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Progress report

August 10, 2011

Outlining has gone much better than transcribing so far. It’s certainly not as soul-crushing.

Of all the material I’ve transcribed and compiled, I have maybe 10-15% left to outline. But that’s not all, folks. I also need to work into the outline the different pieces I’ve annotated in Kim Cooper’s 33 1/3 book about In the Aeroplane Over the Sea and John Cook’s Our Noise: The Story of Merge Records, though obviously only the bits and pieces that will keep me within the terms of Fair Use and, you know, basic human decency. The same goes for the countless interviews and features I’ve found online and elsewhere. So there’s still a lot to wade through, but nothing in comparison to piles and piles of content that’s come from the interviews I conducted myself. The overwhelming majority of this book will come from conversations I had with these people firsthand. I’ll use secondary sources for context, corroboration and the occasional rhetorical flourish, but this is going to be almost entirely new material, and I’ve gathered a lot of stuff already that isn’t known by the general public. Not to be coy or anything.

Of course, there’s still more stuff to be found. For one thing, I still have a bunch of people I plan to interview (though, if I haven’t pinned them down yet, there’s a chance I’ll never be able to), which means a lot can change.

The other, bigger thing is that the Elephant 6 is not in the dormant state it was in a few years ago. In particular, both the Olivia Tremor Control and Neutral Milk Hotel are working their way back toward their late ’90s peaks: Jeff Mangum played the first solo show of his mini-tour earlier this week (and was by all accounts already in midseason form), and the Olivia Tremor Control announced a full tour and reissues of its first two albums. I don’t expect either party to grant many interviews promoting themselves, but at the very least, there ought to be plenty of pixels spilled reviewing these shows. This all makes it much more difficult to find an end point for this narrative, but it also makes for much richer content.

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