Quietdrive on writing Up or Down and growing up
Minneapolis band Quietdrive have just released their latest album, Up or Down, which chronicles the everyday life struggles the band went through while writing and recording the record.
Gimme Noise sat down and spoke with guitarist Will Caesar and lead singer Kevin Truckenmiller a few weeks ago, just prior to their River's Edge billing announcement this summer at Harriet Island.
On a rare lovely day that we've had in this roulette of a spring, Kevin admits that, "It's tough to lock yourself in the studio, but I have been there everyday working. The record's pretty much ready to roll, but I have to do some finishing touches and go back to Nashville [to work with producer Jordan Schmidt] this week to finalize everything." The band had written most of Up or Down by July and August of 2011, but took time to launch a Kickstarter campaign for a covers album that they released this past December. Will adds, "We are working right up until the last minute because we feel like things can always be better. When you have worked on a project for this long, it's tough to let it go and just put it out. You're never satisfied."
With a new album comes reinvention. Truckenmiller says when approached about the sound, "I think this record includes a lot more slower tempo songs. I think it's obviously matured a bit, at the same time it has a more adult contemporary feel to it versus a couple of songs that take risks. 'Avalanche,' which is my favorite, has a bit of a John Mayer vibe to it, but it still has a true Quietdrive chorus. We took some chances, but we also dredged the past a little." For Will it was like their two records before where they cut their teeth on a new mature sound. "On this album, there was growth, but we did a little bit more stretching than we necessarily wouldn't have years ago."
The majority of the songwriting is done by Kevin, who acknowledges that he did hand over the reigns a bit on Up, something that the band had already been toying with on their previous album. "I did share some of the songwriting, but I never truly let go of them. Just like any band, because I am the principle writer, I wanted to make sure it was up to par with everything that we do no matter what it was. Will had a few different songs that he had been writing, and so we just went into the studio. No song that we started out with remained the same; every one of them went through an evolution: 'Here's the idea, what is the main focus/concept of this song? Now let's craft everything around that and laser in on what we're trying to say.' I think that's what makes songs great for me: something that is so refined and focused on what it's supposed to be."
The meaning behind an album title usually has a lot of weight. Will shares, "The last six months to a year have been really transitional for a lot of us in the band. When we started putting these songs together, it was in this purgatory area of, 'Where am I at in life? Where am I headed? Why are we here? How did I get here?' It was trying to figure out the situation -- that up or down." Kevin had the task of translating that dichotomy into song, "It was a little difficult because I would be having these extreme highs, and have to take this really difficult struggle that a band member was going through and concept it into a song."
Growing up and maturing can sure change your views on the world. Kevin says, "I'm less destructive than when I was younger; you had this sense of immortality. When you get to a certain age, it's like, wait a second, the clock is ticking on a lot of these different things, and unless I get started right now on developing my future, it's never going to happen." With maturity bring the need to no longer looking to others for validation. In response to the harsh criticism on "selling out," Will says, "You can't talk about the band without talking about 'Time After Time.'"
Kevin adds, "In the beginning, we took things a lot harsher because we were obsessive about what people thought about us. As I get older, I don't care as much. I don't release music I don't stand behind; I love all sorts of music. For some people to pick a specific a genre and hate, it doesn't make any sense to me. It points to a larger insecurity -- maybe it's outside of music -- they have to bring this person down in order to have this conversation. You shouldn't take it personally." Turning introspective, Truckenmiller concludes,"It's just something we all have to get past. I try not to focus on the negative because it's such a waste of time."
Up or Down is out today.
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