Saving the earth one song at a time

By |2009-03-26T09:00:00-04:00March 26th, 2009|Entertainment|

There was a lot of carpooling involved in the making of Lansing duo Nervous but Excited’s seventh release. During the year it took to write and record “anchors: {the green album},” which drops April 7, Kate Peterson and Sarah Cleaver kept tabs on their energy use (their official Web site lists the outcomes). They worked diligently with several stores and organizations to make the 100 percent carbon footprint-less CD, including Ann Arbor printing company DIY Decals & Signs, and ensured all the materials they used were completely recycled.
With many collaborations, including a song with queer folk-band girlyman, “anchors” is a fuller, more grown-up album – and the follow-up to last year’s {home}spun – that’s twangier, but still heartbreaking enough to provoke a Paxil run. Peterson, who assures they’re both at better places now than they were while working on this album, says it’s about finding steady ground.
“A lot of these songs are coming from a place of healing – and the past year has been a really significant year for both of us, as far as growing and healing and loss and new love,” she adds.
“We’ve just grown up a lot, and I think these songs encompass that idea.”

“anchors” was recorded in Canada and Ann Arbor. Where in Ann Arbor?
Well, we recorded with two engineers – Ian Gorman did the majority of the recording – and he has a portable set up, so he actually came and we were set up in our friend Dani’s house, who’s got a big, beautiful house. It’s actually sound-proof in many senses, because the person who owned it before her was a music teacher, so he (the original owner) set up sound panels on the ceiling and it’s just a really amazing acoustical space.

This a very pro-green project: How did it make the recording process more difficult?
It hasn’t made the recording process necessarily more difficult. I think (for) the packaging and the promo materials, we had to try a little bit harder to find the resources, but in the end, it’s worked out really well. We found a bunch of local people that supply recycled paper and their work is all off-set, so it’s been a really amazing experience in terms of that. And we’ve kinda opened ourselves up to a whole community of people who are doing environmental work.

Have you been an environmentalist for a while?
Yeah, it’s definitely something that’s been kind of ingrained in both Sarah and I since we were kids. My dad is just – he’s a hardcore recycler, so the idea of an aluminum can in the garbage is just kind of horrifying to me. (Laughs)

Your dad used to punish you for not turning the lights off, right?
(Laughs) Yeah. Well, it was a give-and-take kind of thing. But it was definitely all with love.

So maybe that’s what we need – more punishment for these people who don’t recycle. What would you suggest we do to them?
Oh, geez. What would the consequences be?

Well, how did your dad punish you?
He charged a $10 penalty. But in the end, I’ll be honest: The money usually came back around in some form. (Laughs)

Are you trying to send a message to listeners with this disc?
Yeah, absolutely. In a sense, it’s exciting to be able to use the public forum to set an example and to show that people – even on a small scale – can make a small difference. Like, a little bit of work had to go into making this happen, but it’s not an impossibility by any means. I think we just want to do our part and show that it can be done on all different kinds of levels.

You’ll be going on a three-week tour soon to promote the disc, so pretend you’re Sarah for a second. What do you think Sarah would say is the hardest part about traveling with you?
(Laughs) Oh, god. Maybe my small bladder.

What have you found to be some of the best ways to pass the time while you’re driving?
(Laughs) That’s funny. I’m sad Sarah’s not here, because I feel like some of our best ways of passing the time were her ideas. But we listen to a lot of NPR, a lot of ‘This American Life’ podcasts, and we do a lot of brainstorming and making lists and such in the car, too. And we haven’t followed up on it really well, but we did start a video series of things that we like to do in the car, one of which includes cutting hair.

Cutting hair?
Cutting hair – there’s some backlash about the safety of all of that. (Laughs)

Nervous but Excited
“anchors: {the green album}” release parties
8 p.m. March 27, Ten Pound Fiddle
855 Grove St., East Lansing
8 p.m. May 1, The Ark
316 S. Main St., Ann Arbor

About the Author:

Chris Azzopardi
Chris Azzopardi is the Editorial Director of Pride Source Media Group and Q Syndicate, the national LGBTQ wire service. He has interviewed a multitude of superstars, including Cher, Meryl Streep, Mariah Carey and Beyoncé. His work has also appeared in The New York Times, Vanity Fair, GQ and Billboard. Reach him via Twitter @chrisazzopardi.