You could see it early in his career that Richard Edwards made music on his own terms, but his hands-on, no-compromise mentality toward his recordings has only become more pronounced over time.
As the founder and lead singer of Margot & the Nuclear So and So’s, Edwards took the money from the advance on his debut and built his own studio. Signing to Epic for his second album in 2008, when the label didn’t like his song selection, he convinced them to release two records simultaneously. “Animal” was his ideal release, while “Not Animal” was Epic’s chosen offering. From then on, Edwards and the band have gone on to self-release three albums on their own label, Mariel Recordings. Their latest, “Slingshot to Heaven,” was released last week.
“We are in a position where we have a small, passionate fan base,” notes Edwards. “As far as self-releasing, I really wish we had done it from the beginning, because I really underestimated the pride in owning the s— that you do. When I have a stack of things that I’ve made, even if they’re not really worth that much, it’s really, really important for me to own it. That means a lot to me as I get older.”
With a reverence for the beauty of analog, “Slingshot” was recorded on 2-inch tape. “We’ve done it before,” notes Edwards. “But this time we didn’t use any computers at all, which made it different than any way we’ve recorded in the past. I don’t think it’s political or anything. We always like using tape because I’m one of those people who thinks you can tell the difference. It was my favorite way of recording so far, and it definitely makes a difference on focused performance.”
“Slingshot” shows Margot and its rotating cast of characters evolving and maturing without compromising. The songs are a bit slower; but at the same time, the catchy tunes are still riddled with an inherent evil lurking in the lyrics.
“I’m always getting yelled at by the publishing company at how implacable my lyrics are so it’s hard to differentiate between weirdness. But yeah, it’s a little bit more narrative-based. I think it gets more skillfully articulated as I get older, but there’s always a Catholic/Christian guilt thing which most people don’t shake, even as they get older and cast that stuff aside. I like writing songs that feel, for better and worse, like real reflections of how young men think and behave.”
Edwards says having a 4-year-old daughter hasn’t even changed his young man’s approach to lyrics.
“I’m very much in a situation where I’m a dad, but I also don’t ever want to mellow that stuff, because I’m not somebody whose brain changed when I had a kid. Of course, it did in tons of ways, but it did not change that part of me that’s super f—ed up and gross. … I just think it’s important now more than ever to just be honest. People need to be honest with themselves before they get on a soapbox about what’s wrong about the rest of our culture.”
‘Meaning from a lot of lame stuff’
If you order the “Slingshot to Heaven” from the band directly, you can get various rarities like a limited 7-inch and a DVD of stripped down album tracks, recorded beautifully through the eye of an Eclair 16 mm movie camera.
“My head hurts so much that I just want mindless work where I don’t get stuck inside the pattern of thought that I’m always in,” says Edwards. “It’s super, super cheesy, but it’s like I have a small business and the act of transporting these records to people has some sort of meaning to me as I get older. You get meaning from a lot of lame stuff as you get older.”