I recently had a phone interview with Rich Balling, one of the masterminds behind the progressive/indie rock band The Sound of Animals Fighting.
AD: So, The Sound of Animals Fighting, new album coming out May 16th.
RB: Yeah. I’m excited.
AD: And it’s off both Equal Vision and Stars and Satellites [Imprint label that released the first TSOAF album]?
RB: Yeah, I mean, Stars & Satellites is the thing that I released the first [album] on, you know, just an imprint I made up myself, so I just wanted to continue that tradition, so it’s on the artwork but Equal Vision is pretty much running this release.
AD: I was reading on the site that there are new animals, new guys involved, can you tell me or not because of legal purposes?
RB: Uh, who do you think is in it?
AD: I think Craig [Owens, singer of Chiodos] and Keith [Goodwin, lead vocals/guitar of Days Away]?
RB: Yeah…both of those guys have been known to show up in the studio throughout this process. They are both awesome guys too. Craig and Keith are both, like, so talented. I don’t know if anyone realizes how talented but I think they’ll eventually figure it out if they don’t know already.
AD: Um, when you say the new album is going to be completely different from Tiger and the Duke [the first TSOAF album, released in 2004], how different is different?
RB: Radically different. I mean the biggest thing I think people are going to notice is the tempo, the change in tempo. Overall, the new album is much slower in tempo. It’s not like you turn it on and there’s guitars flying off the handle, like there is in Tiger. Tiger is very guitar driven and here, the guitar kind of takes a backseat to more interesting sounds. So, yeah, tempo is the first thing. The second thing is just a lot of electronics involved this time and it’s really just weird. It’s a weird sound.
AD: The clip that is on the website now, is that the basic tempo for the album?
RB: Yeah. That’s a good gauge. It’s gonna be [along the lines] of that clip. There is a song or two that is up tempo like the last album, but there are 14 tracks on this, so those two tracks that are fast definitely don’t pace the album. The pace of the album is set by what you hear in that clip, which is actually the first full song on the album.
AD: When you say there’s heavier electronics, are you integrating it more into the songs or are those [sounds] still acting as interludes?
RB: They are integrated into the songs. One thing that I think people misunderstood with the first album is that the interludes weren’t necessarily supposed to be our attempt at Electronica, and I got a few people writing me saying they didn’t care for them. One guy reviewed it and said that he thought the interludes were kind of weak as far as electronic music. But the thing is, I think that a lot of people assumed that we were going for trying to write songs like The Faint, or something, I don’t know what they thought we were doing. The interludes are actually, and this sounds snobby or whatever, but they were intended to be experiments with sounds, like different frequencies and bleeps and different sounds. We weren’t trying to write beats, per say, and be like whatever electronic band you can think of, it wasn’t supposed to be like that. So, they sound kind of elementary but that’s how they’re supposed to be. With this [album], electronic stuff is definitely more what you would think of when you think of electronica. We used the program Reason© and some different drum machine stuff and keyboards.
AD: I hear there’s an entire track of kitchen sounds? Is that true?
RB: Yeah, one of the songs that the Skunk sings on. And there’s also a girl on there that sings opera over it in German, which is a highlight for me, it’s pretty crazy stuff. But yeah, the beat is made up of samples of kitchen sounds, like spoons and pots and pans, and a bag of chips and stuff like that.
AD: Very cool.
RB: Yeah. It’s pretty out there.
AD: Is there a concept behind this record like there was the last one? Is there a story adjoining with this, or is this just a collection of music?
RB: We started out as a concept. I wanted to originally call the albumAngels, and for it to be kind of like a parody of this [Russian Author Fyodor] Dostoevsky book called “Devils.” But that didn’t really pan out because just the direction of the songs started going every which way, and the lyrics weren’t really cohesive in anyway, so I couldn’t think of a kind of umbrella-like concept for the album. So I wrote an e-mail to Gared [O’ Donnell] from Plans Mistaken for Stars, which is one of my favorite bands, and I really wanted him to be involved with this album, but I knew that was impossible, because he’s a family man, so he’s either with his family or he’s on tour, and he lives in Colorado, so there’s no way to get him to play on the album, so I wrote him asking him if he, without ever hearing the music, which was not even half-way recorded at this point, could think of a cool title for an album. Like, if he was writing an epic album, what would he call it? And he wrote me back with lyrics from a song on their upcoming album (which I don’t know when that comes out), but the first line of the song is Lover, The Lord Has Left Us… and it totally fit with the lyrics that were being made at the time, and also…I was able to tell the guys that were writing the guitar parts at that point, to think of that phrase when they were continuing to write the rest of the music, so, kind of indirectly allowing Gared to influence the songs, even though he couldn’t be there.
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