Thursday, May 15, 2014 at 8 a.m.
Sometimes after a long night of drinking, a few musicans can grow closer and define themselves as a band. This is the case for punk-infused indie rockers Edward the Confessor. Every Monday evening is set aside to rehearse, and this blustery day is no exception. After a hard night's work, practice always concludes with chicken wings and Brandy 7s at neighboring restaurant, Eli's in Northeast.
Singers/guitarists Rob Burkhardt and Sean Hancock, drummer Nick Larsen, and bassist Dillon Marchus (who was jokingly renamed "Derek" after a misunderstanding) have called it an early practice in order to sit down with Gimme Noise.
Do you write all the songs together?
Rob: Sean and I write a fair amount of the ideas, Nick ruins 'em. Derek redeems them and we all get back on track.
Sean: In all seriousness, we all come from different spots. Rob wrote a lot in previous groups as a band. For the most part, the bands that Nick and I have played in, someone will come in with an entire song with an arrangement to the space and be like "This is how it goes, you can change this or that, but it's written." I think it's a little bit of both. We'll come in with the majority of an idea and build off it. It's half and half. And Dillon, I mean Derek, has free reign to do whatever he wants now.
Rob: Derek is a "multi-instrumentalist". He shapes the songs and brings in all kinds of crazy shit. It's awesome. We're going to make him play the French Horn soon.
Dillon aka Derek: I want to get a French Horn! I've never done that.
[A moment is taken for everyone to get over playing air French Horn]
Rob: Then Sean and I always argue about who's gonna sing because Sean sings loud and I can't sing as lo-
Sean: -- I cut like a knife!
Rob: Then we figure out who's going to write dark and twisted lyrics and go from there. We started out writing songs in Nick's living room before we had a space, before we had a bass player, before Derek joined the band.
What differences did you see in the creating of your first and newest EP?
Sean: If you listen to the first EP, it's definitely more straightforward rock music. I think we got a little more liberal with experimentation in the studio.
Nick: We used the studio as a tool.
Rob: Working with Zach [Hollander, The Pearl Recording Studio] opened up a lot of places. The first time we didn't know what we were really wanting to do and what he could do. So we laid it down true to what it was. But once we realized we could run with ideas and that space is so fantastic we just decided to keep going. The songs were mostly written [coming into the studio] but it felt like a good project to keep overdubbing on and seeing where it can go.
Dillon (aka Derek) is the latest addition to join the band. Do you feel like your sound will change for the better?
Rob: Come back in three hours and we'll still be shouting "DEREK!!" except by that time, we'll be falling out of the booth. But in all seriousness, what is really exciting is that he brings a natural understanding of what we're trying to do. He's got so much more skill [laughs]. Sean and Nick are skilled too. Nick understands how skilled he is. Sean doesn't understand how skilled he is, but he's intensely skilled. Derek understands how skilled he is, works hard to become that skilled on multiple instruments and actually tells us what we're playing. He talks about chords and Sean's like "I don't know chords!"
Sean: I don't know what notes are! What notes? Is that a dotted note? Like a full dot? A dot with a hole in the middle?
What is the idea behind all of the transitions on the EP?
I don't think it started out that we were building transitions into the EP. The other thing that Rob and I do are write these 20-second parts. At least the way that I write, I don't have a verse/chorus/verse or an idea that's from start to finish. Typically it's just a bass line or a guitar line that's just a 20-second snippet. Then I have a really hard time finishing that idea and Rob kind of has the same thing. I think what we wanted to do was document those parts and see what we could with it. We ended up spending an entire day just making noise and ambient sounds.
How did you name the EP Sorry Forever?
It's a mixture of laughing your way right before you're just about to fall apart. Dillon told us a sad story, so we kind of bonded with him right away. He's a really nice guy. He was talking and I was like, "Wow. I think I've been there." Maybe not the exact experience, but I know how that feels. I think in that process we were really talking about those really extreme emotional experiences and out came Sorry Forever
What would you say is the overall theme of Sorry Forever?
Regret, well, not regret. Despair. It wasn't despair either... we revolve around morose themes. Dark stuff. Without giving too much away of what it is we talk about, those topics come up around Brandy 7's for those parts...after about seven of them. Seven Brandy 7's.
Rob: It's amazing the kind of redemption you can find at the bottom of a Brandy 7. Four hours in, there's interesting things happening right down there [points at glass] that you would never know[laughs]. That's pretty much what it's all about. I think it's balancing the same way that Sean and I trying to start balancing approaches or different backgrounds to writing. We still have a commonality writing the themes. I think they're a really interesting mixture of melancholy stuff and things that have a little bit of a redemptive side to them. I think it's fun to listen to that sad song, but if you listen to a whole record of sad songs, I don't know if I need to listen to that anymore. There's never any encouragement to live another day to be sad again.
Where did you learn to write songs?
Rob: I ripped off my favorite bands. It was hard to come to terms with that and realize it and I have to get away from it at some point. It's fun to think like "Oh. That's why I play that thing." And so if I want it to be my own, I need to maybe move into a different space or purposely change it. Then I thought it was fun because you write, like most pop-punk influences, you kind of write a straight three chord, mostly major, major/minor a little bit, 5ths harmonies in a pretty predictable pattern. I think after a while you start to realize there's not a lot of uniqueness in that. It's fun to learn how to reproduce what you hear in life, but at a certain point you realize you have some things to say. It's such a great challenge to take something that you don't love and look beyond it. I think that's what we've done for a long time. Take an aesthetic that we love, rip it apart and try to use only fragments of it. So instead of playing a barre chord we purposefully are trying to play around with anything but a barre chord. It's almost an unspoken rule that you cannot play a barre chord in this band. If you do, you have to justify it.
How do you plan on releasing the EP?
Rob: We're giving away boomboxes at our release show.
Nick: We're releasing the album on cassette. So if you buy the tape, you get a boombox. The cassettes are also third generation overdubs that we found somewhere.
What other plans do you have for the release show?
Rob: Well Sean is going to get naked, as usual... but then he's going to get dressed again. He's going to show up naked and get dressed slowly.
Sean: Each new song, I will put on one article of clothing.
Rob: We almost weren't going to play any new songs off the album, but then Sean relented. Now we're going to play some songs off the record.
Edward the Confessor's EP Release, 21+, Free, 9 p.m., Thursday, May 15 at Cause with Lovely Dark and Rafters. Info.
GIMME NOISE'S GREATEST HITS
53 things you might not know about Prince
Brother Ali: My fans are kicking the sh*t out of me over Trayvon Martin
Foo Fighters photo waiver one of the industry's severest: Here's why we didn't sign
Top 20 best Minnesota musicians: The complete list