TheBayBridged.com and New, Improved Recording are proud to present the fifth installment of New, Improved, LIVE, our ongoing series of live studio sessions with top indie bands, recorded at the New, Improved Recording studio in Oakland, California. This month’s session features Thao with The Get Down Stay Down delivering exclusive live-in-the-studio renditions of songs from all three of Thao’s albums, including the band’s latest release, Know Better Learn Faster, out now on Kill Rock Stars.
It’d be easy to tag the band as “critical darlings,” given the universally strong appraisals that Know Better and its predecessor We Brave Bee Stings and All have received, but such an assessment would overlook the band’s devoted fans, who are justly rewarded during the trio’s electrifying live shows. This session captures that electricity while also showcasing Thao Nguyen’s heartfelt melodic songwriting, which lies at the core of the group’s appeal. We hope you’ll enjoy these renditions as much as we do.
New, Improved, LIVE, featuring: Thao with The Get Down Stay Down
1. Thao with The Get Down Stay Down – “Beat (Health, Life, and Fire)” (originally from We Brave Bee Stings and All)
2. Thao with The Get Down Stay Down – “Body” (originally from Know Better Learn Faster)[audio:http://media.libsyn.com/media/thebaybridged/Body_160.mp3|artists=Thao with The Get Down Stay Down|titles=Body] Download: 160kbps mp3 / 320kbps mp3
3. Thao with The Get Down Stay Down – “The Give” (originally from Know Better Learn Faster)[audio:http://media.libsyn.com/media/thebaybridged/The_Give_160.mp3|artists=Thao with The Get Down Stay Down|titles=The Give] Download: 160kbps mp3 / 320kbps mp3
4. Thao with The Get Down Stay Down – “What About” (originally from Like the Linen)[audio:http://media.libsyn.com/media/thebaybridged/What_About_160.mp3|artists=Thao with The Get Down Stay Down|titles=What About] Download: 160kbps mp3 / 320kbps mp3
New, Improved, LIVE: Thao with The Get Down Stay Down – “Beat”.
New, Improved, LIVE: Thao with The Get Down Stay Down – “What About”.
Interview with Thao Nguyen
The Bay Bridged: Thanks for playing aÂ New,Â Improved,Â LiveÂ session.Â How did you pick the songs to play during the session?
Thao Nguyen: Thanks for having us! To be honest, we picked the ones we could play the best, as it is a new record and we don’t live in the same city and we were low on rehearsal time.Â
TBB: Compared to the last record, did you approach recordingÂ Know Better Learn FasterÂ differently or similarly?
TN: I wanted this record to better convey the energy and emotion we have in our live show – elements that were not as clearly defined when we recorded our last record, because we as a band were barely formed.Â
TBB: How do you successfully capture your band’s energy in a recording studio?
TN: You track a lot of clapping and stomping and shouting and you dance around in the control room to keep up morale.Â
TBB: Could you talk about one of the performers who made a guest contribution on the new album, perhaps one that surprised or inspired you?
TN: Our dear friend Merrill Garbus (she lives in Oakland!) is an incredible musician and performs as Tune-Yard. She plays ukelele and sings on the record and it was so important to me to have her on there because: 1) she is incredible and 2) we have come to find that being a woman and a touring musician is a pretty specific situation and it is imperative to have each other as support systems.Â
TBB: Is it more challenging to draw from personal experiences in writing songs, or does that come naturally?Â Has that always been the case for you?
TN: It is most natural for me to draw from personal experience. The tougher part is when people listen with that knowledge in mind; my writing has always been very autobiographical. Every time I try a more narrative approach the result sucks a little bit more than is comfortable for me.
TBB: Since you and your band live in different cities, what’s it like when you all reconnect before a tour?
TN: We are excited and hug each other very sincerely and communicate using only inside jokes and alternate voices.Â
TBB: What’s been the best live show the band has had so far?Â Where was it and why was it so good?
TN: This tour the Bowery Ballroom in NYC was been filled with such warmth and enthusiasm. We are carried and propelled by the fantastic crowd. They are what you’d expect in New York City, in the most fufilling way. But please keep in mind we haven’t played the Independent yet, and I do love to come home.Â
Studio Session Photos with Thao and The Get Down Stay Down
Audio: Eli Crews, John Finkbeiner
Photos: Christian Cunningham
Video: Nathan Fritz, John Smart, Brent Harnisch