Naked Arm Wrestling

ego vs id
(Above, Left-to-Right, Robbie Stiefel and Nate Cook)

The other day in Santa Fe, I had a chance to sit outside the Santa Fe Baking Company and experience the debaucherous, honest and intelligent levity of Ego vs. Id co-frontman Nate Cook via cell phone. Boulder’s Ego vs. Id, a hard-rocking & hard-working band that’s sort of like Wilco with testosterone, are playing the fabulous Fox Theater in Boulder next Wednesday and have been working on their first full-length album since, I dunno, the beginning of time. Anyway, here’s the article from today’s Boulder Weekly:

Local rockers Ego vs Id challenge the Boulder music scene
by Adam Perry
Boulder Weekly, 6/18/09

Vol. I and Vol. II, the first two EPs by local indie-Americana rockers Ego vs Id, sent sparks through the Boulder and Denver music scenes, but haven’t brought the band national attention. With the fall 2009 release of the young group’s debut full-length, 23-year-old co-frontman Nate Cook & Co. hope to reveal the great potential so apparent on their self-released EPs and at many local shows. Cook spoke with Boulder Weekly by phone last week about the recording process, the band’s new drummer and more.

Boulder Weekly: How’s the album coming?
Nate Cook: Really well. It’s slow going, but what we’re trying to do takes time.

BW: And you started recording in January?
NC: We started February 8th, and where we’re at now… it’s gonna sound ridiculous, but we’ve got basically three songs completely done. So you do the math on that. We’ll see how much longer it takes. We’re shooting for October or November, so we’re hoping to be wrapping in July or August. This album’s a fucking monster. I don’t wanna suck my own dick yet or count my own chickens or some other idiom that applies, but I’m telling you this is a beast. You hear the word “revival” thrown around a lot [in this area]. You have the folk revivalists and the alt-country revivalists… and I guess what we’ve started to realize is that we don’t fit into the revivalist thing, because what we do comes naturally to us. It’s just what we love. And we have more of a pop sensibility than some of the stringent revivalist people, [so] our goal is to make something new. We’re really excited about it, and it’s really not something I’ve heard come out of Boulder or Denver.

BW: So what’s the state of the Boulder scene?
NC: It’s kinda been stagnant if you ask me. There’s not a whole lot of new shit going on. Last night I went to that Troubadours show at the b.side lounge and was there for maybe half an hour before I left. They’ve got some good stuff, [but] it’s definitely not my thing.

There’s some cats up there who can write, but… I went to a Troubadours show years ago, and it was the exact same shit I heard last night. No one’s doing anything new; it’s the same fuckin’ bands, the same fuckin’ songs done in the exact same way. Everyone sounds like they wanna be Iron and Wine and they wanna be some bastardized version of Gram Parsons. But people are doing their thing, and there are lots of people going to see live music. That’s really something new, I’d say. That’s a good sign of people really reinvigorating their interest.

BW: How has the new drummer affected the band?
NC: Brian [Dillon] is the shit, basically. He’s been around a long time, and we were really, really lucky to get our hands on him. He’s super busy — kind of a pro, I guess. But he really liked our material and fit like a glove personality-wise in the band, too. Our former drummer [Rich] is fantastic, and I really liked playing with him, but Brian live adds an element that launches the material further.

BW: How has the competition and friendship between you and [co-frontman] Robbie [Stiefel] evolved?
NC: Robbie and I have problems, and that’s inherent in what we do. [We’re] two songwriters with two different styles of songwriting arranging — when we first started it was brutal. We’d get in horrible fights and wouldn’t talk for a long time. Nowadays, it’s still kinda rough, but we’ve been together so long now that it’s almost like getting in a fight with your brother. We just keep going. That relationship, to be honest, is probably a lot of the reason why we’ve done so well, because he pushes me. We’re both in a constant struggle to put out better material than the other one, and it advances us as artists.

BW: Why not change the name of the band to Nate vs Robbie instead of Ego vs Id?
NC: [Laughs] Yeah, totally. We never actually designed it to be that way, because I had the name Ego vs Id before I met Robbie, but it ended up being the exact right name for the band. Sometimes I’m the needy little bitch, and sometimes he’s the overbearing and pious one, and sometimes we switch it.

BW: When I visited Ego vs Id in the studio recently, there was a guy with a video camera doing a documentary. What’s the status of that?
NC: When I get a few drinks in me and there’s a camera around, I kinda start hamming it up a little bit. I was challenging people to an arm-wrestling match in the buff, so to speak… and I think it made him uncomfortable, and really the rest of the band uncomfortable, so he stopped coming around. If he’s gonna get scared the first time I get naked and challenge him to an arm-wrestling match, he’s probably not right for our band.

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