Gino DePinto, AOL The Dirty Projectors constantly outdo themselves. The…
- Posted on Jul 14th 2012 11:00AM by Cameron Matthews
The new album also sees singer Amber Coffman stepping into more of fixed roll as an axe-woman and fellow lead singer. She's definitely got the pipes, and with the Dirty Projectors' notorious 10-hour rehearsals, we're sure she'll sound like a finely tuned piccolo by curtain call. We had a chance to chat with the singer about the inner-workings of the band, and just how awesome it is to be a Dirty Projector.
We've heard all kinds of crazy stories, so what does a typical Dirty Projectors rehearsal look like?
Well it starts with just the basic stuff -- playing instruments: Guitars, bass and drums. We go for 10 hours really, with some breaks in there.
Wow. I don't know any other rock 'n' roll bands that do that.
Yeah. Well, we have a lot of work to do. We're trying to put together about 19 songs for the tour, old and new. So we just have a lot to get through. We've been going pretty hard.
Well, congrats on all the success you guys are having. I'm a huge fan of Bitte Orca, and I was equally blown away by Swing Lo, Magellan. Can you tell me about the new recording?
We recorded it in a house in a really rural small town upstate. Dave started with writing the songs and making demos. We slowly filtered up there and laid our parts down, then everything got pieced together.
Does Dave write everything, or do you have control over your harmonies and stuff?
No, no. He writes all that stuff.
Oh, wow. He's some kind of mad scientist, isn't he?
[Laughs] Kinda, I guess.
You all are unparalleled musicians; do you consider yourselves indie rockers or more of an experimental ensemble?
Really, we're just people, you know? I don't think we consider ourselves as either thing. If we're in Kansas at a gas station, and someone asks us what kinda band we're in, we'd say a rock band. We don't necessarily identify with big terms or anything.
Tell me about the album cover.
That photo was taken right near the property that we were recording at. And the man in the photo was our only neighbor.
And Dave is making some sort of air-guitar motion?
Yeah, none of us can really remember what we were talking about in that moment. Maybe we were talking about how noisy we had been? [Laughs] But our neighbor was really cool. During the winter, the driveway that we had to go down to get to this house, it was pretty long and was a dirt driveway. During the snow it would get really hard to get out of sometimes. There are a couple trouble areas in the driveway. Dave got stuck in the driveway like 10 times, and Gary [our neighbor] would come bail him out [laughs] with one of those big trucks. He's a pretty cool guy.
Being out in the country, did that influence the record's more pastoral songs, especially the title track?
Hmm ... I don't know? [Laughs] Dave would probably answer this question very differently, but I don't know if they're any more country than Bob Dylan or the Rolling Stones. I know that Dave was checking out some contemporary country though.
You all and Bjork collaborated on a wonderful project last year. So tell me ... she's an alien right?
Noo, she's cool! She's fun. She's really mellow. She loves to talk about music, but she knows how to party. She likes to dance, and she's just a cool ... human.
It was pretty unreal to watch her doing her takes in the studio. She is a perfect singer. Everybody knows that voice, but hearing it in that room is something very powerful.
Now that Angel has left the band, did you assume more vocal responsibilities?
I think ... I wonder if I should say yet. Some of the songs are a little more stripped down, with not as many three-part harmonies. But we might have someone filling some of those parts ...
Oh, that's interesting! Someone we might know?
Uh, yeah some people might. I'm not gonna say who it is right now. You'll just have to wait [Laughs].
Is it harder without Angel?
I think we'll manage. We toured with her for a long time. She's a good buddy of ours, and I think we'll always be friends. But people have to be on their own paths, you know?
When people leave bands, it can either be amicable or it can be kind of rough. Do you know why she left?
It was perfectly amicable. I think it was a mutual thing between her and us. She needed to be on her own trip. She was like 20 when she joined the band, and she's always wanted to write her own music and focus on herself a bit more.
How was "Fallon?"
It was good! That was the first time performing anything for an audience in about 18 months. It was a little bit nerve-wracking, but it went pretty well.
Dave didn't have a guitar, which I thought was interesting.
Yeah! Not for that song.
Is he trying to be more of a strong frontman?
Yeah, maybe. He's always been a little shy about it but I think he's been playing around with that.
How much vocal or instrumental improv is going on onstage?
Virtually none. Which is why we practice for so many hours. We usually go from 8AM to 10PM, and if it's a really crazy day, we go even longer. We've been trying to keep it a bit more relaxed this time, and we'll stay at the studio space all day but try to take breaks when we need it. Back in the old days we ran ourselves into the ground. This is my first day off in forever.
What is the best part about being a Dirty Projector?
It's fun to be able to do something that challenges yourself and challenges everyone else. The music is pretty bold, and it's fun to be throwing that out there at people. For better or for worse.
Ever get tired of being in the band?
No ... We love what we do, you know? We're just doing our best.