Published Mar 05, 2015Later this month, Krautrock/dream pop hybrid Lower Dens will follow up their brooding 2012 LP Nootropics with new album Escape from Evil. As indicated by the breezy, synth-driven first single, "To Die in L.A.," their new full-length finds the band simplifying things and embracing a lighter, simpler sound, but it wasn't easy getting to that point. The band — and especially singer and primary songwriter Jana Hunter — needed time for self-examination.
"I needed to write things that were personal and emotional, 'cause I had things to work through, and that's the way that music functions for me," Hunter tells Exclaim! from Baltimore.
A lot of Escape from Evil's more pop-centric sound, she adds, "was a reaction to playing Nootropics for the tours that followed its release. The material is pretty detached, and distancing. It became almost difficult to maintain that level of distance.
"We wanted the band to simplify things. We wanted to see what we could do as far as reducing our complexities to see what we could get out of simpler structures and simpler messages. Something about those, they always seem to convey something more universal, something more essential."
After relentlessly touring the dark, cerebral Nootropics, the band got together quickly to write a new record, but found the same intellectual, painstaking process that led to that record tiring.
"A couple of us individually and the band as a whole were going through difficulties — personal ones," Hunter explains. "Within the band, there was… not friction, but the natural tension that builds up between people who are all doing a difficult thing together for a long time, in close quarters, who'd rather be at home with their loved ones and significant others. We're family in a sense, but we wanted to go home to our girlfriends and wives and boyfriends, etc. We all went our separate ways for a while and I worked on the songs by myself, things we'd already written together."
It was then that Hunter found herself creating some of the most personal, and yet some of the most freewheeling, uptempo songs she'd written since founding Lower Dens.
The new songs, she says, "seemed especially appropriate given how distant and detached Nootropics had been, how intellectual it had been. I was in the right place for it, and needed for it to be simple and emotional and to, you know, learn from it and through it and use it to try and open myself up to, make myself available to people as a musician."
That took hard work, especially since she founded Lower Dens "as a way to get away from writing songs that were personal and emotional.
"That was the kind of music I wrote for a long time when I was younger. I found touring that — presenting that to people — very difficult. I found being vulnerable in front of people terrifying and exhausting, and when I was writing those songs, I never really intended them to be shared intimately and directly with other people. I mostly wrote them to process things. I started Lower Dens to get away from that. So yeah, this is the first time in Lower Dens that I've knowingly tried to make myself available, not just as a craftsperson but as a human."
Escape from Evil arrives March 31 via Ribbon Music. As previously reported, the band will head out on a North American tour in support of the record, and you can see all the dates below.
03/12 North Bethesda, MD - Music Center at Strathmore
03/19 Florence, MA - 13th Floor Lounge
03/20 Hudson, NY - The Half Moon
03/21 Winooski, VT - Monkey House
03/22 Hamden, CT - The Space
03/31 Brooklyn, NY - Baby's All Right
04/01 Baltimore, MD - Floristree
06/11 Brooklyn, NY - Music Hall of Williamsburg
06/12 Philadelphia, PA - Voyeur
06/13 Washington, DC - Rock & Roll Hotel
06/15 Chicago, IL - Empty Bottle
06/16 Ferndale, MI - The Loving Touch
06/17 Toronto, ON - NXNE
06/19 Montreal, QC - Bar le Ritz PDB
06/20 Cambridge, MA - The Sinclair
06/21 Providence, RI - Columbus Theatre