One of my favourite new bands in this sort of milieu (and I do listen to things other than rap music, but it’s just tended to be 10+ years old recently) is Smith Westerns. Their narrative on a meta level is pretty familiar: their first album sounded lo-fi, they decided they didn’t want to be lo-fi any more once they could afford it, and they made a second album that’s much clearer. They still have a lot of tropes of that sort of music and I think it’s fair to put even that second album (Dye It Blonde) on the fringes of lo-fi beside (and slightly closer to the centre than) Surfer Blood. But where the Surfy Bloods reconstitute Generation X-era MTV rock, Smith Westerns funnel T-Rex and even Mott The Hoople through that recognisable disruption of clarity. I sent them these questions for AU, but they weren’t back in time to be used for the piece.
So you have an almost decadent kind of sound at times, but it comes through that dreamy reverb kinda lo-fi filter. Was that a decision you made, to mix those aesthetics?
I don’t think it’s really lo-fi at all. The rest of the band and I feel that Dye It Blonde is very high gloss both in comparison to our debut record and to many records from various other new bands. I think the guitars, back up vocals, and layered synths as well as other instruments make the sound very indulgent and the reverb adds a depth of dreaminess that prevents the songs from sounding too aggressive.
What do you think about being talked about in glam terms because of the guitar riffs or whatever – do you think having the word ‘glam’ written about you might misdirect people a little?
I mean, at this point, I prefer glam used over garage; but both terms I think miss the mark when describing our sound. I think that at certain points in songs some glam influence is revealed but then just as quickly a different influence rears its head. Kinda like the way in the song Only One sounds part Cosmic Dancer [by T-Rex] and part Come As You Are [by Nirvana].
Are you part of a nostalgia movement? You’ve played with people like Girls and even Nobunny who might be considered part of one.
I don’t think I’ve lived life long enough to be nostalgic about anything. The thing I feel most nostalgic about is touring last year with GIRLS and MGMT. Oh, and recording the record. We’ve played with a lot of bands. GIRLS are our really good friends and I respect them on multiple levels and fit musically together on a bunch of different levels but we’re not really nostalgic. We don’t want to be a revivalist band or be labeled as that.
What’s the main difference with coming from Chicago and doing what you do rather than Brooklyn or California or wherever?
I think for us it was the isolation of having no real musical theme coming from Chicago. I think a lot of other cities have a certain aesthetic or sound that kinda permeates all the bands but in Chicago we were left to develop our own thing. Also being underage in Chicago prevented us from mingling with other Chicago bands other than maybe playing an instore or house party together with them.
You’re less young compared to other bands than you were when people started talking about you. Is it a relief that that’s not The Thing to talk about any more?
Yeah, I think that people are starting to get over our age but it’s still brought up in a lot of interviews, reviews, and features. So it really hasn’t disappeared. We’re still younger than most bands we’re compared to or play with but yeah it’s nice not having to hear “they’re good for their age” as much.
What’s something about your music that people don’t notice enough?
I think the layering and the lyrics.
Do you actually still like Oasis, and if so are you Team Noel or Team Liam?
What do you mean? Of course I still like Oasis, never really stopped. I’m still a huge fan and would never pick sides. United we stand, Divided we fall.
What was your favourite Nobunny song to play?
That was a long time ago, back in 2008/2009. Can’t really remember.
When are you coming to play Ireland?
I hope soon, Cameron and I are half Irish actually so all the more incentive.