Could you state your names and occupations for the record please. Jake Zavracky: Occupation? Wendy Mittelstadt: (Laughs.) BB: Yeah, what do you do during the day when youíre not doing this. Jake: Oh, God, really? I feel like it kinds takes away from the mystery. BB: Then you can make up something. Jake: ďI work on music all day.Ē BB: Thatís a dirty, dirty lie. Jake: I work at a bakery. Itís right down the street from my house, and
I work there. BB: Thatís very ďblack-and-pink trippy,Ē I donít know why you didnít
want to put that right in. Jake: Well, I like working there itís justÖ well, whatever, itís fine.
BB: Okay. Jake: You know what it is? Sometimes it will be like, ďJake Zavracky, by
day heís (whatever I happen to be doing at the time)...Ē It is so
unimportant and completely insignificant within the grand scheme of the
music. Even though I like my particular job right now, I could usually
care less about it. Itís just not part of me, itís not who Cyanide
Valentine is. That is why I donít like answering that question.
BB: Wendy? Wendy: Oh, I have to answer that question? BB: Of course. Wendy: My name? Wendy Mittelstadt. Jake: Oh, I never said my name. My name is Jake Zavracky. Wendy: You donít need my middle name do you? My middle name is Lynn.
Wendy Lynn Mittelstadt. My occupation is circuit designer. Jake: That sounds much cooler than my job. Thatís the problem. Wendy: It doesnít sound cool, it sounds nerdy. BB: Itís nerdy-cool. Jake: Well, you are nerdy.
BB: How did you guys first meet, and how did this project come together? Wendy: We were in another band together. We were in Ad Frankís backup
band. Jake: Just for a very brief time. BB: Like The Eagles were Linda Ronstadtís backup band. Jake: They were? BB: And The Band was Bob Dylanís backup band. Jake: That one I knew. Wendy: I played keyboards and Jake played guitar. He quit to concentrate
on his band at the time Quick Fix. I quit too. Then a couple of years
went by and we bumped into each other at a party. Jake: Ad Frankís band was 2001, and that party was 2004. Wendy: Well, at the party I said, ďHey, Jake what are you doing after
Quick Fix?Ē He described a concept to me, and it sounded like it was
going to need some keyboards. So I offered my services, even though I
was busy. He said great, maybe I will give you a call, then some time
went by and he did called me and said, ďI have a show booked.Ē He had
booked a show at TTís, but we didnít have a band yet. We had like five
weeks to put a band together and he was like, well Iím going to play
with these other two guys, if you want to play keyboards. I checked them out, he gave me some demos and I really liked
what I heard, so we did that one show. Jake: That was March 2004. But that show doesnít really relate very much
to what it evolved into, and what it currently is. I think it was a lot
different then. We were horrible for months, I mean just disastrously
horrible. It was like every single show we played was a calamity. Wendy: A natural disaster. Jake: We werenít very good, and things were breaking. It was almost
like, ďit canít get any worse than this.Ē But itís been steadily getting
better since then.
BB: How did you guys become a duo? Wendy: Jake just and called me up and told me we were going to be a duo.
That was November 2004. Jake: Thatís another thing I did without consulting her. Wendy: We only played maybe three shows as a five piece. Do you want to
know why we became a duo? BB: Why did you become a duo? Jake: I was trying to get us signed to a label, and I knew I had a
really good record to give to this guy. At that point, The Cyanide
Valentine was basically just this record, ďLet it Rot.Ē Thatís basically
what it was. The record was done; it had been done for a little while,
actually. I knew he would like the record, and he did. And I knew he was
going to want to hear that we wanted to take this all the way, and sell
thousands of these records. And I knew he was going to want to hear that
we had a means of doing that. But at the time I didnít really have a
band. I really only had the record. I had a group of guys, but it was
very loose, and I didnít feel like anyone was really committed to it. Wendy: Everyone that we played live with was with another band and was
really busy. Jake: Exactly. Wendy was the only one who showed any real interest, the
kind of enthusiasm I wanted to see to try and make this take off. And
this was the kind of music that it doesnít necessarily have to be only
two people, but it can be only two people. I didnít really need a backup
band at the time. Wendy: So, we became a duo so we could tour to support the record. The
guy was going to want to hear that we were available to tour, and we
werenít going to be able to get all five people to just pick up and go
on tour at anytime, since they were in other bands.
BB: So tell me about putting together ďLet It Rot.Ē Jake: Well, I did most of it myself, and then I had people play some
stuff on it. Wendy is on five or six of the tracks, Iíd say. Wendy: Iím only not on two tracks. Jake: Youíre only not on two tracks? Seven of the tracks then. She
started coming in and taking more creative control a bit. Actually, she
was a very good juxtaposition to me. I am very self destructive, and
Iíll just ďget rid of it.Ē There wonít be any resemblance of what was
there before. But she gets very attached to things, so itís very hard to
make changes. She will insist I make a really good case if I want to get
rid of something and replace it with something new. This was good for
making this record, because I think that a lot of decisions that she
made, or better yet made me make, were really good. I think it wouldnít
have turned out to be the record that it was without her. Wendy: Did you get that! (Laughs.) Jake: Especially on certain songs. Some songs, when she heard the demos
she said she really liked them, but then they had changed too much by
the time we went to record them.
Wendy: Well, I hadnít been keeping up. He hadnít been giving me new
copies, and then four months went by and he gave me what he thought was
the record. When I heard it, it didnít even resemble the demos. My world
was shattered, because he had gone for a completely different sound. Jake: Yeah, you werenít happy. Wendy: It was the sound on the demos that made me want to be in the band.
When we started working together on the record it was me fighting to
have a lot of the old sounds reinstated. Now I keep very close tabs on
what heís doing.
BB: The phone messages on the album. Are those real? Jake: Theyíre real. Wendy: I actually didnít know that originally. I thought they were made
up until the last interview we did, when I found out they were real
calls. Jake: The voice is Eric Barlow, who plays on the album. He just used to
leave me messages like that. I just thought they worked well and broke
things up a little bit. Iíve heard a lot of complaints about them
actually, which I can see, because once youíve heard them once, then
youíve heard them, and the next time you put in the album theyíre still
there. You just get tired of it. So I probably wonít do it again.
BB: What is your philosophy about getting the right stuff down when
youíre making a record?
Jake: Throw something down and give it time. Listen to it a bunch and
try to sort out what really needs to change. Actually, Wendy was a big
influence on me coming around to this way of thinking: only change what
really needs to be changed. I used to think I needed to strip every
single track down five times before I got the right thing. So in making
the album that we are making now Iíve been thinking this way a lot: to
be very reverent to what is already down. Donít be self destructive
about it. Donít just get rid of it because itís old or something like
BB: Tell me about this new album. Is there a working title for it? Wendy: Yes there is! Jake: ďThe Four Sides of the Cyanide Valentine.Ē Itís not even a title
in working, thatís the title. It has to be the title because itís the
whole theme of the album. During the last album, we had a lot of press
that said, ďThis album shouldnít work; this album doesnít make any
sense.Ē Wendy: That we have an identity crisis. Jake: Yes. ďThis band has an identity crisis.Ē They go from one style
of music to another and somehow it evolves to something completely
different within a space of three songs. So I figured, instead of trying
to get away from that, and thinking of that as a weakness, why not think
of that as a strength. Letís make that our style. Letís make the
identity crisis our style. So this album is called ďThe Four Sides of
the Cyanide Valentine.Ē Think of it as a double album, like an old
school record where there are four sides, and each side is a different
side of us. The first side would be more electro stuff. Wendy: Danceable, up-tempo. Jake: Right. And then somehow over the course of the record it somehow
evolves into more breathlessly acoustic stuff.
BB: When do you think it will come out? Jake: Thatís a good question. Wendy: Weíre hoping the spring of next year. Jake: I really donít think thatís going to happen. (Laughs.) I really
donít. Wendy: Itís good to set goals. But one idea was to release an EP
in December, which Iím still excited about. It will have one song from
each ďside.Ē So the four styles will be on this one EP. Weíll pick the
best song from each side, and then have that be a teaser for the whole
BB: What are the four styles? Jake: I donít know if I can really define it, but itís like Wendy
just said, the more danceable stuff would be at the outset. Wendy: Four-on-the-floor kind of thing, more danceable. And the
second side will be more down tempo. We have a couple of Reggae-ish, Ace
of Base style songs, some more down tempo but still electronic. The
third side is supposed to be more atmospheric. So it could be a mixture
of acoustic instruments as well as electronic, but there wonít be any
driving beats. There will be more atmospheric sounds in the background.
Then the fourth side is just stripped down, Jake playing acoustic guitar
and vocals me violin, viola, vocals. You know, no fancy processing or
anything. Jake: That actually sounds pretty good. That was a very good synopsis of
what it should be. What it will end up being I have no idea.