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Did this record make you change as a singer? Do you think your delivery is different, or that the songs demanded that you become a different singer?
I think the singing is definitely different on this record. Actually, a lot of my vocal takes were the first time I sang the song. The singing is pretty unselfconscious because of it. “Impregnable Question,” that’s literally the first time I sang that song to double track.
I sort of developed this character singing Rise Above—scorned and scornful, anti-social, incredibly vulnerable, but incredibly spiteful at the same time. It’s the character that inhabits those Black Flag lyrics. I kind of made that character my singing voice for that album, and we toured that entire time, between Rise Above and Bitte Orca, so that was still the voice I was inhabiting for those songs too. I think these songs, being warmer and more direct, it did have me singing in a different way.
When you are going to be touring so heavily, how do you keep recordings that are so open and spontaneous from becoming a glassy-eyed, glossy version of that feeling under repetition?
It’s a good question. I don’t have an answer for you yet. I have to think it’ll just be in interacting as we play, interacting with the audience. I love that the record is this kind of fragile, hand-made thing. Like untreated wood. I think it’s ok that the songs will change. It’s in the spirit of them that they might.
What was your thinking in cutting bits of studio chatter back in to “Unto Caesar”?
It was like 4am, and it was the last day we had at the Rare Book Room, and we were all kind of delirious. That was just what was happening in the room when we were recording it. We realized that it really worked with the song, so we just kind of left it in.
For me, the album is really about this Wabi-sabi aesthetic. I love the idea of the recording as just capturing a moment that happens once and not again. It’s not a perfect record. It’s not a platonic rendering of a series of parts. I think when people are making purely digital music you can do that. So people will take everything out and tune everything and correct things. It actually feels weird not to do that when you’ve got those things at your disposal. But I love the idea of this album as this collection of little stones you are holding in your hands. They’re all weird, irregular, different colors.