An Interview with Wild Harbors

Chris and Jenna Badeker are calling it quits. Kind of.

The husband and wife duo have been playing shows as Chris & Jenna for years in addition to other facets of their careers. Jenna has been a leading lady in a venerable big band outfit. It’s hard to tell, but there might be a picture of her meeting a president at a show. Chris maintains an inspired art and design gig. There’s certainly a picture of him with a penguin, which is nearly as cool, depending on how you feel about presidents. The running thread through all of it has been their folk-pop pairing. Now though, Chris and Jenna say Chris & Jenna are done. They’re stepping up their game with a new album under the moniker Wild Harbors, produced by Andrew Osenga.

Now entering the make-or-break week of an exciting Kickstarter campaign, the pair were kind enough to sit down and answer a number of my questions.

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Ash Wednesday News

Again the gunman enters.
Again the children crouch
Under desks with prey’s
Terse stillness.

Once more the chopper angles:
Lines of scurrying hostages
Like pheasant before the hiss
Of prairie fires.

The hack script re-cobbled
Together falls now flat
And horrid against our thirst
For novelty.

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What is Possible

The band storage room was the dirtiest place I knew on earth. Its original carpet was synthetic umber single-ply laid over stained concrete and committed to slow suicide by unraveling. They replaced it, while I was there, with a deep dark blue, the short pile of which had not yet bowed in shame at the things it would see—Oh, the things it would see.

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Why We Read and Write Hard Things

When I was a kid, I had to write a book report in Senior English. Ms. Southern gave us a list of famous novels and works several pages long, and each student was to choose from among these. I was a rather morose teenager, enjoying moody music and—as with many teenagers, I expect—anything that smacked of resistance for resistance’ sake. As to what we were resisting, who could say? This being the case though, I perused the list and selected the suggestively titled Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut.

I didn’t know any Vonnegut. The title felt like a fragment of the cultural landscape, like a roadside hillock I had passed a million times without thinking about it. Plus, it seemed to imply violence of a kind, which fit well into my social lexicon. This was the dawn of the new millennium; Gladiator had come out, along with the acrobatic martial arts of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. My friends and I had recently discovered Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket. I enjoyed Michael Crichton novels and bloody Japanese cartoons. In that instance, violence at least felt like a method of enduring schoolwork’s rigors and ennui.

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When the Light Disappears

Today, multitudes of Americans converged on a long swath of land stretching from the Oregon coast to Charleston. After a great deal of hype and expenditure, they took turns sitting in the dark together for a few minutes per group. Then they turned to go home.

It’s funny, historically speaking, to see everyone so thrilled and eager about a solar eclipse—an event that used to be a harbinger of doom. Solar eclipses have brought rulers to their knees, armies to armistice, and if you believe Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto, a timely end to a series of beheadings. They also offer a representation of the word syzygy, which earns at least twenty-five Scrabble points. The moon passes before the sun, occulting its light and revealing the wild-hair halo of the sun’s corona.

In the fallout from the disheartening events in Charlottesville, it is a blessing to have such a grandiose celestial reminder of the centuries-old motto of John Calvin’s followers: Post tenebras lux—after darkness, light.

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