A year-and-a-half ago, Sleigh Bells' Derek Miller and Alexis Krauss and I chatted from inside their dressing room at The Capitol Theatre in Port Chester and discussed everything from touring to their then-new record Reign of Terror. A common theme that arose during the interview was how they always push themselves to the next level, and never stop working. Case in point: the band dropped their third (dare I say BEST) album Bitter Rivals last October, and methinks a fourth album will be in the works by the time I put a period to this sentence. And so it is. Anyway, I chatted with Miller last week about all things Rivals, game raising, and more. You'll read it, won't you? Of course you will but know this: the band just finished a brief tour at the tail end of last year, but will be back kicking ass on the road in 2014. They'll also be at Coachella with everyone and your mother. What? Your mother is going to Coachella? OK, now read on.
Last time we talked - you were in the midst of your latest album, talking about Beyonce , among others, as key influences. You really painted the picture well for what your next album would be. You can hear r&b throughout Bitter Rivals. Did all of your plans come together on the record?
We consistently felt pretty ecstatic and inspired while we were recording. I can't ask for much more beyond that. It's always easy to shred anything and everything you've done once you move past it, which we have. At the time it felt great, but from a production standpoint my approach has changed drastically since we finished tracking in June of last year.
When it dropped, were you surprised that some critics and cynics seemed surprised by a so-called "new sound with the new album?
I didn't have any expectations. Positive reviews are appreciated but they roll right off you. Negative attention usually pisses me off in a good way...it strengthens my resolve, inspires me...all that.
Same only not really. Is there a theme that travels through the record? Like, in other words, is there a common thread each song has with one another?
Not that I can tell. I tend to be abstract...I try not to be too precious about the process. You can get bogged down by wanting to say something "profound" or honest or important. I usually end up with a mixture of something sincere and absurd. Maybe funny or bad at times, but maybe something true and naked in there as well.
You each seem like perfectionists - especially you - are you pleased with album #3 in its entirety - or can you pick it apart?
I don't consider myself a perfectionist. I think my ability to let certain things go allows us to be productive and move forward. If I was hung up on getting everything "right" I'd be paralyzed. Not just in the studio...late night TV performances are a good example. Their engineers mix the broadcast with minimal input from you. It's a massive compromise, but the alternative is...you can't do them. It's a give and take.
We also talked about how prolific you guys are. Can we expect a new album in 2014?
We are working on a ton of stuff...new record in 2015 for sure. [The] new material feels really strong. I'm not trying to force as much sound through the speakers. Alexis and I are continuing to write together, which is the most exciting part for me.
And you thought Arcade Fire had a lot of members... The Sharp Things have shared the stage with as many artists as 25, and have played tunes with a 40-piece orchestra. Girth isn't all this NYC band has going for it. They're likely the most prolific and ambitious band making music in the big apple right now. The indie pop ensemble just dropped The Truth Is Like The Sun, the second installment of the bands' "Dogs of Bushwick" four-album series. Yep, I said four albums. The first installment - Green Is Good - dropped a year ago, and in time, two more full lengthers will be released. Late last month the band - led by songwriter/pianist Perry Serpa for some 15-plus years - performed a pair of tracks for A-Sides, and sat for a chat. Watch. Listen. Love.
"There's Been No One Since You"
For "Dogs of Bushwick" live, click here!
A-Sides "Delve Into Twelve" Countdown
Each week A-Sides unleashes its Top 12 tracks of the week AKA the "Delve Into Twelve"based on the following contributing factors: songs I'm playing out that particular week NO MATTER WHEN THEY WERE RELEASED (think overlooked songs, unreleased tracks, and old favorites), songs various publicists are trying to get me to listen to that I did and dug a bunch, posts and trends I've noticed on my friends' Facebook walls, and - most importantly - the songs my two-year-old son gravitates toward by stomping his feet in approval. Yeah, you read that right. This weeks follows below (LW= last week's rank).
12. "I Need My Girl" - The National
11. "Reflections" - MisterWives
10. "Young Heart" - Blondfire
9. "Thunder Clatter" (LW-9) - Wild Cub
8. "The Moon Song" (LW-5) - Karen O.
7. "Shark Attack" (LW-2) - Grouplove
6. "Lost Boys and Girls Club" (LW-3)- The Dum Dum Girls
5. "XO" (LW-4) - Beyonce
4. "Things We Lost in the Fire" - Bastille
3. "Doses and Mimosas" - Cherub
2. "I Sat By the Ocean" (LW-7) - Queens of the Stone Age
1. "You're Not Good Enough" (LW-1) - Blood Orange
About A-Sides Music
Jon Chattman's "A-Sides Music" series was established in August 2011 and usually features artists (established or not) from all genres performing a track, and discussing what it means to them. This informal series focuses on the artist making art in a low-threatening, extremely informal (sometimes humorous) way. No bells, no whistles -- just the music performed in a random, low-key setting followed by an unrehearsed chat. In an industry where everything often gets overblown and over manufactured, I'm hoping this is refreshing. Thus far artists who have appeared on the series include: fun, American Authors, Imagine Dragons (interview only), Jake Miller, Gary Clark Jr., Sleigh Bells (interview only), Dispatch, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, San Fermin, and more!
A-Sides' 2nd Possibly Annual Pop Goes the Culture is set!