Ten years after Sunset Alliance released Novi Split Keep Moving (‘Disk 1’), Disk 2 drops. Here is a Q&A between David Jerkovich (Novi Split) and David Jensen (Sunset Alliance), February 2014 that will send you to 2004 and back.
After The Real Diego played a show at Modified, I requested a track for my Not One Light Red: A Desert Extended comp. You sent me a cdr of unreleased and 7” tracks for the band, but at the end you threw on 3 ‘solo’ tracks you recorded on the laptop. I remember getting so excited about them that I called you up right away.
Mr. Jerkovich, do you care to recount how we met or should we just move on to other questions?
You have an incredible memory. You left a note to my band saying sorry that you couldn’t stick around to have your minds blown. That’s how we met.
I remember making you a CDR and slipping some of my more sensitive material towards the end. I was very embarrassed about it in a way back then.
For the sake of posterity or our audience, what does Novi Split mean?
The “New” Split. My family is from Split, Croatia.
At some point you lived in Space 19 (Before Braille’s practice space) and finished your record. I remember listening to it on the Space 19 couch with you and Rajiv Patel discussing track order. I lost the argument that 300 copies should not open the record. I wanted to start w/ I Had You. Do you regret winning that fight?
Space 19 is an appropriate name because it was like being in space. All my memories about that place seem to involve the middle of the night. That was like a sweat lodge for me. I purified myself in the heat of mesa and I came out the other end a changed man. I wrote and recorded the final song for that record through the night with minutes to spare to get to the mastering lab. I remember it wasn’t finished until I recorded Kelly screaming while throwing a chair across the room. Who was I?
I remember that argument. I told you that ’300 copies’ was like a fight song. A declaration of what Novi Split was all about. It set the tone for the record. It also set the tone for the rest of my career which sucks. If ‘I had you’ set the tone of my career I’d be dead by now.
Care to discuss your recording process for these sessions? Where did you record? On what gear? What made you laugh on your “I Had You” vocal track?
I recorded everywhere. The first MBox came out and I was all over it. I had a powerbook, not the clam, but the black executive looking thing, a huge expensive 10 gig hard drive and two sm57′s. Before that I had this big reel to reel machine so I felt like I had been set free. I recorded all over the place. I recorded on minidisc and dumped audio into protools. I remember being excited about being able to drive out to houses with pianos and wurlitzers and drumsets and being able to throw up a couple of mics and get what I needed. It sounds normal now, but back then it was like a miracle. I usually waiting until the homeowner left and then set up shop.
First of all, that’s a girl laugh. It was Missy. I needed a drumbeat for the song and I pulled it from the Cash Money Bros. live recording. She just happened to laugh during the sickest drum break.
What about your laugh during “I Had You?” You have this sort of adorable crack-up during the lyrics “I can’t seem to get my mind off the bed.”
Those vocals were recorded into my laptop mic while waiting to get on a plane to split. I was in a room full of friends and I remember thinking it was silly. Mike B was co-writer for those lyrics. we wrote the whole thing and recorded it in about 20 minutes.
Why isn’t your Springsteen cover on this record?
It would have been perfect since there was like 40 minutes of free space at the end of that CD. Unfortunately, that was recorded after ‘Keep Moving’ dropped.
I meant why isn’t it on Keep Moving Disk 2? I’m pretty sure Ol’ Dirty Bastard would have supported its inclusion. Anyway, let’s move on.
You had a crazy girlfriend at the time. Care to elaborate?
Listen, they’re all crazy. Then, now and forever.
I remember spending nights talking to you on the phone and on tour about your crazy Portland experiences and that wicked girlfriend. Where is she now?
She probably grew up and became 10-20% a better person. The seriousness in which we take our lives changes as we get older. I might have been a total scumbag too. I’m also not sure I knew how to cope with the weight of some of the things that had happened. I’m having a mild panic attack just trying to find an answer.
What inspired the songs? I think I remember they were gifts for said ‘girlfriend.’
They were all over the map. They were also gifts of sorts. Gifts to woo one particular person or the other. But like Nick Cave always says, “The peculiar magic of the love song, if it has the heart to do it, is that it endures where the object of the song does not.” Feel me?
It is pretty telling when 10 years later, after all you’ve experienced, that period in your life is still present. I think that is why the record still feels so relevant to me.
I was upset, if not disturbed, by the things I learned and was compelled to exercise some of my own 2nd hand panic attacks in the Before Braille track “Limb From Limb.” I always hoped you’d find the song to be a comfort rather than torment. Can you ease my mind here?
I loved it. It’s like I was saying. Songs can be weird little gifts to eachother. That’s how I still view it. Sorry everything sucks, the song. It’s nice that you knew me at such a low point in my life. That’s a good history actually.
The 2005 Novi Split / Before Braille / Facing New York Tour was the greatest thing that ever happened. Do you agree?
That tour I remember more than any other. I learned how to barter. I learned how to howl. I also learned a thing or two about transporting minors across state lines.
Let me correct myself. That tour was ultimately the worst thing that ever happened in this label’s history. Next question…Tell me about your last decade?
It was a beautiful ride. But in all seriousness, these questions might be inducing a panic attack. I mean, to look at the totality of an entire decade in a young man’s life…. Who does this?
Why and how have you changed?
I used to feel guilt for no reason. Now I know exactly why I’m guilty.
Love of your life in 2004?
Love of your life in 2014?
Jury is still out on that one.
My dream is to have David J produce a record for David PJ. Maybe in 2024? Please free your schedule.
Sunset Alliance have some closing thoughts to share: When a label or person has the fortune of experiencing material that was never meant for public consumption, it may be a little voyeuristic, but I found it to be a blessing. I’m so glad you caved in to my persistent ‘naggings’ to allow me to release your personal tracks. It is one of the very few, truly honest experiences I’ve had in the record industry. And there are even fewer performances that I’ve ever heard on ‘tape’ that I’d consider as genuine. Keep Moving didn’t feel honest to me just because it’s vulnerable or because of how or where the songs were recorded. It felt (feels) honest to me because it started as a gift. You gave me 3 songs on the end of a mix tape to be friendly and benevolent. It made me happy. You’ve always been that way. Genuine, humble and selfless. Your music is thoughtful, both in musicianship and in deed. You’re a wise, creative man who could choose to exercise a business acumen, but I never once felt you were asking “what’s in it for me?,” even when I was not performing my label duties at full capacity and/or competence. And it’s not just indie/DIY poise; you’re genuine, you’re resourceful, and you’re understanding. You have been a breath of fresh air and an altruistic brother. Keep Moving is a battle cry of encouragement that always gives me a reason to be happy when I could more easily be demoralized, or worse, indifferent. Thank you David J. 10 years later, many are proud to have accepted your call to “keep moving.”
Some additional questions submitted by our allies, marked by asterisks.
*At the reunion show, you kind of mentioned that Novi Split started after you had “ruined your life” and that David Jensen allowed you to then put out a record on his label. Care to elaborate?
You know, I had my first true nervous breakdown. Every decent human being should have at least one. If they don’t, I don’t trust them. I really didn’t want to put out a record. I made songs because it was fun and maybe I made them for other people. When David told me he wanted to put out those songs I think I said no. I was flattered but mostly scared. I remember David almost bullying me into it. He told me he was going to put these out whether I wanted to or not because that’s what I was supposed to do. Ruined my whole life.
*You did a lot to declare your love for your brother (the other David J) at the Sunset Alliance 10 year anniversary show. How did you guys first meet? What was the process of getting together to release a record?
I needed a lot of encouragement to produce anything and David was a constant sounding board for me. He actually listened to obsessive small changes in mixing and arranging and would have notes for me. It was something that I still appreciate to this day. Not a lot of people invest, believe, and get excited about something you consider your own like he does. That man might be a saint.
*After working with so many other groups for so long, why did you choose to go solo with Novi Split?
They were a collection of songs that couldn’t find an outlet in any band I was playing in. Combine that with a love for recording and you’ve got my band. The songs by nature were very simple. Written in a few minutes, recorded that day and then mixed for months. I was in love with learning about modifying sounds and creating new textures I had only heard on “real” records.
*I loved “Keep Moving” and “Pink in the Sink,” and I have noticed that you are now playing with CMG and We Are the Night. Are their going to be any more Novi Split records? When can we expect one?
March 18 2014. If Not This, Then What
*I understand that you might still be working with Hush Records to put out music, do you think that you might ever collaborate with S/A again?
What are we dong right now? Is this thing on?
*We noticed you playing with Moby on Leno. Very nice. Now that you’ve been on Leno, what other show would you like to eventually be on?
Knowing me, knowing you with Alan Partridge.
Keep Moving, Disk 2 was released today. Go download it for free: