After listening to an album like Technicolor Health (Gigantic Music), the band’s self-titled EP seems like dress rehearsal. The band makes no qualms at pulling out all of the stops. From orchestrated horns, to sporadic found sounds, to general upbeat pop-style reflections, the band treats their debut full length like a musical to their own lives.
Since forming sometime around 2006, the band has had some twists and turns in their career, and Technicolor Health captures the essence of these times, both for better or worse. A lot of factors went into the making this album, including a mixture of collaborators from Beirut to Antibalas, Arcade Fire to Beyondo. But when it comes down to it, it’s the bonding of the five members (Vocalist Lexy Benaim sheds some light on their highly interesting and ever-so-colorful new release.
Andrew Duncan: Technicolor Health feels more upbeat than your self-titled release. What led to this direction for the band and was it intentional or luck that the album now seems like an act of survival and even defiance during these struggling economic and social times that surround us? Can you go into the personal struggle of the band during this time to what became the output? How do you feel this album will reflect to what people are facing?
Lexy Benaim: I think it was intentional. It’s a highly social album in my opinion. Very much outwardly engaged as the entire band was during recording. Well, the personal struggle was just coming up with something that we could all sign off on. We’re five quite different dudes. But I think putting the music through this sifter really allows for some strong music to emerge–I hope. But it’s also a sometimes painful trial and error process. I can’t say how it will reflect what people are facing. That’s such a personal thing, you know. People face things in such unique ways, and I imagine will respond to the record in similarly particular ways.
Duncan: Technicolor Health is also more expansive of a release than before. Can you tell me about the ideas that led up to the creation of the album and what led to expansively rich songs and what feels like a powerful vitality that stems from the pop elements of the songs?
Benaim: I’d say the idea was kind of making hopeful, strong music that in some ways, harkened back to the early-mid 90′s, when Clinton prosperity was beginning to bloom.
Duncan: There is a lot of depth and diversity especially with the amount of instrument hooks and effects, can you tell me about some of the creative processes that became Technicolor Health?
Benaim: There was a lot of lonely lyric and structure time in my eldest brother’s apartment while he was at work. There was a lot of time spent with the band hashing out ideas and tweaking and sculpting; passionate attention to detail from several different angles.
Duncan: With an album like this, how has it transferred to a live stage?
Benaim: It’s been a blast actually. We’ve incorporated samplers and a drum machine, which Brent basically just plays on stage as if it were an acoustic instrument.
Duncan: What were your biggest challenges recording an album like this? What
were the greatest accomplishments that stood out?
Benaim: The hardest part was achieving the consensus. Hmm…I like to think of it as a whole, a sort of a chain-link, and any one accomplishment hinges on the one before it and the next…so it’s hard for me to think of it like that. That said, “Niagara Falls” is probably my favorite song from the album.
Duncan: What aspects of pop music appeals to you the most? What attracts you to them as a resource and style of the band?
Benaim: I’d say the immediacy and the comfort of it.
Duncan: It feels like there is no space wasted with something always going on within each song and very little disconnect between. Was this something intentional to build a connection throughout the album by almost treating it as a single statement instead of individual songs?
Benaim: Absolutely. We wanted to make an old-fashioned album rather than bow to the current singles-oriented trend. That trend is fine, but we wanted to hold down the old-fashioned fort.
Duncan: How does this album relate to New York City? How does New York City relate to you?
Benaim: The city continually relates to anyone who lives there. It’s just so vast and sort of intrusive. There are a million stimuli and distractions. Certain sounds on the album are just echoes of things we hear on the streets–mainly Latin radio.
Duncan: Do you see the band continuing the tradition of music making in this fashion or is Technicolor Health a statement of “a moment” from the band? How do you want this album to be looked at down the road?
Benaim: I think our next record will be the same in that it will be poppy and ambitious, but other than that, I don’t know. I just hope the album is still looked at at all down the road.
Duncan: Optimists or Realists? Or a bit of both? Based on where you are now as a band, how would you describe yourself philosophically?
Benaim: I’d say willful optimists. Pessimism of the mind, optimism of the will. I wouldn’t describe myself philosophically, except maybe to say I read a good deal of William James.