@ZackTeibloom Interview a band about the recording process on their new album and you’ll hear the same shit over and over. Either they went for a grander production on the album with a big producer they can’t wait to name drop, or they insist they aren’t selling out and are going for a new direction, yadda yadda yadda who cares. Completely different story when I interviewed The Boxing Lesson’s Paul Waaclawsky and Jaylinn Davidson by the side of my car last week*. The story of their new album captivated me so much, that when anyone asks me what I’ve been up to this week, first I talk about Halloween, then I tell the story of Fur State. It’s scary good.
In 2004, The Boxing Lesson recorded an album** that they never intended on releasing. The album is full of dreamy synthesizers, acoustic guitar, drum loops and bizarre “field recordings,” left vocal-free despite having lyrics and song titles for all songs. It was mixed on cassette for Paul and Jaylinn to take psychadelics, trip out and just blast it for their own enjoyment when no other music was deemed suitable. They listened to it non-stop for months and then hid the tape away in a closet for six years, afraid to ruin the only copy of the master tape. In August of this year, Paul was listening to Ariel Pink and thought “Wait a minute, I’ve made this album,” dug out the tape and was crushed to find it unplayable. He texted Jaylinn “OMG the tape is broken. I’m devastated!”
The Boxing Lesson wasn’t going to give up on their damaged baby that easily. They brought it to their friend Danny Reisch (a producer who has worked with White Demin among many others) and he performed surgery on the tape, moved the housing, used a pro tape deck and pro tools and brought Fur State back to life. What they unearthed was a gem. The first comparison I made while listening was Radiohead’s In Rainbows. High praise, I know, but the mix of drum machines, soft acoustic guitars, etheral dreamyness and synths draw comparisons. I asked Paul and Jaylinn what they thought it sounded like and they sighed emphatically in unison. It’s hard to say what you think your own album sounds like, but Paul said he did enjoy being able to listen to it fresh six years after the fact, which is so rare for a band who’s usually so deeply involved in recording that they can’t separate themselves from the process they’re already wrapped up in. They mention Brian Eno and Pink Floyd, Ariel Pink and a little bit of Wavves. Again, all good company. The Brian Eno held the most water for me. Listen to the album as you’re falling asleep with the window open*** and let it wash over you.
The first words of the album come on the wild track, “Seven,” which features a number of voicemails and field recordings from 2004 when the band was in LA and had “dropped off” and their friends and family were trying to get ahold of them. At the time, Jaylinn was into recording everything going on around her. Conversations on the street, oddballs she ran into, a neighbor who vaccumed incessantly in the morning, voicemails from friends. They created a collage of the madness that surrounded them.**** It’s a beautiful portrait of the band at the time when they were writing songs in hotel rooms and dropping out of society.
If you’ve heard The Boxing Lesson, you will be shocked by this album. You’ll definitely notice the gorgeous signature outer space synth sounds Jaylinn is known for, but without Paul’s usual driving rock voice and guitar, it’s a true departure for the band, but fans who love the sound they know should have no fears. I’ve focused entirely on Fur State, but The Boxing Lesson also finished up a new album, Possibilities, slated for a 2011 release and it will sound far more like The Boxing Lesson you’re used to. They’ll be previewing it at their release party on Thursday as well (RSVP for the Release party on Facebook)
*We decided to meet at a coffee shop right next to where the Austin Film Festival was going on, so after 20 minutes of driving around aimlessly looking for parking, I parked illegally and we did the interview leaned up against my car so I wouldn’t get towed.
**They recorded it in their apartment on pawnshop-purchased instruments after getting robbed of all their possessions in LA.
***I’d recommend listening to all of Eno’s ambient music like this.
****It’s a lot like Frank Zappa’s 200 Motels. Check that out if you don’t know it and you’re into Ringo, Keith Moon and weird Zappa stuff.