01 June 2010

the dodos at the henry fonda / my interview with meric

amy: How do you guys approach lyric-writing? Do you write songs collaboratively in the same room or piece them together? Some songs are more abstract and others are more narrative.

meric: The lyrics on this record were less narrative and personal; I was speaking more from the band's experience rather than just my own. Plus not a whole lot happened in my [personal] life over that year. Sometimes the songs come to life when we're playing together, sometimes they happen when I'm writing alone, and then we piece them at practice.

amy: What authors or lyricists have inspired your succinct and telling lyric-writing style?

meric: I don't really go for a specific style when writing lyrics. I just try to avoid reading garbage so that it doesn't subconsciously get into my writing. I have never been a real bookworm; I get inspired from nonsensical stuff and bad catch phrases because they seem closer to my level of communication.

amy: What places or experiences have inspired your many lyrical references to nature a la ocean/storms/skies, esp. in “Small Deaths,” which is also very political...

meric: We were passing through Montana when I started writing the lyrics for that song, and there's such a sheer massiveness to the landscape in that state that you can't ignore or just be like "that's pretty". That song always just sounded big and impending even in it's early stages and it seemed natural to reference nature in the Montana way, rather than the uh.....california way.

amy: You guys made many “Best Albums of 2008” lists with Visiter. What albums have made your personal “best albums” list so far this year?

meric: Admittedly I haven't listened to many 2009 releases. But Grizzly Bear's record, Thee Ohsees Help and the Moore Brother's Aptoss are up there.

amy: You guys take a turn away from your organic, lo-fi sound with this new album. What was the inspiration behind your more polished sound?

meric: Making this album with Phil Ek was an opportunity we couldn't really pass up, and wanting to work with somebody who had a different take on the band, or just hadn't been working with us from the start was a chance to step outside ourselves and our recent trajectory, learn some shit and gain perspective on what we're doing. I want this band to last, doing something different seemed necessary to that.

amy: Your guitar-playing is unusually complex and intriguing. How did you learn how to play like you do?

meric: I think of my guitar playing as the little hyper kid's version of what real musicians do. Being busy while I play is often important to me but it's not really complex, it's just caffeinated.

amy: What new instrument would be a good addition to your ensemble of guitar, drums and vibraphone?

meric: Not sure, not really planning on adding but working more with what we have. This band is about limitations a lot of the time. That's where inspiration for song ideas come from, we implement limitations and in that process of trying to do something conventional it often sounds different. When we get bored we change the limitations.

amy: Some say Time to Die is more produced and restrained than Visiter, any response?

meric: Produced, yes. Though it's hard for me to agree that it's more restrained. I understand why people may hear it this way, but in terms of parts there's a lot of stuff that is more gnarly than anything on Visiter. It may sound more restrained, but as the one performing it, it certainly doesn't feel restrained.

amy: Who did the artwork for your album cover? It’s very Klimt-esque.

meric: They were pictures I took from a festival in Switzerland called fasnacht, which is basically three days of freaky costumes, marching bands and confetti.

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