For your live shows, do you guys prefer having those stripped-down sets with just the two of you or do you like having the full sound of a backing band with you?
Than: Yeah, we’re into the full band.
Eric: Yeah, we definitely do the acoustic thing in the right circumstance, and we love doing that. That’s a lot of fun. That’s a chance for Than and I to play the songs as they were originally written. But yeah, we like to play with the full band and the full production at our live shows. Ultimately, even our live show is a very different production than our record is. When we get up there on the stage, we like to play just the four dudes that we have up on stage with us, that’s including us, and sometimes there are parts that don’t get played and sometimes there are parts that are changed and focused on for the sake of the live performance. But that’s kind of an exciting process for us, to rethink the songs for the live show.
Than: Yeah, I agree. I think that there are a lot of bands these days where you see them, and they sound exactly like the record—note for note. I don’t know if a non-musician music fan would understand what’s going on because you show up at a concert if you’re not a musician and then band sounds exactly like the record. There’s like all this crazy sound coming out like string sounds or orchestral sounds, and to a musician, you’re like, ‘Dude, where’s the string section? Where are these sounds coming from?’ And the truth is they’re coming from backing tracks.
We decided not to do that for this record because we feel like these are songs that can just be played by four dudes, and we don’t want that sort of backing. It’s almost like karaoke to me. As a drummer, when you play the backing tracks, you basically have to listen to a click-track in your ear the whole time and it takes away a certain amount of spontaneity. You can’t diverge from that click-track, and you can’t really jam out or do something spontaneous there. So we decided four dudes playing, that’s it, no backing track, no rock karaoke. And to us, that feels better and that’s sort of how it should be, I think.
Do you think it’s hard to maintain the integrity of your own style and sound when you’re often playing with other artists and working on their music?
Than: I don’t think so. I think working with other artists only helps you. As long as the quality of the artist is good, and for us we’ve been really lucky to play with amazing people, just playing with other artists gives you perspective, it puts you into their shoes, their songwriting and their performance. For me, it just makes me a better musician overall and sort of gives me a better sort of idea and understanding of where I want to go with our music.
Eric: Yeah, I think if anything what it does to play with other musicians and help them to realize their songs, if anything what it does is it helps you to kind of hone your skills at part writing and the process of taking a basic idea and developing it into a song.