Photography by: Christaan Felber
When indie psych-rockers Here We Go Magic aren’t busy jamming out at one of their many live shows, they can usually be found fine-tuning their unique sound back in Brooklyn, continuing a creative narrative that began as a singular effort on a 4-track by bandleader Luke Temple back in 2009.
Well, that or they’re picking up a hitchhiking John Waters on Route 70.
Now a fully formed five-piece band, the group achieved new levels after recording their latest session, A Different Ship, with famed producer Nigel Godrich.
With their tour in support of that release about to swing through Dallas on Monday night for a show at Sons of Hermann Hall, we sat down with the group’s drummer, Pete Dale, to get his take on how their recent experiences have pushed the band’s boundaries.
What can fans expect out of the band touring on A Different Ship?
We’re going to just play the hell out of it, and go all over the world, and play as many shows as we can. Play most of the record and a lot of old gems. We’d like to keep it kind of loose, y’know? Every time you play, it’s like a little discovery, a constant fine-tuning of this enterprise.
How has album development evolved over the last two records?
We basically learned after the second record, Pigeons, after we toured it — we toured it and played lots of shows — that we had recorded a record that had a bunch of different parts that five people couldn’t play at all the same time. So we streamlined everything down and the show became sort of a tighter, more spacious and groovy thing than the previous record. And we kind of wanted to capture that on the next record. So we learned that we could sort of simplify things and have things more spacious. And, because of the touring, we met this gentleman who ended up producing the record, and his whole idea about doing it was to capture what he saw live.
You mean Nigel Godrich. What was it like working with him?
It was amazing. His reputation precedes him. It’d be like, if you were a tour pro at a local Par 3 course, and then Phil Mickelson came by and was like, “I want you to come on the PGA with me.” You’d feel the pressure all of a sudden. You know you’re good enough, but you feel the pressure. But we got that out of the way pretty quickly, because he’s a really down-to-earth gentleman who has good, strong opinions.
He’s really the first person we’ve ever worked with musically, outside of our little weird world of the band. So that was amazing. It took a lot of that pressure of setting things up off of us, and we were able to just play. And he had good ideas of what was passing mustard, and what wasn’t.
Would you say he was able to extract more out of the band, or create a more focused balance in some way?
That’s a great question. I think both. I think his ability to do both of those things are his strong suits. Once we got over that pressure, he was part equal and part mentor. And he’s all about the performance. He doesn’t have this overarching sound — his work with Radiohead or Beck was about him working with those bands, he doesn’t put his own thing on it. He would pull everything out of us, and he would hold us to a higher standard of the performance, a good feel and a good intensity. He helped us sort of streamline things in a way. Our tendency before was to put every good idea down, but he helped in a big way sort of cutting down some of the fat.
Listening to some of the tracks — “How Do I Know” speaks to me, personally — it seems like a much more concentrated effort. Would you say that’s true?
I think that song in particular is the thickest track on the record. It’s got the most going on for such a simple song. Each verse is like something else that gets added, y’know? That song was just one we had batting around before we recorded, and that we just put down really loose. It just kind of came out fully formed, and was a resort of just touring.
Each record seems to hold more gravity than the last. The first show of yours I saw was when you opened for Grizzly Bear at the Granada a couple of years back.
That Grizzly Bear tour was our first tour, and that was really intense. And we learned a lot on that tour. And these songs are just a result of getting better. We’ve sort of figured out what our strong suits are playing together, and what really works for us. We don’t really do the same thing twice.
Word has it that if this album doesn’t bear much fruit, Luke will resort to New Orleans as a street musician. Any truth to that?
[Laughs.] Time will tell. I doubt it; he doesn’t like the heat. But, yeah, I suppose if I were going to wager what we would do — I know that whatever happens, we’ll just keep playing music. I don’t think there’s anything more or less at stake with this record or this tour.
Photo by Christaan Felber.
Here We Go Magic performs Monday, June 18, at Sons of Hermann Hall.