[the film] “Magnolia” by Paul Thomas Anderson and Neutral Milk Hotel’s In the Aeroplane over the Sea
. Neutral Milk Hotel never followed up their epic but Paul Thomas Anderson did and the direction he chose to go in was “Punch Drunk Love”, which is also a phenomenal film but a much smaller and independent focus.
It seems for this new album the same thing has naturally occurred. Rather than looking outwards at all of the magic and moments that exist, this album is looking inwards and appreciating the things that ground us. How do we maintain our sanity in a world full of such possibility (both beautiful and tragic and sometimes both)? As such, the songs have drastically fewer words, are about more simplistic concepts and are looking to our bodies and rituals as a solid force. I was interested in this method of just celebrating a simple melody and as such these are our most “pop”-oriented songs. I was also interested in writing simple, straight-forward lyrics and that has truly been a challenge. How do you have a full arc with a handful of lines without being trite? No joke, the next release might be more hip-hop based, similar to a few of my earlier songs (which is even how “On Feathers & Arrows (on Burnt Pine)” originated), and I am excited about the ability to get away from all of the minimalism, though I am sure it is a worthy endeavor.
In addition, after the first album it was always a real trial and quite difficult to try and replicate the album. We got eleven people on the tiny stage at the Bottom of the Hill for our album release and played the album without stopping and it was amazing and incredibly fun to be on stage with a virtual symphony. However, the logistics to pull that off were so difficult (even though I was unemployed at the time) that it didn’t seem sustainable.
As such, with this album we are wanting to produce something that we can easily replicate and what is becoming pretty fascinating with the process is that by hearing the humongous dynamics possible within our music by having so many instruments on the last album we are now more intimate and more concise as well as the loudest and harshest we have ever been (and with fewer people and instruments). I think part of that comes with confidence and familiarity but another element comes with how “personal” the songs are. Somehow by removing the magic of that, which we saw in the outer world, we are now able to show the magic that is already within us and is a part of our day-to-day lives and exists whether we celebrate it or not.
BB: Why you going the Kickstarter route? Have you done it before?
DHS: We actually have never done Kickstarter but have been intrigued by it for quite awhile. As truly independent musicians, all of the money we spend on anything comes either from the small amount we receive from shows/merch or from our own pocket. I pretty much fully funded the first album because it was something I felt like I had to do. However, as with other self-financed musicians/filmmakers/small business owners/etc. that leaves you with quite a bit of debt. It actually reminds me of the famous advice for anyone who wants to pursue art, “If you don’t have to do it, then don’t do it.” And I second/third/thousandth that as well.
The other amazing thing about Kickstarter, though, is that it is helping provide another model for how the art world can function. Once art becomes funded by the people who truly appreciate it and live with the creation after it is produced, then the art truly is for everybody. By allowing people to help to fund our album they are truly becoming a part of the process and can take pleasure in knowing they created some beauty in the world and it increases our community. I have contributed to many friend’s projects and it truly does feel good to know that I not only supported them, but I supported their vision.
BB: Any special plans for the show? Debuting any songs from the upcoming album?
DHS: The upcoming show at Cafe Du Nord will be our first headlining the venue and that is truly exciting as we will be debuting a number of songs we have never played before and probably a few no one has heard before. Something as a musician that is always interesting is when people come up after a show and tell you what their favorite song was. I feel like, for the most part, invariably there is going to be a song that stands out over time because it is your most poppy or has the biggest hook. However, what is tremendously satisfying for a musician is then to have new songs that supplant the old songs as people’s favorite one.
Now we have one that is incredibly enjoyable to play and that people tend to love and respond to. It makes me want to jump and scream on stage and hopefully people in the audience will join in.
BB: Anything else you want to add?
DHS: I think I said a ton but I do want to once again thanks the Bay Bridged for their support of the Bay Area music community. We still most certainly remember that it was partially through a grant from the Bay Bridged that we were able to record our album and for that we are entirely grateful.