Hi, VENTS. We’ve been well. Busier than ever, but oh so well.
*Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Is This All There Is?”?
In my late 20’s, I (Jesse) quit my corporate job and hit the road touring with a solo project of mine. When that tour ended, I had nowhere to go and nothing to do, so I kept traveling. The thrill of being in a new place every day and actually being able to spend adequate time there was like nothing I’d ever experienced before, despite having toured a lot previously. But as time progressed, I felt like I was getting caught up in another cycle– like I was stuck in a simulation with a predefined number of variable feelings and experiences. By my early 30s, when I traveled to new places, nothing ever felt quite new and this singular thought kept going through my head: “Is this all there is?”
Aaron and I had recently started talking about writing music together again, so when I finally did get back ‘home’, I crafted this little lo-fi pop track that repeated the line “Is this all there is?”. When I sent the demo over to Aaron, he had this idea to craft it as a pop song with the structure of a dance song, in which the intensity of the music matched the existential dread of the lyrics: Deep basses, live drums, overdubbed analog synths, noisy guitars. When Aaron threw live drums on the track, it really opened up. We started to sound like a real band for the first time.
*Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?
Looks like I got ahead of myself…as usual. Hopefully the above answers this one too.
*How was the filming process and experience behind the video?
A good pal of ours, Judd Myers (http://www.zapruderfilmco.com/), did an incredible job with this video. When we got together to discuss an idea for a music video, we kept coming back to dance choreography with an element of horror. Judd ran with the idea and crafted a treatment that we both loved. He asked local Dallas dancer Ali Honhcell (https://www.instagram.com/alihonchell/) to star in the video and thankfully she said yes. The music video was shot over the course of two days in this abandoned home that Judd’s friend’s parents inherited and were kind enough to let us use. Judd assembled an all-star crew of local Dallas film folk who literally went through this delipidated house, cleaned it and decorated it. There’s almost nothing in this video that isn’t supposed to be there. Ali did a wonderful job of capturing the visceral existential angst of the song.
How was the recording and writing process?
The broad structure of the song came pretty quickly. We both tend to default to the Verse/Chorus/Verse/Chorus pop structure, so it felt new and exciting to explore this singular, rigid structural pattern. The song is only 3 chords with a repetitious vocal melody that keeps landing on ‘Is This All There Is’. The challenge for us was taking that structure and keeping it interesting for 5 ½ minutes. After touring with this song for a year, we tightened and refined the arrangement to where it is today: moody and meditative but also kind of energized and exciting.
What was it like to work with Kyle Pulley and how did that relationship develop?
Aaron met Kyle in 2015 after he played a show with Kyle’s band Thin Lips. Kyle reached out to record with us, but that band went on hiatus. Fast forward a couple years, we kept an eye on all the great work Kyle has been doing, and put him on the short list for mix engineers for Welcome Center.
How much did he get to influence the song?
What we brought Kyle was pretty crystalized in terms of arrangement and writing. He ran that through some impressive outboard gear and gave the elements of the track a consistent, glued-together feeling. He also contributed a handful of tweaks to the drum arrangement, as well as a big oozy synth line at the end of ‘Decay’ (the B-side) that lent a bit of drama to the section. While Jesse and I have been collaborating for almost 15 years, this was our first time together in a professional studio setting. Kyle’s biggest contribution to the process was setting a comfortable environment where we could express ourselves, as well as imparting some of his mix wisdom as we worked.
*What role does Dallas play in your music?
Dallas is the city where Aaron and I first met, so without Dallas, I would argue this song may not exist. We both grew up in Texas towns, so the Texas music scene (Dallas, Denton, Austin, Houston) played a huge role in shaping us and our musical influences. You may not be able to hear it in the music, but we’re both big fans of country (Waylon Jennings, George Jones, Willie Nelson, Kasey Musgraves), and it bleeds into the music at times.
Does the new single mean we can expect a new material – how’s that coming along?
We are currently writing and arranging a follow-up EP due out at the end of the year. We have mix dates set aside with Peter Mavrogeorgis (The National, Sharon Van Etten, Boy Harsher) in late August, and couldn’t be more excited to work with him. So far we have pop bliss-outs, creepy obsessions with power, and a vintage Jesse/Aaron track we’ve put the WC touch on.
Any tentative release date or title in mind?
We are shooting to have at least a lead single out by the end of 2019, if not the whole thing.
Any plans to hit the road?
Absolutely. We are planning on a tour through Washington/Oregon in the Fall, as well as a Texas/East Coast jaunt.
What else is happening next in Welcome Center’s world?
We’re excited about where we are and where we’re going to go with this project. We don’t feel any pressure to sound a certain way, and because we’re influenced by so many different genres, I imagine once we’ll be in a constant state of change with our sound. Aaron and I are sending new demos back and forth already for the release we’ll push after the EP we’ll release this fall. We’re always thinking two steps ahead, for better or worse.