Last fall, we spoke with Metavari, the ambient four-piece band from Fort Wayne, at Pinestock Music Festival (which has turned into one of the best fests in the midwest). We talked about their live show, new album Moonless, one of my favorite albums in this young 2015, and reuniting as a new band with the same name. Moonless is out today on their independent label Vital Shores.
LxL: So you guys are releasing Moonless on your own?
Nate Utesch, Metavari: Basically. 6 months ago I started working at a record label (Secretly Canadian/Dead Oceans/Jagjaguwar Jagjaguwar), so working with my boss, we started our own label to put it out. It will have international digital distribution, really limited American record store distribution, but it’s a lot more than we would normally do. And we have copyrights and publishing for everything. Unless something crazy happens, we are going to keep putting out our own music. And nowadays there are so many bands doing that.
LxL: That way you are getting most of the pie?
M: Totally. Also, with doing it on our own we will have more control for radio. Also since I do all of our design, I can design all our press kits and stuff. It’s really DIY. It may be a control thing, but we like having control over our distribution.
LxL: More and more, there is a huge benefit to that.
M: We will have lots of ways to be able to see where we are doing well. We will be able to see if Spokane is selling a lot, or if there is a radio station that is playing it a lot, that would help design where a tour should be. Right now, it’s more like throwing darts at a wall. It should help guide where we tour.
LxL: I did an interview with the NoiseTrade guys, and a big part of their model, is with the free downloads, you get the emails and zipcodes, and with that data, it tells you where you should be touring. In a lot of situations, bands were very surprised by the results, and had no idea they had 500 fans in Nashville.
M: We have one fan in Hawaii, so we should definitely go there.
LxL: (Laughing) Are you guys going to have videos for the new live show?
M: Yes we just finished all new video for all the new songs, lights, everything is new but done. We have been playing demos for a year and a half, and now we just scrapped all the demos and are learning how to play all the songs on the record. This is really just our second time even playing those (at Pinestock).
LxL: Where do you guys get the footage?
M: This time around, we just hunted and scoured for people doing analog experiments and then are asking permission to use it. From people doing macro lense liquid light shows that are very bizarre looking, and we found a guy doing analog VHS tricks in the 80’s, stuff like starfades. We just take the footage and bring it into Ableton and edit it to the songs so that it’s in sync.
LxL: Did that take a lot of time?
M: Yes (laughing). One of the songs, during our album photo shoot, a guy took video of the girl that is on the cover, and we meshed that to video sound effects, so we have some video that clearly goes with our album.
LxL: What originally inspired you to do video with your show?
M: That’s a good question. There are so many bands grew up that we liked that did it.
LxL: You guys definitely sounded similar to bands that did video as well like Sigur Ros and Album Leaf.
M: Yea definitely, and I think that was a big part of it. We were doing music that sounded a lot more like that, and then that became a substantive part of who we are. It definitely still is a gimmick, but it’s not as gimimicky as it used to be. We have also found more of an identity with the videos we choose, to figure out a vibe in the video that fits us.
LxL: How is this record different than your other stuff?
M: Honestly, it really sounds like Metavari broke up and we all happened to start a new band with each other, and we couldn’t think of any names, so we just called it Metavari. It’s not really like post-rock or instrumental. It’s electronic and closer to pop music.
LxL: It really reminds me of Air and Mew.
M: I could see that.
LxL: Where did you get the vocal samples for Moonless.
M: All the singing on the album are us, except for one is Chelsea from Beat Connection from Seattle. They are too cool for us, but she somehow agreed to do it. I am friends with her in the design world. I publish an illustration magazine, and she is in a coming issue, and that’s how we met, so when we found out she was in Beat Connection, we decided we should be more than friends.
LxL: What were you guys listening to when making the record?
M: So much Phil Collins. I love Phil Collins. I bought a really old engineering book that Hugh Padgham had a whole lot of chapters in and he talked about the gate on Phil’s toms, and we spent a whole lot of time trying to get that right. I probably shouldn’t say that, because when you listen to that, it probably sounds like hell.
LxL: If you were to tell people to listen to Moonless doing one activity, what would it be?
M: Contemplating suicide? (laughing) Probably driving. Even the records that didn’t sound like that, we wanted all our records to sound like good driving records.
LxL: What’s your problem with the moon (in regards to the album title)?
M: It’s deeper than it needs to be. It’s the idea of removing something important, and then thinking about what life would be like. We had a really shitty years as humans. And we wanted to make music that showed removing something important, and something that defines you, and then think about how your life is different and writing about it. The moon in Moonless is a wife in one track, but could be an aspect of spirituality in another track, or friendship in another track. I’m making it sound more cheesy than it is, but that was the underlying concept. So it’s pretty dark at times.
LxL: Well obviously if you took the moon out of it it would be pretty dark.
M: (laughing) There is one song where it’s this really corny story about the moon disappearing, and Japan flooding, and this girl on her computer in the midst of it. It’s all around loss.
Watch the Moonless trailer below: