How did the finished and mastered cut of Everybody stack up to your impressions? Where does it with other TSAC albums?
To be honest, I had a hard time listening to Everybody once it was finished. I'll say I usually have this problem with all the records, but with each new one, the stakes seem higher and I put more into it. In turn, I become more overly saturated by it and have a harder time dealing with it once it's finished. I have since come around, spent some time not listening, gaining a perspective away from it a bit, and am now really proud of it. In the end, I always feel that the latest record is the best one. If I didn't feel that way I don't know how we could consider it finished. Ultimately, we're always trying to make a record that's better than the last one.
John McEntire wasn't enlisted for production duties on this record. Was that a conscious choice or just how the band has evolved? Does he still have that multi-instrumentalist dynamic for this album?
We decided that it might be a good idea to shake things up a bit. We thought it could be interesting to have some outside input while making this record, and thought that Brian Paulson [Mark Eitzel, Chatham County Line, Uncle Tupelo] could do a great job. John has a lot of ideas besides playing the drums, so even though he wasn't technically recording the session, he certainly had input, along with the rest of us. It's always a collaborative process. The production-John is also likely the most skilled keyboard player among us, so most of that stuff is John.
What are the band member's strongest attributes when it comes time to develop and record an album?
It's a little bit hard to single people out. Everyone has their very specific way of responding. Everyone contributes beyond their respective instruments, in a sense. The production is a very collaborative process. When I'm singing, I'm always looking for outside input that can be helpful, but ultimately I write the words and figure out how to do it.
Over the last decade-plus, The Sea and Cake has established themselves as one of today's leading purveyors of post-rock. But, they aren't merely a post-rock or even a postmodern pop-rock outfit. These labels offer nothing more than a vague pigeonhole. The Sea and Cake has a more diversified appeal. There are elements of abstract guitar-pop, experimental ambient and dark programmed electronics. Together, the band fuses complex time signatures and melodies with an incessant ability to craft great songs.
Prekop has capably merged his trademark songwriting and delivery with modern technology to create a unique sound. With John McEntire's multi-instrumental and production flare and Archer Prewitt and Eric Claridge's ability to fulfill several roles, the band fuses their distinct talents into a cohesive unit. It's a sound to be heard in the flesh, not merely read about.
JamBase: How does the band continue to thrive at seamlessly combining electronic production and textures with pure, jazz-based musicianship?
Sam Prekop: Actually none of us play "jazz." I couldn't name one of the chords I played on the record, and to play jazz requires at least some amount of music theory I would think. We've been interested in using electronics since the band's inception. How much there is ebbs and flows, but I think we'll always be interested in exploring those types of sounds. Our attitude with electronics isn't really different from how we work with guitars, drums, bass, etc. in that it gets the same focus and thought. In the end, it's just sound, just like anything else.
JamBase: Let's change directions for a minute. What role do all the members' side projects have on The Sea And Cake? And how does The Sea and Cake live sound compare to the band's sound in the studio?
Sam Prekop: I think all of the other stuff we all do contributes to what we do [in The Sea and Cake]. There's no way to divorce oneself from previous experiences, so it would have to have some impact. The main issue it presents is scheduling. The Sea and Cake live is probably louder than people expect. The songs tend to evolve quite a bit as we play them live. The dynamics shift a bit, there's more improvisation, but there wouldn't be a point where you wouldn't recognize the song being performed.
What role does improvisation and on-the-spot spontaneity have in the band's live shows? Does stretching a six-minute song out to 12 or 15 appeal to you at all?
Yeah, occasionally. It's likely we'll be playing almost all this new record live. There's lots of parts that are there for expansion in the live setting. Through playing we'll figure out which ones are natural.
How does your solo work differ from The Sea and Cake? It seems with each TSAC album the band tends to go an unexpected route. Is this to keep you guys fresh or just how it goes?
I go through a similar process for either project at the beginning stages of coming up with material. Naturally, it ends up different because of who is dealing with those ideas. When deciding to work on a new record, we try to not have any hard-set guidelines. It's more a matter of paying close attention to where the material is leading you. So, it's a more "just how it goes" approach. There will be certain basic directions that will be quite influential, like deciding to record at a different studio with someone else engineering.