Fred Armisen
Credit: Chris Hornbecker/IFC

In this week’s issue of Entertainment Weekly, on stands now, we take a deep dive into the (re)emerging folk-rock boom and its relation to the current obsession with all things banjo’d, suspendered, and artisanally pickled.

To help us define the movement, we commissioned SNL mainstay, Portlandia star, one-time professional drummer, and artisinal-lifestyle expert (see: Portlandia‘s awesome “Dream of the 1890s” sketch) Fred Armisen to provide a playbook.

(And don’t take it too personally, folk fans; he teases because he loves!)

Step 1: Give the genre a name

“What’s this music even called? No one’s given it a name. If it were up to me, it would be called wooden-rock. You know, like it’s made out of wood? Or maybe it’s be the first kind of rock where it’s the word after rock, so maybe it’ll be rock-craft. Banjo-rock? Derby-rock? These are all question marks!”

Step 2: Play the right instrument

“The most important thing is that the case for your instrument is really well taken care of and vintage and of high quality and ornate and comfy-looking. So before you reach out for that banjo or ukulele, make sure that the case is really fuzzy inside and has something written in cursive on the outside. When you hand it to somebody at the airport, it goes without saying that it is extremely delicate. That said, I think you can’t wrong with banjo, and you can’t go wrong with accordion.”

Step 3: Travel in appropriately old-timey style

“I picture caravans of old milk delivery trucks or newspaper trucks from say the ‘30s. Or maybe an old city bus from 1951 in St. Louis.”

Step 4: Get the wardrobe

“I would shop for suspenders and derbys. Also, white shirts that’ve become off-white, so that they’re almost sort of eggshell. It’s button-down, and it looks like there might be some sort of yellowing and stains, but there’s not – they just look that way. With some very delicate buttons and a collar that is not big, if any collar at all. And then a thick blazer helps, and that goes male or female. This is all unisex.”

Step 5: Write up your tour rider

“I think there’s some cucumber sandwiches, some ginger ale, ginger beer. Root beer is in there somewhere. Maybe microbrewery beer, a bottle of red wine. And some honey with bread.”

Step 6: Have a philanthropic cause

“I’d say the restoration of an old church. Like, old town-center churches. Actually, of any building — let’s rebuild the old library, let’s rebuild the old school. Like, ‘Hey, the Northampton Community Center needs to be redone!’”

Step 7: Find a good practice space

“I’d say either in a church basement or at someone’s house not in the basement. If it’s in someone’s house, it’s a living-room sort of situation. I don’t think even in an apartment, anyone would complain. Like, if you’re in a death metal band, you’ve got to find a warehouse somewhere. But with this kind of music, wood-rock, you’re ok in the living room.”

Step 8: Throw an awesome after-party

“I picture a family gathering. A lot of people picnicking, and reading. I mean, there’s still a lot of wine, but it’s more of a late-night family picnic. I think someone surprises everyone with a pie. Like, ‘Oh my gosh, guess who brought an apple-cinnamon pie! Oh, wow!’ Whenever we look back at groupies from this music scene, like the way we look back at groupies from the ‘60s, there’s always going to be baked goods involved.”

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