Brooklyn punk act, Parquet Courts, have caught the attention of the majority of critics and fans alike over the past year to become one of the buzz groups of the moment. CHRIS HAVERCROFT speaks to leading man Andrew Savage about their monumental rise and new album, Sunbathing Animal.
As Parquet Courts spent most of 2013 on the road turning heads and winning hearts, the latest offering, Sunbathing Animal, wasn’t knocked out in the whirlwind fashion of previous releases.
The more demanding schedule meant that it was put to tape in three separate recording sessions and it is this relentless travel that would also shape many of the tunes.
“The last record came out more recently in Australia than it did in the USA (where it came out in August, 2012) so we were very ready to make another record,” says Savage of the seemingly quick follow up. “We recorded in May, then October and finished in January. It is a strange way for Parquet Courts to make a record, but it isn’t that strange for other bands to do it that way. It was a more considered kind of record because when we recorded Light Up Gold we didn’t really have an audience and now we certainly do have.”
This knowledge that the band now had an audience they had to consider was something that influenced Sunbathing Animal without informing too heavily the tracks that were included. Savage was aware that there would be expectation on the band, yet instead of shying away from this, he relished the opportunity.
“It’s not very punk rock to admit that it completely dominates your writing process. It doesn’t go that far, but if you have fans you want to make sure that they also get something new. I would say that Sunbathing Animal wouldn’t be alienating for anyone who was into the band before, but it is different. It doesn’t sound like Light Up Gold, exactly. It sounds different whilst still maintaining the same nucleus.”
Sunbathing Animal was recorded by Jonathan Schenke, who had been with the band during their previous two releases. Savage is comforted to have a man at the helm who can so readily nail the band’s sound. The success of Light Up Gold did give Parquet Courts the opportunity to explore new equipment and new studios.
“Light Up Gold wasn’t even recorded in a studio at all, it was in our rehearsal space. Sunbathing Animal is a slight step up. I think we are now about as high definition as a band like us can get. I think I have a different opinion of fidelity than some people. Sometimes people try to tag us as a lo-fi band but that would only be if you are comparing us to Beyoncé or something on pop radio. All things considered, and considering the stuff we listen to we are pretty happy with where the sound is at.”
Parquet Courts recorded in the vicinity of 30 songs for the album, with just over a dozen making the final cut. The title track and proceeding single is something that Savage considers would be a lot faster than most people anticipate. He describes it as a song that is supposed to give the listener a different feeling, kind of like they are on a ride that they are unable to get off.
“There is a seven-inch version of the single and the record sleeve folds out into the sheet music for the song. I first started playing double bass when I was in the orchestra at school so I am acquainted with sheet music and know how to read it. Mostly we thought it would be funny to make sheet music for a song as ridiculous as Sunbathing Animal that basically has one note.”