By Jack Spencer
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On a chilly fall night, Solid Gold frontman Zach Coulter greets City Pages outside Humans Win! Studio in northeast Minneapolis with the revelation that it's his 34th birthday. Before the festivities awaiting him elsewhere, Coulter and his two bandmates, Matt Locher and Adam Hurlburt, are excited to discuss their first full-length in four years, the intoxicating, synth-driven Eat Your Young.
"In our minds it hasn't been that long, and we're eager to start playing again," says multi-instrumentalist Locher. "We don't think of it as a massive period of time that has passed, we just think of it as a lot of work." And all the extra effort clearly paid off, for while the new songs aren't as immediately revealing as those on Solid Gold's stellar debut, Bodies of Water, the new material is more textured and luxurious, and reflects not only the band's growing maturity as songwriters, but also their close attention to detail.
"The vibes of the songs on the new album are more in tune with each other," Coulter explains. "We set out to make a record, not a collection of 10 songs. If we were making a collection of 10 songs, we probably would have picked different songs. But it's hard these days, because we like records — full, complete artistic thoughts."
Solid Gold play a CD-release show on Friday, December 7, at First Avenue; 612.332.1775
Eat Your Young is a unified batch of slow-burning tracks that have a brooding edge to them, with the acoustic elegance of the start of "Shock Notice" blending harmoniously alongside the textured pulse of lead single "The Pendulum." The album was recorded over the past two years at the band's downtown Minneapolis studio, as well as Humans Win! and Justin Vernon's April Base in Eau Claire, along with the assistance of engineer/producer BJ Burton. And each change in scenery offered the group an altered way to approach the songs, as well as a new chance to further tinker with their sound.
Poliça's Drew Christopherson also plays all the live drums on the record, and Locher gushes over his contributions. "For all intents and purposes, he's the fourth member of Solid Gold. His influence is all over the album." But while Christopherson is busy touring with Poliça, the group recruited Tapes 'n Tapes drummer Jeremy Hanson and his talented brother Jake to fully flesh out the group's live sound. "Without a doubt, this is the best our band has ever sounded," Locher adds.
There is certainly a pensive, downbeat spirit that runs through the record, something the band readily admits when discussing what the album's grim title means to them. "[Eat Your Young is] the depiction of nature's brutality, as well as when you look around and see older generations just pilfering and destroying all of the world's resources, and still reproducing but not giving a shit about their offspring," Locher says heatedly. "And it sounds brutal, but that's what we were going for — the album's got a dark vibe."
The group is fiercely independent these days, with both Coulter and Locher proudly mentioning that "Our label is us" when asked if any record company paid for all the wine and decadent food the trio consumed in their surreal new video for "The Pendulum." "We've never signed a contract, so we pay for everything. Yet another reason why it takes us four years to put out a record," jokes Locher.
"Rather than forcing something out quickly and being disingenuous about it, we just wanted to put out something that really depicts where we are as people and artists, and something that we're proud of," he adds as the interview draws to a close. "We could get weirder or we could get more pop, but this is the closest we could come, at this point, to explain where we're at. It took a lot, but we're happy with it."