Freezepop Talk "Imaginary Friends"
Mon, 29 Nov 2010 07:22:41
Freezepop could heat up any dance floor.
On their latest album, Imaginary Friends [Due out December 7], the electro pop quartet fuse delightfully danceable synths to warm ethereal vocals, making for a sound that's as intelligent as it is infectious. It's easy to get down to tracks like "Lose That Boy," while "House of Mirrors" is psychedelica at its most fun. Freezepop cook up the perfect hybrid of dance, pop and rock—while looking extremely cool doing so. Think of it as the sonic equivalent 500 Days of Summer; it's fresh, fun and fiery…You'll want to bring Imaginary Friends everywhere after just one listen.
Freezepop's Sean T. Drinkwater and Liz Enthusiasm talk to ARTISTdirect.com editor and Dolor author Rick Florino in this exclusive interview about what makes Imaginary Friends so special, evolution, "House of Mirrors", their visual sensibility and so much more.
Did you have a complete vision for Imaginary Friends going into the studio or did it all come together piece by piece?
Sean T. Drinkwater: There were maybe 20 songs that we wrote of the gate. We played a few songs for people and realized which ones everybody liked. That included about five of the songs that actually ended up on the album. After that, we figured out the themes musically and lyrically that were happening and followed those through. We wrote a lot more new material, and it gelled. It was a conscious decision to make a real album this time.
Liz Enthusiasm: Since The Duke left, our working method has changed a lot. With Sean, it's a matter of writing a lot of demos and maybe a portion of those get used. He's really prolific. Sean essentially throws stuff against the wall and sees what sticks.
Everything fits within the Freezepop style and sound though.
Sean T. Drinkwater: That was certainly intentional. With every album, we try to go somewhere a little bit new. You can't remake the same album over and over again. We tend to have an eye on the past at the same time. We listen to the old records as we're going into our writing period. We're conscious of what's come before, even though we're trying to push forward. It's still Freezepop, even though it's got a different kind of sonic palette. It's a little less gimmicky sonically.
What's the story behind "House of Mirrors?"
Sean T. Drinkwater: That was actual a real late arrival. It was a lyric that we had kicking around for a long time. We had a couple of songs that were supposed to be the closer of the album, and they weren't really coming together in time. One was a really ambitious piece with strings, and we were like, "It's getting late in the game for this to be on the album, and it's not really working out." It was a little disappointing. But we've actually had that lyric "House of Mirrors" for awhile, and it worked a lot better with the rest of the record in terms of the lyrics. At the very end of recording, we took a couple days and made "House of Mirrors." It's really the last thing we did, and it's the closer. There are a couple different lyrical interpretations, but I'll let you make up your own mind [Laughs].
Liz Enthusiasm: I think it's just nice. There's something comforting about it. It's definitely thematic for us to have a nice, warm, big, and epic song at the end to close things out. We had "Swimming Pool" and "Outer Space" before. I think it's important to give people a cool-down after they've danced for the rest of our album [Laughs]. They have to chill out.
How intertwined are the lyrics and music?
Sean T. Drinkwater: Overall, there was definitely more of a thought-out vision to the record that hasn't existed before, sonically and lyrically.
What encouraged that?
Sean T. Drinkwater: We made sure this was the right group of songs. We were 50 songs in at the end.
Liz Enthusiasm: They were in varying stages of completion though.
Sean T. Drinkwater: That's true. We tended to really finish the pieces that we knew the vibe was working with the other songs. "Magnetic" and "Special Effects" were some of the first songs. I think "Lose That Boy" was in that first batch too. Musically and stylistically, those informed the rest of the record to a degree. We had lyrics that existed before that. "Doppelganger," "Imaginary Friend" and "House of Mirrors" existed prior. Lyrically, it was coming together in a different way. The themes of duality got merged with the production style that we'd started from the beginning of the process. It really worked. By the time we were on song 30, we were really looking for something that would work with the body of work.
What fosters your visual sensibility?
Sean T. Drinkwater: I don't know if the thought process was a bit more cinematic or what on this record. I think we just had a little bit more time to do it. That has to do with our record deal kind of falling apart in the middle of it, a band member leaving and having to buy ourselves more time. The more time we had, the more life experiences happened to us [Laughs]. There was a lot of time for stuff to happen.
Liz Enthusiasm: More undistracted, focused attention played a part in it too. The album wasn't really done in a piecemeal way. It's what we worked on solely for quite some time.
Sean T. Drinkwater: It's got more of a European feel to it than our previous records. There is more of a filmic quality to the songs that we haven't done in the past. They're a bit more dramatic in places, certainly production-wise.
Where did the title Imaginary Friends come from?
Sean T. Drinkwater: Some of the songs have this element that there's somebody in your life who comes in and out who can vanish from time to time. It might be yourself. I think of "House of Mirrors" as a schizophrenic song, she might be singing to herself. That image kept popping up over and over again. Someone in your life or some part of your personality comes in and out.
Will you be picking up Imaginary Friends when it drops Tuesday December 7?