Featuring former members of groups like Botch, These Arms Are Snakes, Unbroken, and Some Girls, Narrows play a focused and furious style of hardcore with blistering, surreal touches at the fringes. Their latest full-length, Painted, is their first in three years, and was recorded after a tour of the US from which guitarist Jodie Cox was unable to secure a visa. On the eve of another tour of the US—which stops at the Knitting Factory tonight—I checked in via email with vocalist Dave Verellen, drummer Sam Stothers, and guitarists Jodie Cox and Ryan Frederiksen.
With members based on multiple cities across two continents, what was the process of writing Painted like?
Jodie Cox: It was a frustrating and challenging experience. We had to co-ordinate times where we could get on Skype to discuss ideas as best we could and they would lay those and others down. I would get up and find tracks in my inbox and then record parts to it and send them back. We’d then get on Skype again in the evening and discuss. Given the tight time window, we couldn’t dawdle and some executive decisions had to be made. The songs were always developing until the end of mixing.
Did you encounter the same issues with the Department of Immigration for this tour that you did for last year’s?
Jodie Cox: No, I finally managed to get a proper visa to come over this time so I didn’t encounter any problems. It took a lot of time and money to make it happen but I’m excited to be here and playing these new songs.
With parts of Painted recorded in the US and UK, was the process of mixing the album lengthier than it might have otherwise been?
Jodie Cox: Matt Bayles really pulled this altogether for us. He was in touch with me being in London, Dave and Ryan in Seattle and also Sam and Rob [Moran, bass] who were back in San Diego at that time and it made it happen for us. He was as patient as he could be but really helped us finish it on time.
Ryan Frederiksen: Yeah, We recorded at the tail end of our last West Coast tour and Rob and Sam knocked out basics in almost no time at all which really helped the rest of us take a little more time, much to Matt’s dismay. Haha. Seriously though, he was great and had a lot to contribute idea-wise so it probably wouldn’t have been finished in the time we were given.
Dave Verellen: I bet overall the amount of hours were the same as a typical recording. We just would put a few weeks between sections of the recording process…which isn’t ideal but like everyone said Matt really kept it on track.
Did touring with Mark Holcomb on guitar in 2011 have any effect on the group’s chemistry or—more generally—the way certain songs were played?
Ryan Frederiksen: Mark has been an old friend of all of ours for a really long time and he expressed interest in doing the tour when Jodie got denied entry. Obviously with another person playing guitar besides Jodie it’s going to change the chemistry a bit as they don’t play the same style. So Mark played as closely to the way Jodie plays as he could but added a bit of his own style in there as well.
What are the origins of Painted’s cover image?
Ryan Frederiksen: The cover idea came from Dave’s lyrical content and the way you perceive someone. How you think you can know someone for years and then their true face and personality comes out. The back cover represents how it slowly comes off in an unpleasant manner. I wanted it to be black and white and then have here eyes and the flowers have partial color as glimpses into what her true self is.
Dave Verellen: I think Ryan had a vision of what he wanted to do after we had discussed the lyrics and such. It was a fun process to work with friends and local artists on it.
Is this the only band all of you are playing in at the moment?
Jodie Cox: I also play in bands at home: Tropics and Rohame.
Dave Verellen: NRWS is my only active band.
Sam Stothers: I’m also currently playing in Dead Ghosts.