It might have something to do with not writing as a trio. Does it feel like recording with Ed, there’s a consistent other part to work with?
Yeah. That could be. It would make sense. Also, the fact that we didn’t really use that much keyboard on this album and there’s tons of keyboard all over Friend Opportunity. There’s some on this album. Maybe it is just more integrated. Compositionally, it’s not set off as much.
How was it in the writing process working with a second guitarist again?
Very fun. Ed and I, we play in other bands together. My first band ever that I was in was with Ed, so we’ve been playing together for 14 or 15 years. Asking Ed to join wasn’t like, ‘Oh, it would be cool to add a guitar player.’ It was more like, ‘Let’s ask Ed.’ He’s been a massive influence on me musically, and is a huge part of who I am as a musician. I think we grew a lot together in these other contexts. I didn’t think of it too much in terms of arrangements before we asked him, because I didn’t want to count on anything. But once he said that he would be into joining, all of a sudden I found myself so free to write in a way that was very natural to me. It was like ‘Oh, here I am in a different context, but writing for Ed and I.’ It opened the floodgates compositionally and especially in terms of harmony and using chords. It was just like ‘We can do anything.’
The CD version opens that way, with the big guitar slabs. Obviously there’s two guitars working symbiotically, but it feels like one single thought very often. Throughout the whole album, if you weren’t paying attention, you could be convinced there was just one guitar.
Yeah. Like one big guitar. That’s kind of what we were going for, actually. Some of the stuff we were trying, for some of Ed’s music and for some of my music and for some of everyone else’s music too, when we do have these kind of dense chords we went for an approach where one instrument is complementary to another, trying to create one instrument.
Did you play around with a lot of tones just to make sure you guys sounded exactly…
Yeah. You don’t want to know. (laughs). The tone question is completely endless and always evolving. I think the music evolves. We’ll have new material, and we’ll write material with a different sound or something, and one thing I’ve noticed that the sounds that we’re using now that we wrote Offend Maggie with, these sounds are native to the new music. So then we play our other material and certain things work and certain things don’t. We’re adjusting a lot. We do think about that a lot; we work on that a lot.
I know previously, not so much Runners Four, but Green Cosmos especially and Friend Opportunity, there was a lot of ‘How do you play this live?’ particularly as trio. For this album, I know that you’ve played about half of it live before it was even recorded, and it feels more naturally like a playable record.
We’re going to be able to play most of the album live. I’m kind of used to the idea now because we’ve been playing the stuff for a little while, but that was huge. It was intentional, and we worked very hard to make sure that happened. But at the same time, I was so happy that it was possible. I was like, ‘Yes!’ To be honest, things from Friend Opportunity, some of that stuff that we are playing, I think sounds much better. It’s a bit of a relief.