Published Dec 09, 2013It wasn't too hard for Vancouver's Christopher Smith to put his solo career on hold and focus on his new band, Dralms. While plucked from various local acts like Siskiyou and Failing, the project is conveniently enough also made up from the gentle tunesmith's core of live back-up musicians.
"I was already playing with Shaunn [Watt, drummer], Will [Kendrick, keyboardist] and Peter [Caruthers, bass], and as things got more and more dialled in, playing and performing with them became my preference. A big part of the departure was just all of us wanting to work on a different sound," Smith tells Exclaim!, allowing that the songs from his last solo LP, Earning Keep, evolved in the hands of the quartet to the point where there was "a definite disconnect between the album and shows."
As evidenced by the a pair of tracks the troupe premiered on Bandcamp last month, Dralms is still led by the cloud-soft vocals of Smith, but he and the group veer off into cyclical dub rhythms on "Divisions," while the spacey "Crushed Pleats" mixes OK Computer era Radiohead, rising post-rock arrangements and glitched-out electronic tones.
"The writing process is in some ways the same as it's always been," Smith explains of Dralms' setup. "I write the songs in a very basic way, bring them to the band and we mould and work them out. Now, though, I'm more interested to see how far we can take and change things from where they started. The songs are far more reliant on Shaunn, Will and Peter's musicianship. I'd like to take things even further with Dralms in this regard, starting and finishing things as a group. Give up the reins a little... or a lot, I guess. So, Dralms is really just our commitment to a this new creative process and this new sound."
Also contributing to the sonic heft of Dralms is producer Andy Dixon (Secret Mommy, Caving), with whom Smith had previously trusted with a remix of Earning Keep's "Pillars and Pyre." According to Smith, Dixon's "involvement was extensive," but the extra clicks, echo and ambiance layered onto the songs by the producer came late in the game, and under the condition that he not completely overhaul the quartet's foundation.
"The songs were recorded in a day at [Vancouver studio] Afterlife by John Raham and then given to Andy to be mixed and (re)produced. Andy was given significant artistic licensing so long as the integrity of the song writing remained intact. We were looking for a producer not someone to remix the songs."
Currently, Dralms have only recorded the two songs available on Bandcamp, but they will be issued physically as the Crushed Pleats EP at a later date. More studio sessions are expected to take place in the new year, and while Smith confirms that Dralms is in the forefront at present, he still has some solo material on the go.
"Dralms is definitely my focus, but I'm always writing for both projects," he confirms. "I'll probably play more solo shows featuring songs from Earning Keep in the new year. In the meantime we're all feeling really motivated to work on this Dralms thing."