Love, email, and the wretched internet: a Q&A with Chris Farren and Jeff Rosenstock of Antarctigo Vespucci | Music | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Love, email, and the wretched internet: a Q&A with Chris Farren and Jeff Rosenstock of Antarctigo Vespucci

Antarctigo Vespucci, Katie Ellen, Teenage Halloween play Roboto on Nov. 10

click to enlarge Love, email, and the wretched internet: a Q&A with Chris Farren and Jeff Rosenstock of Antarctigo Vespucci
Photo: Andy De Santis

The internet has poisoned all of our minds, but it’s also created new ways to find crushes, keep in touch with crushes, panic about said crushes, rinse, and repeat.

Chris Farren and Jeff Rosenstock’s new album as Antarctigo Vespucci, Love in the Time of E-Mail, understands all of this and tries to work through it with some of the catchiest songs in either artist’s career. Merging the best parts of their solo work — Rosenstock’s roaring punk anthems with a touch of glockenspiel, Farren’s bite-sized pop firecrackers — the record is an irresistible victory lap.

Before forming as a duo in 2013, Farren and Rosenstock crossed paths for nearly a decade as members of DIY punk bands Fake Problems and Bomb the Music Industry!, respectively. Now that they’ve both experienced late-breaking solo careers with incessant touring schedules, the project’s slowed down a bit, but they’re in the midst of a 10-city jaunt behind Love in the Time of E-Mail. Ahead of their show this Saturday at Mr. Roboto Project, City Paper talked to Rosenstock and Farren about love, email, and the wretched internet.

What are some of the most important relationships you guys have formed via the internet?

Jeff Rosenstock: I would say for sure, each other. We were friends when we toured together, but I think we both kind of talked to each other occasionally on the internet. That was where we both talked about meeting up and starting this band. Chris would send demos through email, but we took that and turned that into a regular friendship. IRL, do kids still say that?

Chris Farren: I’ve had a lot of friendships in my life that have started with just a friendship over email or social media. It’s kind of nice to see what a person is like on Twitter and Instagram in some way.

JR: Email I feel is different because people always come off as the worst version of themselves. When I read and write emails, I have to be like “this person is not being passive aggressive.”

You’re both married and on tour all the time. Do you have any tips on how to stay sane or in contact while in a long-distance situation?

JR: My wife has been tour-managing my band for a bunch of years, so we stay in pretty good contact. Which is funny because all we talk about now is business stuff. We never just sit down and talk about how much we love each other like we used to, “no I love you more, no I love you more.” Not anymore!

CF: Not anymore, it’s all stocks, bonds, files.

JR: Open up that file!

CF: For me, my wife, I text her every three or four days, just to say “hey, did you pay this bill,” and she goes “yeah.” Then we wait another five or six weeks, and I’ll be home.

What’s your favorite way to lose hours at a time on the internet?

JR: There’s no favorite way.

CF: It all feels like a problem that is just one step away from me checking myself into a place to get rid of it.

JR: Correct me if I’m wrong, I feel like for both of us it’s just looking up information about ourselves, what people think of us, which is bad. Can’t be good for you.

CF: Doesn’t even feel good, even if it’s nice. I’m always trying not to be looking at my device in some way. It’s basically just a constant source of inner shame every time I’m looking at it. I feel like I am willfully and actively destroying my creative mind.

Do you remember some of your earliest email addresses or AIM usernames?

CF: Oh yeah, I had one that was xman68994.

JR: I had one that was xxlihcxx, Long Island Hardcore.

CF: One of my AIM names was bakethemoocow.

JR: My email address for the longest amount of time in high school, my AOL screen name was thesameasyours, which got a real chuckle when I told it to people.

There’s constant concern about streaming damaging the music industry or limiting compensation for artists. Do you think the internet has been a net positive for the way you and other artists you know make music?

CF: Maybe a little bit the way we make music, but more so just the way we distribute music obviously. I think about 10 years ago when there really were no active Spotify or Apple Music, and everybody that wanted to hear music would just download everything illegally, including myself of course. And now at least artists are getting a couple pennies every time? A couple pennies every hundred times somebody listens to something?

JR: I think it is very appropriate and completely expected that the music industry at large eventually figured out a way to utilize the internet, which kind of democratized musicians at a point. Really small independent artists could actually break through, whether it’s through putting records out the way Bomb the Music Industry! did, and that obviously, completely helped us. Or just kids playing drums on YouTube and get jobs through that. But the music industry figured out a way to corral that in, turn one or two things into the only thing and now you have to like kiss everybody’s feet to get on their fucking playlist, and it’s undemocratized again. And they don’t pay anything, just like they always did. So it’s completely unsurprising to me the way it turned out. And it is a thing that you have to be a part of because it’s the only way people listen to music.

I say all that, but then like talking about not wanting to do that is saying, “Oh I don’t want my music to be on Napster.” Shut up! Make your music, let it be where it could be.

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