"We wanted to put out music in a way that felt fresh and free..." - Cold War Kids talk their New Age Norms album trilogy
California indie rockers Cold War Kids have spent the last two years looking back through their career, curating a live album and a 'Greatest Hits' compilation.
Desperate to do something new, they've decided to do an awful lot of it, with three new albums on the way.
All released under the name New Age Norms, the albums will all feature eight tracks, each exploring a different sonic palette.
The first instalment arrives in stores today (November 1st) and we spoke to frontman Nathan Willett about why they took on this epic new project...
This is the first album of a trilogy, when did you decide that you wanted to go about releasing three records in a series?
"We put out a live record, Audience, and then our old label Downtown got bought and we were contractually obligated to put out a Best Of record, This Will All Blow Over In Time. We dug through the past a lot on both of those releases. It’s hard to do that much looking backwards."
"So I wanted to put out music in a way that felt fresh and free. With AWAL we have that freedom to be more spontaneous and out of the box. I think the concept of New Age Norms is everything that applies to right now - a strange and unique time - so much is normal now that wasn’t yesterday."
"I wanted to make three short albums, eight songs on each, in different environments, different producers. Capture different sides of Cold War Kids sonically and different sides of our songwriting."
Are the records all done? Or are you going back in to make the second and third albums later this year?
"Album two and three are about three quarters done. So excited to finish in January before we leave for tour."
How are the three records different in sonic terms? How did you decide which songs went on which of the trilogy?
"This one was made with Lars Stalfors, who has done our last few records. The second one we've made with Shawn Everett who just brings a whole new sonic palette. The third will be a surprise..."
Is there a lyrical concept that binds all three records together? Could you talk us through it?
"New Age Norms is a catch-all – it’s an umbrella that all these songs can be underneath. Each song is really focused lyrically - they are coming from different places different stories. 'Fine Fine Fine' is a character getting older missing the wild days of youth but not wanting to go back. 'Beyond the Pale' is about the struggles of being away from home - the temptation. 'Dirt in My Eyes' is about an ugly friendship break up. Lotta different things. But each song is its own story."
Which song on the album took the longest to get right?
"'Complainer' took me forever to write. That line “don’t sit around and complain about it” - came out right away. The rest took me forever to figure out what it wanted to say. The idea that it was somebody looking at social media at a girl he likes and being critical of her, thinking that she is shallow but that he sees something in her that is deep and wants to draw that out of her, that took me a long time to find."
And which came together most quickly?
"'Calm Your Nerves' came quick. That song is special to me. It feels effortless to me."
When did you decide on New Age Norms for the title of the trilogy? Were any other titles in contention?
"Our bass player Maust had it written on a t-shirt and I just fell in love with it right away. It sounds very of the moment, very deep and it pops at the same time."
When will the second and third instalments be arriving?
"That will be next year."
What are your plans to take the album out live? When will we see you back in the UK?
"As soon as we can, we'll hopefully see you soon..."