Every band manifests its own level and style of alluring mysticism. Some clearly perform this part better than others. From Gene Simmonds' KISS Army to Edward Sharpe's Magnetic Zeros, we have long been tempted by the fruit of the of the musical messiah. One band who has manifested this culty fervor since 2000 is The Polyphonic Spree.
Recently, while in attendance at Hype Machine's Hype Hotel, we experienced the Spree's surprise performance, where Tim DeLaughter's brilliantly orchestrated spectacle was a purple-punch dosed enchantment that we're yet to shake. While on stage, he directs a massive squad of 22 florid-garbed musicians who sway and play some of the most infectious sing-along ballads to ever pleasantly worm their way into your ears.
Unfortunately, Tim and crew forgot to invite us on their magical bus of adventures, but we were sure to catch up with him shortly after the show. We discussed what it's like to tour and perform with such a massive assembly, and managed to land a few clues about the Spree's first studio (non-holiday) album in six years, Yes, It's True (8/6), which, found great success in crowdsourcing.
It's been six years since The Fragile Army, that's a pretty long time to keep track of such an enormous group of people. Was there a "we're getting the band back together" montage you can tell me about?
We actually toured on the Fragile Army for a couple of years, and then took some time off for our (Julie [Doyle] and I's) newest edition Felix. He's now 6 years old. During that time, we still did one off tours here and there where we played all over place fromm the states to as far as Australia. When the dust settled I started writing again and found myself in New York where I wrote the bulk of the songs for a side project which I did with my friend and old band mate from Tripping Daisy, Phil Karnats. It was called Preteen Zenith. We rented a cabin in the back woods of Mississippi and recorded Rubble Guts and BB Eye, which we released on our Good label. Jason Garner from the Spree played the drums. We only played one show, so there was never any interference with the Spree.
Now that I think about it, there's really never a "we're getting the band back together" talk because we really never "stop". We're always going in some form or fashion. During the time when the Spree is taking a break or doing other projects, the band members are busy people and are mostly working musicians. They either have their own projects they're doing or they're playing with other bands or symphonies. The people in the Spree are pretty resourceful folks with talents that exceed your average band mate. It's almost a prerequisite for obvious reasons.
Are there any new members that you've welcomed since 2007?
Yes. There's always going to be someone who has to move on for some reason. Life is constantly changing and when you have as many folks as we do, you're bound to experience that from time to time. We have been so fortunate to have so many extraordinary people in our group through the years and though it may be sad to lose some at times, you're always looking forward to someone new, because you never know what that individual will bring to the soup.
What drew you to using Kickstarter to fund the album and the tour? It was clearly a success, meeting your goal in a little over a month. Does this make the support of your fans more transparent?
Kickstarter resonated with us for many reasons, but I think what we liked the most about it was the freedom it gives you as an artist or a creator. It really empowers you to take control of your project in all shapes. You're backed by people that are inspired by your story and your vision, and really are saying, "We believe in you and we don't want to 'own' your music." You give incentives, of course, that give contributors benefits and access to an intimacy that's tailored to that person. A lot of people just want to help though, and just make donations. Kickstarter also gives immediate access to your fan base with a clarity you don't quite get from the stage. It was a success and we were VERY pleased with our campaign and the insight into all our fans who are really dedicated to the Spree and its future.
How did using Kickstarter impact the music-making, writing, and producing processes?
As far as writing, there was really not an impact there. The songs were written before Kickstarter, with the exception of a couple. As far as producing and recording it was HUGE, we were able to work where we wanted (to a degree) and work with whom we wanted as far as co-producing and mixing. If we hadn't had the funds the story would have been much different.
Where do you draw inspiration from when building your albums? Since it's been six years, how will Yes, It's True compare to your previous work?
I draw from life, always. I write about what's going on at that moment, I write about what I want to happen, and so on. The difference between Yes It's True and the rest of the albums is that it's the first time we have taken a collection of songs from different periods of time and put them on the same record. It's not a concept record - but then again, I guess it could be considered one - in the sense that, conceptually speaking, it works as a whole. I think it's the most varied, sonically and emotionally, of all records we've made to date. There's a lot to it, and I have found that it keeps on giving, it continues to stay new.
Your performance at Hype Hotel down in Austin was a bit sudden. How did it feel surprising everyone?
That's SXSW for ya, anything goes. Well, Shlomo was supposed to be there with Disclosure - which made more sense - but an illness kept him from going on (drag for him). So, Chris at Gorilla Vs. Bear called and asked if we would be up for it and if we were available and it just so happens we were free at that time, so we did it. It took some moving and shaking but we made it happen. I love playing in front of EDM fans, they love music and are real fans of it. It's also cool giving the perspective of 18 people on stage doing their thing as opposed to two doing theirs. It was a blast! Plus we shared the stage with Disclosure - I love what they are doing.
Watch The Polyphonic Spree perform at Hype Machine's Hype Hotel
Currently, there are only three shows listed on your site. Can we expect any additional extravagant performances?
Yes. Tours are being finalized as we speak. So expect updates soon. We'll be touring and playing festivals here in the states during the summer, along with festivals and tours abroad. It will be a VERY busy year for us and we're so ready!
And I must ask - who comes up with the costume designs?
Julie and myself. We discuss the design and fabrics and then we go on a hunt, looking for fabric and patterns which we end up manipulating into our own design. Julie's mom Sandy helps us with the design tweaking for the prototype and then we hand it over to a few close friends who finish them out. We love unifying our group with clothing. We're making our own clothing line for our band.