Can you please introduce yourself and tell us more about the band?
Jen: My name is Jen and I play guitar and sing for Aloud. Henry’s also here answering questions and he also plays guitar and sings. We’ve both known each other since our teens in Miami, FLA. We started writing songs then and decided to go up North to colder climates. We moved to Boston and a year later christened our little band Aloud. We had a steady lineup till about 2008 when we decided to make a bigger commitment to the band by touring more frequently and more extensively. For our album Exile we embarked on our first national tour. We went through a couple of years with ever changing rhythm sections, but got real lucky when we found Charles and Frank. It’s nice to feel like a close knit unit again, a condition which is directly responsible for the way “A Little Bit Low” and the rest of the record sound like. Now we’re up to date!
Does your name have anything to do with your sound? What came first?
Jen: I’m afraid there’s nothing relating the name and the sound, though I’d say we’re loud enough. At the time we were looking for something ambiguous or vague. Something that didn’t bring any particular style to mind straight away, so it wouldn’t pigeonhole us. I think I was reading the opening chapter to Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and it was in a sentence. Something struck me. I liked the round sound of it and that it referenced something auditory. Our sound has been constantly changing, so I suppose I’d have to say the name came first.
Henry: Basically, we settled on “Aloud” because it was the first suggestion nobody hated. Sorry to kill the romance!
What are your musical influences? I can hear lot of Alabama Shakes, The Donnas and The Tantrums, do they play an important role in your music?
Jen: We certainly listen to Alabama Shakes and the Tantrums. The Donnas are pretty good, but I’d say the other two are closer to what we were going for. For this record in particular we let ourselves indulge in all that 60s laden soul and pop we grew up on. There’s bits from the Kinks, the Supremes, the Stones. We listened to so much Motown. We’re big Beatles fans as well, so you can’t discount that looming influence particularly in the vocal harmonies.
Henry: Don’t forget Arctic Monkeys.
Jen: Yes, indeed. I utterly love that band. The Love Language record Libraries played a big part as well.
Henry: And Oasis. Always Oasis!
Literally loving your new single, “A Little Bit Low” – can you talk to us more about the track?
Jen: I remember it coming about pretty clearly. I was in the kitchen hanging out with the roommates when Janelle Monae’s “Tightrope” came on. It wasn’t the first time I’d listened to it, but at that moment the energy on it and the percussive footstomping thing just killed me. Sometimes the song writes itself. Sometimes the idea is clear and when you sit down with the guitar the melody presents itself. I went upstairs and it was pretty immediate. It had a slightly different rhythm initially, but it all sort of came out including most of the lyrics. I worked on it some more with Henry and we got the idea for the tension building bit towards the end. I’d say the song is a sort of letter to myself. We were going through a rough period at the time; crashing with friends after two long national tours and not feeling terribly stable or confident. It was sort of a pick me up. We all get a little bit low. There’s a couple of songs like that on the record.
It´s Got To Be Now – how was the recording and recording process behind the album?
Henry: The recording process was great! We were fortunate in having two amazing producers to work with. We’d worked with Benny Grotto at Mad Oak Studios in the past, and it was his initial suggestion to just record the drums, bass, and guitars live instead of recording layer by layer. We took the songs on the road that year, rehearsed the hell out of them, and discussed a lot of arrangement stuff with Charles Newman at Mother West as the songs were being developed and demoed. So by the time the four of us got around to actually recording, it only took us two days to get the majority of the record down. We even had a live percussionist with us, Andy Wong, so we could get as much live stuff in there as possible. We spent another two days in New York with Charles N. tracking vocals at Serious Business, and then did one more session at Mad Oak to throw on a few odds and ends, like piano and keys. Max Butler, one of Frank’s bandmates in School For Robots, threw down some utterly jaw-dropping keyboard bits during that session. For the most part, it was probably the easiest experience I’ve had recording.
How did you guys come up with the title?
Henry: There’s a song on the album called “It’s Got To Be Now”. We went through a couple of different ideas for titles over the course of a year. For a while we were going to go with something annoyingly obtuse like “The Bus Prophet or A Beginner’s Guide to Mortality”, kind of a Kinks-inspired thing. Eventually, the four of us came to our senses and realized we were thinking way too hard for a record as bare-bones as this one. In any case, that song seemed to sum up the general theme of the album anyway, so it worked out. It’s Got To Be Now fit the bill nicely.
Where did you guys find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics in this record?
Henry: It was a confluence of things. 2011 was kind of a shit year to be in Aloud. And I’m not talking the mundane “I’m bored” ennui, either. This was more the “I’m broke and depressed and I’m stuck in the house all day and what the hell am I doing with my life?” kind of malaise. So, needless to say, we were in dire need of something positive and these songs were an outgrowth of that need. Jen and I quite often talked about trying to capture joy in a bottle without making it sound trite or saccharine. Whatever books we were reading were helpful jumping off points. I also lost two very dear family members in pretty quick succession in early 2012, so—for my part—that was heavily on my mind while Jen and I were writing these songs. As a result, the album’s ended up being about living, just the state of being alive, and how we deal with connecting to each other and the world in the 21st century.
Jen: Musically, it feels our most joyous album. Lyrically, it’s concerned with mortality. That would seem negative, but the point of these songs really is the immediacy of that awareness. The urgency of now and all that. In that sense it’s joyous and celebratory. I was reading a lot of Camus at the time, so a little of that absurdism seeped it’s way into the songs. Yes, everything is pretty meaningless, so you must make your own meaning I suppose.
So you guys used to play more folky kind of music, that´s something it looks like you are not bringing back if we take your new single as an example. Did you guys take a different approach for this album or is this track like your ¨Radioactive¨? You listen to the track and it gives you the impression all the other songs are powerful and heavy but when you listen to the rest of the songs it´s definitely the opposite.
Henry: The folkier sound of the last record was more of an outlier than anything else we’ve done, to be honest. At the time, which was about five years ago at this point, we’d lost our permanent rhythm section. Jen and I used that as an opportunity to try out a few new things with Aloud we’d always wanted to do. It was a record borne of circumstance, but all our records are like that. It’s Got To Be Now essentially piggybacked off the Exile tour. We were on the road for something like four months almost non-stop, discovering what it was to be a rock n’ roll band again. 80% of It’s Got To Be Now was recorded live in the studio, no separation, no headphones, so what you’re hearing is the four of us playing music in a room together. I think there’s literally only two songs with acoustic guitars, and even then, they’re buried pretty deep. Just there for texture, that sort of thing. So, I don’t know, I guess “A Little Bit Low” might be a good median gauge for the album. There’s a good amount of variation in the songs to keep things interesting, but, y’know, it’s a record that sounds like a rock n’ roll band playing music in a room.
Any plans to hit the road next year?
Jen: We’re planning a few runs up and down the East coast in 2014. Probably some warm up shows in New England and then further South when the record’s out.
What’s happening next in Aloud´s world?
Jen: 2014 sees us playing a lot more shows, finally releasing this record, making videos, more writing (always be writing!) and of course WORLD DOMINATION! Nah, we totally mean watching the Criterion collection on Hulu on days off.
Where can we find more about your music?