Exclusive Q and A: Converge Talk Creativity, Lunar Cycles, And Hanging With Hydra Head

Hardcore heroes Converge should have the right to rest on their laurels. After putting in years developing their sound in the ’90s and then releasing a string of albums during the last decade that culminated in a shower of critical praise, one might think that the band would rest and take stock of their achievements. Lucky for us, Converge are still hungry. Early this October, they released their latest album, All We Love We Leave Behind, another ferocious burst of the band’s unique blend of punk, metal, and hardcore. We recently caught up with vocalist Jacob Bannon to talk about the economics of creativity, the passage of time, and his surprising fondness for Tina Turner.

OS: The cycles of the moon appear on the album art for All We Love We Leave Behind, and the moon is also the first thing that appears in the Aimless Arrow video. What is the importance of that image for the band?

Jacob Bannon: When Max Moore (director of the video) started work on the piece, I sent him a variety of visuals intended for use in the album, along with the storyline of the song itself. He did a fantastic job at capturing the energy of my work and his interpretation of the lyrical content through his own eyes. The use of the moon in the beginning of the piece is a great example of that. The cycles of the moon represent a passing of time, age, wisdom, but at the same time, an unknowingness of the future and a cloudiness of the past.


Exclusive Q and A: Yeasayer Stop And Smell The 'Fragrant World'

OurStage Exclusive InterviewsIndie blogosphere darlings Yeasayer have bucked the boom and bust trend of internet hype once already. Following up their buzzworthy 2007 debut All Hour Cymbals with the grand experimental pop of 2010’s Odd Blood, the Brooklyn-based band proved that it’s possible to avoid the dreaded sophomore slump that too often accompanies massive amounts of online exposure. Now, more than two years later, Yeasayer are back with Fragrant World, their third full length and most ambitious record to date. We caught up with bassist Ira Tuton to talk album art, film scoring, and the process of writing and recording Fragrant World.

OS: During the writing and recording process, you guys reportedly had enough material to do two separate albums: one of three-minute pop songs, and the other of more experimental tunes. Which type of album did Fragrant World ultimately end up becoming?

IT: I’m gonna go with the poppy one, just because we’re dealing with hooks, refrains, verses, and choruses. I think we used a lot of the ideas involved with making an experimental record and translated those aesthetics into the format of pop songs. We just honed down our focus and both types of music kind of bled into each other.

OS: Is there any chance we’ll ever get to hear some of those sidelined tracks?

IT: Yes, totally. I’d also love to explore some longform compositions in the future. It’s something we haven’t really done. There are a lot of things we haven’t done, so we have the opportunity to move in many different directions in the future. There are certain things that didn’t make the record that are going to come out in the next year. Right now, though, the whole focus is on the album first.  There’s so much thought in terms of that, because it’s not just the release, but it’s also dealing with our live show, making sure the arrangements are where we want them to be, and perfecting the visual aspect of our live show. A lot of things are more pressing matters on our end at this moment.


The Passion of the Synth

City City

Can man love machine? It’s a theme that’s been explored exhaustively, from Blade Runner to Small Wonder. Time and time again, the answer seems to be a resounding yes. Chalk City City up as more evidence to build the case. The LA electro-pop outfit builds towering monuments of synths, samplers and laptops. Within seconds of listening to the ultra-cool Of Sands Beneath, listeners are introduced to The Machine: wiry, grinding guitar gives way to an exploding cascade of synths and skittering, ersatz drum beats. Analog is dead, technology is king and resistance is futile. From the crystalline, slightly precious Oh Chandelier to the hyper, delirious Ring the Bells, City City marries their looming synthetic textures and beats with cool, ethereal (and thankfully human) vocals. Theirs is a match made in heaven ¦ or in some lab in Silicon Valley.