March 02 2020

Annie O Presents: The Cornichons

New York-Standard Sounds
The Cornichons is an art rock band featuring John Miller, Servane Mary, Jose Martos, Aura Rosenberg and Dan Walworth. They have performed in venues across the globe, including The Rubell Family Collection in Miami, the Palazzo Grassi in Venice, The Kitchen in New York, our very own The Standard, East Village, and will be performing at the next Venetian Blinds festival at La Bourse de Commerce – Fondation Pinault, in Paris, on October 22nd, 23rd and 24th. Annie O caught up with The Cornichons before their show on March 2nd at Top of the Standard.
The Standard
You define yourselves as an "art rock band." Can you explain this concept?
The band isn't so much the result of a particular concept.  Rather, most of the members studied in art schools and most are artists. The Cornichons tend to play in art venues such as galleries and museums, and at art-related events. Rosenberg got her MFA from Hunter College where she studied with Robert Morris.  For her thesis, she wrote and performed several songs for him. And then Miller and Walworth studied together at the Rhode Island School of Design in the 1970s. At that time, a lot of RISD students formed bands, including one called the Artistics which later became the Talking Heads. Miller played bass in a band that was alternately called the Footnotes or the Liner Notes along with guitarist J.D. King. After graduating from RISD, King, Walworth, and Miller moved to New York where King founded the proto-Sonic Youth band, the Coachmen. Walworth played drums with the Coachmen. Miller went on to get his MFA at the California Institute of the Arts where he played bass and guitar in Mike Kelley and Tony Oursler's band, the Poetics. Walworth and Miller went for about a twenty-year period during which they played no music, until Walworth suggested that they start up again, together with Rosenberg. This laid the foundation for The Cornichons. At the same time, Miller also began playing drone music with the German artist Jutta Koether and minimalist filmmaker and musician Tony Conrad. Rosenberg later invited artist Servane Mary and art dealer Jose Martos to join the ensemble. Martos had played bass in French punk and disco bands during the 80s and 90s. The Cornichons was Mary's entry into music.

How did you come up with the name The Cornichons?
 Rosenberg came up with the name as a joke: a fancy-sounding name that just means small pickles.

How would you describe the music?
The music is a mix of classic rock, French pop, occasional Latin and reggae rhythms, and roots music.  

Can you tell us who does what in the band?
 Mary is vocals, Martos is on bass, Miller does vocals and plays guitar, Rosenberg does vocals and keys, and Walworth is the drummer. 
 
Who writes the songs that are not covers? What are your favorites covers?
 Rosenberg and Miller write the band's original songs.  Sonny Bono's "Bang Bang",  Jeanne Balibar's "These Days",  Jonathan Richman's "Pablo Picasso" are favorite covers. Plus "Quiche Lorraine" by the B-52s, which we are hoping to cover soon.  

How often do you get together to rehearse?
 Not often enough!  (Martos and Mary may disagree). 

I hear that you have a vinyl coming out soon. What songs are included in it?
We recorded this at Danny Garcia's First Live studio in Bushwick.  The songs include: "These Days," "Sylvia Bataille," "Prison of My Own Device," "Do It Again!," "We Could Get It On," and "Bang Bang".

What can we expect from your show at Top of the Standard?
We will perform eight or nine songs, mostly from our upcoming record.
INTERVIEW BY
Annie O