Halloween, Alaska's Champagne Downtown explores luxury

James Diers and David King's new album tickles as it goes down

CP: Does this blending ever result in a sort of ironic quality, where one style might seem to be imitating or even making fun of the other?

Diers: Irony is something we're all pretty dubious about, actually. I like to think we actually err on the side of sincerity, even if it's not always totally direct.

King: In a way we're an open challenge to the idea of ironic music. "Paradoxical" may be a better term for us. "Irony" feels like we're smart-assy white kids. Ultimately we're not winking or thinking we're really clever. We really are arriving at the sound and the lyrical tone in a less calculated way, trying to paint this picture that's actually quite hopeful.

The resurfacing of Halloween, Alaska: (clockwise from left) James Diers, Jacob Hanson, David King, and Matthew Friesen
Emily Utne
The resurfacing of Halloween, Alaska: (clockwise from left) James Diers, Jacob Hanson, David King, and Matthew Friesen

CP: "Hopeful." The album was written at a time before the word "hope" entered the national lexicon. And some of the lyrics—"America, fresh out of surprises," for example—seem a little disaffected, if not ironic.

Diers: I've made a concerted effort to not be preoccupied with politics in my writing over the past few years. Instead, I tried to isolate and refine my idea of what being an American means, completely separate from political concerns. I've been preoccupied with an idea I refer to as "the end of luxury." Things that used to be symbols of status or wealth have become widely accessible, or cheapened somehow, or both. A 16-year-old might have gems in his teeth. Ordinary chumps drink champagne and craft beer. The idea of what is actually a luxury is morphing into something that seems separate from how refined your taste is. Somewhere in there I started wondering what it would be like to have America as a girlfriend, and how that might be cool or might be kind of a drag. That song, "Hot Pink," imagines a significant other who has only the worst kinds of proto-American traits. The "fresh out of surprises" bit mostly just refers to the idea that it's increasingly hard to feel genuinely shocked or surprised by anything, whether you blame that on cultural saturation or higher tolerance for bullshit or what-have-you. 

HALLOWEEN, ALASKA will play a CD-release show with Chris Koza and Aby Wolf on FRIDAY, APRIL 10, at FIRST AVENUE; 612.332.1775

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