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The L: I read how John thought about for a whole year between albums how to record the drums and wanting that big sound to come through. Do you think that came through again—the bigness of it? Is that even what you were going for this time?
LK: With Phil, I didn’t know what route he was going to take because I only knew him from his work with Built to Spill. And I was like, “We don’t really sound like that. What’s he going to do?” And his approach is different than John’s. When we were driving to the studio, we turned on the radio and KEXP was playing one of our songs on the last record. So we had a laugh and felt embarrassed about it, but we actually turned it up and were like, “Let’s listen.” We were so into the new record; let’s compare. I think John totally did a great job and he did spend a lot of time thinking about strategy, and Phil just took a different approach.
ML: We were talking about it after that, and when you listen to Visiter and the way John produced that, things come in left and right in different spaces. It makes it kind of a fun listen—you’re like, “Oh, wow, what’s that over there? And there’s a little bell over there.” And with Phil, it’s one big thing, almost like a monomix, a mountain of beefiness. It’s weird because it doesn’t necessarily sound louder and the drums aren’t as in your face, but they sound big.
The L: Did you feel comfortable giving your opinion to Phil?
ML: Well, the problem was—well, it wasn’t a problem—but the thing was the way he makes records, you’re putting a lot of faith into him because he’s recording in a way that you aren’t really going to know what it’s going to sound like until he works his magic on the mixing part. So a lot of it was like, “Well, you know, that doesn’t sound exactly… I want to say something, but I kinda have a feeling Phil knows what he’s doing.” And, in the end, we were like, “Ok, you’re totally who you are for a reason.”
The L: Now that you’ve had your breakthrough album, do you feel pressure with this one to live up to the hype?
ML: Well, Pitchfork kind of dumped us, soooo…
LK: They’re seeing other people.
ML: Prom night, dude. Left alone on prom night. When we started working on this record, I honestly felt like we were underdogs again, just in terms of measuring up to our own expectations. We had reached a point in touring where we had just spent anything inspiring. I felt sorta disappointed in what we had become in terms of musicians and performers. And when we started working on the album, everything was new. New instrument, new member—the possibilities seemed really positive. And because the making of this record—the making of any record—is really hard and involving, I’m honestly just really excited for whatever happens. We made this thing, we worked hard, I feel good about it. That's the important part, you know? I thought I would feel more pressure, but it’s kind of like what I was saying about performing now: I’m concentrating so hard on these new songs and just not fucking up that I don’t really have any time to think about anything else.
LK: We were touring all last year, and I don’t think we’ve given ourselves enough time to really think about it. But now that we’ve gotten to the point where the record is done, I wonder what fans who liked certain things about our old records will think about certain songs on the new one. But I feel good enough about what we’ve done, where’s it’s just like, “It doesn’t matter any more, I’m proud of what we did, I’m excited to play the songs.” People could hate it…
ML: If people hate it, I’m going to love to find out why they hate it. It’s like the seal’s been broken. We had a record that got out there, and people enjoyed it and people also knocked. And once you have that the first time—it’s like the first time you get rejected by somebody… on prom night—it can’t be that bad, you know?
The L: And you’re heading to Europe soon.
ML: We’re doing some dates in July. Some festivals.
The L: You guys seem to like festivals; you’re always playing them.