Email prompted more discussion this week; I’ll take the questions one-by-one…
Mad props on Sally Ride. Does it sound like the first record, or has the sound kind of evolved since then? You and Cory both write songs and then compare them, right? Or else is that what Ventura is? How do you two differentiate between all the different groups you’ve been in? Is it all kinda Shackerish but just different names, or can you definitley tell how stuff changes between each band moniker?
The new Sally Ride (It’s A Trap – a collaboration between Cory and I with Uncle Charlie and Hank) is a real evolution. Sixteen years between Don’t Let Them Take Us… ALIVE! (when Cory and I were 8 years old!) and now. So it sounds like Sally Ride, but it sounds different too. The songs still tell stories with dark and ironic twists, but this time some politics is mixed up with the relationship stuff. Tempos tend towards that same 70-to-80 b.p.m. bounce that I think has just a tinge of funk. There’s a big increase in our use of weird scale degrees and chromatic figures in both the guitar and the melodies, and it’s all in standard tuning (instead of drop-D). I think the new songs are catchier, with hookier choruses. The songs are more varied, and they work pretty well acoustic, which I didn’t expect. Probably the most obvious difference is that we’re programming drums from a snythesizer. Maybe it’s like the Postal Service + …ALIVE! x Hail to the Thief.
As far as my songwriting, and Cory’s… I’m always writing eight different things. When I’m writing something that I want Cory to help with (which I’m doing more and more) I tell him about it, show him what I’ve done so far, and then maybe he will have or write a song or three to go with it. I also give him guitar ideas that I’m stuck on (no melody) and often he’ll write a killer melody. “Coast & Plains” from Ventura is exactly that. The score for Ventura is something like howie:7, Cory:1, together:4. It’s A Trap is headed towards howie:7, Cory:2, together:1. Of course we arrange and embellish each other’s stuff, but I’m taking “write” in terms of chords/melody/lyrics. Ventura is just the project that so far has pushed the farthest into collaborative territory. It’s an exciting direction for both of us, and I think we’ll keep moving into it. It will probably be put out by “echoes + Beach-Puppy” or something, because it definitely feels like an echoes thing to me but I want Cory to be recognized.
Lastly, differentiating between bands. It’s not all Shackerish to me. Shacker is something specific; the three or four of us playing Cory’s folk-tinged power pop (or pop-tinged folk). Names are boxes that help listeners know what to expect; if It’s A Trap were by Shacker, it would be confusing for everyone, including me. You might like the acoustic “Fully OK” and hate “A Come-On,” and it would be strange if it were the same band sounding so different. So from Sally Ride, you sort of get paranoid alt-rock anthems. From echoes, snappy punk-inspired songwriting with unexpected twists & turns. Axeface/BP is pretty straight modern folk. I just really enjoy playing among different styles and sounds, not being tied into any one thing but a free agent looking for interesting music and words. Different albums or bands have different approaches and themes, and I think naming things appropriately helps people understand it.
PS – We were linked from here this week; Japan!