Posted by Jason Diamond

I firmly believe that here are two camps when it comes to twee:  one that loves it, and the other that can’t stand the mere thought of it.  To prove my point, I offer up the following experiences:

  • I was sitting in a friend’s apartment while his belligerently drunk roommate grilled me on my choice of records.  “Fucking twee shit.  Horrible, awful twee shit.”  He was referring to the bevy of 80s bands that made their way out of various English and Scottish towns in the wake of The Smiths.  His equally drunk girlfriend added, “Real men don’t listen to bands called The Field Mice!”
  • A few years later, I sat in a pub in England, terrorized by a skinhead who kept calling me a “fucking twee faggot” for wearing a Belle and Sebastian t-shirt. [Note: anybody who has ever met me knows that I am anything but twee.]

So I realize that’s only two examples, but it’s enough for me.  I also realize that it’s not the best way to introduce the Morrissey-affected, Pastels worshiping pop of the band Dream Diary.  Still, it makes it easier for me to say that if you dig twee music, Dream Diary is your savior.   The debut album, You are the Beat, is a precious slice of pop that you will adore if you are in the same camp that I’m in.

Listen: Dream Diary – “El Lissitzky”

Singer/songwriter Jacob Danish Sloan, and drummer Alex Iezzi talked to us about books being “twee as fuck” and using jackets from Bolaño books to look cool.

Do either of you keep a dream diary?

Jacob Danish Sloan: I’ve repeatedly tried, but am always too confused and groggy in the morning to complete an entry. But our songs are kind of an attempt at a dream diary.

Alex Iezzi: I’ve never had a diary of any sort, only tiny pads scribbled with notes and ideas. I guess that’s like keeping a diary, but it’s not very dreamy.

 

Have you guys ever been “booked?”  (When somebody runs past you in the hallway and knocks the books out of your hands.)

Jacob: I was always afraid of this, so I clutch my books close.

Alex: Once, standing on a platform for a train, my entire body was “booked” by a grumpy, elderly man. And yes, i dropped a copy of my book into the tracks. I don’t remember what I was reading.

Your bio states that you were inspired by bands like The Smiths and Belle & Sebastian, both bands know for dropping dozens of literary references throughout their songs.  Do you have any references to books in any of your songs?

Jacob: No, but we do have references to Lloyd Cole lyrics, and he often pulls lines from Raymond Carver, so we might have accidental Raymond Carver quotes. Plus, I think I stole phrases from a few poets such as John Betjeman and Philip Larkin, after flipping through poems for inspiration.


Give me the Dream Diary reading list.  You can pick five books each.

Jacob:

Andre Gide – The Counterfeiters (A fantastical Paris filled with vivid characters and coincidences.)

Patricia Highsmith – various short stories (She sets the bar really high for dark, angst-y tales of being misunderstood.)

various – The Foxfire Book (It teaches the reader how to do all sorts of crafts, interspersed with elderly people’s opinions on things such as snakes and the moon landing.)

Joyce Carol Oats – Foxfire: Confessions Of A Girl Gang (This is an unrelated book, about rebels gone too far, which I lost with fifty pages left to read — a real cliffhanger.)

Roberto Bolaño – The Savage Detectives (You don’t need the whole book – just the book jacket. You can hide other, more embarrassing books inside it on the subway.

Alex:

Joe Wenderoth – Letters to Wendy’s (The only fast-food inspired book that anyone should ever read. Period. But really, this guy is a total nut and I could laugh at his poems forever and ever.)

Henry Miller – The Air-Conditioned Nightmare (Why go on tour when Hank Miller can give you plenty of reasons to both love and hate everyone and everything in America)

Boris Vian – I Spit on your Graves (Pure Pulp, the stuff my dreams are made of)

Rainer Maria Rilke – Letters to a Young Poet (This is my go-to book for feeling bad about anything. Rilke inspires some invisi-dude with ultra-heartfelt letters. And thankfully not vice-versa; the guy sounds like total baby.)

Ryokan – Dewdrops on a Lotus Leaf (Aren’t zen poets the best? They can write about the mundane and make it interesting in a way that you just can’t. Why do I care about how Ryokan eats pomegranates? I don’t know, but I really do.)

Twee literature is apparently a real thing.  If you could pick one book that could be considered “twee as fuck,” what would it be?

Jacob: It would be a book from the time of the British New Wave in the 1950s and 60s, such as Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner. So many twee song titles and band names come from those books. Didn’t Alex just read A Taste of Honey?

Alex: I did just finish A Taste of Honey, but it’s not as “Twee” as Morrissey makes it out to be.  However, I have to choose Yukio Mishima’s The Sailor who Fell from Grace with the Sea ….  it’s like ATOH, but with more kids doing bad stuff, and an even more bizarre mother. It’s totally worth writing a song about this book, especially a tough-wimpy one.
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