You started out playing instrumental music -- at that time did you have a game plan for how the band would evolve or was that just a natural progressions of what sounded good to grow off of?
Yeah, it's completely a random evolution. Back then we didn't set out to be any kind of band. The whole first record of instrumental music just came out of… well, we have a lot of government programs for the arts…
Yeah, that's something we're lacking down here.
I submitted an application for a grant to make that kind of music, and I got it, unbelievably. I got those guys to work with me and through making that album we thought, OK, we have a band, let's see where it goes. But at the same time, we were all playing in different bands then too. There wasn't any kind of focus to go somewhere; it was just everyone trying all different things out. It's one of those times in life where you're collaborating with a bunch of people who are all in the same boat and everybody's trying to help each other out. You have different outlets for different things, but none of them are that serious. You record some stuff, and then try it out a few nights later at the bar down the street.
That was all going on, and I was playing a lot of more traditional music: folk and bluegrass type stuff. I started singing with people and found that I was really enjoying it, and wanted to bring that into different channels. Through a lot of encouragement from other people and having the time to really develop without any pressure or without any rush to get into something, that's how it evolved. We were all working what other jobs we had, and it felt like the future seemed like anything could be possible. So, we just let it go and fortunately, we've been able to keep it going.
When you're recording -- especially on this last record -- did you play everything live to begin with?

Yes, the three of us will track everything based on how we play the song live. And then we'll start to figure out other ideas we have for the arrangement. I think our arrangements are starting to get more focused on what we can do in a live take and not all the other stuff.
Yeah, has there been any talk about having another guitar player with you live or something like that?
There's been talk, but we haven't had the time to try it out at home. So, yeah, we've talked about adding another wheel to fill out the live show. It's hard to know without having done it, because a lot of people who've come to enjoy what we do might be missing the dynamic of the triangle, the three people. It's strange to fuck with it, you know? I don't think any of us are opposed to it, I think we just haven't explored it enough. Who cares about being a power trio? It's about whatever makes the best music onstage. We just haven't figured it out yet.
Do you feel like you've written the Plants and Animals song? If somebody asked you to hear a song that would give them a good definition of the band, do you think you have something like that?
I don't know… I think we're the kind of band that's going to keep making different sounding records. I think that's just the way we are and at any given one time we're going to be interested in doing different sounding stuff.
Say you happened to write a song that exploded and made it to the "Top 40" of everything and all of a sudden there's the perception, "Oh, that's Plants and Animals." Would you go toward that more or would you say fuck it, we always do things our own way?
Any album has a number of things going on, if one of them happened to go bananas in a commercial sense and be the right song for people at the moment, I can't say for sure, but I can't see us going to the studio the next time and delivering just what the public wants again. We never started writing songs like that -- to satisfy a demand, so I can't see why we would. Ultimately, it would be like turning something free into a job. And you can have a job you like. Say you build tables all day, there might be slight variations, but it's the same kind of table because people buy them and there's a demand for them. But with being creative, without sounding cliché, it has a lot to do with not building tables all day. It's about challenging yourself and always trying something different. And like I said, it's not the best for business -- but that was never the point.
Have you already thought about a new record?
Yeah, we've been productive lately. We learned a lot making La La Land and we've come to a point as a band where we have better ideas, and also, just from touring so much, we have a better idea of where our strengths are and how, at least in my mind, we can focus on those on our next record. You've experimented quite a bit, and you've tried all these different things, and then you step back and realize what really makes sense to find those songs. It's kind of like fishing, you go out every night with your guitar and wait [laughter].
Did you play the material on La La Land live a lot before recording it?
No, we didn't at all, and I think that was a mistake. We realized that being a live band, which is the way most bands make a living these days --playing songs for people, and spending all your time doing that, you have to make sure that what works in the studio works onstage. You have to respect what you're doing onstage.
I have a feeling that the next record is going to be much more informed by playing the song live, and really letting it develop over time, instead of setting the wheels in motion and having it sound completely different two months after it's been recorded and then realizing maybe it should have been recorded that way. Build the album a lot more before actually recording, you know? Then you can decide instead of just doing a bunch of takes. I think you realize that some songs just haven't developed yet. And sometimes that works recording an underdeveloped song because it's so fresh and everyone goes at the song with their instincts. You can get something that you couldn't get if you've been playing the song a half a year. Hopefully we can meet halfway on that and still get some of that fresh energy, but also have the songs more embellished before going into the studio. Or even like I said before about recording, do a few days here and then a few more later without it being too expensive, and give it some space for the material to make sense before we're done with it. It's hard to do because recording is… well, it doesn't have to be, but if you want to record with the gear you want to record with, it can get expensive fast. That makes it hard to wait.
Are you finding you're shifting around your sets because people are responding to the stuff on the last record different than you expected?
Yeah, a little bit. You go out and play a bunch and you start to realize which ones are making sense, which ones work, which ones sound good: really, which ones play themselves. Like, when you start a song, you're on board the whole time and not feel like you're paddling. I think there are certain songs on albums that don't need to be played at a show, it's just inevitable.
You've played Europe a few times -- what are the differences between that crowd and the North American crowds?
Well, they don't really know who we are over there. Parc Avenue was never released, so we kind of missed that boat -- which is a drag. We've had a hard time getting things going over there. So, you have to sort of start over in a way, you have to take the gigs you can get because they don't know you. The press is unaware of you, the promoters don't know you -- it's hard to get booked. You're an unknown band. There's some degree of frustration, but at the same time, you just have to go out and do it. And it's not a bad place to be sometimes to be an unknown band in a new place, especially when you've had some success at home and you have the confidence in the band and you can go out and thrive off that energy of playing in front of a crowd that doesn't know you. That kind of energy is a lot different than playing to an audience that knows all your songs. So, that's where we're at with Europe. We've had some good shows in London and Paris, you know, in the bigger cities because of the global community of the internet and the impact of North American press. On a whole, we have a long way to go in Europe. But this record was released over there, so we're going to hopefully make it happen. I really hope so because there's so much more bread, cheese and wine over there [laughs].

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