Tess, Chris White, and Derek Van Gieson filled us in on their writing process, their goals for the future, and why this new album lives in another season from their last.
Gimme Noise: The band has written so many songs. Where are all of these living right now? Any plans to release them in the future?
Tess Weinberg: It's true! There is a lot of them. We have bank of songs that all fall into 5 categories in my head -- Old Old, Old, New Old, New, New New. The goal is to keep the "New New" growing, and pick the best ones and release a full album.
Chris White: There are a lot of songs living and breathing on their own and sort of hovering around us at the moment. We have another EP recorded and mastered and slated for release in July. We also have time booked in June to record a lot of those songs just hovering around.
Derek Van Gieson: It's true, there's a lot of songs floating around. We're hitting a nice stride right now where we operate as a whole when an idea is presented and songs get finished. it's now reflex rather than something we have to strain over. We have another EP in the can and we begin recording our album in June.
The song pile we have for the album grows every day. I think when we began we had certain ideas about what a Murder Shoes song was, but as we write more and more, we do what we want and that becomes a Murder Shoes song. Only by writing so many songs have we freed ourselves from expectation. We're a lot like a 1960s band in that way. We grow faster due to the productivity rather than the stagnate one album every four years thing that came into vogue with 90's corporate rock that's still happening.
You have a throwback/old school sound. What influenced you when writing these songs?
Tess Weinberg: There are so many different musical backgrounds in this band. It feels like we show each other something new each week to vibe off of and learn from. I've always loved the soul vibes from Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, and Aretha, although I'm not sure any of that is emulated in my vocals particularly. But those artists have absolutely influenced my song writing and delivery. I've also been looking towards some kick-ass ladies like Joan Jett, Kim Gordon, and Patti Smith.
Chris White: Speaking for myself, when I started writing songs for this band I was very much intentionally writing songs referencing a certain time period. Sort of obsessively trying to sound like my favorite Kinks and Zombies songs and a little Revolver-era Beatles as well. I think the newer songs still reference some of that initial intention, but finding their own path as we find our sound as a whole.
Derek Van Gieson: Everybody's background is so different, musically. For instance, on our way to play a show in Duluth, Tess played me the Frank Ocean album and I played her a comp of rockabilly stuff as well as some bitchin' 4-track demos from the Motels. It all adds up to a pot pie of weirdness.
The next EP will confirm that, and the LP will push that even further. I listen to all kinds of things. I like my Drive Like Jehu like I like my Mother Maybelle Carter. I like my Unrest and I like my Supremes. I love Albert Ayler, and I love the Dead Kennedys. Black Flag, Hank Williams, Pylon, Connie Francis, The Swirlies, etc.
You put out an album in December. How do you feel this album differs from that one? Why was there a need to put out another so soon?
Tess Weinberg: They feel so different, different seasons. This feels a little more matured and planned out -- more intentioned, too. It doesn't really feel "soon" at all. When we have a bazillion songs, it feels stifling to see the pile grow and have no home for them.
Derek Van Gieson: In my mind, the difference between the two is like the difference between elementary and middle school -- Learning curves. As for the next one coming out soon, I think "soon" is rather relative. These songs have gestated for quite a while. Supposedly people can't handle large chunks of music at a time. A book, sure. Art, you betcha. A TV show, hell, they'll watch they'll watch a whole season in a night, but for some reason, a constant flow of music makes people freak out, so there's time constraints, which I think is a bunch of bull.
We're artists, we make art, we should be able to make and distribute it as we please. We need to keep making new art as the old art doesn't satisfy us as it once did. We keep changing, which I think is healthy, and that will be apparent in a busy release schedule. Maybe we'll have an audience that'll be willing to grow with us at our natural rate.
Tell me about the songs "Charlotte Manning" and "Maybe You Can." How were the songs conceived? Were they autobiographical?
Tess Weinberg: The lyrics in "Maybe You Can" actually talk about confrontation. For "Maybe You Can" I think I was feeling the winter blues and there is a sort of contentedness that comes with sadness for me. Like, I could stay there forever if I just never left my home. Anyway, the "fearing confrontation" in that song is about getting ready to move away from that place and confronting those darker feelings.
Derek Van Gieson: The music was written during one of our situationalist games. Sometimes if we're stumped for ideas, we'll use different motivating triggers to force songs into existence. The initial music for "Charlotte Manning" was written in my former sweaty apartment based on a trigger Tess provided that dealt with figures from literature. I chose the character Charlotte Manning, from a Mickey Spillane novel. I wrote three different versions and Tess picked the one she like best and wrote lyrics to it. That scrapey chug guitar sound is me trying to get my best version of R.E.M.'s "Oddfellows Local 151" out there. Though I may have just written something yet more stark and scrapey.
Who did you work with on producing this album? How do you think they influenced the sound?
Chris White: Our friend Knol Tate recorded, mixed and mastered this EP. I think he brings a Minutemen-esque econo approach that we responded to immediately while recording. I also think Knol also brings a certain sound to the rhythm section. An edge that we might not necessarily find on our own. He's really good at recording drums, amongst many talents. I am so happy with this EP, and look forward to working with him more this summer.
Tess Weinberg: Knol made us sound like we didn't know we could sound. He's our guy. He would play back the take right away -- without anything being mixed -- just letting us hear our sound the way he engineered it and I had no idea we sounded like that. It was a beautiful frickin' freezin' day and I love what we came up with.
Derek Van Gieson: I can't begin to state how great it was to work with him. He's easy to work with and he's got a great setup. Sometimes if you record at a place that's too posh you'll get hangups, but he's got a great vibe going on with his studio. He's funny and helpful. We still do our Knol impressions at practice: "Some of you did a great job on that."
The EP sounds like how Knol heard it in his head. We gave him practice demos before we went in, and he already started interpreting them before we hit record. He's got a great bank of history when it comes to music and I dig that, as I'm a music nerd enthusiast too. He also reminds me of David Lowery from Camper Van Beethoven, which I think is awesome, as Camper's Key Lime Pie album is one of my all time faves. (I hope you're okay with that, Knol.)
What's the goal with this album?
Chris White: I think the goal of this album was to capture and document that period of time in the band and I think we succeeded. It also allows us to keep moving forward with new songs. We have three song writers which means there is a lot of source material and it is constantly being refreshed.
Tess Weinberg: Hopefully assist in feeling the feels, ya know?
Derek Van Gieson: This EP is the foundation. The second EP built on that and the full length will build on that. This is like the business card before the tour of the factory.
What are you excited to share at the album release show?
Chris White: I know we are celebrating the songs on the EP, but honestly I am really excited to play some of our newer tunes. I am also very excited to see some of my friends and family who haven't seen us before, and share with them what I've been working on for the last year.
Tess Weinberg: Oh boy. Well I think we are playing 22 songs? All original. The songs range from nearly straight ahead punk rock to dream Popsicle. I'm excited to share all that business, and also share a fun night with friends and hopefully some fans too.
Derek Van Gieson: The new songs. Very excited to share the new songs. Hell, if I could write songs all day and draw pictures I'd be the happiest man on Earth. Someday.
Murder Shoes will release their self-titled album at the Red Stag Supperclub on Sunday, May 3, 2015.
AA, Free, 10 pm
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