Thursday, 14 July 2011
Indietracks interview #22: Crystal Stilts
Today, Paul Richards from Scared To Dance talks to JB Townsend and Andy Adler from Crystal Stilts.
Crystal Stilts burst out of Brooklyn's post-punk indie scene in 2008 with a string of releases that culminated in their fantastic debut album ‘Alight Of Night’. The album won universal accolades and established the band as first-class purveyors of haunting, atmospheric post-punk pop. Following extensive tours of the US and Europe, the band now return with their stunning second album ‘In Love With Oblivion’, hot on the heels of the incredible single ‘Shake The Shackles’.
What records did you grow up listening to? In your music I can hear a lot of post-punk and no wave bands – The Fall and Suicide spring to mind.
JB: The Fall is surely a big influence on all of us. I’m still finding more and more Fall songs that I like. When I first met Brad in 2000 he gave me the first two Suicide CDs. I like the more melodic songs. Abcko-era Stones, The Outsiders, I could list all day.
Andy: We surely listen to post-punk, etc, though perhaps not as much as in years prior, but some of it comes from probably listening to the same records they were hearing as well. Psych and folk and experimental and pop and all that mixed up.
Did you set yourselves any targets when recording In Love With Oblivion? To those who may have not got the record yet, how does it differ from your debut Alight of Night?
JB: I think I set a sonic bar for it whilst mixing. I knew how I didn’t want it to sound. It differs a bit in that there’s a bit less drone chords on this one. Songs are a little more concentrated.
Andy: In some ways it must reflect, or reveal, that it was more of a “full band” record. What those revelations are, are to be discovered.
“Love is a Wave” didn’t appear on In Love With Oblivion. Will it ever see the light of day on another release? A compilation perhaps?
JB: “Love is a Wave” is actually sort of the last song that was from the Alight of Night-era but we kept it as a stand alone single. I think we’ll probably have an oddity record somewhere down the line.
Andy: There is something nice about a song like that as a stand alone entity. The to-the point-ness of the ‘45.
Your song “Silver Sun” recently appeared on the Fortuna Pop! compilation Weekend Dreams which was given away with the Scared To Dance Spring fanzine. Tell us more about that track.
JB: Hmmm. I sometimes take critical stances with songs so after they’re done I’ll strip and critique so I sort of try to look at it from an observer's perspective – sort of a psychoanalysis of where the song came from and what it sounds most like. I’m most pleased when a song sounds different from the root influence. I think that song sounds denser then I thought it would. Almost like a Joe Meek meets Love meets The Pastels.
How was your recent tour of the UK? Where are you heading to afterwards on tour?
JB: It went well. I think we’re headed directly to Disneyland after.
Andy: Brief but enjoyable. Always nice to catch up with friends who reside overseas.
The video for “Shake the Shackles” was premiered on Pitchfork a little while ago. What were the ideas behind it? As a band, did you have much input in to it?
JB: We did have quite a bit of direction on that one. We wanted black and white, city shots, helicopters etc.
Andy: A certain someone complained that there weren’t shots of us walking on the beach in it. A little digging can easily find those images. Not even digging really.
You’ve had a few line-up changes over the years with Brad and JB the only constant sole members. How did the changes come about?
Andy: Changes and additions came about organically and continue to cultivate in this Petri dish that is Crystal Stilts. Also, wanting people to play instruments live which has led to some form of permanence and evolved the writing, recording processes.
What attracted you to play Indietracks? Will you be able to catch many of the other bands?
Andy: We have always heard wonderful things from past attendees, bands who have played, and all other travellers. Positive vouching and vibrations have led us there. Hopefully we will be able to see as much as possible, wander the grounds, and generally get the full experience.
What plans do you have for the remainder of 2011?
Andy: We have an EP that will be out in the fall and hopefully will be able to jam, write, and practice the alchemy that is our modus operandi.
Crystal Stilts play the Indoor Stage at Indietracks on Sunday night at 8:15pm.