Interview – Springtime Carnivore

Springtime Carnivore FW

Springtime Carnivore‘s second album, Midnight Room, was released earlier this month on Tone Records and is already one of my favourites of 2015The solo alias of Greta Morgan, Springtime Carnivore will be making stops at Mercury Lounge on Saturday the 22nd of October and a matinee at Baby’s All Right the following day on her joint-headline tour with La Sera, she was kind enough to answer a few of our questions.

Anyone who has seen you play live will know what a powerful voice you have, and the first thing that struck me on Midnight Room was how upfront the vocals were compared to the first record, was that a conscious decision or just a natural evolution in your songwriting? 

Yes!  On the first Springtime Carnivore album, I intentionally obscured my voice because I wanted it to feel just like one of the instruments in a sonic landscape.  I think there was a desire to keep my lyrics secretive on that record.   That record was more driven by the music, whereas this record is driven by the lyrics and melodies, so I wanted the lyrics to be up front and clear.

On the last album, you recorded every instrument yourself, did you do the same again for this record? 

I played all piano/keys/organ and all the guitars, but chose to bring friends and collaborators for this record to do rhythm section work and backing vocals. Chris Coady and I would ask ourselves, “What does this song need?” and then invite the lineup to suit it.

My touring drummer (Brendan McCusker) and bass player (Adam Wayne) both played on the majority of the record and my friends Alex Greenwald (Phantom Planet and Phases) and Jason Boesel (drummer of Rilo Kiley, Conor Oberst, Phases, and many more) filled out the rhythm section on “Wires Crossing” and “Midnight Room”.   Katy Goodman from La Sera / Vivian Girls (with whom I made a covers record TAKE IT, IT’S YOURS earlier this year) is featured on many backing vocal parts.

It can be easy to overthink specific lyrics as a listener, often without context, my favourite you’ve written is from Other Side of the Boundary – “I’m the answer to your strange equation, that you haven’t figured out yet, you may never solve it”, for me evokes never realising something you were looking for was right in front of you the whole time. Do you prefer to leave your songs open to interpretation or do you like people to get the intent of your songs? 

I like to leave songs open to interpretation.

I tend to find the saddest songs are the most beautiful and the best albums close out on a bit of a downer musically, the last three tracks on Midnight Room feel like one is being lulled into the night somewhat. Did you feel as though Rough Magic was the obvious closer the minute you wrote it? 

Yes… I only realized recently that the reason I love closing records with a slow song is because of “Goodnight” by The Beatles, which is the perfect closer to on The White Album.  I’ve always been a fan of a lullaby goodbye.

You’ve had three different band lineups each time I’ve seen you play in New York, and the show at Mercury Lounge last year was perhaps my favourite by anyone in 2015. What kind of show are you bringing on this tour? Is anyone pulling double-shift like the last time you toured with La Sera in 2014 (where Todd Wisenbaker played in your band and you also played in La Sera)? 

Thanks so much!  Yes, our drummer Brendan McCusker is playing in both La Sea and Springtime Carnivore.  Katy will come up during my set to play some of the covers record.

I’m assuming there was some overlap between writing Midnight Room and recording Take It, It’s Yours, was either project an influence on the other? 

Yes! Re-imagining those punk and new wave classics with Katy was a revelatory songwriting study for me.   I was amazed at how potent the lyrics and images in those songs are, how simple the chord progressions are, and how much raw emotion was left in the skeletons of the songs even after removing the primal and often aggressive arrangements of the originals.

It was an exercise in simplicity for me and made me aware of how often I over-complicate my own songs.  One song on my record, Wires Crossing, was a direct result of “Take It, It’s Yours” — Katy and I had just recorded “Over The Edge” by Wipers, which has the same chord progression through the entire song, and I came home thinking that I also wanted to write a song with a super simple and repetitive chord progression.   Wires Crossing was conceived and finished in about a half hour.

The Books of Love song you recorded together was fantastic, any plans to bring more multi-dimensional love songs to the world?  

Oh, maybe!  That was a very fun process. Katy and I recorded that song and filmed the video within about 24 hours. My friendship with Katy is super fun and creative, filled with spontaneous creativity, so I imagine we’ll probably make more projects like that in the future, but we don’t really plot it out ahead of time.

You’re currently on a month-long tour that takes you across the whole country and back again, even with close friends that seems grueling! Are you worried you’ll all end up bickering at each other by the end?!

Haha. No!  I actually made a joke that we should do a fake Behind The Scenes rockumentary about all the high-drama of this tour because it’s so relaxed and we all love each other so much. We’re a little family.

Finally, congratulations again on the release of Midnight Room, it’s a gorgeous album and I hope it makes all the end-of-year lists that people are no doubt starting to form in their minds. Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions.

Thank you!

You can purchase Midnight Room on Tone Records, Take It It’s Yours is available on Plyvinyl, and don’t forget to see Springtime Carnivore and La Sera on tour at Mercury Lounge (22nd of October) and Baby’s All Right (23rd of October).

10/19 – Chapel Hill, NC @ Pinhook
10/20 – Washington, DC @ Song Byrd
10/22 – New York, NY @ Mercury Lounge
10/23 – Brooklyn, NY @ Baby’s All Right (matinee)
10/25 – Boston, MA @ Brookline Teen Center
10/26 – Buffalo, NY @ Mohawk
10/28 – Toronto, ON @ Silver Dollar
10/29 – Detroit, MI @ El Club
10/30 – Chicago, IL @ Empty Bottle
11/01 – Denver, CO @ Lost Lake
11/02 – Salt Lake City, UT @ Kilby Court
11/03 – Reno, NV @ Holland Project
11/04 – San Francisco, CA @ Swedish American Hall
11/05 – Los Angeles, CA @ Bootleg Theater

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