Chad Bowar: How did the band’s sound evolve from Coward to Ruiner?
Julie Christmas: I think there were a lot of different things happening. First of all we decided to make the songs before we went into the studio. There’s always changes, even on the final day of recording, but on Coward we were still writing songs as we were recording them, and we only had five days with Steve Albini. But his time we spent four months. Brendan (Tobin), our guitar player, moved into a space that had a practice space beneath it and was already set up as a recording space. He put a lot of work into it and got to the point where we could record there. It really freed us up to try a lot of different stuff. We consciously made an effort not to go in a direction we were already going. We wanted to try a few different things.
How it worked out is that the boys would write the music during the week and play it. I would be able to sit with the tracks, and then record the vocals separately with Brendan. It was a two part process, which was very different from how it had been, which was that I would be writing the vocals while they were writing the songs. For me, it didn’t leave too much room to try a lot of different things.
What’s the meaning behind the CD title?
That’s a good question. With us, there’s not a lot of clear thought in terms of picking a word that epitomizes the music. We now there is a relationship between the word and the album, but our choices in that respect are much more lighthearted. We try to focus more on the music and the actual content rather than the label of it. We all sort of settle on a word that none of us knows why it works, and then people draw their own conclusions about it, which is cool.
Who produced the CD?
Andrew Schneider. He did a really amazing job. He’s at Translator Audio in Brooklyn. He’s worked with a lot of people, like Cave In and Pelican. He’s a great guy and everybody should work with him. The person who is recording your music or engineering an album is as important as any of one the band members. They really add a lot to it. He could see from the beginning and kept communicating that he thought this was our best work, and he was there to help us. That’s something to be appreciated.
When somebody asks you what kind of music Made Out Of Babies plays, what do you tell them?
I think we’ve said a lot of different things. I was saying “unicorn dreamcore.” We all have very different influences, then there’s a thread in those that’s always the same. We’ve all listened to the Melvins and Jesus Lizard, so there’s that commonality between our influences, but other than that we’re pretty different from each other. Everybody brings their own influences to the songs we are writing, and that’s why it sounds different. I can’t really figure out what the label of ours would be. Rock, punk, progressive, experimental? I don’t know.
You use several different vocal styles. Do you experiment with different ones for the same song and use what works best, or do you usually stick with your initial vocal approach?
There are no changes. I am very much the kind of singer that responds to the music like it’s another voice. I think of my voice as another instrument. I also don’t mind looking like an idiot. It really lets me try a lot of different things. I respond to whatever is naturally in the music. It dictates to me what I need to do, and I just do that. I just go with it, even if there are cracks and warts in performance, that’s the kind of stuff that we all really like, because it’s the personality that makes it original. There’s nothing on the album that’s fake. Trying to do this set of songs live will require that we all step it up a little bit. There are a lot of things that we’re doing to have to work hard to transfer to the live show.
Nearly everyone in your band is in other bands. Does that bring added creativity when everyone comes back together?
I think so. I know some bands feel very territorial, and that you have to collaborate exclusively. I can understand that in a way, but for us we think you should do as much music as you can do. And if you’re working hard and stretching the boundaries, none of it is wasted, even if it isn’t recorded. You get something from working with other people, period.
You switched record labels for this album. How did you decide to go with The End?
We had been speaking with them. We knew that this album was going to be very different and it was taking us in a different direction. We tried not to worry about the label or the money or any of the peripheral stuff until that was underway. When it came time to decide on the business side, The End was really good in keeping with a lot of our ideas of where the record should go, and they were really supportive. It seemed like it all fell into place. It was a no brainer.
What are your expectations for the CD?
I expect that some people will love it, some people will hate it, and the bottom line is that I don’t really care. I would rather have everybody sort of relate to it, but if they don’t it’s okay. We don’t make music for financial gain. It may seem short sighted, but we try to keep all of our focus on having a good time making music, and that’s where we leave it. We don’t have that many expectations. What I know is going to happen is that we are going to continue to have this polarizing effect we’ve had since the first album.
Do you have to put your other projects on the back burner while Made Out Of Babies is releasing and touring on this CD?
The biggest part of getting through an album cycle is putting yourself into the music. When you’re on tour there is a lot of downtime. That’s when you pull out the laptop and the mini keyboard and start writing for your other things. All of us have become pretty good at juggling things. We keep working all the time.