Published Apr 21, 2011By all reports, fans of long-running emo/post-rock unit the Appleseed Cast were expecting a new album by the Lawrence, KS quartet sometime this year. Instead, they will get a four-song EP.
As we told you last month, the band are prepping for the June 12 release of their new EP, Middle States, to be released on Graveface Records. The EP features two tracks that were originally intended for the band's next full-length and first album since 2009's Sagarmatha, but when the new record wasn't coming together as quickly as the four-piece had hoped, they decided to go a different route, guitarist Aaron Pillar recently explained to Exclaim!
"We were working on the new record and it wasn't coming together as quickly as we wanted to, so there was a point where we didn't want to bog ourselves down too much about the fact that nothing was getting done," says Pillar. "So we decided to take these two songs that were already done and get them out there."
Pillar says work on the new full-length hit a wall when the band realized their rehearsals weren't as productive as they needed them to be, especially in light of the members' busy lives outside of the band. What was to be their eighth full-length will eventually surface, he says, but in due time.
"We were trying to make the perfect songs, but it wasn't coming together," says Pillar. "We always go into each record saying we'll write 20 songs and use the best ones, but we always end up having to write an extra song at the end. We just don't have time anymore with jobs, and money, and kids... We plan to try in the future to get together less frequently, but be more productive. We plan on recording all of our practices from now on, and flush it all out from there."
The two EP tracks originally planned for the full-length, "End Frigate Constellation" and "Middle States," deliver more of the epic emotionally charged rock-sweep the Appleseed Cast have been known for since they started back in the late '90s. Pillar says they may re-record the two songs for the next full-length, now slated for a spring 2012 release. "The songs are like an extension of Sagarmatha, furthering the idea of manipulating the vocals and making them an instrument," explains Pillar.
But perhaps the most notable track on the EP is the 14-minute closer, "Three Rivers," which used a recording process inspired by German Krautrockers Can. Appleseed Cast recorded three 20-minute jams, then spliced them together into one 14-minute instrumental.
"The song was halfway an experiment, but we wanted to do this thing where we recorded three different times and then chop it up. It was fun; it was a really cool way to play. At first I wasn't sure how I felt about it, then I felt good about it, because that's what we do live all of the time."
Despite the band's challenges around getting together and recording, as well as lineup changes throughout the years, there seems to be no end in sight. Guitarist Christopher Crisci also keeps busy with Old Canes, his revolving musical collective on Saddle Creek Records, and Pillar has been working with some other players on an instrumental project and hopes to someday score films. But the Appleseed Cast are the group the two original members keep coming back to, again and again.
"It's probably ignorance and stubbornness that keeps us going... and it is a lot of fun," says Pillar. "There's always been times here and there where I can sort of see the end, and think, 'Maybe this is it,' you know, and then something happens, like when we have a major lineup change, and it's better again. But it's definitely becoming harder for me to put my full attention into it. I don't want to ever seem like I'm doing it because I'm supposed to, and there's times when I'd much rather be home. I'm definitely getting old," he chuckles.
On the live front, fans in Toronto and Montreal can look forward to the Appleseed Cast's return next week. All the band's upcoming North American dates are listed below.
4/21 Chicago, IL - The Bottom Lounge
4/22 Dekalb, IL - House Cafe
4/23 Cleveland Heights, OH - Grog Shop
4/24 Pontiac, MI - Crofoot Ballroom
4/25 Toronto, ON - The Horseshoe
4/26 Montreal, QC - Il Motore
4/27 Cambridge, MA - Middle East
4/28 New York, NY - Highline Ballroom
4/29 Philadelphia, PA - First Unitarian Church
4/30 Washington, DC - Rock and Roll Hotel
5/1 Columbus, OH - The Summit
5/2 Champaign, IL - Blind Pig