Dan and Matt Wilson: This is kind of a risky gig for us

Photo by Steven Cohen
Three years ago, Dan Wilson asked his brother Matt if he'd be interested in playing an acoustic duo show. Without hesitation, Matt agreed to the evening that drew from songs ranging from both brothers' catalogs. With Dan moving out to Los Angeles and Matt working on the new Twilight Hours' album, things have been busier than ever for the two, thus the lengthy gap in a repeat of that evening in 2010.

Feeling nostalgic, Dan and Matt were able to find some time in their busy schedules to reprise their performance, first at the Bryant Lake Bowl and the following evening at the Pantages Theatre. Gimme Noise sat down and spoke with the brothers before their sold out shows, mainly about their love of the Twin Cities (Dan still affectionately calls Minneapolis home), Prince, and the compelling relationship between siblings.

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Gimme Noise: The show at the Pantages is sold out, so congrats on that, but you guys decided to add another show at the Bryant Lake Bowl?

Dan Wilson: We just posted it the other day, but we had been thinking about it.

GN: Why did you decided to add another, more intimate show?

DW: We chose the Pantages show, and the tickets sold out right away. We were thinking about doing another night at the Pantages, and somehow the thought occurred to us to do a smaller show in advance instead. We didn't want it to be, where if the same people came to both Pantages show, the same. We were hoping to do something where it was a different experience. It was also us not wanting to spread ourselves too thin, and to do two shows [at the Pantages], we'd probably want to learn an extra ten songs to make the second gig different than the first gig. We wouldn't want the same setlist.

Matt Wilson: So, laziness. It comes down to laziness.

DW: [laughs] Maybe, but also I think we felt the Bryant Lake Bowl would be a nice warmup for the Pantages show. We can try some things and see what worked better than others and treat it more as an intimate workshop -- like an icebreaker.

MW: Yeah, figure things out.

GN: Will it be more casual?

DW: Yes, we won't be wearing our tuxedos at the Bryant Lake Bowl. It's funny, because one of the other reasons we put the Bryant Lake Bowl show together was because the Pantages sold out so quickly, but the Bryant Lake Bowl sold out even more quickly. Maybe we'll gauge that a little bit better the next time. I don't want to raise expectations on how awesome the gig will be to a bunch of readers who tried and failed to get tickets.

GN: Well, you heard that Prince is did some small, intimate shows at the Dakota, also, right? How important is it to you guys to have experiences like that for fans?

DW: Didn't he audition his drummer last night? I don't think it's important to me at all to audition a drummer in front of an audience. [laughs] I think it's an awesome idea; I would never do it in a million years.

MW: Who did that? I missed it.

DW: Prince [did] a series of six shows at the Dakota, and the first was an audition for drummers where they jammed for several hours, and Prince didn't sing or speak, apparently. That was the first show, and the next one [was] a vocal rehearsal or something. I don't know, but they're gonna do it all in front of people, and they [had] the "real show" at the end of the three days.

GN: Prince is such a big star, and I feel there's such a disconnect between him and real world sometimes. Does it ever scare you that you will get to be at that stage?

MW: I'm not scared about that at all. Dan might be.

DW: [laughs] You know, it's funny because that disconnect is not that something that is in the control of the artist. I've worked with a lot of artists, some who are starting out and some with large audiences. That disconnect is because, to us, he's not a real person anymore, and he's an icon. I read about the studio system in the '40s -- the movie system -- and how the making of stars was very much a collaborative thing with audience. The audience loved it, and they would never have wanted to see pictures of Lana Turner with her hair up and no makeup, grabbing her newspaper off her front porch. The public would have been horrified; they didn't want to see that kind of thing. It's almost like a fad right now, that we need to see Prince as a real person. Why on earth do we need to see Prince as a real person? I don't understand that at all. I love Prince as an inscrutable, confusing icon. I don't need to watch him make coffee and read the New York Times on a laptop. I'm not interested.

GN: In keeping with that, so many artists use social networks to share that part of their personal lives with fans. How do you guys handle integrating that, and where do you draw the line on what you share?

MW: Personally, I just don't do it at all. It makes me too nervous for some reason. I just totally stay away from it.

DW: Matt does a lot of his social networking in the form of the Twilight Hours' blog, and it's a self-contained social network as opposed to plugging into the broader commercial networks.

MW: John Munson [of Twilight Hours] handles all of our social networking. He handles that naturally 'cause that's who he is.

DW: I find myself on Twitter, and I usually add stuff that I feel may be interesting to people. To me, that's really fun, but there are moments when I write something about my kids or I might write something about somebody I'm working with, and there are moments where I think, "You know, is it really fair to drag other people into my little fantasy world of tweeting? Because it seems kind of unfair." Then there's a kind of hesitation that most people don't even have. They just post their kids on whatever. I'm a little bit more hesitant about letting it be about my personal life and family.

GN: Dan, most of your posts are about music. How important is to you both to have some sort of life outside of music?

MW: I have way too much of a life outside of music. [laughs] For me, it's a huge challenge to remain a musician and maintain my self-identity as an artist first. So for me, my niche is a little bit reversed. I actually think I've had it the other way where  when I was younger, I was only doing music, and I actually felt you could too far with that. I think if I'd had kids at that time, that probably would have grounded me more. I think it's possible to lose touch, especially if you have something pulling you taught.

DW: Having children forces you me to do stuff outside of music. I'm really interested in visual arts, and I read a lot of books, but I'm pretty maniacal about music. It's pretty much 90% of what I think of when I'm not doing music.

MW: I'm 90/10, too, but it's the opposite of Dan's.

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