Exclusive: Stephin Merritt Promises to Return to the Synth on Next Magnetic Fields Album, Scores 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

Exclusive: Stephin Merritt Promises to Return to the Synth on Next Magnetic Fields Album, Scores <i>20,000 Leagues Under the Sea</i>
Magnetic Fields leader Stephin Merritt assures fans that the band's next record will indeed employ synthesizers. With the recent release of the mesmerizing Realism, the "no-synth trilogy," which also includes 2004's i and 2008's Distortion, is complete and the Magnetic Fields will return to familiar sonic territory. Well, sort of.

In a recent interview with Exclaim!, Merritt explains that he abandoned his trusty synths because they simply had nothing more to say.

"Well, actually the problem was that there were no interesting new sounds to be played at the time," he says, recalling the impetus behind the trilogy. "So, I thought I would give up the synthesizer for a while until there was something. Three albums seemed to be long enough, and now, in fact, there are new synthesizers and I've been collecting those. So, clearly the next Magnetic Fields album will have synthesizers on it but probably all new ones - probably no synthesizers that people have been familiar with."

Along with again embracing the synth, once the band wrap up their forthcoming world tour (see dates below), Merritt is set to undertake one of his strangest projects yet. "I'm working on a score for the 1917 silent film version of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea," he says. "It's going to be performed at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco on May 4, I believe."

Merritt reveals that he was invited to score a screening of the film with a live band by the San Francisco Film Festival and that he'll be singing and playing at the May event.

"I'm going to try to musicalize it to be more or less in sync with the moving lips of the actors, who actually talk a great deal, considering it's a silent film."

Just as 2006's Showtunes collected Merritt's forays into musical theatre, Merritt hopes that his work on 20,000 Leagues will be eventually released officially.

As previously reported, the San Francisco Film Society, will also screen an untitled, ten-year-in-the-making documentary about Merritt on February 28.

To check out Exclaim!'s extensive Timeline feature on the Magnetic Fields from our February issue, click here.

Tour Dates:

2/4 Washington, DC - Lisner Auditorium
2/6 Montreal, QC- Corona Theatre
2/8 Toronto, ON - Queen Elizabeth Theatre
2/10 Boston, MA - Wilbur Theatre
2/11 Boston, MA - Wilbur Theatre
2/13 Brooklyn, NY - BAM Howard Gilman Opera House
2/21 Portland, OR - Aladdin Theater
2/22 Portland, OR - Aladdin Theater
2/23 Seattle, WA - Town Hall
2/24 Seattle, WA - Town Hall
2/27 Oakland, CA - Fox Theater
3/1 San Francisco, CA - Herbst Theatre
3/2 Los Angeles, CA - Wilshire Ebell Theatre
3/4 Milwaukee, WI - Pabst Theatre
3/5 Bloomington, IN - Buskirk Chumley Theater
3/6 St. Louis, MO - The Pageant
3/7 Chicago, IL - Harris Theater at Millennium Park
3/10 New York, NY - Town Hall
3/11 New York, NY - Town Hall
3/22 London, England - Barbican Centre
3/24 Stockholm, Sweden - Filadelfiakyrkan
3/25 Oslo, Norway - Rockefeller
3/27 Berlin, Germany - Babylon
3/29 Hamburg, Germany - Fabrik
3/30 Frankfurt, Germany - Mousonturm
3/31 Amsterdam, Netherlands - De Duif Prinsengracht 756