Hometowns | Water Liars [Saint Louis, MO]

Photo courtesy of Misra Records

We are pleased as punch to feature Water Liars for Hometowns today on Speakers in Code. Reminder: the Hometowns mission is twofold. 1) We wanna let our favorite musicians play homage to the places they hold near and dear to their hearts and 2) we strongly believe that roots have a significant influence on the art that these folks make, so we want to investigate that connection.

The super rad thing about Water Liars is that one half of the duo, Justin Kinkel-Schuster, hails from Saint Louis, where Jason and I, the duo who started this blog back two years ago, also live. (Andrew Bryant, of Oxford, Mississippi, completes the Water Liars’ line-up.) As Cornell Iral Haynes, Jr. once said, “I’m from the Lou, and I’m proud.” Yes, indeed. Bud Lights for one and all!

You should pick up the (critically lauded! and just really freaking tremendous!) Water Liars’ debut album, Phantom Limb (Misra Records). Trust us. Run, don’t walk. If you’re a fellow Saint Louisian, catch ’em live Saturday night when the duo opens for The Mountain Goats at The Gargoyle. If you’re not from around these parts, Water Liars will be coming to a venue near you before the end of the year. We’d bet.

Justin, you call Saint Louis your hometown, but we’re guessing with the way Water Liars has exploded this year, you’ve been too busy to fully enjoy the city in a little while. If you had twenty-four hours to spend in Saint Louis as you wished, what would you do?

I’m gonna take a risk here and tell you what I would actually do instead of telling you what I imagine an interesting, fun-loving person might do. I’d sleep till at least 10:30, maybe take a shower, maybe not. Drive to The Mud House, get coffee and a bacon breakfast burrito. Hopefully it’s a Friday because I haven’t seen the new contemporary photography exhibit at the art museum, and I wanna go see that for free. After that, stop over at Vintage Vinyl and buy the new Lambchop and the new Spiritualized. By this time I’m probably pretty worn out, so I’ll go home, get a blanket and a Coke, and walk to Lafayette Park, find my spot, and read myself to sleep in the sun. ‘Round dinner time call in a pickup order for some Pappy’s ribs, ’cause I love that shit but I ain’t tryin’ to wait in that line. If there’s a good show goin’ on that night, I’d wanna try and hit that up; otherwise I’d hang out at my place and watch The Andy Griffith Show or The Twilight Zone or some shit. Goodnight.

Photo by Katie Guymon

What are some common misconceptions, or little known facts, about Saint Louis that anyone living outside the area would be surprised to learn?

I think most people probably don’t realize that St. Louis has spawned two true American heroes: Tennessee Williams and Vincent Price. I dare you to watch Vincent in The Abominable Dr. Phibes and not laugh your ass off. Also, I dare you to watch A Streetcar Named Desire and not get turned on by Marlon Brando in spite of Karl Malden’s nose.

How does your growing up and time living in Saint Louis influence your music? How do fragments of the city itself work their way into Water Liars’ sound?

I think it happens in a couple of ways. In an amorphous, general sort of way, it can’t help but seep in through the places and people where and with whom you spend your time. They have a way of influencing you and the things you do and the things that get done to you, most of the time without you noticing, which is as it should be. But more specifically, at least on the record that we just put out, there’s a lot of sounds from a particular train underpass in Saint Louis where frogs go to mate this time of year when these huge rain puddles form. They all gather and are trying to get laid and make this eerie sound that’s echoed and amplified by the bridge, and I took a tape recorder down there one night and just taped the frogs making those sounds and some trains came by and mixed with them and we ended up putting those recordings on a couple tracks on the album.

You guys will be in town Saturday, AKA the holiday we know and love as Record Store Day, to open for The Mountain Goats. How have you spent past Record Store Days in Saint Louis?

Record Store Day is great. Anything that helps independent record stores and bands sell records is unquestionably great. Having said that, I have a minor personal grievance to air with regard to Record Store Day, namely: once, just once, please put that shit on a Monday. As a chronically underemployed member of the service industry, I am sad as hell to say that I have not done anything cool on any Record Store Day yet because I always have to work on Record Store Day. So, I wish I had a good story to tell about Record Store Day, but I can’t sit here and lie to you about it.

After Saturday’s hometown performance, we know that you guys are going to tour pretty hard for the remainder of 2012. If you could take a special Saint Louis something on the road with you, what would it be?

Cheesy Red Hot Riplets, man. Cheesy Red Hot Riplets. You can’t get ’em anywhere else.

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