What inspired the verses of “Yesterday’s Clothes”?
That song is honestly first and foremost dedicated to my little sister, Hannah.
The catalyst for a lot of those lyrics was a conversation we had a number of years ago, discussing what it meant to exit childhood without actually feeling any shred of adulthood.
It became a bit more of a meditation of how feelings of fear and alienation are actually fairly commonplace, which leads to this odd paradox where these feelings of apartness are actually a common thread throughout a huge amount of people.
How do you usually write the lyrics of your songs?
Generally I am constantly churning out fragments of ideas, anything from a single line that I think could work as a hook one day to fully fleshed out song forms/poems.
If I am the one that is creating the initial harmony and form of the song I will once in a while start with lyrics first and build form there, but generally I wait until we as a band have fully fleshed out the form of the song, before taking a more critical eye to the ides I’ve been constantly making.
Generally the finished lyric to a song will be a refined version of one of those works-in-progress, edited to fit the form of the song.
Last song you wrote was about…?
Generally, it’s about the disconnect between a good idea and the use of good rhetoric to sell an idea.
The thought that one would need to be both a genius and a genius orator to actually get a great idea off the ground is both deeply interesting and a little unnerving.
I also think that, as an artist trying to be successful, It is important to stand for something, but the idea that I would be fully capable of being both a complete musician and a complete (for example) gender scholar seems crazy to me.
I think it’s my job to develop a platform for those who are putting the entirety of themselves into their work, be it philosophy or political theory, so that they do not have to spend their energy on that side of things.
Is passion for music something that runs in your family or you are the first one?
I am not the first lover of music in my family by a long shot, but I am the first to pursue it the way that I have.
My parents are both deep fans of music, and consider music a huge part of their lives. They actually were responsible for noticing that I liked music young, and as a result responsible for exposing me to my first music teachers, who shaped the rest of the way I think about music.
What are you planning for 2018?
We are going to release our first album (Joy in the Wild Unknown), on April 6th right in the middle of our spring tour. we are currently already in the process of writing songs for whatever our next release will be, and we are beginning to see our summer fill up with festival opportunities.
Fall into Winter is still a little unclear at this point, but given how crazy the pace has felt all year I am assuming at this point that it will be a wonderful sort of busy.
Can you tell us about the lyrics of “Goon Squad”?
To a point, absolutely! The only reason I say that is that when I use a story in a song that didn’t directly involve me I don’t feel its my place to tell that story.
That song was written right in the thick of our time at Berklee, when the feeling at the time was “everything is crazy and often it feels like your friends are the only reason you don’t lose your mind and break down crying in a Whole Foods”.
I wrote the lyrics right after getting through a tough mental state thanks to my friends, and so I was both focused on those relationships and in a really excited place, and I think that manifests in the lyrics.
Do you remember the day you wrote “ Stanky”?
Lyrically that song took place over two sessions about five years apart.
The song firs came to be in a practice room while we were in college, and was actually the first piece that the horns wrote from the ground up, and we were all really excited by the Tower of Power-adjacent groove, and I wrote the first verse in a pretty exuberant state.
The second verse used to be either fully improvised or just me importing a rap verse into the second half of the song, but when we were getting ready to record the album it became clear that we wanted Stanky to have a true second verse, so I tried to embody the swagger of the rap songs I had been importing without necessarily tying myself to those stylistic decisions.
Hopefully that’s what comes across!
What is the best lyric ever written for a song?
We’re only particles of change I know, I know
Orbiting around the sun
But how can I have that point of view
When I’m always bound and tied to someone
From Hejira, by Joni Mitchell
Are you ever scared of revealing, aspects of your personal experience, to strangers through your music?
Always a little, I think that’s how I know it still matters. I think that it is impossible to forge a true connection with anyone without a willingness to be vulnerable.
I think that, if i could choose what our music did, I would have our music be a means by which people found and connected with other people in a meaningful way. however vulnerable and open I need to be to facilitate that, I want to be that, even if it scares me.
What is the best verse you ever wrote?
I’m generally a believer that the best verse I’ve written is the one I am about to write, so I’m going to answer based only on the music that’s already out and that will be out on the album.
I think the second verse of Ex-Life is my pick, but I can’t promise I won’t have a different answer by the next time you ask me.
If you had to use only one word to define your new album “Joy in The Wild Unknown”, out on April 6th,which one would it be?
Photography Chris Anderson