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Charlie Klarsfeld of the Americans on His Anxiety Dreams and Working With Sean Lennon

by Nicole Frehsee on Feb 14, 2011

. Photo by Photograph by Pamela Hanson.

Who are some bands that people say you sound like?
Charlie [Klarsfeld, frontman]: There's one song we have, the song "The Antidote," where we just lift a Sly and the Family Stone melody from "Hot Fun in the Summertime," so people definitely say Sly and the Family Stone, and I think our first record definitely has a major Beach Boys and Phil Spector influence.

What is the worst disaster you've suffered onstage?
Charlie: I've never really had an onstage disaster, to tell you the truth. It's just little nerdy annoying things, like a microphone that shocks you when you touch your lips to it. I have a lot of nightmares about shit going wrong onstage in front of a lot of people. Every few months or so, I have this dream of me in front of an enormous group of people, and the microphone not working and nobody being able to play together and people trailing out or staring at us.

Are you a Beatles guy or a Stones guy?
Charlie: Worst question ever. Can I take a pass on that? I would say that I definitely am more heavily influenced by the Beatles.

Do you have a favorite Beatles album?
Charlie: I would say Abbey Road. It's just from start to finish, the perfect…just to sit down and listen to the whole thing is a journey, and the first half of the record is great songs, and the second half is the medley of all those ideas, and such an inspiring thing to listen to.

What are your vices on the road?
Charlie: I usually have a girlfriend and I'm not that heavily into drugs, so I don't want to take the rock out of the rock and roll, but I'm a pretty organized, semi-healthy, clearminded individual on the road. We don't have roadies or anything, we have to get all of our own gear, I almost lost my guitar in London from just schmoozing it up too much with people afterwards. At the level we're at, there isn't room for vices.

Have you ever trashed a hotel room?
Charlie: No, and I don't think I ever will. I would feel bad, somebody's got to clean that up.

The Americans released The White EP not long ago. Where did the songs come from?
Charlie: They're pretty much all love songs, mostly about this girl that I dated for four years who is still the love of my life. She's one of my best friends. The anxieties and insecurities that all arise from relationships - that's a really deep well for creativity.

Sean Lennon produced "Requiem" from the White EP. Were you intimidated to work with him?
Charlie: I just knew him as a musician. I was at his house late one night with some friends, and I worked up the courage to show him my band's first record. Sean really liked it, and when it came time, I texted him and said, "Would you like to produce songs for us?" He was like, "I'd love to." He was really humble and sweet and nurturing about. I learned a lot from working with him.

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