Interview: Spirits and the Melchizedek Children
Mon, 24 Feb 2014 16:55:22
Spirits and the Melchizedek Children [website] might just take you to another world. Their sophomore effort So Happy, It's Sad (March 4th, iTunes link is an entrancing, emotional, and enigmatic gateway beyond the outer boundaries of alternative rock. It's heavy at times. It's hypnotic at others. However, it's always uniquely undeniable...
In this exclusive interview, Jason Elliott of Spirits and the Melchizedek Children talks So Happy, It's Sad and so much more.
What threads So Happy, It’s Sad together for you?
Being our second full-length, I’ve always really been attracted to listening to a record and having it be an experience. Our first record We Are Here to Save YOU! [iTunes link] was definitely a concept record. This one is a bit more positive. The first was so dark and gloomy. It was a difficult time in my life. With this, it’s quite the contrary. The title itself implies something different. Generally, it’s three parts. The last track of the record, “Past, Present, Future” puts it all in a nutshell. In particular, that song is three parts as well. The first part of the album, the two tracks, are the past. It reaches into the present. Of course, the future is wild and unknown, which heralds "Copper Feather" and "Past, Present, Future". In compiling the songs and putting in those transitions where they need to be, a lot of these songs are written in different times. "Lullabies for War" was actually written well before We Are Here to Save YOU! was tracked. I had started Spirits as a solo, 4AM bedroom recording type of thing. I simply recorded the majority of that song on a little handheld four-track recorder with my acoustic guitar. It wasn’t until this incarnation of Spirits that I was really able to feel comfortable and feel like the time was right to expand on that song with the new members. I released that as a super-limited run on CDR. I didn’t do any mixing. It had that rickety and raw sound to it. Someday, I always thought I’d love to have the song start something off. What a great fit it made...
"Land Tied" is like a journey within the album. What did you want to evoke with it?
The title is another one of those parables in being “land tied”. You’re fairly distant from something or someone. At the same time, I really wanted to evoke the feeling of being on a rickety lost ship at sea. There are two albums by Talk Talk that really hit me. They’re Laughing Stock and Spirit of Eden. With the production on those two records, there’s so much space. Quite honestly, the little headphone treats within those albums and what we accomplished with “Land Tied” are the kinds of treats that really snag you and paint that picture in your mind. My lyric content is fairly cryptic and subjective. I’ve always been a fan of music that sure is being told from the writer’s perspective but at the same time leaves things open for interpretation and having the listener portray it into his or her life. Personally, that song is about my son. He lives across the country. I see him often, but it’s still a long way away from. I constantly have that in the back of my mind and I’m longing for him and his company.
Do you aim for the music to conjure visuals?
Absolutely, that’s definitely one of the things we’ve accomplished with our sound—having a massive space, really giving the listener a blank canvas, and going on that journey. I really wanted to have the listener be lost in this massive, vast landscape and go from there. There’s a lot of room to wonder. We want the texture and those headphone treats. It’s one thing to listen to the album on your car or computer speakers, but it’s another thing to listen to it on headphones.
What artists shaped you?
I grew up in a musical family. I listened to a lot of classical. That stems to my long attraction to post-rock and the more psychedelic oldies like Pink Floyd and The Moody Blues. These days, there’s nothing really new under the sun. You’re not so much reinventing the wheel as taking what you’ve heard and rolling it into one. You don’t want to be pigeonholed into making something that’s of the time to where it’s almost poppy. I love timeless music. One album in particular comes to mind. Here I was a punk rock kid in the early nineties and late eighties listening to Minor Threat and all the Dischord bands. Hearing Fugazi's Repeater for the first time, I thought, "Wait, I’m a huge fan of MacKaye, but hearing this genre-bending thing, I don’t like it". Then, I heard it again. I heard something different, and it started growing on me. It’s still one of those timeless pieces of music. It doesn’t get old. You hear something new and different each time. That’s totally ahead of its time. We want to make timeless music and something that doesn’t get you right off. It’s more of a monument, leaving a trail after you’re long gone.
What would be the cinematic equivalent of the record?
Good question, man! I’m definitely visual. My father is an indie film scorer. I grew up around that as well. I’m always thinking about visual stimulating visuals during the music and writing process. I definitely can’t but help to start thinking of some dark and dreary scene or piece that’s fairly interpretive. Also, there are some points in there where I can simply hear some tracks in the background of a film scene.
Spirits and the Melchizedek Children & Magicicada - Song Bird's Grave
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