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|Many thanks to Phil for answering these questions and be sure to catch the whole band next time they're on tour.|
Are you still happy with the decision to make Tertia available for free download? Is it something you'll do again? What other formats are you planning for?
We thought it was a good, forward-thinking idea at the time, but the site we used to host the experiment was still in its early stages of development and some things went wrong with the overall process. Not sure we'd be involved in the same scheme again unless it's a service that has been road-tested more by other bands. As far as formats, I'd like to finally see a cassette tape release and a USB flash drive (with random goodies on it) in addition to the traditional digital, CD, and LP.
What are some of your favorite record labels? Have you ever thought of going to a Temporary Residence or Thrill Jockey size label? Gotten any offers?
I've always been a huge fan of Kranky and Matador. They're probably my two favorite labels of all time. My first 'crush' on an indie label was with Constellation (Montreal) around 2002. They set the standard for the way I view labels and the business of releasing music and interacting with their customers. For the next Caspian album we'll be putting it out there to see who bites like we always have. I think Temporary Residence is a fine label but already has a few bands who we sound quite a bit like, and to keep a diverse catalogue...yeah it doesn't seem like something we'd be offered. I can't really talk about record labels without mentioning The Mylene Sheath obviously since they are really one of the best, most committed indie labels in music today. They've treated us incredibly well.
Tertia was accompanied by prose poetry. I swear there was a short story written for The Four Trees, but maybe I'm not remembering correctly. While instrumental music can "tell a story" on its own — via dynamics, tempo changes, moods, etc. — because there are no lyrics do you feel it's necessary to include actual text to capture everything in your heads?
There was indeed a handmade, special edition release of The Four Trees that we put together (75 total I believe) that included some prose poetry by our friend Tom Mathe. For Tertia, we didn't feel it was "necessary" to include text — we included it because it added a nice layer to the overall aesthetic experience of the album art and was a response to the music that felt unique, sincere, and well-crafted. We didn't include it to give people a clue into the overarching narrative of the album or anything like that.
Do you ever think of adding vocals to your music? Not necessarily a lead vocalist, but just incorporate the voice into your sound.
Absolutely. There's been talk already of having some vocals on the next album here and there in a more upfront and direct way than just background oohs and aaahs. We are very much into the idea and plan on writing a song or two that revolve specifically around vocals. People who dogmatically reject vocals in post-rock always strike me as sort of strange since the voice is essentially just another tool to make music with.
What direction do you feel the new material is going in? Are there any new styles you're exploring? Is there a predominant mood? Song lengths?
That's a good question and I don't think we know yet. It seems like there is a collective desire to get more textured and less face-melting with our guitar work this time around. We could do that heavy buzzsaw wall of sound guitar thing all day long but we did that on the last album and to do another record full of that would feel awkward. In terms of personal inspiration, there's a road here in the North Shore that winds along the Atlantic ocean. Folks around here call it the "Cape Ann 500." Takes an hour and a half or so to drive from bottom to top (Beverly to Rockport). Back in the day, when music was developing itself as the most powerful thing in my life, I'd drive along that road at 3am blasting records all the time. All kinds of stuff from Radiohead to Boards of Canada to Sigur Ros to Sun Kil Moon to you name it. You're out there when everyone else is asleep and you feel like you own these beautiful surroundings. It's a very personal feeling of ownership and awareness that I haven't really experienced with anything else since. That's where music was at the height of its powers to me and personally I'd like to make an album that is a homage to that experience. Make the kind of album that I'd actually want to put in the deck and listen to in that exact moment in an effort to reconnect with a more innocent side of myself that's been busted up by touring for 6 years. Whatever would sound good in that moment is what I'm looking to make.
Any bands in particular that have been influencing your writing for the new record?
I guess we'll see how they manifest themselves in terms of influence, but I've been hearing a huge amount of amazing new music lately. True Widow, Grouper, Fredrik, This Will Destroy You, the new Young Widows...those are all just incredible records. Lots of great stuff happening out there right now.
Since the post-rock scene has essentially reached critical mass, how does a band stand out? Any advice for fledgling post-rock bands?
Well it's no secret that post-rock is one of the more "emotional" genres of music out there obviously, and I think that when you're working with emotions so intimately, it's important to be as genuine and sincere as possible with them when it comes to displaying them or using them as inspiration. People in the audience or behind a record player (or the cold, white glare of a computer screen these days) can sense when something is coming from a genuine place of inspiration, and with "post-rock" it's really difficult to fake that or put it on. So I'd say just make sure that you're looking for constantly finding creative ways to react to random inspiration in a way that feels personally sincere. Listening to critics or reading too much into the speculations or reflections of where post-rock is headed doesn't have a lot to do with making heartfelt, genuine music that you'd take bullets for, though it can be a rousing discussion sometimes I guess. I always like what Philip Glass says with the whole "If you don't like my music, you don't have to listen to it. Nobody is forcing you to do so, there's plenty of other stuff out there to listen to instead." When you look at it that way it's like, why not just try to be as genuine as possible with what you create and then just see what happens.
What bands in the scene do you feel maintain a distinct and relevant sound?
Mogwai has always kind of been the one 'post-rock' band that I can put in whenever. Most other bands I have to really be in the mood for it, but with those guys I don't so much need to be, and I really, really love that about them.
What bands have you especially liked to tour with?
It's impossible to pick just a few. I can't think of a band we did NOT like touring with, though some have been friendlier and more approachable than others definitely. We seem to luck out when it comes to touring mates. Of course there's our core, little Boston family of Constants and Junius, but even with them it doesn't feel like we are touring with another band since we are all so close; it kind of just feels like one big band out there. We had an amazing time with Native, Chiaroscuro, Arms and Sleepers, and Sainthood Reps in the states recently. Just plain amazing bands and people. There's just too many to name really.
What have been some of your favorite tour stops?
I especially enjoyed Glasgow, Seattle, Los Angeles, and Hong Kong last year a lot. Those are amazing cities. We have some close friends in Nashville, TN that make rolling through there every tour feel kind of like coming home, so that is always a pleasure for us as a band.
Where's somewhere you'd like to tour but haven't had the chance?
Japan and Iceland! Those are the two places I've been wanting to go the most for what feels like an eternity now, long before the band even showed up. Hoping we'll make it there next year.
Any thoughts of doing another split release?
Definitely. We hope to set aside 2 songs from this writing session and release 2 splits before the new album comes out or sometime around it's release. Hoping that comes together with Native and Sainthood Reps.
Anything else you'd like to add?
It was nice to meet you and talk in Charlotte man, really enjoyed the discussion and hope to see you again somewhere down the road. And go Celtics.
09:52 PM on 05/09/11
Philip is such an awesome person. And this is a great interview! Loved it.
11:02 PM on 05/09/11
Nice mention of Sun Kil Moon in there, so gutted I managed to miss them playing in both Glasgow and Hong Kong by only a few days last year.
06:13 PM on 05/27/11
Subsidized foreign fucking vowels
Best band you've never heard of.
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