From the Artist
Dear Listener, Tracks 3 and 4 take place in the 40's; tracks 5 and 6 in the 20's and 30's; track 7 in the later 50's; track 8 starts in the very early 40's; track 9 goes back and forth; track 10 takes place in the early 60's; the final track takes place in the early 90's. Track 2 takes place a few years ago; track 1 took place when it was recorded. The action depicted in "The Wayward Granddaughter" and "Slavin' Away" does not include the character Olga Sarantos plays on the rest of the record. "Slavin' Away" imagines that character--the main character-- fantasizing, a bit remotely, about the hard lot of other women. Now, I wouldn't guess that the Main Character actually thought the woman concerned was riding around in a Norton side-car and operating her own cottage industry trinket assembly/sweatshop: but it might have pleased her to picture it so. "The Wayward Granddaughter" is about a different Greek-American grandmother and her popular granddaughter ("Connie"). They're from Chicago's south suburbs and don't figure in the rest of the record; I wanted to have another (slightly younger) grandmother and family in there for perspective or comparison's sake, so to speak. Thank you for your time, Matthew Friedberger
About the Artist
The Fiery Furnaces' fourth US release, "Rehearsing My Choir" is based, with liberal heaps of poetic license, around the recollections of Matt and Eleanor Friedberger's grandmother, 83-year-old Olga Sarantos. As Eleanor and Mrs. Sarantos trade off on vocals, signaling quick shifts in time and perspective, the music barrels along at their heels, the Furnaces changing up instruments and arrangements to match the action. As much musical theater as concept album, the story arc of "Rehearsing My Choir" largely takes place in mid-20th century Chicago. The lyrics matter-of-factly recount our heroine's adventures from a half-century ago, and so reflect how the average person's aspirations and experiences were different enough then to seem almost alien now. But it's no period piece, no nostalgia or attempts at "authenticity" in evidence, and Mrs. Saranatos' dry, unsparing treatment on tracks like "Candymaker's Knife in My Handbag" is the furthest thing from sentimental. "! Rehearsing My Choir" was written and produced by Matt and recorded in separate stages: Vocals engineered by John McEntire At Soma EMS in Chicago over November/December '04, the musical backing tracks recorded that November by Bill Skibbe at Key Club Recording Company in Benton Harbor, MI, and mixing done with Rafter Roberts at San Diego's Singing Serpent, in Feb. 2005 Originally from Oak Park, IL, siblings Matt and Eleanor Friedberger formed the Fiery Furnaces in 2001, after each had made the separate decision to move to New York City. Neither had been in a working band before, but once they started playing regularly in NYC the Furnaces made up for lost time most successful bands have less to show for their lifetimes than the Fiery Furnaces have packed into the span of two years. Since recording "Gallowsbird's Bark", (released by Rough Trade in 2003), the band has spent most of its time in the studio or touring. By the time of "Gallowsbird's" release, the band was already finishing up its 76-minute follow-up, "Blueberry Boat," released later in 2004. "EP," a full-length record consisting of B-sides and UK singles, was released in early 2005 and was as different in intent and execution from "Blueberry Boat" as that record was to "Gallowsbird's Bark." With the Shins, Franz Ferdinand, Wilco and others along for the ride, the Furnaces spent the remainder of 2003-2005 trekking around Europe, Australia, Japan and the USA. During this time the band also established its unorthodox method of recreating its songs live - running through the set list all at once, breaking the songs into fragments and threading the bits amongst each other, not stopping for breath til the end. The Fiery Furnaces have just finished their next record, "Bitter Tea," which is tentatively scheduled for release in the early 2006.