DFA 1979 Delay Production Of New LP
As Death From Above 1979’s legend grew this year, so too did discussion of their sophomore album, a record the band intended to start working on in the late summer/early fall when they had a brief break in their almost non-stop tour schedule.
Well, you know what they say about the best-laid plans. Along came the opportunity to tour with Nine Inch Nails and Queens Of The Stone Age, and away went recording the new album this year.
“You write the songs over the course of a long time and it’s really natural and organic and whatever, and then suddenly it’s like, OK, here’s a month, go make a record. We couldn’t do that. Well, I’m sure we could, but it wouldn’t be any good,” bassist Jesse F. Keeler said from Los Angeles as the band kicked off their biggest tour of the year. “Everyone’s so concerned about time — is there time to do this, is there time to do that? It’s sort of like, ‘Well, if you want us to rush things, I guess we can. It’s not a good idea in my mind.'”
“There’s no real structured plan right now, it’ll happen in its own time,” Sebastien Grainger said in Pensacola, Florida a week later. “I don’t want to be in a position where we start a record and then our label commands us to finish it because we have to start a touring cycle or something weird. You’re trying to make something good, that’s art, that you like, but you have to keep your business perspective in mind.”
Currently up in the air is whether the band will actually do two different versions of the record, something that was mentioned on their website earlier in the year. The plan was to do the album once as a two-piece and a second time as a full band.
“Well, that’s kind of a strange thing because it was a fleeting idea,” Grainger said. “The reason that idea even exists is because when we were talking about writing the new record, I had the idea to independently work on the songs, like in a different format. So while we were writing them as Death From Above as a two-piece, I would, as an exercise in writing, do it with a full band.”
Still, Keeler wouldn’t rule it out, saying that it could happen in the time between the completion of the new LP and its eventual release.
The only thing that is for certain is that the recording will take place at Keeler and Al-P’s Toronto studio, MSTRKRFT. The bassist and his studio partner have been busy this year, remixing tracks for Bloc Party, The Kills and Panthers, among many others, and will release an electronic LP, entitled The Looks, under the MSTRKRFT moniker in early 2006.
“We’ve been working on an LP and we just finished our first single,” Keeler said of the project. It’ll start getting distributed sooner than later. “It’s pretty dancey. It’s sort of like how Earth Wind And Fire would make house music rather than how Tiga would make house music.”
Keeler is also fairly certain working in his own studio will make it easier to do the new DFA 1979.
“Nothing went the way we wanted it to last time from beginning to end, so it was really hard. Hopefully next time it’ll be like we wanted it to be in the first place.”
Grainger places a little less emphasis on the importance of the studio in the recording process.
“It’s all the same to me, I’m not a studio nerd. It’s all about the songs for me,” he said. “If the songs sound good, they sound good. If they don’t, they don’t. I’m not that obsessed with a studio environment. I enjoy being there, but it’s mostly about if you’re doing justice to the songs or not, you don’t need thousands of dollars of equipment to do justice to a song. You can set up a mic in the middle of the room and do justice to a song. If we haven’t learned that by listening to a million recordings, from Robert Johnson to Johnny Cash, it should be about songs and not about what console it’s being recorded through.”
Right now, DFA 1979 are in the U.S., playing to thousands before QOTSA and NIN hit the stage. How in the world were the Canadian boys picked out of the crowd to open on the behemoth tour?
“Originally it wasn’t the NIN tour, it was the QOTSA tour and they asked us to do it,” Keeler said. “We had doling out mutual admiration for each other and then they asked us to do the tour. Of course we said yes. We were under the impression they were going to do a tour of really nice venues, like Roseland in New York, places like that — nice big ballrooms. So we said yes to that because it sounded pretty fucking cool. “Then somebody told us the Queens and Nine Inch Nails tours were combined. For a minute we thought maybe we weren’t going to be doing it because maybe NIN had other obligations and they’re bigger than Queens, but then we got the call that everyone said it was cool.”
“I’ve been hanging around mostly with the Queens guys,” Grainger said about three dates into the tour. “There are two separate party vibes that happen between the band. I’m more into the hanging out part of it. It’s been just like hanging out with friends. I got a chance to meet the Queens guys during the summer when we were doing festivals. There’s a part of that band that likes to indulge and then there’s a part of that band that just likes straight-up hanging out.