Since their 2009 debut album, Other Lives have been incredibly busy touring the nation with bigger acts and larger crowds. Most recently, the band blew away crowds while touring with indie-folk group, the Decemberists. On top of putting on a phenomenal show, full of mind blowing instrumentation, Other lives records have been received nothing but praise. Their latest release, "Tamer Animals," is chalk-full of songs that are both haunting and oddly catchy.
I spoke briefly with front man, Jesse Tabish, about their current nationwide tour with the Rosebuds, new album and writing processes. Check out http://otherlives.com/ for more information on the band and tour dates.
How has the tour with the Rosebuds been thus far?
Tabish: It's been fantastic. Actually, I am home right now, in Stillwater(Oklahoma), for like a day. We drove overnight from Houston to get a day of rest at home. I'm pretty happy right now(laughs). The Rosebuds are the best and we couldn't be happier, playing with them. The shows have been really good and the responses have been positive so far.
What would you say people can expect when they come to see an Other Lives show?
Tabish: Well, you can expect a lot of instruments onstage(laughs). From there it is up to their own judgement(laughs). They can expect that. Other than that I don't know. Hopefully a good time, but who knows, right(laughs)?
How did the writing process pan out for you on your latest record, "Tamer Animals?" You wrote most of the record, correct?
Tabish: Yeah, I wrote a lot of ideas on our first tour in 2009. That was the first time that I had written on a computer with an orchestral program. It kind of opened my mind to arrangement, which before I was primarily working with guitar, piano and cello. So, it kind of opened my mind to different possibilities in recording. We got back, and basically we would start a song at a time. In the morning I would go in and write for two to four hours and then in the evening we would work on the current song that we were working on. It is also different because we didn't do any of the songs as a band. I had written a lot of the arrangements. So we went in and really crafted it piece by piece, note by note. It was basically a combination of that, and also self-recording and self-producing on the otherwise. Which was kind of a whole other task of getting the right tones, getting the right instrumentation and editing. All of the kinds of things that other people do when you are in a studio, we were doing the same stuff ourselves. What we enjoyed so much about it, was that it was all in our control. Editing and producing became just as important as writing and getting the tones. They all kind of just came together.
Is it something that you would do again on a future release?
Tabish: I definitely plan on it. I don't know what will happen in another year, but that's definitely in the plans.
You mentioned that you wrote a good bit of it on the road? Is that pretty standard for you, or were you forced to due to time constraints?
Tabish: Yeah, it definitely is. Especially being gone for long periods of time. It definitely keeps me in the right place mentally, and it is something that I keep up with for sure.
I have heard songwriters state that "writing" is like a muscle in your brain that you need to exercise, to make stronger. Would you agree?
Tabish: Very much so. For me, it is a daily practice. I don't necessarily work in the mind set of, or for a record. It is purely for that day. Of course we will work on an idea, and then a week later I may work on the same idea. There are so many variables or aspects (in a song) to work on. Anything from the initial idea, to arranging or it could even just be a sound.
Specifically, how did the song "For 12" originally come together?
Tabish: My sister wrote a film, and she asked me to do some music for it. So I wrote a bit to it, and I really liked it. I had a verse, with a galloping guitar and some vocals. It was one of those nice things that accidentally worked together. I ended up putting this big string thing over this galloping guitar and it happened to work out quite nice. And that's kind of how it came together.
What about the music video for "For 12?" How did that come together?
Tabish: A director approached us with this idea, and we sat down with him and we really just fell in love with the idea. It was kind of more about creating a mood , than telling a story. It was kind of his decision and we went along with it. I was really happy with how it turned out.
As a band that has been together for over eight years now, what kind of advice would you give to a band just starting off?
Tabish: I would say don't be too quick to go on the road. Don't be too quick to put out an album. Work on writing first,and that will sustain the band. The rest of it is simple math, touring and getting along and all of that stuff. That's basic stuff. Just write everyday and work at your craft. Don't be too eager(laughs).
Perfect day, driving in your car, windows down what are you listening to?
Tabish: I would say "18 Musicians" by Steve Reich." by Steve Reich.