In The Know...Interview w/ The Details

>> Wednesday, 8 June 2011

It's hard to believe four years have already passed since The Details first made their mark on the local and national music scene with their debut album, Draw a Distance, Draw a Border.

Upon its release, their first record instantly elevated the nascent band (they had been together for roughly a year) to must-hear, must-see prominent status, resulting in the foursome to launch tour after tour in support and seeing the band score a coveted opening spot for Stars at the Pantages.

Now the local indie-rockers are back with their sophomore effort, Lost Art, an honest, sophisticated and well-crafted follow-up to Draw a Distance, Draw a Border. Throughout the release, the quartet evolves and further develops their sound, offering up a fresh and highly palatable batch of indie-rock numbers that occasionally delve into some bucolic alt-country.

I connected with the Details guitarist Sean Vidal early last week while he was on a ferry to Duncan, BC. While competing with gleeful children shrieking in the background and overcoming some intermittent connection problems, we managed to have a lengthy chat about the band’s much ballyhooed encounter with iconic producer Kim Fowley (Kiss, Alice Cooper), how they used The Original Mark EP as a sort of musical equivalent to a movie trailer, and how the Details managed to stay in fans’ consciousness despite the four year gap between records.

Editor’s note: Interview took place the day before the NHL announcement.

PoS: A lot has been made about the band’s encounter in SXSW with producer Kim Fowley (Kiss, Alice Cooper). What’s the story behind this fateful meeting and why did you ultimately decided to release this record independently?

Sean Vidal: It was such a bizarre situation. We just got on an elevator and this guy came on, and we gave him some stuff and didn’t think anything of it. We didn’t actually know who he was. The singer, John, and I both have our names on the press kit, so he called each of us individually. I was at home in the middle of a nap when I got a phone call from a guy who says, “This is Kim Fowley.” We talked for probably an hour and a half, and as soon as I got off the phone I googled his name and learned everything about him.

So we conversed back and forth and he made a couple of different offers, but, in the end, we thought we’re the kind of band that likes to make our own decisions and didn’t necessarily feel comfortable having somebody else come on board.

PoS: Lost Art was produced by Brandon Reid (The National) and Stephen Carroll (The Weakerthans). How did you originally hook up with these producers? What did they bring to the recording sessions?

SV: Steve has been a friend of the band, particularly Keli, the bass player, for a few years. When we were looking for producers, he offered to come to rehearsal one day and hash over some of our new songs. We didn’t really think anything of it at the time, and we still kept looking for a producer after that practice. We realized that all the things we were looking for he brought to the table at the one rehearsal, so we approached him and he was interested, but felt like he might need a little bit of help as well.

He knew Brandon since they had done a tour together, and we didn’t actually meet Brandon until the first day we got into the studio. We hit it off right away. We had been so close to our songs for so long that we needed an outside ear to kind of hone the songs a little bit. You get so close that you don’t always know what the best choice is and that’s where they were very, very helpful.

PoS: Did the band approach songwriting and recording any differently compared to Draw a Distance. Draw a Border?

SV: Yeah. On that album we basically just started being a band, wrote a bunch of songs, recorded an EP and then recorded the album right after. We hadn’t actually had a chance to be a band at that point, so we wanted to take a step back and write a whole bunch of songs. And we threw away twice as many songs that actually made the album. We wanted a chance to write as much as we could, find our voice, and figure out what we wanted to sound like as a band. The idea was to spend a long time writing, and then record it as fast as we could – to capture the moment. Whereas, the last album was written quickly and then recorded over a long space of time, sort of the reverse effect. Both have their merits, but this was definitely an interesting experience in that we got out of it what we were hoping to get.

PoS: Two songs from The Original Mark EP (released November 16, 2010) are on this record. Why did you decided to include tracks “The Original Mark” and “Surface Breaks” on the full-length as well?

SV: The idea for the EP the whole time was to kind of have a trailer for the full length.

PoS: I like that – a trailer.

SV: *laughs* Yeah. We were just looking for a couple of songs that would basically represent the album. There’s a bit of a departure of sound in the new album and this was a nice way to tie the album in with the old one because it was such a long time between albums.

PoS: That actually flows nicely into my next question. It’s been almost four years between records, and I’m impressed by how The Details have managed to stay in the local and national music fan’s consciousness. What do you think is the reason for this, maybe the band’s tireless work ethic combined with being very active in social media? 

SV: We’ve made some decisions to stay busy the whole time: we’ve always tried to play a certain number of shows per year, stay current with social media, and put out little videos here and there. Just doing things that we can to stay active. I think we managed to stay in peoples’ consciousness that way. Having a record come out four years since the last one was going to be a challenge, and these were some of the things we did to stay busy and stay in peoples’ minds.

PoS: Going further with the social media topic… I was reading your Twitter account and noticed that several local Twitter users commented on your opening set for Jimmy Eat World at the Garrick. They hadn’t actually seen you perform before and their response was really positive. Who updates the Twitter account? Is it safe to say the band views social media as an integral part in connecting with fans as well as spreading the sound?

SV: Typically it’s Shaun, the drummer, and I that do it. We realized it’s a tool that didn’t even exist when we did our last album, and it is such an ideal way to connect with people. We definitely value it and know that it’s such an instant thing. I mean today you knew we were on a ferry before you called me and four years ago that wouldn’t have been the case. It’s something we decided we were going to push very hard and we’ve seen the benefits of it, so we going to continue to work it as much as we can.

PoS: Finally, the big cd release show is schedule for Saturday, June 11th at the West End Cultural Centre What can Winnipegers expect for the hometown show, perhaps the entire band decked out in Jets jerseys?

SV: *laughs* We’ll have to see if there’s an announcement, but we certainly hope so! We’re playing with Royal Canoe, who are another fantastic Winnipeg band, so we’re super excited about having them on the bill. It’s something you have marked on a calendar because of your friends and family. In terms of anything super special, it’ll be a little longer of a set with some lights and guests, but I can’t give it all away. But we’re definitely looking forward it.

Catch The Details this Saturday night with special guests Royal Canoe. 


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