Nothing has much of an identity. It’s two synths and a pretty girl singing something that you can barely understand. Pop radio is dominated by pop country in which all the guys sing about beer, trucks, and tractors, and all the girls sing about their ex-high-school boyfriends.
Haley: So what do think about Taylor Swift?
Eric: Funny, I’m a big fan of Taylor Swift.
Haley: Have you heard that song? That “let’s dress up like hipsters…”?
Eric: I don’t like that song.
Haley: Okay, thank you. That’s all I have to know.
Hear Actual Wolf's self-titled debut when it's released October 22 on local label Chaperone Records. Look for Haley Bonar's fifth full-length album this fall.