Handsome Family Values: The Salamander

handsomelogo120eFor the Handsome Family, upcoming album Honey Moon—a collection of love songs due April 14—is a startling left turn. The husband/wife duo of Brett and Rennie Sparks still deals in spectral bluegrass and noirish folk forms on its ninth album, but gone are the ghosts and murder ballads that had painted them into a gothic-Americana corner. (Trust us, the album is still plenty weird. Love is weird.) The Handsome Family is guest editing magnetmagazine.com this week. Read our Q&A with Brett and Rennie about Honey Moon and a host of other topics.

slamander370Rennie Sparks: Salamanders need a moist environment, so it’s not surprising that they like to live inside rotten logs; it is startling to throw an old log on the fire, however, and see a salamander leap out of the flames. Such occurrences, and the fact that salamanders are able to regenerate lost limbs or tails, are perhaps the reason that medieval alchemists believed the salamander to be an immortal creature forged out of fire. I wish I lived in a time and place when it was easy to believe in magical creatures born of fire. Still, it took my breath away when I once spotted a tiny salamander perched on a wet stone at the edge of a stagnant pond littered with old beer bottles.