It’s a very poppy listen overall, but it moves from poppy songs to vignettes to folkier tracks. It’s not that it’s unusual to have so many different facets, but it seems Runners Four had one general idea, Green Cosmos had one general idea. This seems to go in and out with a lot of different styles. Did you want to go in there and write twelve completely different songs?
I would say that I sort of agree with you and sort of disagree with you. I would say what ultimately made Green Cosmos and Runners Four sound like one idea, basically, I don’t think that those are kind of more cohesive as far as specific material. What actually makes them cohesive is the way they’re put together in this particular context. Thinking of Runners Four, we decided at a certain point, we wanted there to be a lot of heterogeneity of material, but we want it all focused sort of through this old, dull sounding lens. Maybe in the end it doesn’t matter, but I just know that all the effort that we went into to take material that we thought was impossibly different from the things next to it and make it fit together on an album. The material felt extremely different from each other.
I would say I think there’s still a lot of unity in the album, it’s just there seems to be a few different sonic threads rather than one.
Well, I don’t know. It could be you’re hearing the composer’s personalities differing from each other. Actually, friends have said something like that to me. My friend Ben, when he heard it the first time, he said it did feel like an album of singles almost. Just like individual songs that make up something bigger but that what’s important about it is the difference between them or something. It never really occurred to me that that’s what it was, but I thought that was an interesting idea. I don’t know. I can’t tell (laughs).
I hear the big distorted chords on ‘The Tears And Music Of Love’ and on ‘My Purple Past’ and then the acoustic tones of ‘Offend Maggie’ and ‘Family Of Others,’ I hear as the album goes along, it seems like you’re working with more and the sonic palate is bigger but you’re still trying to stay pretty basic.
Right. Exactly. It’s been a real struggle over the years; we put all this thought and energy into communicating something through a recording and it becomes this sort of musique concrète, incredibly dense collage of things. I think we end up, when we try to play it live, it ends up falling short always. When that becomes the composition as the actual recording, you end up with problems, potentially. There’s an infinite number of ways you could possibly interpret material. But ultimately, if on the recording we were just doing our best to communicate what the idea is and what the music calls for, then maybe it’s going to be impossible to communicate that idea live, unless you have four semis full of whatever. Instead, we tour in a minivan with five people and an incredibly small amount of gear. We don’t have any interest in getting much bigger than that.
You talk about an infinite number of ways to interpret material so I might as well ask what spurred the idea for the sheet music to be released for ‘Fresh Born?’
Recently, a lot of people are doing pre-release of things and all kinds of stuff, and we were talking about interesting things that someone could do that would actually instead of taking away from the feeling of the release would actually amplify it and turn it into something that’s kind of like a concert, a collaboration, with whoever wants to be involved. So Greg had this idea of releasing sheet music for one of the songs for ‘Fresh Born’ early and then create a space for people to post their versions if they want to. So we all just thought it was an interesting idea. So maybe the first version that someone hears of the song they heard two months ago on this website, and maybe that is now the definitive version, and the Deerhoof version is essentially a cover, and that’s how people will hear it. I think that’s great, I think it’s cool. I think it just shows that music in general is extremely malleable and it can mean all these different things to people. I think it went better than any of our wildest imaginations (laughs).