As far as solo debuts go, Alec Ounsworth‘s Mo Beauty (Anti-) is impressive. The Philadelphia-based Clap Your Hands Say Yeah frontman travelled to New Orleans to record the album with producer Steve Berlin (Los Lobos) and a host of the city’s notable musicians, including bassist George Porter, Jr. (Meters), drummer Stanton Moore and keyboardist Robert Walter (Greyboy Allstars). The result is a mature, confident, 10-song collection that Ounsworth had only hinted at being capable of with his work in Clap Your Hands. He also has a second solo album, Skin And Bones (credited to Flashy Python and available online only), that features members of the Walkmen, Dr. Dog and Man Man. While all this new music is good for Clap Your Hands fans, you get the impression that the band (now on hiatus) is no longer a priority for Ounsworth, who became a father last year and is enjoying family life at home. Ounsworth, writing from his dining room, is guest editing magnetmagazine.com all week.
Mo Beauty‘s “That Is Not My Home (After Bruegel)” (download):
Skin And Bones‘ “Skin And Bones” (download):
MAGNET: How did you hook up with Steve Berlin? And which of you decided to record Mo Beauty in New Orleans?
Ounsworth: I met Steve in New Orleans. We both wanted to work together there. We came up with the idea together.
Steve is from our shared hometown of Philly, correct?
Did you know any of the musicians you ended up recording with down there?
I think I had met Stanton briefly. I have known (guitarist) Matt (Sutton) for years, and he also played on the Flashy Python record. The other people I met when I went down there.
Why do two solo records rather than another one with Clap Your Hands?
Different strokes, different folks. I had all these songs, and none of them felt right for Clap Your Hands.
I think Mo Beauty is the best thing you have done musically. What do you think?
I don’t know. I do like it, of course, but I have a hard time qualifying, of course. Flashy Python is also quite good, in my opinion. Clap Your Hands, too.
You are in some great company as part of the Anti- Records roster? Do you like being on a label as opposed to putting out your own CDs?
It’s a lot easier. For example, I don’t have to get on the phone to the manufacturing company to address issues associated with bringing the record into existence.
What can you tell me about Flashy Python? Was it fun working with a bunch of Philly scensters?
Scenesters? I don’t know anything about this. These are people who happen to be friends and happen to be musicians—excellent ones, luckily—and happened to be available from time to time. It is nice to work with friends, yes.
Has your new foray into fatherhood had any impact on you music? Change any of your priorities?
I would rather be home more often.
What’s up with Clap Your Hands?
It exists, as always—and like the others—only in your mind.
—Eric T. Miller