I was able to talk to Jana Hunter and Lower Dens about their tour, new album, and influences in the interview below.
S.o.t.r.-Can you name some of your musical influences?
L.D.-It’s been difficult in the past to make plain (or any sense of) the line between what’s had the biggest impact and what I end up making. With the new group, we draw mostly from new wave, drone pop, krautrock, post-punk, maybe others…
Five easy: Velvet Underground, Wire, Television, Faust, and Joy Division. They are masters of songcraft, melody (not so much hooks as narrative phrasing), texture (infinitely listen-able rough edges), simplicity, the balance of tension and restraint, and redefining/recontextualizing standard instrumentation. Not all of them rely on all of these characteristics, but they all do most remarkably well.
Others are Kraftwerk, Snakefinger, Chrome, Young Marble Giants, The Cure, Patti Smith, David Bowie, Neil Young, and Unwound. With the exception of a couple of 60′s or 90′s bands, its a lot of 70′s-80′s cusp. Kind of outside the scope of this theme: Will considers the simple repetition of ACDC’s guitar parts an influence on his own, and Abe, a longtime devotee of hiphop, believes it strongly influences his beatmaking.
S.o.t.r.-Tell us about your new project “Lower Dens”?
L.D.-It’s pretty good. Drums, guitar, guitar, bass, lady/man vocals. We’re close to each other, and close people; it makes things simple. None of the band members date and none of us are from here. We’re all under 21, so it’s been hard to find shows, but we play a lot of basements, living rooms…
S.o.t.r.- What are you listening to right now?
L.D.-At this moment: Terry Riley “A Rainbow in Curved Air”
Lately: Balaclavas, Future Islands, DJ Dogdick, La Düsseldorf, Crazy Dreams Band, Lands & Peoples, Inoculist, Indian Jewelry, Talk Normal, The Energy, Eternal Tapestry, Sun Araw, Vibes, Zomes, Daniel Higgs, Bill Nace, Gary War, Black Vatican, Beach House, Ariel Pink, Blank Dogs, Jeff the Brotherhood, Wye Oak, The Clean, 16 Bit, Baltimore noise, Deep in the Game DJ’s, Eddy Current Suppression Ring, Thee Oh Sees, Ty Segall
S.o.t.r.-You are currently touring as “Lower Dens” how has that been so far?
L.D.-It’s a different world than where I come from. There is a noticeable visceral reaction to performances. We’ve been lucky enough to tour with bands we’re sweet on as people and musicians, and have been generally embraced even though we come as complete strangers to most who’ve seen and heard us. As long as we get to play every night, we’re grateful.
S.o.t.r.-I hear you have a new album that is set to release soon, can you tell us a bit about it?
L.D.-I wrote the skeletal compositions in the winter in two different homes in Baltimore. We put flesh on them throughout the following summer (in yet another home, in an uncooled attic) and recorded it last fall/winter. In the midst of upheaval, it was the binding tie. We got to know each other and our interpersonal limits through the process. It reflects an according restrained tension, a drive toward towering sounds, bridled, and is the end result of many hours of scrutinous revision. It will break kneecaps.
In respect to albums I’ve released under my own name, it differs from that material in everything but its most basic compositional elements. There’s the aforementioned “standard” instrumentation, there’s input from all band members, and there’s a consistency my records have lacked, in large part because we put a much more intensive effort into composition and production.
It was recorded by Chris Freeland (proprietor of Beat Babies in Baltimore; former Oxes drummer), mixed by Chris Coady (of DNA in NYC who has YYY’s and Beach House records to his credit) and mastered by Sarah Register (of the Lodge, NYC and also of one of our favorite bands, Talk Normal.) It’s an homage to sport, of which we are all a fan.