The members of Connecticut-based maximalist indie rock band The World Is a Beautiful Place and I Am No Longer Afraid to Die are used to questions about that verbose moniker. And founding guitarist Derrick Shanholtzer-Dvorak is kind enough to tell the tale at least one more time.
While looking through some old National Geographic magazines in former vocalist Thomas Diaz’s garage, the pair found a flexi disc of whale sounds, and used it as the backdrop for guitar and air-organ swells. “I jokingly said we’re like a post-rock band now, and then, ‘Hi, we’re The World Is A Beautiful Place and I Am No Longer Afraid To Die,'” Shanholtzer-Dvorak says. It wasn’t until the full band had been officially playing together for around year that someone else played Neva Dinova’s “I’ve Got A Feeling.”
“The whole end of the song is him singing ‘The world’s a shitty place, and I can’t wait to die,'” says Shanholtzer-Dvorak, “and that’s probably where I unknowingly got that.”
Though they’ve been pegged as the epicenter of “emo revival,” The World Is a Beautiful Place is closer to a band like Broken Social Scene, with its fluctuating lineup and epic narrative scope. The lyrics to “January 10, 2014,” the first single from the band’s newest album Harmlessness (out today), quote liberally from a story in a 2013 episode of This American Life about the murders of two bus drivers in Ciudad Juarez allegedly committed by an anonymous female vigilante.
But that name stands out even among The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, I Love You But I’ve Chosen Darkness, and … And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead. So Shanholtzer-Dvorak was kind enough to discuss a handful of other creative works—mostly individual songs, but a few albums and a movie—with equally long or even longer titles.
Shanholtzer-Dvorak: This is one of those songs that constantly pops up. It’s heavily licensed, you hear it a lot. I just think of it as background music that could be playing anywhere. As an R.E.M. fan I think it’s a shitty song, but I have that same relationship with The Cure’s “Friday I’m in Love.” I really like The Cure, but I hate that song because I’ve heard it in grocery stores and stuff. It could just be the context of walking around Walmart or something under fluorescent lights and hearing it.
Fall Out Boy’s “Our Lawyer Made Us Change The Name Of This Song So We Wouldn’t Get Sued” and Panic! At The Disco’s “Lying Is the Most Fun a Girl Can Have Without Taking Her Clothes Off”
Shanholtzer-Dvorak: I was never into those bands because I was a couple years too old to give a shit when they came out. But every time I see a Fall Out Boy song title I’m just like, “fuck you.” Or when they’ve named songs after a long quote from a recent movie. I’ve never cared about that band. But those dudes are from the hardcore metal scene of the late ’90s. A lot of screamo or metal core bands would have these ridiculously long song titles. Neil Perry had a lot of that stuff. Same goes for Minus the Bear’s first record, since (guitarist David Knudson) came from Botch, late-’90s metalcore.
Shanholtzer-Dvorak: I have a lot of friends now who tell me about how good Pink Floyd is. I had a pretty sick mushroom trip and we all listened to [Pink Floyd’s debut] Piper At the Gates of Dawn. That was amazing, and it’s the first and only time I’ve heard that record. But this song is sick because it’s just a bunch of strange sounds.
Sufjan Stevens, “The Black Hawk War, or, How to Demolish an Entire Civilization and Still Feel Good About Yourself in the Morning, or, We Apologize for the Inconvenience but You’re Going to Have to Leave Now, or, ‘I Have Fought the Big Knives and Will Continue to Fight Them Until They Are Off Our Lands!'”
Shanholtzer-Dvorak: I don’t actively listen to Sufjan, but every time someone shows me one of his songs I really like it. But still, I’ve never voluntarily put on a record. This is a fun instrumental track though. It’s certainly audacious, and I back that song title.
Death Grips’ “You Might Think He Loves You For Your Money But I Know What He Really Loves You For It’s Your Brand New Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat”
Shanholtzer-Dvorak: I don’t really care for Death Grips. The title looks like something someone would tweet and then people would screencap it and share it. I like this more than any Death Grips I’ve ever heard, and I still don’t really care, but that’s fine.
Crime In Stereo’s “Long Song Titles Aren’t Cool Anymore Because the Rest of You Fuckers Are No Good at It”
Shanholtzer-Dvorak: That’s cool. I’m going to pretend they’re dissing Fall Out Boy. It’s only 37 seconds long. I liked the stuff they did towards the end more. This was never my kind of thing, maybe back in high school when I was more into (Gainsville punk rock band) Hot Water Music and other stuff.
Stephen Sondheim’s “The Boy From Tacarembo La Tumbe Del Fuego Santa Malipas Zacatecas La Junta Del Sol Y Cruz”
Shanholtzer-Dvorak: I had no idea what this was. But [“The Girl From Ipanema”] is my favorite Sinatra song. [Laughs.] I’m into this.
Marnie Stern’s This Is It and I Am It and You Are It and So Is That and He Is It and She Is It and It Is It and That Is That
Shanholtzer-Dvorak: I love Marnie Stern. This is the record I listen to the most of hers. I was just listening with someone the other day and we were trying to remember [the lyrics at] the start of “Prime.” Also of interest, [drummer] Zach Hill from Death Grips played on this record. So those are related. Big fan of Marnie Stern, definitely.
Fiona Apple’s When the Pawn Hits the Conflicts He Thinks like a King What He Knows Throws the Blows When He Goes to the Fight and He’ll Win the Whole Thing ‘fore He Enters the Ring There’s No Body to Batter When Your Mind Is Your Might so When You Go Solo, You Hold Your Own Hand and Remember That Depth Is the Greatest of Heights and If You Know Where You Stand, Then You Know Where to Land and If You Fall It Won’t Matter, Cuz You’ll Know That You’re Right
Shanholtzer-Dvorak: I didn’t listen to that record when I was a kid and really into music and watching videos on MTV. The video for “Criminal” was really popular, I think that’s a really sick song. But I was never really an active Fiona Apple fan. But I remember when that record came out, being like, “Jesus Christ.” Little did I know…
Don’t Be A Menace To South Central While Drinking Your Juice In The Hood
Shanholtzer-Dvorak: I probably watched that movie 50 times when I was a kid. I wonder if it still holds up as an adult. I loved that movie when I was a lot younger. I thought it was hilarious, I was probably around 12 when it came out. I remember when they see [Tracey Cherelle Jones’ Dashiki] at a party and she’s got all her kids and Loc Dog goes, “She’s got more kids than Mrs. Wayans!” I always thought that was a pretty good joke.