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Song Machine

Michael Nau of Maryland’s Page France can’t stop writing.

By Dainon Moody
Posted // June 11,2007 -

For as verbose and poetic an emerging songwriter that Michael Nau of Page France is, he’s not into talking about what it is he does all that much. A telephone interview may suddenly end when you least expect it'no call back, no explanation'leaving you to wonder whether a considerably probing question sent him packing or he just got bored and didn’t care for using a word like, say, “goodbye.” To stick to the optimistic side of things, though, maybe he just had more songs to write. It’s entirely plausible.

nn

See, Page France has released Come, I’m a Lion! and Hello, Dear Wind thus far, along with a smattering of EPs. But those are just the official releases (and re-releases, as the debut was recently done so on new label Suicide Squeeze). Nau, along with the rest of his troupe (Whitney McGraw, Clinton Jones and Jasen Reeder), record like madmen. Record everything he writes. Everything. Though he shies away from putting an exact number to how many of his songs are circulating, there are … a lot. He’s so prolific that he has to do his solo thing (Cotton Jones) and create altogether new bands in his spare time (The Broadway Hush).

nn

“Up until our last record, we didn’t even know what we were doing,” Nau said. “We just had a batch of songs that was gathering dust in a drawer … but it turned out to be a rather cohesive record. We decided we might be able to do this.”

nn

He’s as nonchalant about the band’s stumbling into an accidental career as musicians as he is the fact there’s another album set to release in early 2007. They’re also in the middle of their biggest tour to date as well'38 dates in just over a month. Not bad for a bunch of friends from rural Maryland.

nn

It’d be easy to draw some parallels here between Page France and Sufjan Stevens'trading Sufjan’s banjo for McGraw’s glockenspiel'though they’re more tapped into that melodic indie-rock persuasion than the orchestral-pop scene. But dig a little deeper to the heart of the band (i.e., the lyrics) and you find another group unashamed of their Christian roots. Though there was never a set agenda in mind, talk of Jesus and God just seemed to find its way into Nau’s stream of consciousness. This means his half-fantasized, half-autobiographical musings include surprising lines like “She loves me more than God” and “If you talk to Jesus, ask him if he wants me to come home.”

nn

It isn’t Christian rock, so you best dash those ideas right now'this stuff is actually good and overly listenable'it just happens to be where Nau’s mind is. It’s as much about their religious leanings as it is, borrowing from their label’s description, “folkloric storytelling, campfire sing-a-longs and lovelock tales.”

nn

“Honestly, I didn’t expect [the whole religious aspect] to be as huge a deal as it was. I’ve just grown comfortable speaking that way. It came out that way. And, though I like hearing people talk about it, my biggest concern is that it takes away from what else is on the record. Still, in retrospect, I wouldn’t have changed a thing,” he said.

nn

With Page France, everything in its still-new history has come about by way of natural progression. As more songs were recorded, more members were added and nobody appeared very concerned with what would happen next. Record some songs with some friends and keep the meter running, that sort of thing. If you’re searching for explanations as to why they sound Just That Lazy and that unhurried in their approach, well then, there’s your reason. The fact that they’re still recording and putting out albums two and three years after their creation has at least allowed for a more stable working environment.

nn

But getting back to that whole writing thing. While Nau subscribes to the whole “If you want to be a writer, then write” mentality of his profession, he’s never been interested in presenting stories or concepts'just a mindset will do. A whole train of thought captured in a two-week period? Focusing on a time and place? Perfect. That’s the kind of headspace he’s most comfortable creating in.

nn

“I don’t know exactly what triggers me to write,” he says. “But I always try to do it as much as possible.”

nn

It’s the reason why he’ll regularly throw up any number of songs online for your downloading pleasure, using any of the monikers he chooses to attach to himself or the band that day. It gives the music a life outside of the drawer, so to speak; good songs that might otherwise never be released in any other way.

nn

That’s what probably caused him to fly the coop so suddenly and stop answering those bothersome questions. If that’s the case, well, then he’s forgiven. PAGE FRANCE

nn

Kilby Court
n741 S. 330 West
nSaturday, Nov. 4
n7:30 p.m.
n24Tix.com

 
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