L.A.'s soulful pop rockers Sweaters are not just a band, they're a lifestyle. Or so says their manifesto and 7" single on White Iris Records, Can't Stop Winning. Few have attempted the record/ manifesto combo (that Karl/Richard Marx split never panned out), but Sweaters' philosophy of obeying their instincts led them to this unlikely confluence of music and text. Each "Can't Stop Winning / Like Ur Killing a Man" record will include the 14-page manifesto that delineates the world according to Sweaters: "At one point, sooner or later, you've got to stand up and decide it's time to start winning."
Written by singer/ keyboardist Jordan Benik and published by Echo Park Books, the manifesto reads like an instruction manual for epiphanies, or fever dreams. And it complements the exhalations of Sweaters' music, where blasts of piano banging, fuzzy guitar, and honest lyrics broadcast the essential energy to live life as hard as you can.
The album comes out today, and Sweaters will play Spaceland's Monday night residencies in December, one of the last before the venue becomes The Satellite early next year.
In honor of the release, Sweaters' singer and essay author Jordan Benik gave West Coast Sound some facts (and fiction) about the creation of the book, and offered an first look and listen to "Can't Stop Winning."
Read an exclusive excerpt of the book here, and let the inculcation begin:
How did you come up with the idea of putting out a text with your single?
Jordan Benik: Sweaters had done a small run of Can't Stop Winning in conjunction with Echo Park Books prior to the release of this single, but we sold out on the night of the book's release thanks to a really fun reading/performance we did at Stories which morphed into a really great night at Taix. After the inventory was depleted, of course the value of CSW first print editions skyrocketed. A lot of close friends who'd bought copies found themselves holding surprisingly valuable investments. We encouraged them not to sell, but the temptation was too great and they traded their books for Apple stock and cars.
At that point, the books were out on the open market; this created what is referred to now as 'The Sweaters Bubble.' When we as a band found out about this we were drunk and couldn't afford a cab home so we called Andrew Pogany of Echo Park Books requesting a 'bail out'. Andrew had plenty of money but he was asleep so obviously this problem was way broader than we'd foreseen originally. Lewis Pesacov, who produced our single, was currently on tour with Fool's Gold in Europe. Once he heard about the CSW crisis he immediately suspended his tour to return to Los Angeles and deal with the problems affecting us most here at home. In hindsight this might've been a hasty maneuver that spoke to Lewdog's reputation as a loose cannon. That said, once we all got together and figured out the whole 'chambord + vodka + soda water + rocks" solution we decided we should print books to go along with the single because hey, gotta get noticed somehow in this sea of crap bands.
How did you get Echo Park Books to participate with the pressing?
JB: Echo Park Books did most of the participating, including the idea to have a book in the first place. Andrew Pogany had invited Ladyface over to do some guitarwork for a dinner he was putting together, and then [drummer] Joel Black got involved because he lives to serve. Everything went swimmingly. After a few plates, Joel went around the house turning off the AC on everyone because "this isn't Texas" and at that point Andrew suggested to Sweaters that we do a book revolving around our lifestyle. At that point all we had to do was write it. I sat down and wrote CSW over a couple of weeks, and then Ladyface and Joel both made worthy contributions in the form of a Foreword and Exaltation, respectively. Then we gave it back to Andrew and he continued his participation by formatting it on something Adobe related and pressing it onto paper from real trees.
Intro to Can't Stop Winning [An Excerpt]
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Nobody wants to write about space anymore; everyone wants to figure out what we're on about. We in our collective consciousness have replaced the physical limits of existence, outer space, as our final frontier. We have replaced it with our own selves, our consciousness, and our journey through our own existence.
It's a sign not of failure, of our having given up on the 'impossibility' of exploring the limits of the universe, but merely a change of priorities. For so long the universe was suspended above us, the spinning mobile hung above the crib, and all of humanity would reach out towards it in awe of its beauty and in efforts to understand it. But one day the infant in the crib notices its own hands reaching up towards the mobile and has an epiphany, a realization that its own hands and their inner workings are of greater interest than the mobile. We in our collective consciousness have come to a similar moment, we have come to a watershed moment in our existence as a race. We are about to leave our infancy and the discovery of the self is the way out.
Though our grand objective has changed, one constant remains the same, one constant has crossed over from our dying desire to explore space and has found itself reborn the same but different in our efforts to explore this new last frontier. It is our dream of the warp drive. No longer a longing for a physical engine that can take us to the farthest reaches of the universe, the dream of the warp drive has become the search for the ability to move effortlessly throughout all that exists within us. We need this drive so that we may discover the totality of our selves. This drive is "cant stop winning".
[Full disclosure: I have eaten Carl's Jr. with Andrew Pogany on several occasions while working at Flaunt Magazine.]