I have a quick interview with Chris regarding the tour, the band, Low Level Owl, and the future of Appleseed Cast. We plan on filming a more extensive sit down in June for the movie. I am attempting to get some footage up on the site for the coming week. Here we go:
What has been the response from the fans on this tour?
The response has been great. The turn out has been good, and I feel like the kids have been really getting into it. I think I’ve kind of learned to be more in tune with them as well. There are times during the set that some crowds are a little hesitant to applaud, because we just keep going. All of the songs just kind of segue into each other, so there’s very few times during the set that seem appropriate to interrupt. But the response at the intermission and the end of the set, as well as some of the more obvious breaks, the response is always strong.
What has surprised you, if anything, about the music?
I think what surprises me the most is that we have been able to pull of the records as close as we have without resorting to playing to tracks and samples. Aaron and I do a lot of looping on the fly, and Lucas does have a backward cymbal hit that he uses on a song… but we don’t have the mac up on stage with the drummer wearing cans.
During rehearsal, was there a moment where it all came together for the band or did you guys get your legs playing it live?
Our practices were pretty few, when it came to the whole band playing together. We had many half-band practices, where I would work with John, or Nate or Aaron, or Lucas, or some combination thereof. But I think we only had 6 or less practices where we all got together and we heard how it was going to sound as one. I remember thinking, after the first one, we might just pull this off. It was a very daunting idea up to that point, but I could see that we had learned (or re-learned) a lot in just a little time. I still have to consult my cheat sheet when we play live to see what capo position I need to have.
Going back and playing this record, years after its release, what do you think of it as a whole?
It’s always weird to revisit something you’ve done years ago. The good becomes better and the bad becomes worse. Overall I really like what we did. I like the fact that it was such an organic process in the studio.
Once you guys got back into the record, were there songs that you liked more than you may have in the past? Perhaps a song that sounds better live?
Most of these songs we never played live. We played them in the studio once, to record them. Low Level Owl, for the most part was a record that we recorded at the same time we wrote it. So it’s been interesting adapting the songs live. I don’t know if any of the songs are better live, or better recorded. To me it’s always been a different animal. The live experience is more communal, more about a specific time and much more loud. The album is always more about trying convey the artistic vision to a medium, and working within the limitations of the medium to try to do justice to the song.
Was there an overall theme or feeling you focused on while recording the Low Level Owl records?
Lyrically, I was writing about greed, and cynicism. Musically, I think we were just kind of going with the flow. We had a handful of songs and a grand idea going into the studio. By the time it was done, I feel like we had fulfilled the general idea of what we were trying to do.
Why is the record titled “Low Level Owl?”
I liked the way it sounded, and it fit the bill for the image of a predator. I wanted an image that would convey the idea of the powerful and the powerless. An owl in on the kill. You can draw a lot of analogies from it.
What were the recording sessions like when you guys recorded it?
We went in to the studio with like six songs or something like that. And we had a fair amount of time to record, I remember, at least for us. We had recorded the previous record in about a week. I think we had twice that to just get the drums bass and guitars done. Once we tracked the drums and bass, I think that took a lot longer than we expected it to… like 4 or 5 days or something… then we pulled out about eight guitar amplifiers and started experimenting with sounds for different parts. We would record all of the like parts on one track, and then the next… like all the verses on one song, I’d play a Les Paul through aFender Twin, and then the choruses I’d play a Tele through some boutique amp, or whatever, we would just find the combination of guitar, amp and effects that sounded right for each part. After we did all of that then we started experimenting with organ, and keys and started coming up with loops and background sounds etc… That was the first sessions. Then we took what we had home and wrote some more. Wrote lyrics, recorded some more experimental stuff at home. A few weeks later we brought all of that back to the studio and recorded the vocals, and mixed everything. It’s become the pattern for how I like to record. Go in, get the basic stuff down. Bring it home and work on it for a couple weeks, aqnd go back in to the studio to finish.
You have been playing a cover song to close your shows. What is the song and why have you guys chosen it?
We’ve been playing “The Speeding Train” by the Van Pelt. I love the words to it. “I answer to beauty, not weakness but reason…” I love what it’s about. When LLO came out we did a tour in Europe, and one of the songs that was on heavy rotation in our van while we were over there was the Speeding Train. We’ve never done a cover song before, and thought that this one would be fun and appropriate.
Since going out on this tour and playing these songs, do you think the next record you guys will do will be affected by this experience?
Definitely. We’ve learned so much just in the logistics of trying to adapt these songs, it has sparked tons of ideas. There are so many options available to us musically that we didn’t know were there until we started doing things like putting drums out in front of the stage for anyone to pound on, and using a harpsichord, and percussion, and committing to having keys etc… it’s been kind of eye opening, and now, we’re really excited about incorporating this new pallet into what we do next.
What are you guys listening to in the van?
Lots of sports and news radio. Once in a while we’ll turn on some music, but 90% of the time it’s some sort of talk. I think we hear so much music on a daily basis, all of us like the idea of a break from it.
After the tour, are there any plans to record? What’s next?
When we get back we’re working on new material and hopefully getting into the studio to record this summer. We’ve got about half an album’s worth of material at this point, and ideas are really coming quick and easy. Which I feel is when you write your best stuff.