July 17th is the date that will signal the release of the debut LP from Brooklyn quartet Conveyor. Following on from 2011’s splendid Sun Ray EP, the self-titled album is a giant leap forward for the band and a record that could – and should – send them into the big league of experimental pop music.
As an album, it’s a rare beast; blurring the lines between dark and light. There is a real sense of warmth running throughout but it’s true heart remains ambiguous, only occasionally allowing glimpses into the motives and messages hidden behind the joyous face of many of the tracks.
With all this in mind we took the time to speak to T.J from the band to ask about the albums recording process, what people can expect from it and just what it means to them to finally release a full-length record…
Good day to you! How was the release show last night?
Without going into too much detail – simply because I can easily get carried away – the show last night was as close to perfect as can be approached.
Before we get into album details, can you introduce each band member with a fact about them please?
Okay, there are four of us in sum: Michael plays the bass and has the best sense of humor, Evan plays the drums and wears red elastic-waistband Umbro-brand shorts at least 50% of his time spent awake, Alan plays the guitar and has the bluest eyes, and I (T.J.) play the guitar and sampler and will try anything once. All four of us like to sing.
Ok. So you’re on the verge of releasing your debut album – what does that statement mean to you? It must feel pretty special…
To me it’s the absolute culmination of who I am as a person, as a musician, as a human, and for the four of us as a band. At least, it’s the culmination of us as a band as of 60ish days ago, which is when we finished it. Now we’ve got 60ish days of new experiences under our belts, so maybe the album isn’t a 100% accurate depiction. It’s close. It feels pretty profound and final though, and yet somehow at the same time I’m aware that it’s just a beginning, a starting point. Which is exciting.
How did the recording process play out. Did it all go smoothly?
It was a hectic 8 months. I think it went as smoothly as it could have gone given our circumstances, which were a sort of makeshift recording studio in the space where we normally practice. The whole thing was such a process from start to finish, like there weren’t definite periods of writing, then recording, then mixing. It was all just happening at the same time, which I think in the end turned out to be beneficial to our creativity.
What can people expect from the record? Sell it to us…
They can expect to have their expectations expectorated upon. By that I mean, I don’t know that you can expect anything from it. It sounds like us, but I only say that because I know us. If you didn’t know us, it might sound like what it feels like to rub your belly and pat your head at the same time.
Do you have a personal favourite track on the album?
My personal favorite is “Homes.” It’s just a song that I’m particularly proud of lyrically. It says a lot of things that mean a lot to me in a very little amount of words, which I think is wonderful.
Were there any particular bands or records that were an influence on you while writing and recording?
Definitely got a lot of influence from Paul Simon’s “Graceland,” which is a truly phenomenal record. Listening to that record was also very crucial in exposing me to a lot of the traditional African music upon which that record is based, and I think having those melodies and those styles present during writing and recording had an impact on me personally.
How does your live show compare to your studio sound? Which do you prefer?
After finishing the record we sort of re-evaluated the way we’d been playing live up to then and started to re-work our songs. The record is very dense and layered and so there was a concerted effort to look at each new song and figure out how it could be reproduced by just the four of us. Where previously we would have taken a song and just worked it out for two guitars, bass and drums in more of a “rock” context, we’ve really worked on breaking each song down and building it back up using those same instruments but with a much more deliberate sound.
The album is coming out on Paper Garden Records, how have you found working with them?
The folks at Paper Garden are great people and they’ve become great friends. They’re just so in love with their work, and it’s very reassuring to work with people that can truly get behind something.
Can UK folks get hold of the album and are you planning on heading over to these shores any time soon?
If you live in the UK you can definitely still order the album through www.papergardenrecords.com or http://conveyor.bandcamp.com. The folks at PGR have been great at working out international shipping so that nobody is paying an incredulous amount. More than anything we want people who want the record to be able to have it. We don’t have any concrete plans to play in the UK soon, but it’s something that we’re very much excited about, and we’re looking forward to working on some international touring early in 2013.
Finally, remember that acoustic rooftop show and barbecue? That was fun, can we do it again some time please?
Words by Tom Johnson