I’ve been a Casper and the Cookies fan for quite some time, so when guitarist Jim Hix agreed to be my first interview, I well, kind of freaked out majorly. Every now and then you come across a band so good, that you almost believe they do not exist. Their infectious harmonies and poppy tunes leave you always wanting more. There’s something truly magical about the band Casper and the Cookies.
Modern Mystery: There has been a lot of talk about the new Casper and the Cookies record. How does the new record differ from ‘The Optimist’s Club’?
Jim Hix: Well, most importantly, it’ll be different because i’m on it! ‘The Optimist’s Club’ was completely recorded, heck, it was even pressed, by the time i joined the Cookies. Luckily, I love that record, so it’s been quite the pleasure to play those songs for the past two years or so, but this new record will feature songs that I hope will feature my smudgey fingerprints alongside Jason and Kay’s. There are even a few songs I wrote.
For real, this record is different because it’s built largely around the piano and vocal harmonies. Also, the ‘Optimist’s Club’ was a little more concept driven, where as with this record, we’ve focused on the songs more as singles.
MM: Are you involved with any of the songwriting on the new record? Do you guys improvise a lot in the studio?
JH: I was involved with the songwriting on this record. Sometimes, one of us will bring in a song and it is pretty much finished, and then sometimes we’ll kind of bring in a “song idea” and then everyone will kind of flesh it out. Each song comes about a little differently.
We’re in the very lucky situation where Jason and Kay actually own a recording studio and Jason is a great engineer/producer. This affords us plenty of time to improvise and experiment in the studio.
MM: You’re going on tour with Dressy Bessy this fall. Do you enjoy touring? What are your least and favorite parts about being on tour?
JH: I love touring more than any other part of being in a band. I think of it as the pirate’s life, and it’s the pirate’s life for me! My favorite part of it is all the cool people that I’ve become friends with scattered all over the world. Another aspect I really like is that when you’re on tour, you’re constantly around strangers and you can really allow yourself to explore your own personality. What I mean by that is; if on Monday, you’re in a good mood, you can be the greatest, coolest person in the world. if, then, on Tuesday, you’re in a shitty mood, you can be a real diva. You know, there’s always tomorrow and new people to be around.
MM: What new songs are you really excited about in the studio?
JH: I’m excited about a lot of them! We have a song called “Mother Tongue” that I really like. I also like a song called “Marcel”. I’m also excited to see people’s reactions to some of the songs that we have that are kind of a departure for us like a song called “Pete Erchick”. Theres not really a song on the new record that I don’t like.
MM: How did you join Casper and the Cookies?
JH: I was on tour with Of Montreal being a roadie. B.P.’s band was opening some of the shows on that tour and Jason was in B.P.’s band, so thats how I met him. While on tour, knowing that Jason ran a studio, I mentioned to him that I had just left a band and was looking to get in a new one. I said something like, “if you know anyone that needs a bassist/guitarist/singer/keyboardist/drummer, let me know.” He hired me for the Cookies right there. My “audition” was singing Kim Deal’s harmony in The Pixies’ cover of “Everlong”. When I got home from that tour, I met up with Jason and Kay at a coffee shop and they gave me a copy of the ‘Optimist’s Club.’ I’ve been playing with them ever since.
MM: What is your favorite song to play live?
JH: hmmmmm, this is a good question. Right now I like playing a song called “Nagoya” because i get to sing lead on it. I also like ‘Sea Fingers’ and ‘Optimist Credo.’
MM: On the new record, can we expect the same, great, Casper harmonies?
JH: ohh yeah, but a lot more of them. Plus they’re a little more complex.
MM: How old were you when you started playing guitar?
JH: I was in fourth grade so that makes me nine.
MM: Was it the first musical instrument you learned to play?
JH: Well, i’ve sang since I was a toddler so that’s really my first instrument. Then guitar then drums, then keyboards.
MM: Who are your influences, new and old?
JH: Well, I was a big nirvana fan when I was in high school so i’m sure that still figures in somewhere. I also love the usual stuff, The Beatles and The Beach Boys. I also really listened a lot to Ben Folds in the late 90’s.
MM: Where do you see Casper and the Cookies 10 years from now?
JH: I have no idea!
MM: What are you currently listening to?
JH: Besides our new stuff, I’m listening to the new Of Montreal record and the new Andy from Denver record.
MM: How did you end up moving to Athens, Georgia?
JH: I had an aunt that taught at the university and I would visit her every summer. I have always LOVED athens! When I went to the University of Kentucky, I had a subscription to the ‘Flagpole’, a local Athens music paper!
MM: What inspires you to play and write music?
JH: Nothing else gives me the feeling that performing does. I can’t imagine anything else.
MM: For the record, what board game can you totally kick anyone’s ass in?
JH: I don’t play too many board games and the ones I really like, Scrabble and Trivial Persuit, I get my ass handed to me, but in the video game world, I can kick anyone’s ass at “Fight Night”! It’s the only video game I really ever play.
Check out Casper & The Cookies Myspace for songs and upcoming Tour Dates with Dressy Bessy! www.myspace.com/casperthecookies