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The L: With all these different bits, Ashes Grammar is a very long album by modern standards. Do you anticipate people listening to it front to back, or cut up into playlist fodder?
BD: It’s kind of up to them. We certainly broke it up a lot so it’s easy to jump around. And, obviously, if you buy the vinyl it makes sense to let it play. But at the same time the vinyl is two LPs, so I’ve been telling people to treat it like 4 EPs, where each side is its own different thing.
The L: At the most basic level, when you’re writing an ASDIG song, where do you start? With a little instrumental piece that then gets layer upon layer added? What’s the writing process like?
BD: I don’t even know that there is necessarily there is a “process.” It varies depending on the song. With some I’ll be fooling around, playing the guitar, and something will come out, and you’ll think, “oh that’s sort of neat,” and then you’ll record it, think about it for a while. Or using a different instrument, I’ll hear something that kind of interests me, and I’ll just keep going on that, letting it build and build.
For the first album all the songs were kind of recorded in my mind, I thought these are just demos I’m recording and at some point I’ll go back and record them for real, make them sound better. And then, when I started to rerecord the songs, it sounded awful, because maybe I didn’t really even know how to record something in the first place. And you kind of fall in love with the demos anyway.
So this time, I didn’t let myself record or really write anything all the way through, so I had really skeletal sort of idea-ish demos. When Josh [Meakim] and I started recording them is when they got really worked out. At that was good too, because we had a big space and we could be loud, as opposed to an apartment building where everything was on the headphones, and you plugged direct into it. I think that’s a lot of the reason this album was a lot harder to do, it really took like five months to record it, because we were writing as we went along. But lyrics and melodies and words always come last, that’s the hard part for me.
The L: About lyrics: Listening to the record, I’d say the vocals are probably clearer, clearer recorded, but they still sound really far away. You get the sound, the melody of the singing, more than the actual lyrics. Are you interested more in singing and the sound of singing than you are in conveying actual lyrical information?
BD: That seem to be what’s happening. I just like the whole of it all, nothing standing out more than the others. But yeah, I agree. I think this record is a lot clearer. It’s funny though, Josh would mix a lot of the stuff, and then I would go in and remix what he did on some songs, and he would always mix the vocals a lot louder, and I would usually turn them down. I guess that’s just what I like.
The L: When you write lyrics do you write them as something you imagine a listener eventually deciphering?
BD: I kind of think they’ll decipher it or even just come up with their own understanding of what it is. I kind of like that. I kind of hate, almost, to tell someone what the lyrics are. They’ll probably be disappointed. You have an idea of what you think they are, and then to find out it something else can almost ruin it for someone. So I’m happy for the listener to think whatever they want to think they are, I guess.
The L: I was a bit confused, the press materials made it sound like your sisters weren’t on the record much at all. Did they end up on some of the songs?