|photo: Nathaniel Wood|
Q: Was the new single “I Saw You Close Your Eyes” recorded during the “Sunlit Youth” sessions or more recently?
A: It originated at the very end of [those] sessions. It was a song from the writing trip we took to Nicaragua. Everybody really loved the song, but we didn’t finish it in time. We recently came back to it.
Q: What kind of reaction have you seen from people accessing the song through the special website?
A: I really love the range of comments we got back - from very positive and ‘this is really cool and I like it’ to ‘no way you’re gonna video me with my eyes closed, you weirdos!’ I was like, ‘that’s a good point. I didn’t even think about it.’
Q: Regarding the new cover of “Tusk” by Fleetwood Mac that you did especially for Spotify and recorded in the same studio as the original: could you sense the 1970s vibe while doing it?
A: It was pretty great to be in the small room where they did vocals and built this stained-glass window in there, because I think Stevie wanted that. And then there was the piano that recorded ‘Sara,’ which is probably my favorite song on ‘Tusk.’ Such a beautiful song...At the last minute, we had done some of our song ‘Fountain of Youth,’ not at that exact studio, but in that same building, which has several studios in it. We had just been there finishing that song six months earlier.
Q: Now that the latest album has been out for six months, are you happy at how it’s been received by fans?
A: I don’t think there’s ever a direct answer for that. You always want to be pushing things farther, but I have to say, these shows now have really been amazing. We have three albums now to pick and choose from and spread it out a little bit. The shows have been energetic. It’s been fun to see which songs on Sunlit Youth rise to the top. What people have tended to connect with. I feel the older you get, you’re definitely supposed to get more sick of touring, tired of it and it gets harder and harder. But we’ve been having a really good time.
Q: “Coins,” from the latest album, finds Kelcey getting real soulful. Did you guys know he had it in him?
A: We know each other’s voices really well. Knowing that Kelcey has that in him vocally, part of it was ‘it would be so awesome to have a song that has a soul influence on it and give him some open road to go off. That song, Ryan had brought to the table and I think he wrote that the day after the D’Angelo record came out. It was on his mind and something that was different for us, for sure. That is one that right away, fans enjoy listening to live when we play it at shows.
Q: Can you tell me about the Swedish connection on the album? First, you have Nina from The Cardigans guesting on “Dark Days.” Then you have Little Dragon co-producing “Jellyfish.” Was that a happy coincidence?
A: We have a band member who is married to a Swede. So maybe we just in general have some affinity there. We love going to Sweden anytime we have extra time. It’s one of our favorite places to tour in the world. Little Dragon we had met and known awhile, we were mutual fans. That came about pretty naturally.
Q: You visited the White House during the last few months of the Obama Administration. What was that like?
A: So incredible. Really inspiring. We met a woman who worked on Michelle Obama’s team during the whole presidency. She gave us all these tours of the West Wing, the Situation Room and the Oval Office that [normally] you can’t get. We went to one of the holiday parties the White House has right before the transition. We were there as the election was ramping us. Then I went to a holiday party there and met the Obamas right after the election was over. Obviously, it was a really intense time. When I first went there, I was so inspired by the people there. Normally, you think of government as this big black box and you have this vague notion that it’s corruption and everybody’s looking after their own interests. I met and saw so many people and heard about so many people who worked hard and cared deeply about the American public and people of the world. It was a really inspiring moment. We were campaigning pretty hard in the election and it didn’t go the way we wanted it to. So, there was defeat.
Q: Before the album came out, the band did a free concert last summer on the roof of your rehearsal space in Silverlake. Were you surprised you got away with it as long as you did?
A: We couldn’t believe it. I think we have video footage of us taking bets on how many songs we would get through before it got shut down. I was the biggest believer and said, ‘they won’t shut us down.’ Everybody else said, 2, 3, maybe 5 songs. We played for a full hour. Cops were coming by. There was a police helicopter buzzed by to check it out. But they just let us keep playing and doing our thing. That was a cool moment for us. We were playing on the roof of this building that had been our rehearsal space in LA for about five years. It’s getting torn down now. We wanted to do this as a celebration of the release of our album, but also saying goodbye to this chapter for us. We tweeted [the info] out before and thousands of people came by. We felt really embraced by LA, our hometown. It was a pretty awesome moment.