Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Evening Song”?
It’s our 2:45 test tube song dealing with freeing ones self from captivity, depression and anxiety with a hint of self-destruction, manifest via desire and fear. It’s sort of a distillation of our psych rock and space rock leanings crammed into a vintage, organ-driven pop song. Just a breezy little rock n roll number to tap your feet to.
Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?
Detroit in the dead of winter, and quite a lot of drinking that evening. That and a lot of noisy guitars up to 9 was the initial inspiration for that song. Then the organ line came about and it shifted into a proper song.
How was the filming process and experience behind the video?
So much fun but very hectic. We filmed and directed the video youtube.com/watch?v=lCldJcUDXuA ourselves in one day on a very tiny budget with the help of a few friends (Matthew Smith-camera operator, Colin Simon-production assistants, Brian Butts-audio tech). We had access to a green screen room and that lent to the idea to do something fun and psychedelic with our friend David Russell, who created all the lighting effects in the video. He projects animated lights during our live shows as well, using his homemade modular feedback system, some scientific looking tool box thing. He’s like another member of the band when we play live, so it was very fitting to have his luminescent skills decorate our very first video.
The single comes off your new album 21st Century Drone – what’s the story behind the title?
It’s the 7th track on the album and it alludes to how we’re all living asleep and automatic in the 21st Century. It considers the trappings of our technological advances and explores what we might be losing due to such advancements. It’s also just a straight up reference to our musical stylings, we frequently indulge in droning mediative feedback, and repetitive rhythms.
How was the recording and writing process?
Half the writing was done in rehearsals before hand, and the rest was fleshed out while in the studio. We left a fair amount of the songs unfinished so that they could develop instinctively while recording. This is the way we like to work and it’s inspiring until it bites you in the ass because you simply don’t have a big enough budget to live in the studio.
What was it like to work with Bill Skibbe and how did that relationship develop?
He’s very high energy in the studio. He’ll pull twelve hour sessions If he digs the band and the music, and we did a few late ones so I guess he enjoyed working with us. It was like recording with a good friend, very personable and enthusiastic as well. The sessions came about because we we’re looking for a proper studio to record in and Keyclub Recordings, being outside of Detroit and with such a rich recording history was very appealing. We just cold emailed Bill hearing about his studio form a friend. We spoke with him eventually and sent him some songs, then he agreed to record us. It was very laid back, we lived there for a few long weekends while recording. There’s kind of an apartment for bands to stay in, not a five star hotel but it’s accommodating enough for rock n roll.
How much did he get to influence the album?
Engineers influence an album quite a lot, if there any good. They decide so many aspects of how your record is going to sound. Every mic choice and it’s placement. If the bands going to be set up in the same room or if the apms or drums are isolated. This affects the way the sessions are gonna flow and the performance quite a bit as well. Then there’s the input signal and how it’s tweaked before it goes down to tape or computer, which is another artistic/engineer choice. Bill wanted to record us to tape after hearing us play live, but decided we wouldn’t have enough time or budget so we had to put it to ProTools. He had a lot of influence from that perspective, and even a bit musically, like on Evening Song. We didn’t have a third verse and he suggested something should be there. So that verse was improvised in the studio. There were other moments like that where he was sharing creatively and giving advice, and his experience working with so many bands really came through.
How has The Kills and The Stooges influence your writing?
The Kills, not really at all. We might have some vague overlap with them but that would be purely coincidental and far reaching. The Stooges are big influence! We never set out to write a song like them or anything but it’s definitely in our blood and it comes through sometimes which is very positive to us. There’s a deep appreciation for their music with everyone in our band. They’re Detroit’s original “forgotten sons”. They created a proto-punk garage-rock that influenced a world of musicians from Spaceman 3 to Mudhoney. They’re kind of like early Velvet Underground in that respect, their music stirs up something so visceral and intense. If you’re a musician, they make you want to start a band, write songs, and bleed a little.
How did you get to balance all your different influences, especially your classic roots and much modern tastes?
We have no idea. We write mostly from a purely improvisational impulse and then we listen back to see what we have. If we like anything, we fill in the blanks from there. Occasionally the entire song, lyrics and all will be captured in the very first improv of it and we just learn how to play it again. Whether it’s modern or classic we don’t really differentiate. Some of that will be defined later in the recording process but there is no preoccupation with era.
What role does Detroit play in your music?
Like any other environment it affects your state of being. It can be a bit cold and depressing here for more than half the year, so that affects one’s mood quite a bit. Culturally we have a fair amount of good things going on in the city on any given day, art openings, a ton of bands, free access to well funded public art facilities like the Detroit Institute of Art and other things like MOCAD. We have a monumental music history in Detroit and that has some influence I would guess, but we like a lot of British bands as well.
What aspect of doubt and faith did you get to explore on this record?
The whole thing is a balance between doubt and faith. Not a religious faith of course, more like: No we can’t / Yes we can, and wavering between these states. Wading and Waiting which is the first song on side B of the vinyl available here, is a deeper exploration of this on a metaphysical level. The video youtube.com/watch?v=h9N4ud1SLlo illustrates this very well. We were fortunate to have our friend Vukosava Radenovic youtube.com/user/69hanky from Serbia to create this one for us. She’s an amazing videographer and editor. She made some fan videos for us in the past and some for Matt Hollywood and The Bad Feelings, as well as Moon Duo. She’s very talented!
Where else did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?
Musically we just take whatever emotions or impulses are brewing in us collectively and improv while recording. The theme or mood of the song will influence how the lyrics develop.
Any plans to hit the road?
Yeah. We have a two week run starting this August from Canada to New York. We also have a few dates in June and July in the midwest. We’ll be posting these soon facebook.com/3ftdetroit/We desperately want to tour Europe so if anyone reading this can help make that happen, contact us!
What else is happening next in 3ft’s world?
We’re focusing on touring mostly. We also have a lot of new songs that have come about recently and we’re looking to get back in a studio soon. Our latest impulses are surprisingly very shoegaze along with some bareback california-psych and a few stray ones on the fringe, so that will be interesting to see how these develop. Some of these new ones are available at soundcloud.com/3ftdetroit