What the Toll Tells
You guys just finished a new record for Saddle Creek. How did this recording experience differ from the last record?
We had a lot more time to focus on things with this record. More time because of more money, which the label provided, so we had a lot more time to focus on what we wanted to do. It wasn't as much get in and get it over with and get out like the first record was. In that sense it was a lot more rewarding for us, it felt a lot more like what we want to sound like. We're a lot happier with it. We're thinking about the next one already.
I don't know if this appeared on your first record, but there are horns and added sounds on the new one. Is that something new that you guys were playing around with or did you do that on the last record as well?
There are cellos on this one record that just came out and the cellist played on one song on the first record, too. The guys who play horns are some friends of ours in a band called Le Play Bay from San Francisco, CA. Recording is kind of a different process. We try to keep it as natural and real to how we sound, but we took a few more liberties, in terms of just expanding upon it, this time, but still following the line of we don't want to create something that's not there usually in our live performance. I think in recording there should be a freedom to expand upon the sound. We're not going to add a bass to every song or bass guitarists. It's important to us to keep it as natural and close to the live experience as possible.
So the live experience is something that you guys thrive on, and you've said travel is important to what you guys are doing?
Talk about Europe.
We went to England this summer and we toured around doing some festivals and stuff around London. It was our first time in Europe.
It was cool?
Yeah. It was just good to be there. To be invited to go over there is pretty amazing, so we definitely felt kind of honored to be there. It was a lot of work so it wasn't actually that rewarding as far as actually enjoying the culture of it, because we had to drive all day and play and then get up really early and drive all the next day. We were pretty much lost about five hours every day so we'd waste a lot of time driving in circles.
Was it just you two?
No, there were four of us altogether. There was a friend of ours helping us out with stuff, and then there was this guy from Belfast named Paul that was helping us drive and doing sound for us.
Take us through the journey of where you guys started out and how you got to where you are today.
Adam and I grew up together. We've known each other since we were five. We went to school together for like nine years. I've always been interested in music, then around 2002 I started doing this stuff. We both were living in the City and Adam was playing around San Francisco on his own. I drew little comics for Planet Music, and then I came back from an attempt at college and got a drum set and started playing in my basement, then the band just kind of grew from there. We never really planned on making this a fully established band, doing it all the time; we just kind of started playing lotsódoing shows and playing with our friends on the street and people responded to what we were doing.
So when did the industry start responding? Is it something that you actively sought out?
We just wanted to tour as much as possible and play as much as possible. So as soon as we started playing, within like five months we booked a tour somewhere for our first show. We took a tour up to the northwest and met a bunch of other bands and other people and we just kept it going by booking tours ourselves. I think we booked about four or five tours across the country ourselves. It was a ton of work, but it was what we wanted to do. It wasn't like we sought anything out. I think it was just by playing a lot you eventually get a little bit of attention from people. We didn't send promo packs to any labels or anything.
How did your relationship with Saddle Creek evolve?
We had gone through Omaha, NE, a couple times and we played with a Saddle Creek band called Beep Beep at a show once. They had caught wind of us being around and they had gone down to South by Southwest and hung out with Rob, who's sort of the head of the label and books all the shows. It was kind of just the same time we were looking to put out another record, and he came up to us as said, "Hey, would you like to work with us?" The usual.
In terms of your lyrics, there seems to be an old feeling that I haven't experienced in a lot of other things going on right now.
I guess the first thing I could say to that is that there aren't too many contemporary themes that interest me. To me it's not very interesting to write about text messaging people and being on the Internet. There's this digital world that everyone's involved in now, and I mean, that's the way it is, we both partake in it somewhat, but it's not really that interesting and there aren't very many themes these days that really have a lot of soul to them. It doesn't mean that we're just completely stuck in the past 'cause we've also got songs about living in the City these days. I think the perspective is a little bit more focused on more real situations that have been around for years. Like the idea from that song "Steady Rollin'," is stating itself plainly that it is a joke, coming from the old times that it's not really real, but it's just an interest.
It's pretty obvious if you listen to our music that after a while that
our influences are kind of old and traditional. But it's never
Do you still live in the City when you're not touring?
We live at our parents' house again right now. I'm actually moving out today, which is a big step. I found a cheap place so I went for it, but we've just been touring a lot and staying at our parents' houses and trying to deal with them, or rather it's been them trying to deal with us, grinning and baring it until we leave again.
LP / CD / MP3
LP / CD / MP3