Forecastle 2017 is right around the corner. We’re celebrating with 40 Days of Forecastle, covering the festival from all angles — playlists, artist interviews, city guides, behind-the-scenes stories, and a whole lot more. WFPK’s 40 Days of Forecastle is made possible by Kiel Thomson Company and Spalding University.
The first thing I caught about this record is…this sounds like the most settled record for you guys yet. You’ve always had the nice breezy sound that everybody talks about, but there is something about this that really feels like you’re comfortable in your own skin, you really know what you’re doing, which is completely surprising with the upheaval and backstory, not only with member changes but with everybody moving away from each other. That’s not really a formula that allows for cohesiveness, but you’ve managed to pull it off. What would you attribute that to?
Everyone in the band has played music together, we have a strong musical connection, we have a lot of strong, musical voices coming together to compromise and make a music whole. The theme of the story that we’re on is communication. Communication tour 2017! (laughs). And there’s a lot of communicating happening musically in the formation of this record. So, I guess that’s one of the big contributors to this band’s streak, I would say.
You talk about wanting to go in there and find new sounds, what were there sounds? Were there conversations going into the record as far as really ‘we want to sound like this’ or…
The idea was, we felt that with our previous record, we had done a pretty good job documenting what the band can achieve and sound like live. Not to say there aren’t overdubs on the record, but it’s really based on the whole band playing together. We used a similar method to get the actual track down on this record, but I think there was always an impulse, the idea was to use the studio as means to explore new territory and use it as an exploratory instrument to express new ideas, thoughts, textures, and make musical discoveries.
I know a lot of the conversation too has been on Julian coming into the band. As I look back, it seems like there’s at least been a little bit of a lineup change with every single record.
That is true!
It’s kind of interesting that everybody is making such a big deal about it this time.
(laughs) I guess that’s an esteemed observation there.
Was there a transitional period for you because of it this time? Or is it something that you’re sort of used to?
It’s definitely been a transition and one that we’ve enjoyed thoroughly. Nothing else has given us the ability just to continue and approach new territory and explore new ground. It’s not like it’s been a tradition, but in others ways it’s been very comfortable, because Julian is one of the first people that I ever played music with, ever. The very first tour I ever went on was with him. We played in a band together in high school, so that connection is there, ya know? But he obviously brings a whole new sonic pallet to the table. At once it is exciting because we’re exploring new territory, and also a really comfortable, familiar, personal musical style that I’ve been familiar with for so long.
The buzz he has in those lead guitar parts is great. I was thinking “Two Arrows” really speaks to him being in the band with that extended jam that comes at the end of it. Where did that come from? What’s the story there?
The way we recorded this record was we were all getting together and playing for long hours everyday. We’d get together for a couple of weeks in the practice studio and work on arrangements for songs and, inevitably, mess around jamming. That was a core tradition that, if I remember correctly, everybody in the band was playing together and jamming and playing the same number repeatedly. We went, ‘we like that!’ and wanted to stick it on the record as an outro or an interlude and tack it on. We were working simultaneously on the song “Two Arrows,” and felt that it needed something.
When I listen to the whole record, this one, in my mind, has more of a beach-y sound than you guys have ever pulled off. How do a few guys from Jersey end up getting so in tuned with this traditional west coast music? I see you’ve landed in California so that’s gotta be at least some part of it.
That is true! Like I’ve said before, I think with especially now, and with the first record, we were trying to kind of conjure that kind of imagery. But at this point, any of that kind of input is entirely subconscious. We’re not thinking ‘hey this is the theme, let’s make it sound like this’, ya know? Whatever just happens to be coming out organically.
With that in mind though, are you a surfer? Do you surf?
I am! I just started actually when I moved out there, almost two years ago now, a little over a year-and-a-half. At first, I just casually picked it up, thinking ‘I’ll try this Everyone appears to be doing it.’ And now, I’m totally hooked and I can’t can’t get enough of it. It adds a whole other element to touring because I’m thinking ‘where can we find coastal cities?’ I’m 30 now and never expected this. A totally shocking new development for me and never thought it’d be a big part of my life. It’s cool and kind of funny.