The singing, producing and songwriting force known as How To Dress Well spoke with us about reacting to indie R&B trends and being surprised by his career. Tom Krell returns to Portland Oct. 18 at Mississippi Studios.
Last Thursday the amazing women behind She Shreds joined forces with Red Bull Sound Select and curated an incredible show of all female or female-fronted bands at Mississippi studios. The evening started off with local bands Surfer Rosie and Black Belt Eagle Scout. Before the main event of Bully, Fabi Reyna (founder and Editor-in-Chief of She Shreds) came out and introduced herself and the magazine. Rock n’ Roll camp for girls also had some information to share with the crowd as well. It was a bacchanalia of females supporting females and I couldn’t have been happier. Before the show, ELEVEN had chance to sit down with three of the members of Bully before their set and talk about their new album, Losing and the process behind it.
Rosie Blanton (ELEVEN): I know you guys took the same route with this album and produced it yourselves. Where did you guys decided to do it?
Alicia Bognanno: We did it at Electrical Audio(Steve Albini’s studio) again, mostly because by the time we were ready to get rolling on the second record, I wasn’t in a place were I wanted to learn a new console. I’m comfortable with that console and that tape machine. We wanted to stick with it. We’ll probably do something different for our third record. There was no desire to switch up studios; we were more concentrated on switching up songs and sounds.
11: For me, when I ever I listen to Feels Like there are these feelings of nostalgia and post adolescent themes. Is there a continuation of this theme on the new album?
AB: I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t a continuation of that theme. I like to think of it as a completely separate thing. We’re on different level. It’s similar but more mature and more complex. Every song is its own situation and experience like Feels Like was. When I do write a song it’s about something that has been on my mind or been bugging me.
11: So how is the creative process for you? How do you find time to write?
AB:I didn’t really do much song writing during Feels Like. I had a couple riffs I messed around with in the van. I remember playing it at sound check one time. It ended up being the riff for Feels The Same. I wrote three of the riffs while we were touring and the rest came during time we had off. I would just sit in a room and write demos and then send them to everybody and then we were all in room for about 3 weeks hashing them out before we tracked them. It’s pretty consalidated. Its hard to write on the road for me because my voice is loud, to say the least and if I can sense anyone can hear me working on a melody I completely shut down.
11: I know Nashville claims you guys but you also spent some time in Chicago. Where are you guys’ headquarters now and how do you think the places you’ve lived have helped shaped your sound?
Reece Lazarus: As of the end of this month we will all live very close to each other in east Nashville. I think that we benefit greatly not being for the same place. We’ve all moved at least once to different major cities. Moving around helps your perspective. None of us grew up with the country influence of Nashville, I’m form Seattle but I didn’t grow up with a huge grunge influence. We’re from different places and the music there doesn’t influence you as much as the environment you’re in.
11: With all those different environments, is collaboration easy?
AB: In a way, we haven’t had to collab. I’ve been the sole songwriter the whole time. We haven’t had difficult things to fight over. Collaboration gets easer with every record because ever record we know what were looking for and what we sound like.
Clayton Parker: We maybe have different opinions about how parts go but were always willing to hear each other out and try one way. We work really well together as a band.
AB: And it works in our favor to be (working well together as a band). When playing live we’re able to transition right into songs.
11: Do you guys have a favorite track off the new record?
RL: I’m going to stick what what I’ve always said, there’s this one song called Blame, and it has always been my favorite. I don’t really have a good answer, I’m really proud of all of them.
AB: What’s fun to play live is what usually ends up being my favorite, you’ll have a song you long on the record but then it maybe doesn’t get the reaction you expected live. I like focus; I would say that’s my favorite, that song was actually almost the opener track.
RL: We had a hard time with track listing, we didn’t really get to play more than three of these songs live on a regular basis so we were really in our own heads as to where things should go.
11: This is your second album and a lot of people get nervous that their second album won’t live up to the hype of the first, it’s often referred to as the sophomore curse, are you at all nervous about this?
AB: OMG you’re stating what I panic about everyday! Hell yes we’re nervous. I wish I were an optimist. I’m paranoid and I definitely don’t give myself enough credit. I worry about things that aren’t necessary. In the end I shouldn’t though because we worked our asses off.
RL: I’ve never felt this way about anything I’ve made with other bands. I am super comfortable with it and honestly we made the record we wanted to and the people who don’t like it, don’t like it and I’m not worried about that at all which kind of scares me.
AB: I just want us to sell records and be able to continue to sell out shows so we can keep touring and make a third record. That’s were the worry comes for me but at the same time even if we had no advance or no label we’d still make another record. I don’t want to have to take a step back.
11: You submitted a track for Our First 100 Days compilation. Do you want to share what’s on your mind during these turbulent political times?
AB: Anyone with even a tiny platform needs to speak up, even if it’s just like sharing a website or taking about an organization. Like when bands have tip jars for specific organization. What’s nice about that is if you put that out there and give a little bit of information it makes it easier for people to donate or help out with that organization. I think stuff like that is great.
RL: Stay positive and try to support good groups of people who are doing great things. Speaking out against horrendous things that are happening to people who are affected by this president.
11: So, you’ve toured, you’ve made two records, what else do you want to do? What’s next for Bully?
AB: We want to go to Japan, I mean we really want to tour everywhere but Japan would be cool.
CP: I remember a conversation about starting a bar on a pier in California.
AB: Oh yeah, like on the O.C, except we serve tiki drinks and we have shows. Reece would book and I’d do sound.
11: Oh, the kids love tiki bars, so it would do extremely well, I’m sure.