They are about to release the follow up to the awesome "From Fathoms" - what better time for the Bearded Russian to ask them about the new album,Europe and the school bus that runs on vegetable oil ? Bassist/keyboardist Nate talked about the past,present and future of Gifts from Enola .
Your last album "From Fathoms" , released last year, was very well received by the press. Does that, and the reactions from the fans,pressure you guys in any way when touring or writing new songs?
Nate - Not really. I mean, we're incredibly grateful for the positive response, and its really encouraging, but we're pretty good about not letting it influence what we do musically. We just take it as encouragement to keep doing what we do. I'm sure that some people who liked From Fathoms and the earlier stuff won't like the new album, but thats natural. It happens to everyone, we aren't fighting it or taking it personally.
I read that you are already planning the release of another album. How is the process going so far?
Nate - We're actually completely done with the new record. We tracked the drums and bass at a pretty awesome studio in Atlanta back in January and did the guitars, keys, vocals, etc, back in VA over the next couple months. It was the quickest we'd ever recorded anything, but we're all really excited about how it turned out.
When are you planning to release it?
Nate - It's going to be released July 13th through The Mylene Sheath.
It says on your myspace page that the new record is being mixed by Moving Mountains' Greg Dunn. How is it to work with a producer/musician used to different genres?
Nate - Working with Greg was great. He definitely does things differently than we do, production-wise, but that's why we decided to work with him. This was the first time that I've not mixed everything myself, and it was really awesome to have a completely different perspective on things. I definitely wouldn't have been able to make this album sound the way that it does. We didn't want it to sound like anything we've done before, and Greg helped make that happen.
What are the main differences between the new material and "From Fathoms"?
Nate - The production is a big difference, its much more polished and clean sounding. This is the first time we've recorded most everything in a real studio. Besides that, I think the music is more high energy and concise- this album's a good 20 minutes shorter than From Fathoms. We wrote these songs in a live environment for the first time, instead of in the studio, so I think its much more true to how we actually sound. Its also the first album that our new drummer, Jud, has played on, and he brings a lot of his own style to the table. There are a lot of firsts for us on this one. It definitely feels like the first part of a new chapter for us, and I think it sounds like one too.
One reviewer said of FF : "
"Not the typical 'pretty' post-rock. It has distortion and it rules really hard."
What do you think of the current state of the post-rock scene?
Nate - Honestly, its not something that we pay a lot of attention to. We follow our friends bands, but besides that we really don't listen to 'post-rock.' There was a time when it was new and exciting to us, but that was a long time ago now. We're glad to have been a part of the 'scene' as its grown in the last couple years, and I think we lucked into it at a good time, but its not something we feel any loyalty to. There's not a lot of 'post-rock' influence on our upcoming album and there's probably only going to be less and less as we go along. We're just bored with it.
Your label, The Mylene Sheath, is home to some "big" post-rock/indie bands. How is it to be on the same label as Caspian and Junius? Do you think that the presence of well known bands can be helpful to the smaller ones?
Nate - We've looked up to those bands for a long time, so its great to have them as labelmates. We're really excited for how well they're doing and I think it definitely helps to be associated with them through The Mylene Sheath, every new step forward for any one of us helps everyone else grow as well.
Your sound, as I pointed out, is heavier than most post-rock bands. What are your influences?
Nate - This is always such a hard question to answer fully. I guess most of what we grew up on would be called 'post-hardcore,' bands like Deftones, Thrice, Glassjaw, At the Drive-in, and mewithoutYou. We also all listen to a lot of different things, though, so its hard to pin down our collective influences of late. I know Andrew loves Pinback and their various solo things, Owen, and bossanova, CJ's been listening to the first Queens of the Stone Age and Foo Fighters records a lot, and I've been super into David Bazan/Pedro the Lion and Frodus lately. I remember one point where Jud was listening to nothing but James Brown. We all also get pretty into Botch and Converge, but also Michael Jackson and Wu-Tang. We're just music nerds with ADD, so we're all over the place.
You are planning to tour Europe later this year. Is it your first time in Europe?What are you expectations from that tour?
Nate - Yep, this will be our first time. We're not entirely sure what to expect, but I think it'll be good. We're really excited to play new places and see new things, and we hope that we can come back relatively soon and get into a cycle of touring there like do in the U.S now that we're all out of school and have time to.
- Do you plan on playing in Portugal anytime soon?
I hope so! We don't have any specific plans to right now, because this first European tour won't take us that far south, but hopefully when we come back we can book a more extensive tour that includes Portugal and Spain.
I read that you toured in a "school bus converted to run on waste vegetable oil". How was it? Can you tell us how that worked?
Nate - We still have it and are still touring in it. Last summer was the first time we took it out on the road and we had a lot of problems, but through them we learned everything about it. It works great now and I'm really excited to take it out again. We learned just about everything we know about veggie systems from Constants, another great Mylene Sheath band who has a converted bus as well, so we can't take credit for any of these ideas. Basically, we pump used cooking oil out of grease traps and pump it through filters to clean it before heating it up and sending it to the engine. There's a lot of information about it on the internet, and its really interesting. Its a great way to save money on tour and do something positive for the environment.