I really feel like watching Portlandia right now. I don't have a particular desire for surrealist Fred Armisen/Carrie Brownstein humor -- which, if I'm being honest, often feels like it's trying too hard. I just have a weird desire to hear "Feel It All Around" by Washed Out -- which serves as the show's theme song. Except that desire isn't all that weird at the moment. We had a chance to chat with synthpop/new wave act Trails and Ways
about their latest single, "Skeletons," and although their variation of the chillwave aesthetic is a little more upbeat and anthemic than Washed Out, they're a must hear for any Washed Out fans and fans of 80s inspired neo-pop music in general.
You all have a new record coming out in June called Pathology. On one of the record's singles, "Skeletons," I can't help but hear this mix of Tame Impala meets M83...which is to say, psychedelic textures mixed with danceable pop. Can we expect more of that on the record itself?
Trails & Ways: Short answer, yes. On this record we went for drums and rhythm parts that are big and visceral and groovy throughout, but we put every song in a distinct space, with its own textures and ambient noises. That said, there wasn't any rigid style formula, so to me every song on the record came out feeling like its own animal.
Beyond the more obvious genre signifiers, who do you think were your biggest influences as songwriters?
While writing and making this album we were listening to a lot of Jorge Ben, Radio Dept, Broadcast, Beatles and Thriller.
What is the Pathology you're referring to in the album title? Is it a behavioral pathology? A cultural pathology? A personal pathology? Perhaps a pathological virus? (I'm joking about the last one...I hope)
I'm an unrepentant, hardcore punner and "path-ology" felt like a cute play on "the study of trails and ways". We actually went with it not just for the pun, though. Pathology means digging for the root cause of illness, and that name felt right for a record where we get to the roots of some of the darker personal experiences and most ominous societal problems we've faced.
What is it about synthy, almost 80s style pop music that has become so timeless that it's experiencing this massive resurgence right now?
I think early 80s music stills holds a lot of power because it was the first generation of pop & dance music based on electronic instruments, and you had both 70s session players having fun with an open sense of what these new instruments should sound like. I also think it matters that the Reagan era of a kneecapped social safety net and trickle-down corporate worship started then and hasn't really stopped. Just like then, I think many current musicians/artists make what they make to try and challenge / transcend the alienation/discord/insecurity of the era.