New Pornographers' A.C. Newman Gets 'Guilty' In between recording and touring with his band The New Pornographers, Newman has started writing solo albums. His second, due out this week, is called Get Guilty, a reference to a sentence in a Donald Barthelme story. Newman discusses his new album in an interview with Alex Cohen.
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New Pornographers' A.C. Newman Gets 'Guilty'

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New Pornographers' A.C. Newman Gets 'Guilty'

New Pornographers' A.C. Newman Gets 'Guilty'

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Back now with Day to Day. Carl "A.C." Newman is best known as the frontman for the indie supergroup the New Pornographers. Sometimes, he takes some time away from the band to create music on his own. Tomorrow, his second solo album, "Get Guilty," comes out in stores. My colleague Alex Cohen spoke with A.C. Newman about his solo projects.

Mr. CARL "A.C." NEWMAN (Singer/songwriter; Lead Vocals, Guitar, The New Pornographers): The first one I did because we're at a point when we didn't play live without Neko.

ALEX COHEN: Neko Case.

Mr. NEWMAN: Yeah, without Neko Case. So, basically, from the end of 2003 to early 2005 we only did two New Pornographer shows. So, I thought, I've got to fill my time with something. So, I made a solo album.

(Soundbite of song "The Collective Works")

Mr. NEWMAN: (Singing) Way down in the land of twins We tell ourselves that part black mist(ph)...

COHEN: One of the songs on this album is titled "The Collective Works," and it's something that you describe as a cross between two songs. And we actually have those songs here, so I thought we could take a little listen. First off, one of the songs you reference is Queen's "Fat Bottomed Girls." Let's take a listen.

(Soundbite of song "Fat Bottomed Girls")

QUEEN: (Singing) Fat bottomed girls, You make the rocking world go round.

COHEN: OK. Now, here's the other ingredient, and I think most folks are going to know this one. So, let's take a little listen to the other half of this.

(Soundbite of song "On Broadway")

Mr. GEORGE BENSON: (Singing) They say the neon lights are bright on Broadway...

COHEN: So, that was, of course, George Benson's "On Broadway." Can you explain how you bring these two, in my mind, very different songs together and come up with your own creation out of that?

Mr. NEWMAN: Well, I was really into "On Broadway," the way it has that - like, it's driven by those low piano notes and a bass going tududump, tump, tududump, tump-tump. And then I also felt the urge to give that, kind of, "Fat Bottomed Girls" style boogie rock.

(Soundbite of song "The Collective Works")

Mr. NEWMAN: So, I found myself writing the song that, to me, seemed a little bit like a weird Frankenstein's monster.

(Soundbite of song "The Collective Works")

Mr. NEWMAN: (Singing) Never the tempest Roaring in the deep blue sea. They're just to put the revolution in you...

COHEN: I'd like to ask you about something I consider one of your great strengths. I think one of your fortes as a songwriter is the opening bits of songs. They're just really powerful, and they grab you in, and I thought we'd give listeners a little taste of what I'm talking about. I'd like to just play the beginning part of the track called "Like a Hitman, Like a Dancer."

(Soundbite of song "Like a Hitman, Like a Dancer")

COHEN: A.C. Newman, do you pay particular attention to the beginnings of songs when you're writing them?

Mr. NEWMAN: I guess I do. I mean, I feel like I start a song with some part that I think is really good, and I just build from there.

(Soundbite of song "Like a Hitman, Like a Dancer")

Mr. NEWMAN: (Singing) Like a changed man, I'm not a changed man. Change sides, but you wanted to wait. Change sides, but you wanted to wait...

COHEN: The last song on this album is called "All of My Days and All of My Days Off."

(Soundbite of song "All of My Days and All of My Days Off")

Mr. NEWMAN: (Singing) The sunshine was outside and I found something in (unintelligible) An idea of which time had come...

COHEN: This song, I understand, is autobiographical. It's about your wedding day two summers ago, which was written up in the New York Times. It seemed like a pretty cool wedding. What was that day like for you?

Mr. NEWMAN: We had fun, got married in Brooklyn. We had a great reception where Neko Case played and the Mates of State played, and it was a - a fun time was had by all, I think.

COHEN: Is - being a married man, has that affected your music at all?

Mr. NEWMAN: I mean, maybe I'm filled with a little less despair. So, I don't know if that's having a positive or a negative effect on my music.

COHEN: I'd like to end here by asking you about a tune that's actually not on "Get Guilty." I understand that on Valentine's Day this year you will be releasing a cover tune for a compilation - a Starbucks compilation CD. What's the song you're covering, and why?

Mr. .NEWMAN: Yeah. I recorded the song "Take on Me" by a-ha. You know, it was one of those songs that really hit me, you know - when you're - you know, I think, when you're, like, whatever, 17 or 18 or 16, you're - you know, you can listen to a song like "Take on Me" and it can seem much heavier than it actually is.

COHEN: I don't ever remember the lyrics. Can you remind me?

Mr. NEWMAN: (Singing) Talking away...

It's like, talking away, I don't know what I'm to say, I say it anyway...

COHEN: You were very close to singing. Could I possibly request to have you just give us a little preview, sing a little bit?

Mr. NEWMAN: No. No way. I'm getting older, and I cling to my dignity.

(Soundbite of laughter)

COHEN: A.C. Newman's new album is called "Get Guilty." It's out this week on Matador Records. A.C. Newman, thank you.

Mr. NEWMAN: No problem.

(Soundbite of song "The Palace at 4 AM")

Mr. NEWMAN: (Singing) Some part of me's in doubt That we're (unintelligible) The palace at 4 a.m...

BRAND: A.C. Newman spoke with NPR's Alex Cohen. You can hear more of A.C. Newman's new album at

(Soundbite of song "The Palace at 4 AM")

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