Elizabeth Weinberg Nothing is more thrilling for an up-and-coming band than…
- Posted on Dec 16th 2010 4:00PM by Charley Rogulewski
"We were in New Orleans -- which we love -- and talking about how we want to record there," frontman Alex Ebert tells Spinner of beginning work on the follow-up to 2009's 'Up From Below.' After asking around, the band's multi-instrumentalist Stewart Cole got a text with three different studio suggestions. "One was out in the country called Studio in the Country that was supposed to be amazing," continues Ebert, who was sold when he saw the old Victorian farmhouse on the property. "The idea of recording an album with 10 people in a city seems a little daunting, but if we're all living together in the middle of the forest, it felt like a lot could be concentrated."
"There's animals everywhere!" singer Jade Castrinos adds. Three orphan dogs that the band has named Angie, Andy and Precious -- as well as a still-nameless cat -- have wandered in from the thicket and made themselves at home. Despite the cramped atmosphere -- pianist Aaron Embry was sleeping on the floor in the dining room -- the band seems more grounded with their new material.
"The second album is going to have a bit less desperation in it," Ebert says. "There will be similar messages and similar themes, just the next step of them. I remember where I was at writing those first songs; those were really tossing the ball forward and hoping I caught up to the message. I wasn't at the message I was speaking at, I was hoping I would be there, and this is more 'here we are and here is the message again.' It's bit more realized."
Ebert had thrown the ball, so to speak, in hopes of it helping him reach sobriety after what he often refers to as a dark period in his life. "I've grown a lot," he continues. "We've all grown a lot. A song like 'Carries On,' which is on the first album, I can sing with quite a bit more sort of certainty now, as opposed to back then, when it was more like a 'Carries On,' I hope?'"
"This ensemble came into fruition through Alex having an idea for this music," adds percussionist Orpheo McCord. "Throughout the process of recording that record, we all became an ensemble. We all came in to realize the idea he had and then from there we kept growing. Now, this is an opportunity for us to collaborate as a group."
The band has been using a completely different approach when writing the new album, building on an idea any member might bring to the table. The new track, 'Fire and Water,' was a song Castrinos brought to the group. It recently made its way to iTunes and was rerecorded for the new album along with the new track 'If You Wanna' that Ebert describes as "a group sing-along meant for the child in everyone." 'Night Riding' was inspired by the band's favorite nighttime tour activity. "We ride on our bicycles at night everywhere we go," says Ebert, "which is the most fun thing, in a lot of ways, that you can do on a tour after the shows."
"We have over 20 different ideas we've been working on," reveals Orpheo. "We figure what song we want to work on, develop it, arrange it and then record it, mix it and finish -- and then move on to another song. We don't really know what song we are going to work on next. We have enough material to make a double album."
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