Page 2 of 5
The L: I would say that this album has a little bit more focus on melody. I don't know if you would agree?
TJ: I think it does. Another thing too, I quit smoking, maybe two years ago. So that just enabled me to sing higher. Actually, to a certain extent, it was kind of weird. When we recorded vocals, we were like, "Is this good?" Usually there's some rasp in there. I almost felt like it sounded strange, but it enabled me to break out of that sing-speak/Lou Reed kind of thing a little bit more.
The L: When you're writing the noisy parts, do you pay attention to the compositional elements–stuff like notes and chord progression–as much as you would if you were writing a more traditional part?
TJ: How sculpted is the noise? I think it depends on the part. If you do that kind of thing enough, then you learn that if I do this with my guitar, it's going to make this kind of sound, this kind of feedback, this kind of rumble or whatever. It's usually fairly off-the-cuff though. There's the song "Acid King of Hell" where there's this solo-y thing in the middle, and there's all these layers of squiggly guitars on it. Literally, I just went in there, and someone was like, "Get squigglin'." I went into the room and did two or three tracks. I mean, I think it definitely has a feeling to it. I think it's fairly comparable–and this is going to sound super pretentious–to something like jazz. Even though I don't understand what I'm playing, I'm not just hitting random notes. And if ever Emily and Jim on the drums are just going nuts, we have a certain language that we've learned to speak with.
The L: I do have to ask about the name change. Did you just want something new?
TJ: That was kind of the reason: wanting something new. But, also, us just not really liking "The Muggabears" anymore. That was a name I came up with so long ago, and I just kinda kept using it. I didn't really think about it past a certain point. I think I came up with it when I was 19, and I was like, "Oh, that's a really cool name because it's all soft and cuddly, and the music that I'm making at that time is not." And also just because it's a ridiculous word. I don't think Emily ever liked it. The point of it, I guess, was to be kind of ironic. But it just didn't end up working that well. I mean, there was a time when we almost changed it in 2006–to Children, I think is what we were going to call it. And maybe we were going to call it Teenage Cop, which was the name of the first EP.
The L: So this is something that you've thought about for a while now.
TJ: Yeah, and the longer it goes on, the more you're like, "Well, we can't change it now." And then just knowing that we had this new album coming out we were like, "Maybe we can do it now, right this second, and it could be helpful." Obviously, right after the album comes out would be a really terrible time to change it.