Technicality will always be outweighed by finesse. Just because you can "shred" or play in "weird signatures" means nothing without proper execution. What's more important, the songs' executions or their insane structures? Tera Melos rode that fine line perfectly with last year's Patagonian Rats. Nick Reinhart took some time to answer a few questions about the band's full length and its writing process. Oh yeah, and of course some Simpsons questions - why not?
What made you guys bring the vocals of Tera Melos more to the forefront on this record?
i think we were ready for a new challenge and felt the music we were writing was consistently feeling like it needed vocal melody. As we've mentioned before, the intention was always to have vocals in this band. I suppose vocals are the most obvious addition/shift to the average listener with regard to our last record, but the album as a whole is actually a massive change from what we're used to doing.
How do you think that improved the layering and pop sensibility of the album as an extra instrument in a way? How important is the layering of each song for you guys? Is that usually what takes the most time, getting that right?
I think vocal melody added a great layer to the already dense foundation, but in a way that complimented everything. We're not interested in making music that we think people want to hear. We sat in the studio with the intention to make something we'd be excited about and proud of, and having vocal melody in the mix - more so than we had done in the past - was one of the many things that excited us about this record. i think by default it gives it more pop sensibility and makes the music more accessible to people other than music nerds like us. Again, that wasn't any sort of calculated idea, it was just something we felt was right. While I think layering songs with all sorts of colors is really fun and gratifying, I don't think it holds a strong importance. If we feel that a song needs layering, then that's what we do. the important part is figuring out, "What does this Tera Melos song need?" and sometimes it's a question of, "What doesn't this Tera Melos song need." often times answering those questions can be very time consuming.
Just how calculated is the music of Tera Melos? Is it more of a jam, or is not as over thought as fans would like to believe in all of its technical prowess?
It's calculated in the sense that it's everything we want it to be. Some of the music comes together after a lot of thought, and sometimes it's based on impluse and intuition. As far as the technical aspects of the band go, it's how we play. We don't set out to write incredibly complicated music, it just so happens that sometimes it comes out that way. When we first started the band Nate [Latona] and I had written some pieces of music together that felt strange. We had always played in punk bands and were bored at that point. So we started thinking outside of the "punk" box. Once we assembled the band and started practicing we figured out how to write more strange sounding things and understand how they work - not from a musical/technical aspect, but how it worked in our heads. We sort of accidentally stumbled across playing "interesting" music. At the same time i'm sure Fugazi's "End Hits" had a lot to do with it, whether it was conscious or not.
What's more important to you, the calculation of the song, or the song as a whole?
My instinct is to say "The song as a whole," but i feel weird about saying that. Obviously we want to write good songs, but we want to write songs that sound good to us - not objective, well written songs that music majors could study. So it's tricky to say. On the other hand, even just saying "the calculation of the song" makes it sound so sterile and not fun. The absolute most important thing is having fun while making art that we enjoy.
Was there any conscious effort in the tracking of the album? It begins so pop friendly, but then quickly turns more into your older style - a bit more frantic - without losing that same sensibility.
We definitely put a lot of thought into the flow of the record. I don't think we had any sense of how it would feel to other people. we just really liked the vibe and structure of it as a whole. it's very hard to be objective when it comes to making music or a record, at the same time we don't want there to be a sense of what's good and what's not good outside of the band's own collective objectivity.
What about the tracks on Zoo Weather didn't fit the album? Not speaking about the remixes, but the tracks that show up as D-Sides on the vinyl?
"Purple and Stripes" was written a few years ago, long before we had written the bulk of Patagonian Rats. Something about it just didn't feel suited for the album. "Kelley" was actually a last minute addition to the recording process. We had finished up the basic tracking in the studio and had some extra time, so we decided to do an alternate slower, heavier version of "Kelly." (that's also how "Another Surf" came about- extra studio time and just jamming that riff over and over and over and over...). and then adding "Manar the Magic" to that mix just seemed to work really well.
What's your favorite character/least favorite character?
It'd be impossible for me to choose a favorite Simpsons character, but my least favorite is definitely Disco Stu.
What's your favorite episode?
Probably one of the Treehouse of Horrors.
What's your favorite quote, and why?
"A noble spirit embiggens the smallest man." Since technically it contains a made up word, it doesn't actually mean anything, but I like to think that it's one for the under dogs.