A.C. Newman Talks His Solo Album's New Autobiographical Focus, Plots Next New Pornographers Album
"It just seemed like the natural thing to do here," Newman tells Exclaim! of the album's autobiographical focus.
Speaking on the line from his home in Woodstock, NY, he continues, "I was just at a point in my life where I felt like if I didn't write something that was personal, I would feel like I was completely full of shit. To brush these things in my life that are very huge and on my mind and go, 'No, I won't write about that, I'll write about something else.'"
The major life events he's referring to include the death of his mother and the birth of his son, both of which influenced the 10 songs that appear on Shut Down the Streets.
"There were all these things that just seemed so mammoth, and I was trying to make sense of them," the singer reflects. "But at the same time, there's also this subtext of, 'Everybody goes through this. This is so earth-shaking, it seems so impossibly sad and, at the same time, happy. I didn't want to portray it like I felt like was the first person that's gone through this."
In keeping with the deeply personal tone of the words, the album scales back the ebullient pop energy that Newman is best known for as the leader of the New Pornographers. Instead, Shut Down the Streets boasts some of the songwriter's most lush downtempo arrangements. Acoustic guitars and pastoral vocal harmonies go toe-to-toe with flutes, horns and a subtle smattering of synthesizers, giving the collection a gorgeously reflective atmosphere.
"Initially, I think I really liked the idea of it being like a psychedelic late-'70s [album]," Newman explains. "I'm very fascinated with a lot of that music, where singer-songwriter music started having synthesizers in them. Stuff like Gerry Rafferty, or you know that song 'Daylight Katy' by Gordon Lightfoot? I love the sort of psychedelic wooziness of it."
Now that he's indulged his penchant for restrained singer-songwriter-oriented sounds, Newman has begun tossing ideas around for the next New Pornographers record. This future album, he speculates, will likely contain less of the ornate instrumentation that has appeared on his recent material.
"You talk about that more acoustic baroque stuff," he says. "I feel like I've gotten so much of it out of my system on this record, because I consciously said, 'I'm going to make that kind of a record.' Whereas I've never really said that before."
He adds, "I'm going to try and see if I can make a record with no ballads. That's my goal. No ballads. It worked for the Black Keys, so I think I'm going to try that."
Before the New Pornographers formally begin working on their next album, Newman will tour North America. The trip includes Canadian shows in Toronto and Vancouver, both of which are part of the Exclaim! 20th Anniversary Concert Series. Peruse the schedule here and stream Shut Down the Streets below.
NewsMar 04, 2015
Nosaj Thing Unveils 'Fated' LP, Shares Chance the Rapper Collaboration
Los Angeles electronic producer Nosaj Thing released his last album Home in 2013. Two years later, he's got another long-player in the works...
NewsMar 04, 2015
Tanlines Ready 'Highlights' Album, Share "Slipping Away"
It's been three years since Brooklyn indie pop duo Tanlines delivered their breakthrough Mixed Emotions LP. Fortunately, they haven't sat id...
NewsMar 04, 2015
Chrissie Hynde Pens Personal Memoir
Iconic rock'n'roll frontwoman Chrissie Hynde may be best known for taking centre stage as leader of the Pretenders, but the singer stepped o...
NewsMar 03, 2015
…And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead Unveil 20th Anniversary Tour Schedule
Believe it or not, it's been 20 years since Austin outfit …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead first got together. No strangers ...