After the recent release of O’Death‘s rather groundbreaking and unusual album, I caught up with the drummer, Dave Rogers Berry, to find out a little more about their third album, Outside.
How would you say this new album compares to your previous ones?
We put a lot more thought into how this record sounds in general. Of course, we always put a lot of thought into our recordings, but in the past we concerned ourselves with the arrangements of the songs and the performances of those arrangements first and foremost. This time around, we were very confident that the songs were really well structured from the beginning, and we were able to focus more on the sonic textures of each track.
The last time we recorded an LP (in 2008), we were really concerned with nailing tight performances of the songs we’d been playing out on the road for the previous two years. For ‘Outside’, we took a completely different approach. We hadn’t played any of the material live on stage yet so we weren’t hindered by the live arrangements or the need to make the songs energetic to get a crowd going. We were free to make songs interesting instead of energetic. I love this process because we still get to go back and find ways to bring live energy to these songs – but in the studio, we only had to think about making a great recording. There was a fine balance of spontaneity and preparation – with some songs being written in the studio, while others were labored on for months before we went in.
Are you pleased with how it turned out?
Absolutely. I look at every record as a learning experience. I know we are always capable or making better records, but our concept of great records is always evolving too. Our goals simply weren’t the same when we went into the studio this time, and I suspect by the time we are ready to record another full length our ideas about making great records will have grown from where it is now, and we’ll be able to use all of our experiences to inform our next move.
Do you think the freedom you had in the studio helped or hindered the album?
Well – this is a fair question because there is never really enough time. We’ve made a whole record from beginning to end in two weeks flat. No doubt, there is a since of urgency in that process – but I don’t think our new record lacks urgency – and I’d definitely say it doesn’t sound as frantic as the ones that were a bit more rushed. However – if we gave ourselves six months instead of two, I’m sure we’d still be stressed to get it all done in time. That’s just the nature of the beast.
I really like having more time. Trial and error can be really important if you’re searching for a sound you haven’t heard yet, but it can backfire if you start questioning choices you’ve made and find yourself rerecording work you’ve already done… Then it’s time to take a break.
What were your aims behind producing this album? Did you aim for a certain feel or sound or was it more random than that?
We didn’t really set out to make a certain kind of record. In the past, I think some of us were distracted by our attempts to incorporate a lot of heady ideas about music into our recordings, but this time we just let the songs make the demands of us, rather than making great demands of the songs. That being said – I think it was the first time in our career that we were really comfortable with the idea of writing pretty songs, and trying to make something a little more subtle, gentle even.
There is no reason for us to record if we know everything there is to know about writing music and cutting records – we have to challenge ourselves and move forward. Some people in the band used to say things like, “that is not an O’Death song,” suggesting we had to only play folky sounding music. Thankfully, that attitude has faded, and we’re pretty free to do whatever feels right… I guess I still couldn’t call our process “random,” though.
Can you sum up Outside in three words for your fans who are yet to hear it?
Epic Death Love.