For the Books, Found Footage Is a Blank Page

Just outside of Washington, D.C., on their way to their show at the 9:30 Club, Paul de Jong and Nick Zammuto of the band the Books stopped at a Salvation Army.

“It’s just unbelievable,” de Jong said of the thrift store.

There, somewhere in Maryland, is de Jong’s rapture: troves of memories put to tape. He pulls what interests him from the shelves and bins of thrift stores across the country, screens the audio or video, and catalogs what he likes into his personal library.

“It’s really a love for the past,” de Jong said, “and a desire to see its potential in creative work.”

With de Jong as the curator and Zammuto as the orchestrator, they stitch together found archival treasures with original music to create songs, as well as videos that they projected behind them on stage at every concert.

This year’s effort, “The Way Out,” their first in five years, was born the same way but employed found sound as a narrative device, rather than an element that added texture or mood to a song. Characters dot the album and appear in the videos that make the Books’ live performance enveloping.

We spoke to the Books backstage at the 9:30 Club about their live performance and about the essential role that found footage plays in their shows.

And, of course, we asked them to talk about books: