Interview Times New Viking: Attendance Required

We call the band’s frontman-behind-the-drums Adam Elliott in his native Columbus.

Times New Viking’s DIY aesthetic is known to extend beyond their grainy, infectious pop songs. And although they have smoothed out some of the rough edges of their sound for their fifth album ‘Dancer Equired’, it is still unmistakably a product of the band’s collage creativity. Inspired by the psychogeography of Columbus, Ohio, named after a phrase on a photocopied flyer and delivered on a hand-spliced master tape it literally has the group’s fingerprints all over it.

We called the band’s frontman-behind-the-drums Adam Elliott in his native Columbus to talk about recording the album in a vintage studio, why the band don’t really hate Liverpool and Charlie Sheen.

You’re from Columbus, Ohio. Is the band still based there?
Yes we are. We all met at school and we stayed on here.

You must have had opportunities to move on to other major cities, so is it important that you’re based in Columbus?
Yep. It’s where our friends are, it’s a nice and easy place to live. It has great culture, it’s kind of an unknown city in America, you know?

I read on Wikipedia that it’s the second most sexually satisfied city in the US.
I’m not sure about that one. I don’t know how they get those numbers. Although for getting married it’s the best city to live in.

Are the drawings in the video to your new single ‘No Room To Live’ done by local artists?
Yeah, we tried to make it a Columbus-based thing.

When I’ve seen you live you have often invited the crowd to party with you in Ohio, have you ever actually had anyone turn up and take you up on the offer?
Bands have. I think we’ve helped the local scene because random bands that would have never come through Columbus now do, so that’s been good. A couple of times we’ve brought people back from shows who wanted to see Columbus so bad that they just hopped in our van. And we’ve had to pick a couple of people up from the airport and have them stay for a couple of days. They get the tour, it’s not that long.

You have a new album called ‘Dancer Equired’ out soon.
Yes, April 25th I believe.

Where did the title come from?
It’s a title we’ve had for a long time. Originally it came from a flyer for the Ohio band the Electric Eels, on all their flyers they put “attendance required”. And then over time we kept photocopying this picture and title and it eventually came to Dancer Equired and it just fit, we like the nonsense of it. We really like The Fall, and I like how Mark E Smith will just make up words from nonsense sometimes. It’s another thing to confuse people I guess, because I’m sure a lot of people are going to call it Dance Required.

Every time there’s a Times New Viking album out it’s always described as lo-fi. I’m sure it will happen this time, although people might say this one has a cleaner sound. I was wondering if you could describe the sound of your new record and the decisions you made during the recording process?
We’ve never produced the cuts to be lo-fi, it’s more about recording ourselves. We have a recording studio in town called Columbus Discount Recording and they’ve recently taken over a 1960s analogue studio. There are a lot of ‘60s soul groups from Ohio that recorded there. It is literally untouched and they’ve spent a lot of time keeping all these ‘60s ribbon mics working. So we were about ready to record our new record and realised we didn’t have an 8-track anymore and all of our mics were bust so we didn’t have the option to record at home and it’s just as easy to drive a couple of miles to this studio and work with our friends.
We wanted to challenge ourselves a bit by getting out of our house and having to record in a certain amount of time. It’s the idea that you have 10 hours in the studio and you have to make your decisions there, you can’t wait on them. So we kind of got out of our comfort zone but at the same time we were recording with one of our good friends, so it’s not like we went to New York or London and recorded with Flood or something like that.
It’s funny, with the song that we’ve put out (‘No Room To Live’) people say it’s still got that fuzz, when the fuzz is actually an acoustic guitar. I think people will just forever hear fuzz with our band.

Was it important that you kept it analogue?
It was important. The amps were older, all the mics were older and we used the same model of tape machine that they used for ‘Rumours’ by Fleetwood Mac, which was kind of a big deal for us. We were using all of these things and yet it still sounded like 2011. It just blows my mind that music can sound contemporary even when they’re using stuff that all dates back.
The last couple of times we recorded we kept it analogue and then it got mastered to a CD and something got lost. This time we kept everything on tape. We recorded on two-inch tape and dumped it down to quarter-inch tape and literally hand spliced and re-edited the mater tape, so we made an effort to keep it all analogue. If you look at our art and everything we’re kind of collage and hands-on artists. So the idea that taking each track and hand splicing it and putting together a whole reel seemed like a nice idea.

You mentioned that ‘60s soul bands recorded in the studio. On some of the tracks on your new album I noticed a slight ‘60s rock and pop sound, did the bands that recorded there in past rub off on you?
Yeah, in a way. I’ve been listening to a lot of ‘60s folkier stuff and pop music. I guess our last couple of albums were real loud and brash, and we’ve kind of been getting away from that. We’ve just been crafting these songs a little bit longer. So they’re more written like a ‘60s song as opposed to a Swell Maps off the cuff kind of song.

Did you write all the songs together? I noticed Beth’s vocals a lot more on this album I was wondering if she wrote more of the tracks?
Yeah we wrote them together. I think you can just hear Beth’s vocals more in the mix. On this one I was singing a little lower with less shouting and I think her voice comes out a little more. She was singing really pretty and I didn’t want to disrupt it.

Having put records out on Siltbreeze and Matador, your new album is being released by other influential indie labels, Merge and Wichita. What was the reason for moving?
I don’t want to say anything bad about Matador, they’re still our friends. We just felt we had hit the wall with what we were doing. We were in contact with a friend from Wichita Recordings, so we said we’re just going to make this record for Wichita and see who wants to put it out in the US and Merge wanted to put it out. We just wanted to go in a different direction, we’re still friends with everyone at Matador.

You have a song on the album called ‘Don’t Go To Liverpool’, is that about Liverpool in the UK?
It sort of is. It’s more about just one night we were in Liverpool, it was a real bummer. It was a bummer show, it’s nothing against the city. I guess the last time we played there the promoter wasn’t very nice to us or even there, so we were kind of upset.

Are going back there on your next UK tour?
I think we are. We thought it would be funny to do a UK tour and call it the Don’t Go To Liverpool Tour.

You’ve got a few dates in the UK in April and May, are you planning any other European dates or festivals?
Not yet, none of the crazy festivals or anything. We still have some more dates to announce and we’re hoping to come back in the summer once we get all those hi-fi fans.

On the new album there’s a song called ‘New Vertical Dwellings’ and I’ve noticed a few references to buildings and architecture in some of your other songs, what’s the significance there?
That has a lot to do with living in Columbus and that they keep building condos and new dwellings for these kids who work in the city but live in the suburbs. It’s just amazing that they keep building these buildings but they’re empty, you know? It’s the idea that they keep building these things yet the economy is gone and most of my friends can barely find jobs. It’s part of the idea that they’re trying to build this idea that it’s progressive and we’re moving on but we really aren’t.
A lot of the songs are about walking around town and seeing condos that no one is living in and the idea that people with money have no idea what they’re doing with the money.

I thought I’d end with a question about current affairs. So, if you had the opportunity would you party with Charlie Sheen?
Oh yes, definitely. He’s an Ohio boy and a Cincinnati Reds fan, my favourite baseball team. I think those interviews with him were amazing. The American way is to admit that you were wrong and say you’re going to move on and be better but he did the complete opposite, which takes a lot of nerve. He got paid $2m to play himself and drink on a show and he felt that he was underpaid, that’s just awesome.

Times New Viking’s new album ‘Dance Equired’ will be released on 25th April via Wichita - listen to it below.

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