The four gentlemen in The Dismemberment Plan will forever be associated with Washington, DC—the city where they were born—but much of the music on the band's new album, Uncanney Valley, was inspired by frontman Travis Morrison's move from the nation's capital to Brooklyn. Morrison took a few minutes to talk with nycgo.com about how New York City informed the LP, why he likes shopping at the Park Slope Food Coop and what's in store for the band's CMJ performances.
In the song “Invisible,” you make a very specific New York City reference. Did you really have a moment where you felt invisible while waiting for the 7 express train?
Travis Morrison: Not the 7. No, the 7 was always there for me. The C? Not so much.
But did you have the feeling of people looking through you?
TM: Yeah! I moved to New York and then realized that I liked it here, but I wanted to reassess my life and go a little bit underground. So I think I did feel like that here.
What made you feel that way in New York City?
TM: Well, no one knew who I was. It's a bigger city. I kind of just wanted to be a face in the crowd, you know? Go to shows, work a job, go to MoMA, be a fan, make some money. And that's what I did—so it was partially by choice, and it was very exciting.
How was it different from DC?
TM: It's a big scene, New York City. It's not a scene—it's a huge, crazy jungle ecosystem. There are lots of people in the arts, lots of people to meet. DC's a small world. I knew most of the people involved, and…my work preceded me, let's put it that way. Here, not so much. [I was] starting fresh, trying all kinds of different things creatively, working at The Huffington Post as it was growing really quickly, which was an extremely exciting—and at times terrifying—but very satisfying experience. [It was] the pace and the hustle—the hyper-individualistic hustle, which doesn't happen in Washington, DC.
How about your neighborhood, Park Slope? What do you like about it?
TM: It's awesome. We've got the Park Slope Food Coop, we've got The Gate. It's beautiful. Nice people. Babies everywhere!
Did you ever see a baby in a bar in Washington, DC?
TM: No. It's happening more now. Not when I was there.
You shop at the Park Slope Food Coop, right?
TM: I do. I'm a co-opper in good standing.
Why does the place appeal to you?
TM: It's cheap. It's got great produce. Great cheese. [The produce] is as good as the farmers' market—the same stuff as the farmers' market, but much cheaper.
Are there any other Brooklyn spots you'd recommend?
TM: I always really like to have a beer at the Anchored Inn in Bushwick. It's just really good beer, really good music, really good food. I have a soft spot for it because my New York band [The Burlies] rehearsed over there, and then we would go drink and eat.
Speaking of which, your bands have played all around the city. Do you have any favorite venues?
TM: I really like Union Hall. That's a great place, a great little venue. I haven't played Union Pool, but that's a nice small venue. And when I'm playing to large groups of people, I think Webster Hall is really awesome.
Do you have any surprises in store for the CMJ shows?
TM: I think everyone will be excited to see the fruits of my plastic surgery [laughs].
Fantastic. What procedures did you get?
TM: No more nose. No, I don't know. Just rock 'n' roll. We're just going to play a show. It's really exciting.
The Dismemberment Plan's new album, Uncanney Valley, will be released on October 15. Travis Morrison will speak at the “How To Survive as a Musician in 2013” panel at 12:30pm on October 15 (check the CMJ website for details). The Dismemberment Plan will perform at CMJ twice on October 18: as part of the free KEXP live broadcast from the Judson Memorial Church at 2pm, followed by a nighttime show at Terminal 5.