Animal Lover have it in them to be a cult name in the Midwest. Thanks to a staunch commitment to their gloriously chaotic post-hardcore sounds, the Twin Cities by way of Fargo band have already netted a small but loyal national following and critical attention. After tying for the #10 slot on our 2013 Picked to Click poll last year, the group went back underground to put the finishing touches on their Guilt EP over the long and brutal winter.
Solidifying their wholly unique approach while adding inflections of riff-rock, swing and even toying with ambient clips, Nate Fisher, Evan Bullinger and Addison Shark (yes, that's on his driver's license) have created another weird and wonderful offering of local noise. Partnering with Minneapolis punk-powerhouse Learning Curve Records for the release, Animal Lover will be heading out on the road on their longest jaunt yet after tonight's release show at Turf Club.
Gimme Noise caught up with Animal Lover after practice at their new space to talk about how they changed their ambivalence to music videos and their spirit animal identities.
Gimme Noise: We last talked to you guys when you landed a Picked to Click slot at the end of last year. What's new since then?
Nate Fisher: Well, there's the Guilt EP that we're really excited about, and we went on tour.
Addison Shark: We practice at Nate's house now, and he's got a ping-pong table, so that's pretty awesome. Nate is the ping-pong wizard, literally. You can't beat him. I think we finished recording the record since we talked to you last, and I think we did like a weekend thing in Chicago, but other than that we've just been hunkered down, writing and whatnot.
So what led up to the creation of this new EP? How long have you been working on these songs?
Nate: Almost three years.
Addison: Three years? Yeah, I guess! I think one or two of the songs on the record are a couple of years old. But it also ranges from that, we have some songs that we wrote right before we recorded them,so they were like very old, but new.
Where'd you track it? Who did you work with for the recording?
Addison: We recorded with Matt Castore, who plays in a band called Condominium. He has a basement studio that's really cool, it's really comfortable to record there. He recorded it all onto tape, I think it's like inch, inch-and-a-half reel-to-reel. We actually recorded some of the songs last year, we recorded the tape that had 3 songs, and that was called Guilt. Then we kind of added on to that essentially. I think it took, like, a day. I think we're a one-take band.
Nate: I think we tried a few takes on each of the different songs, and we went back to the first take on almost all of that.
Addison: Yeah, it's a lot cheaper that way!
You guys use a fair amount of nonmusical sounds on this record, why did you decide to use those, and how did you go about recording them?
Nate: It's just fun, I think. You can add an endless amount of layers so it's fun to experiment. It's weird, for a band like us, we don't normally get the opportunity to do that, so it's fun to find an opportunity to work it into our sound.
Addison: I think it was just something we did when we got all the basic tracking done, we were just kind of planning on trying a few things that we hadn't done before and Matt was really good about letting us bring a half-baked idea into reality. He would have ideas on how to mic things. He had a bathroom in his basement, and we just kind of wadded up some paper towels so it was just dripping onto a paper towel, which didn't sound the best [laughs]. But he had the ideas on how to record weird stuff that we'd never recorded before, like handclaps
You guys have Learning Curve records in your corner now, how'd that happen?
Addison: Actually, when we lived in Fargo, we sent him our self-released 7-inch with like, a letter saying how much we wanted to be on Learning Curve, because we were all really into the Blind Shake record and this band called the Depths which we all really liked. We never got a response, but then a couple of years later after playing around town for a while, he contacted us and expressed interest, I guess. I think he saw us playing at Grumpy's or something like that.
I don't know how he found us, but he said that he remembered getting the record. I think he said he kept it, that he still had the letter and the 7-inch, it's like: "Why didn't you respond?" So that's kind of crazy, because we really wanted to do something on Learning Curve a while ago. He's got so many great bands and records he's released over the years, so it's a big honor to be on the label. It's cool because it's a really small label but he puts a lot into it, and you can tell he's genuinely excited about about the records that he's working on.
Nate and Evan kind of collaborated on the artwork, I think Nate did the original drawing and Evan did some of the lettering and then put it together on a computer. It's cool to have visual artists in the band.[page]
Speaking of visuals, the video you guys put out for "Neighbors" is super great, I love the psychedelic art-film vibe. Who did you work with on that?
Addison: Well, he goes by "The Voice of Pizza" but his name is Phil Chrive, and I don't really know much about him, he's someone that Rainer Fronz from Learning Curve has used before. He did the video with this band called Disasteratti that Learning Curve just put out a record by. We'd never really thought about doing a music video, but Rainer brought it up and we talked about it, and we didn't really like, want to be in a video. He had this guy that just uses film, but manipulates it and uses different filters and stuff like that. We saw the Disasteratti video and maybe a few other videos he was working on, and we contacted him, and kind of threw some ideas around, and one of the things was "Western-themed." We gave him a lot of different images to work with, but that was the one he was down to do. We really like it, it's really weird, he did a really good job. I can't imagine doing anything else for that.
How did you guys link up with STNNNG, Solid Attitude and Lex Deux Maggots? Those are three killer groups to share a bill with!
Addison: Well, Solid Attitude is from Iowa City. I think most of those guys live here now, but I think we played with them for the first time touring when we came to Iowa City. We played with them a couple of times there, and I guess that's how we met them. Lex Deux Maggots are some of our oldest band-friends. We were playing with them way back when we were playing with other bands in Fargo, they've been a band for a really long time, and used to live at The Midway House, and do really cool shows there. Nate and I, in our old band, toured out west with them many years ago. STNNNG, I'm not actually sure how we met, but I'm pretty sure we met as bands, because we were checking them out an going to their shows before we knew them. That's kind of our dream lineup right there, I'd say.
That's gonna be one of the last shows at the Turf before they redo it. You guys excited to give the place a last-hurrah?
Addison: Yeah, I don't know... do you think they're going to shut the whole thing down this summer? I know they're re-doing the basement. I hope they don't fuck it up, that place is awesome.
You have a really sweet tour lined up following this show, including a date on WHKP 88.5, a Chicago radio station. Wanna talk about the tour at all?
Addison: We're essentially doing a similar route to last year at this time, we did kind of a similar east-coast route. The University of Chicago is having this end of the semester thing, I think they have it every year and it's usually punk bands and stuff. It's called Summer Breeze. So we're playing that, and than a radio show there. I guess it's like all our other tours, it's all a mix of house shows and bars and art spaces, that kind of thing. It's not even by design, it just ends up working out like that, you get to experience the best of everything, because all of those things are fun in their own way.
So, the group's called Animal Lover. What's everyone's Spirit Animal?
Nate: Mine would be a cat. I would hope to say that it would be a Siberan Cat, but probably just a cat.
Evan Bullinger: I would like to say... any sort of bird of prey, like a hawk or something. I'll go with that.
Addison: Probably a rat.
Animal Lover Guilt EP release show. With STNNNG, Le Deux Maggots, and Solid Attitude. Thursday, May 15 at Turf Club. Info.
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