Throughout the past twenty-or-so years, we've seen a rapid incline in the number of musical side projects. Surely this is a product of technological progression, and it's one that's given us access to the personalities of the individuals in our favorite bands. It wouldn't be a stretch to associate this with a general decline in big band break-ups, as artists are free to, and often expected to exercise their artistic muscles in outside ventures (imagine if real-life relationships were this "open").
One of our favorite new musical side projects is the shadowy and mysterious duo Pyyramids
. The sounds are fresh and rousing; however, those creating them aren't new to the music scene. Tim Nordwind of OK Go and Drea Smith of He Say/She Say teamed up to unleash a musical fusion of their individual expertise, as well as a shared love of iconic 80s Manchester. As with many side projects today, their relationship was birthed via the web, as they zipped ideas back-and-forth across the country, eventually meeting to record and release their first EP in 2012. Earlier this week, the duo unveiled their debut full-length Brightest Darkest Day
(stream below), and we got a chance to catch up with Tim last week while he was in upstate New York recording with OK Go. In lieu of discussing whatever magic was going down in the studio with the boys, we chatted about the dark and contagious tunes of Pyyramids, and how he manages to live a musical double-life, in two great bands.
Listen to Brightest Darkest Day
and read the interview below.
Where are you right now?
I am currently up in New York. I'm recording with OK Go right now. We're working on a record so we're in the getaway part - two weeks recording.
That sounds wonderful.
Onto the other band. Can you tell me a little about the Pyyramids? How you guys met? How it came about?
I don't think either one of us were looking to start a band or anything like that, but Drea [Smith] was in a band, and they were kind of a little more electro-soul. I wanted to do something a bit more stripped down, or, for a lack of a better word, more 'indie' toned. My friend had emailed me and said Drea was looking to try something, and knew that I made a lot of beats and music on the side. So, I got a hold of Drea via email. We would sort of email as pen pals for about six months. We originally bonded over early 80s post-punk bands, bands from Manchester, like The Smiths and New Order. I sent her bits and pieces of songs I had written. She sent me back with a full vocal range over them, with lyrics and everything. It was way more than I was expecting to hear. I was like, "Wow, that sounds like a real song! I want to write more!" That first song is called "Human Beings" which is on our EP that was released last year. We just kind of went from there, hoping to make sort of like darker sounding psychedelic minimal pop music.
And what was it like, the first time you guys got together?
Like I said, we had been emailing, and were both relieved that we got along just as we did through email. Maybe from the fact that we had been talking for long, we already had a connection. So, after writing about three songs we decided to get together in the studio and get it out to the world somehow. I generally try to make music that creates some sort of mood, and Drea mixes that with melody and lyrics. We go back and forth until we find something that we both like and what we think most people will like. We tend to agree on things so much that these songs came quickly for us.
And you guys were just down at SXSW right?
I actually saw quite a few people Instagraming from one of your shows. How was it down there?
It was really, really great. We played five shows in the course of three days at SXSW. I was really happy that people showed up for the shows and seemed to be enjoying it. We put together a good live band. I feel like there's a certain energy for the live show, albeit it might be a slightly darker one, but an energy nonetheless, I think the energy has worked for us live. It was nice actually seeing it. We haven't played a ton of live shows to date so it was nice to get in front of people and see their reactions and see them start dancing and all that stuff.
Watch the "Paper Doll" music video, off My Brightest Darkest Day
Do people tend to notice you when you're out there on stage as one of the guys from OK Go?
Well, I've been impressed. That seems to be where the caring stops as far as where we've come from and what we've done from the past. I think people have been generally pretty accepting of the fact that Pyyramids is a thing, and to answer your question, do people realize I play in another band: I feel like we do a pretty good job of defining this sort of sonic and live irony of Pyyramids so it's hard for me to know.
Being that you're in two totally different individual groups, how is it balanced? How do you separate and what's that like? Is it sort of like having a split personality?
[Laughs] Well, being in two different bands is something I'm just starting to get used to and respect. It's a very new thing for me. Luckily it doesn't map your split personalities; it just feels like two different sides of one personality. It's not that much of a gear switch. But I'm a lover of music. From my point of view, I find it kind of inspiring going from OK Go to Pyyramids and vice versa. It's inspiring to work on one style and take that inspiration to go with a different style. I never get bored of one thing which is great- and I feel like that's a really good creative head space to be in.
Does it get exhausting?
Yeah. The one thing I'm trying to figure out is how I'm going to deal with the energy. So far it's been okay, I can see it getting exhausting in the future. But, if I'm gonna be exhausted by anything, I would definitely prefer that I'm exhausted by the fact that I get to work on a lot of music all the time.
And from your fans and everybody that's heard it so far, what's the general reception been like?
I've been pleasantly surprised and pleased. People came to feel the emotion that I did. At the end of the day, what we're trying to do is communicate feelings through our record, and people seem to be catching on to that. I really love some of the British press we've received, it starts out with lines like "I thought you guys were British!" [Laughs] - which actually makes me really happy, considering that's where so much of the inspiration of what we've written has come from.
So you're gonna be releasing this album and touring, and when are you expecting to release the [OK Go] album you're recording now?
My guess is probably in 2014. We just released a single from this new batch of material well I guess I shouldn't say a single, but we put a song out to the world which is called "I'm Not Through", which we are using as part of a contest. Since we're in a studio making music, we've asked people if they would take the act to making a video for the song, because we don't have time for that right now. But we will have time to make videos once the record is done. The full record will come out either late fall or late winter 2014.
Keep an eye on Pyyramids as they embark on a Euro and N. American tour via Facebook
Brightest Darkest Day
is out now. Get it here