What would you say is the quintessential tune on the new album if you had to pick one?
RR: I’m going to pick two! The first is “Hard Way to Make an Easy Living’,” because it is the byproduct of us trying to write a song just before we entered the studio. We were literally finishing it in the hallway of The Bunker where we recorded, and that freshness really comes through in the recording. It has a great melody and lyrics.
John Davis, our producer, heard it and said, “That one has to be on the album!” The second song is “Black Limousine.” That is the one I couldn’t wait to record, because it’s so intricate and so heavy. We’ve always talked about what song starts side two on every album, but they’ve all been CDs up until now, so it’s really just been for our own amusement. Well, this song starts side two of the vinyl and they’ll be arriving in October.
I know you guys always have some sneaky complexity in your music. What are some of the more musically technical or challenging elements on the new record?
RR: With each album our studio abilities have really grown. Working with John Davis for a second album now allowed us to pick up where we had left off on Blue Light City. We wanted lots of four part harmonies on this album and that can be really challenging, but they sound great.
We were able to experiment more than ever with vintage gear and effects, trying out any idea such as taking a solo with the digital harp and touch screen, extra percussion, you name it. A perfect example is the last song “Chateau le Puy.” Jeremy plays a vintage Wurlitzer piano and I take a French horn solo to end it.
In terms of touring, what are some of the more personal quirks of the band in terms of how you stay sane on the road? What do you guys do to keep busy or keep yourselves entertained heading from place to place?
RR: First off, we’re an inter-borough band. There’s an incredible amount of logistics and traffic to deal with, and it can really get tiring coming home. One of my favorite memories was about one late night driving back. We were all exhausted, Jeremy was driving, and I was in the passenger seat. It was my job to keep us up, but something drastic had to be done as we could barely stay awake. I went on my phone and found the recent health code violations report for our favorite pizza place. As I read out loud the detailed descriptions of the 60 infractions, we were both horrified and suddenly wide awake.
Outside of the founding duo, the band has seen some member changes in recent years. How challenging has it been keeping up your hard-working touring and recording schedule while bringing new members up to speed.
RR: It’s obviously never easy changing band members. I think we have a healthy approach in that a new band member is a new opportunity. Based on their skills, the band will naturally evolve in a certain direction, and it’s fun to pick covers and write songs that go that way.
Finally, on a more personal note I always like to hear what you new things you guys have been getting into in terms of TV shows, books, movies and other music? Anything you’d point to that you’ve gotten obsessed with as of late?
RR: The TV show question is easy as I’m currently obsessed with Rick and Morty. It doesn’t happen too often when you just love something instantly. I remember the first time I had Alaskan king crab legs and saying, “OK, this is my new favorite food’, or when I saw Atoms for Peace and I felt like I couldn’t see a better show if I tried.” That’s Rick and Morty. I literally watch every episode a few times because they’re so dense with jokes. I don’t even know where on the screen to focus, my brain just keeps buffering.