SPEEDY ORTIZ: CAPTAINS NOT THE CRONIES
Speedy Ortiz is in their moment. There is that point, let’s say when the legend is being established, the moment when that lore and the reality meet. Speedy Ortiz have, for a while, been a good band, a great band, but they are in that place now, all things coming together, the skill is on display, beyond the acquisition stage. Foil Deer (Carpark) is the new Speedy Ortiz album, an exhibition of a band not in their prime, but sailing toward the plateau. Foil Deer is self referential, this is the album that changes the conversation. This is not the Bruce Lee can kick your ass, this is the Bruce Lee kicking your ass.
Weird though, to make this album, as it seemed for two years, the band was perpetually touring. So where did the time, the cognizance to make such a prodigious work, come from?
“We had all been on tour so long, and we were all really exhausted physically and emotionally and whatever else and as soon as we had a month off I went to my mom’s house,“ comments singer/guitarist Sadie Dupuis.
“She lives in sort of in the middle of the woods. It’s like miles and miles to go before she even has any neighbors, so I went there to spend time with her and to try and get healthy. I wrote most of the album there. When you’re living in the middle of the woods where there’s no cell phone service, and there’s not much else to do but go for a walk in the woods, or go swimming in a pond, it was easy to find music because that’s what I was hearing when I was walking around…I wound up writing something like, at my best I was writing like three songs a day, but at the very least, it was a song a day, so to go from the constant showman’s attitude of having be at these shows and performing and then meeting everyone afterwards and selling our records and media sessions and whatever else, to go from that to not really seeing anyone for months it was easy to find time to write the music and that is where most of it came from.”
I liken the new album to the realization of voice and power, the actualization, Earl Sweatshirt’s album Doris, where he sounded overwhelmed and tired but still sharp to I Don’t like Shit.. where he sounds paranoid but cocksure, Welcome To Detroit era Dilla, Exploded Drawing Polvo, and shit like that. “Raising The Skate” is exactly that, it is a weird sort of empowerment song, “captain not the crony,” “Zig” is a full moment, an entire piece, the sunset, the lighting of the day, the cloudiness, the storm and lightning, the passing and subsequent rainbow in four minutes and thirty three seconds.The guitars are sharper, the percussion more complex, the lyrics clearer and louder in the mix. It sounds like the album they have wanted to make.
“I think like a lot of that is just things we want to get on the record and we just didn’t have time because were constrained by our other commitments, whether that was work or school, or constrained by like ‘We saved up like $8,000 to record another record,’ which seems like a lot of money but only gets you two days in a studio…our first full length (Major Arcana) we recorded 14 songs in four days, and we spent like three weeks recording this. There was a lot of time to listen back to the tracks, and those little humming background noises, little tiny textural details, we had time to listen to things altogether and think about how to piece together the soundscapes that would make up the rest of the tracks.”
The album was recorded with Nicolas Vernhes, who has recorded everything from Brainiac to Run The Jewels, so the process was intentionally meticulous, from soundscapes, to even something like pacing and song sequence.
“We were very deliberate in that (sequencing), notes Falcone, “we didn’t record them in that way and we had no idea how that would turn out. Then, once we got something together that looked good, it was like, ‘Oh this is it, finally.’ Dupuis adds “There are certain things that I was particular about… We all kind of tried different versions of the sequence and settled on what we have, I think like the biggest debate at the end was whether or not ‘Puffer’ was going to end side A and “Swell Content was going to end side B or vice versa, so it was like pretty obsessive…”
Now one of the things that touring did offer Speedy Ortiz was a chance to tour with a lot of bands that they admired, whether that be Krill or The Breeders or Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks. So , I wondered if there was anything that the band took from that experience, or any knowledge sort of imparted upon them by any of those bands, and Dupuis’ answer was golden.
“Everyone of these major idols that we toured with in past few years have a good sense of how to pace themselves so as to not to get burned out, everyone was really nice, you forget…You see certain people have this like rock star attitude, I think some some of them forget that, not only is this a job, but it’s a job that is based in human interaction, so if you’re not a person that is rooting for other good people, there’s no point in doing it, so pretty much everyone from The Jicks to The Breeders to Thurston Moore and Chelsea Light Moving to Ex Hex those are all generally nice people who’ve looked out for their friends in the arts as well, and I think that has something to do with why they have been able to maintain such long careers and just sort pacing yourself and being good to yourself and being good to other people is something I take from these people that I generally idolize.” To which Falcone added, “As far as bands we’ve toured with that we’ve pulled the most from, I think PILE and Grass Is Green are bands we’ve pulled the most influence from, I know they are not the most famous ones, but I feel that those are bands we’ve pulled the most from, from my end anyway, as far as influence from The Jicks, The Breeders or Ex Hex I guess their touring habits…but one thing that we stole from the Jicks is ten minutes before they go onstage they have ‘tinkle time’ so we all make sure we go to the bathroom before we go onstage.”
Speedy Ortiz plays Walter’s Downtown May 14th w/ Alex G and Football Etc.