On this episode of In Conversation, I spoke with Erik Garlington of the band Proper. The trio released their third album, The Great American Novel, last March on Father/Daughter Records. The Bartees Strange-produced album is their most ambitious to date, melding elements of punk, early-aughts emo, as well as prog and nü metal.
With a rich and fluid narrative that pieces each song together, Garlington has described the record as a “concept album about how Black genius, specifically my own, goes ignored, is relentlessly contested, or just gets completely snuffed out before it can flourish.”
As someone who equates their songwriting process to writing episodic drama, The Great American Novel is a grand statement for Garlington. It’s a coming-of-age story for a young, black, queer person navigating life in the 2010s with thunderous performances from the band underneath its detailed story.
I caught up with Garlington before Proper.’s tour with Los Campesinos to find out the inspiration behind the album’s concept, the importance of living an artistic life and so much more.