Interview Seventeen Evergreen: ‘Everyone Is An Armchair Scientist’

Does absence make the heart grow fonder? Seventeen Evergreen seem to think so.

Does absence make the heart grow fonder? Seventeen Evergreen seem to think so. Five years since the release of their debut LP, ‘Life Embarrasses Me On Planet Earth’, the duo are finally back with their new album ‘Steady On Scientist’, release via Lucky Number earlier this month. We catch up with the twosome to talk science, studios and sonic surprises.

Let’s not beat around the bush, it’s been five years since the release of your debut LP. Where’ve you been?
We made a few EPs, wrote a new record, finished it two years ago, which is finally out now. We’ve been DJing all over California, working on solo projects like Midnight Artist, playing live with that and generally living and learning. Also, we’ve been working on the new Seventeen Evergreen live experience and playing on lots of amazing bills.

Did you feel much pressure when trying to write the follow to ‘Life Embarrasses Me On Planet Earth’ given the critical success it received?
The only pressure we felt was our own pressure to grow and make something that felt fresh to us. Making the record was a joy, though lots of hard work.

You’ve teamed up again with long-term creative partner Antoine Boilevin to create a fantastic visual album trailer - what can you tell us about that? Where did the idea for that come from?
We created a cut-up version of our album in miniature and focused on it being a piece of exciting music on it’s own and we set out to make a visual album trailer as if we were the biggest thing in the world, some giant Hollywood event in time. Antoine lovingly iterated the visual representation till it worked just so. His ideas work well with our own and this might function as a bait for someone to delve into our world a bit more if they weren’t already with us.

Science is a recurring theme for you, at least album title-wise and with your debut. Is that a theme that continues in the new record? If so, why is that?
This is what we are interested in, and realising that we live in a scientific, futuristic world. We are all empowered by the tools we have, everyone is now an armchair scientist who can inspire and create change.

What other areas do you seek inspiration from?
Knowledge, love, fiction, fact, gear, harmony, film, emotion, food, beauty, nature, need and music itself.

What was your studio set up like this time around? Did it differ much to the first album?
The previous album was home and practice space recorded for the most part and the new record was made largely in a large room that we converted into our temporary dream studio. The location was a large brick house in the Berkeley hills with fire and warm pools. It was a keyboard jungle.

Did you work with anyone else on the record? Are there any collaborations or did you work with a producer?
We recorded and produced everything ourselves. We did work with Phil Manley in San Francisco on the final mix.

How does the new release compare sonically to your debut LP?
The new record was shaped by working together as a duo, with the idea that we’d be playing together without a traditional rock band unit. We did two shows in Big Sur as a test to see what it would be like accompanied by our machines and lots of gear as opposed to a four-piece rock band lineup. We felt liberated and energetic. This gave us motivation to move forward like this. It was a fun and inspiring change in our dynamic.

Do you think it’ll be what fans are expecting?
If fans had seen us live at the tail end of our last touring cycle or listened to the last EP, they’d have a clue, but we will surprise some, no doubt. The tempos are up, the arrangements are very different and we stretched out in new ways for us, showing another side to the SE braintrust.

What drove you to release via Lucky Number in the UK?
They approached us after we self released our first album. We liked their personal approach and long term thinking, they were very passionate about the first album and we had an option to do another record with them.

What’s the plan for the rest of 2012? Will you be heading out on the road at all?
We are making a few more videos, starting to record more new songs and will be touring in late summer/fall. Fire it up!

Seventeen Evergreen’s new album ‘Steady On, Scientist’ is out now via Lucky Number.’

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