Baltimore, Maryland’s Lower Dens is headed down to McAllen’s Fallback Records to play this Sunday. This band has set the bar high, and the anticipation is growing. During the interview, the band’s strong and unique personality, as well as their creativity saturated the response to each question. Jana, Geoff, and I covered a eclectic range of topics, from Halloween to Antarctica.
OME – Do you feel your music has the same response in every show?
Jana – Our performances are very much subject to the variable of each environment, energy level, personal and professional relationship fluctuations, etc. The kind of music we make is very much about these kinds of interpersonal and communal dynamics, so we get what we give.
OME – Does playing music have the same effect on you as listening to music?
Geoff – Playing and writing, to me, is like listening. It’s all kind of the same. The same things get in the way of having a good experience of each; ego and lies.
OME – Tell me about your band yoga sessions.
Geoff – It’s just a way to exercise on tour. Touring is mostly driving, and I knew enough yoga to start leading the band in some poses before or after some of the marathon hauls. It takes a lot of work to take care of yourself on tour but it increases your capacity to do the rest of your work.
OME – I hear you’ve got a beer named after one of your songs. How did that happen?
Jana – The beer thing came about when a journalist inadvertently let us and Brian from Stillwater know that we were mutual fans of each other’s work. Brian contacted us shortly thereafter and we stayed in touch trying to figure out a way to work with one another that made any kind of sense. Brian came up with his Sensory Series, and let us suggest a song for him to interpret in an ale. His initial ideas were immediately approved, and we arranged for the accompanying video and the label art, which we’re excited for people to see. We haven’t been able to try it yet! It isn’t ready; I imagine it won’t be until right before it’s released. That’s the way that works, right?
OME – You toured with Grizzly Bear! What was that experience like?
Geoff – The bear run a very professional tour, which we like because we are serious workers. On top of that they are sweet fellas who like to share. Real menschen, the lot. Jana – GB are incredibly kind, generous, and consummate professionals. Thank God their live shows are incredible or we’d have no idea how to behave around them.
OME – I read you went to Antarctica for a place to songwrite. From what I understand, it was motivated by a grievance you all have towards abusing technology. Would you elaborate on that and how Antarctica changed your perspective?
Geoff – Antarctica used to be a vast unconquerable mystery where adventurers died trying to visit. Today at McMurdo Station you can rent a movie and drink beer and live in a heated dorm… all the while devastating storms whirl outside. It’s possible through technology, but what’s the point? What is our goal? To make it possible to watch TV on Mars? We are at the point where we need to revisit why we keep expanding, especially since the expansions are destroying the ecosystem. Antarctica proved to me that life on a cold, lifeless rock is nothing compared to life around plants and animals. Jana – We feel only that it is important for everyone to have a considered position of their relationship to technologies, just like anything else. It is easy to let yourself become a blind consumer. Fuck that.
OME – So… why Mcallen?
Geoff – We are blitzkrieging Texas on this tour and expect the RGV to be full of affable Texans who have small town enthusiasm for a good time that is frequently absent from larger, east-coast cities.
OME – Could you give some advice to our local bands?
Geoff – Think locally, act globally.
The chamber indie sounds of Lower Dens. The humility of their brilliance. It is a real treasure when the band’s philosophy can be so effective emitted through their work. Sunday, the bar will be raised.