"This feels more like a band album, more in tune with itself..." - hmv.com talks to Nada Surf
Powerpop veterans Nada Surf celebrate their 30th anniversary in 2020 and have celebrated with new album, Never Not Together.
The album, which is the band's ninth, was recorded in the legendary Rockfield Studios with their longtime friend and collaborator Louie Lino.
A nine-track record, it finds the quartet on more epic form, with five of the nine tracks crossing the four-and-a-half-minute mark...
We spoke to frontman Matthew Caws about how the album came together...
When did you start working on the songs for Never Not Together?
"I'm always writing to some extent, but I started really focusing in earnest on these songs about two years ago. when it's time, I bring what I have to the band in whatever shape it's in. Some songs are finished, some are just rudimentary ideas. It really helps to play those that aren't finished with the band because often hearing us all play even a little part together can inspire me and show me how I could finish it."
How did you want this album to move on from You Know Who You Are?
"Because we all live in different cities, we have for the last few albums gotten together in new york to rehearse for one long stretch and then went straight into the studio. This time everyone came to Cambridge where I live because I have the youngest child and it was for good for me to be home, and most importantly, we split our playing up into three week-long periods."
"It was more travelling for everyone, but really valuable for me to be able to take some time in between and adjust and re-work the songs in response to how they felt when we were all playing together. the end result is that it feels more like a band album, more in tune with itself, closer to the way it was when we were all in Brooklyn together when the band started."
You recorded in the legendary Rockfield Studios, what was that like?
"It was really exciting to be in a place where so many albums we love were made. It was really inspiring and gave us a little extra bit of energy and focus that I feel really made a difference. The studio is on a working farm out in the Welsh countryside, and there was nowhere for anyone to be but either resting or working!"
It’s a nine-track record, were you aiming for a concise LP or is that just the way things worked out?
"That's the way things worked out because of the amount of music you can put on one piece of vinyl. We finished 11 songs and only at the last minute did we realise that all the songs were really long! If they were all three-minute pop songs, we could have fit five more..."
What kind of record is this in lyrical terms? Does the album have a theme?
"While there are lyrical themes on the album that appear on most of our past collections, there is more of an emphasis on things like tolerance, objectivity, rationality and positivity. There is so much division in the United States right now and it's very distressing. We live in separate media and information bubbles."
"We've always been split into two big teams, but we seem to be drifting further apart than ever. I can't help but imagine the future, when weather disasters and climate change and potential water shortages will put us in situations where we need each other again."
Which song on the album took the longest to get right?
"I wrote most of 'So Much Love' in about 20 minutes, but there are a few lines at the end that took me months to find. We worked on the front half of 'Come Get Me' forever and it never felt quite right. Then one night I came home from rehearsal and completely re-wrote it in an hour. I guess both of those were both fast and slow."
And which came together most quickly?
"I wrote the spoken section of 'Something I Should Do' really quickly. Maybe 20 minutes on a train..."
When did you decide on Never Not Together for the album title? Were any other titles in contention?
"We made that decision at the very last minute. For a long time the title was Seconds/Minutes/Hours/Days."
What are your plans to take the album out live? How is your festival season looking?
"We're touring a lot this winter and spring. Playing some festivals in France and Spain this summer and will be playing lots more next summer."
You’ve got ninth records now, how will you decide what makes your live set?
"It can be tough to choose! We'll probably play five or six songs from the new album and then choose a variety from past albums."