Buried Treasure: Margot & The Nuclear So & So’s

In any given city or scene, songwriters tend to orbit around one another. They see each other as competition or companion; if they come together at all, it’s usually out of a sense of shared purpose or similar experiences. For one songwriter, finding another with whom to collaborate and create is often the stuff of fairytale, akin to finding one’s soul mate and taking a stab at happily ever after. Such band-love recently blossomed for Richard Edwards and Andy Fry, stalwarts on the Indianapolis music scene. They met last summer and quickly formed an alliance similar to that of long-lost brothers. From them—and largely from Edwards’ pen and creative genius (and he’s just barely 21!)—the oddly monikered Margot & the Nuclear So & So’s was born, a six-piece indie-folk-rock collective. With their breathtaking debut, The Dust of Retreat (Standard), Margot is the portrait of musical union bliss. We talked with frontman Edwards on how it all came together—sunken battleship or not.

Your band bio on MySpace.com, aside from being fabricated, makes reference to sunken battleships [“Margot & the Nuclear So & So’s are from London, where it’s foggy and lovely. They lost their accents, don’t ask how; it’s a subject of great animosity. Now they live in obscurity in a sunken battleship. They love pop and that’s what makes them punk. They all have degrees, and that’s what makes them smart. They read long books with big words and drink wine. They are very pretentious. Don’t mention the old days to them. They are very old and bitter.); you also claim the LP was mixed by Tyler [Watkins, bass] in a sunken battleship. What’s your fascination with sunken battleships?

Probably alcohol, mostly. Sunken battleship is the first thing that pops into my head if I’ve had some alcohol.

Where did the band name come from?

I used to have a job; I was driving to my job in the morning and it popped into my head, and I pulled over and wrote it down. I think Margot came into my head because I really like The Royal Tenenbaums; I don’t know where the other thing came from. I pulled over and called Andy and he didn’t like it. I rallied support for it through other outlets. I got his brother [drummer Chris Fry] behind it. I went to the Indianapolis Star to talk to this music writer and told him all about it and he liked it. He published the name for consideration.

You wrote the entire album yourself. How much did the band contribute to the songs as they were being created/finalized/recorded?

I wrote them all and bring them in like that, [then] everybody puts their parts together. This band contributes a lot. I’ve been in bands where I wrote everything. Andy, Tyler, and I produce everything in terms of overseeing everything. Everybody comes up with ideas and they’re filtered through Andy, Tyler, and I. It’s very much a collaboration.

What’s “Paper Kitten Nightmare” about? [The refrain goes, “Meow, meow, meow…”] It’s very, um, unique…

Most of it came from a little bar I went to when we went to record. Everyone was setting up and I walked down the street. There was this little old man that was really funny and he reminded me of a cat. He spent the whole bar experience boring people with his stories about Bob Dylan. And everyone was kind of blowing him off; a lot of people kind of rolled their eyes. I overheard him and I told him I loved Bob Dylan, [and we talked]. I thought to everyone else it sounded like meows, but I was very interested in what he was saying.

What’s it all about? Life, the music business, recording and touring…answer it however you wish.

I think love and finding a family of people. I think everyone finds a family that’s not their actual family. Even if a band has all this buzz—no matter what happens in my band, or anybody’s band, the majority of bands are going to “fail.” But you if you at least have a group of people around that care about the right things, no matter what you’re doing in life—music, or writing, going to work—it makes you able to concentrate on creating something with yourself.

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