Swap meets and flea markets have inspired movies, art, magazines, and novels. And for one indie-rock musician, flea markets inspired the name of the band. The Flea Market Poets, led by singer-songwriter Jason Serious, released a debut album last year and actively tours across Europe at a range of venues, including flea markets. The band is based in Munich, with members hailing from Baltimore; Austin, Texas; Munich, Germany; London; and Donegal, Ireland. Having earned some good reviews, the Flea Market Poets are now working on a second album. Serious took some time away from that to answer a few questions from FleaMarketZone.com via e-mail.
FMZ: What’s the story behind the band’s name? How did you come up with it?
Serious: Well, I was really drunk one night, up late writing, as I do, and I was thinking about this crazy idea where people could buy shares in songs, and they’d trade them like on a stock market. I got intrigued by the interplay between commerce / markets and art and music, and it made me think about some of the markets they have here in Germany where I live — they are outdoor markets with crusty old Bavarians haggling with you from their stalls over all sorts of kitschy shit. And I thought, well, what if someone were buying and selling words or phrases, or poems, or songs, what if you had a stall with some guy hocking poems that he’d make up on the fly? I’m sure that exists somewhere, doesn’t it? Well that led to the first band name idea, “Market Poets,” but that seemed a bit too heavy with commercial connotations. The next day I was on a plane to somewhere, I forget where, maybe Ireland, because that is where I tour a lot, and I had the idea to make it “Flea Market Poets.” I didn’t know whether to make flea market one word or two. I still don’t and in fact you’ll see it differently in different places. Anyway, it stuck. The “flea” part brings the name down to earth, somehow, and flea markets are very rich in associations. They’re places for finding lost treasures, for instance. 😉
FMZ: Do you shop at flea markets?
Serious: I never used to. Then we were booked to play a big flea market here in Munich, largely because of the name. And then that was a success, I guess — it was the first time anyone here in this city had combined live music with flea markets — and so they kept booking us, and we got some radio and press coverage. So now we play regularly at flea markets, along with other bands. A cool little scene has developed around it — younger people who might not ordinarily hang out at flea markets come and listen to the music and drink beer (beer is available everywhere here in Bavaria, including flea markets). Before and after sets, I sometimes have a wander around the market and see if there’s anything interesting. I bought some Smurf figurines last time. I’ve come to like the smell, too.
FMZ: What do you all think about flea markets?
Serious: Like I said, there are lots of angles to be appreciated. This is just me talking, it’s not like we the band are officially pro-flea markets or anything. We just want to play music and have a good time.
FMZ: What’s next for your band, and what’s happening with it?
Serious: We just came off tour in Ireland (like I said, we go there a lot) and are taking a break now from touring to write for the next album, which will probably be made next year. The album is about half written now. I am also about to launch a solo folk project — jasonserious.com — so that keeps me busy, too.
Many thanks to Jason Serious, and check out this BalconyTV video interview and performance:
Oct. 19 Update: In other flea-market-inspired music news, electro-pop musician David E. Sugar has released a song called “Flea Market.” The song can be heard at the artist’s MySpace page. The lyrics include the lines: “It featured at a swap meet baby / It featured at a flea market.”