Menomena has undergone plenty of change since the release of its 2010 album, “Mines.” When founding member Brent Knopf left the band after “Mines” was released, remaining members Danny Seim and Justin Harris debated carrying on with the project. Luckily for fans, the duo continued working together and released its fifth album, “Moms,” in September. Seim and Harris finish their winter tour in Salt Lake City this Saturday. Menomena will make a stop at Denver’s Bluebird Theater Friday before hitting the Great Salt Lake. Tickets are still available through the Bluebird’s website. Avalon Jacka talked with Seim while the band traveled through the blizzarding Midwest on their way to the Mile High City.
How is it going playing with Guards on tour?
It’s been good, I wasn’t super familiar with them before we started the tour and it’s going well. They bring the pop side of the music spectrum … to whatever we play. It’s a well-rounded package deal that you’re getting. We’re enjoying it.
What was the recording process for “Moms” like compared to your other albums?
Overall it seemed to be a lot more streamlined, a lot faster to put that together once we started. I think we’ve become kind of notorious for taking a long time because we record a lot when it’s just ourselves at our own houses and no real time constraints. They always tend to drag on and on. This one, Justin and I put it together pretty quickly and stayed pretty positive the whole time.
You and Justin are both multi-instrumentalists. Did you perform all of the instrumentation on “Moms” just between the two of you, or did you bring in back- up instrumentalists for that?
We did all the composing and recording of the core instruments and called in a few friends to add little flourishes here and there.
What was the inspiration behind the cover art?
The guy that did our “Friend and Foe” art, Craig Thompson, is an amazing illustrator from Portland and he’s also a close friend of ours. He had one of his friends that he grew up with in Wisconsin, this painter named Dan Attoe. Justin and Dan, I guess several years ago now, talked through Craig. He’s a more famous artist than Menomena will probably ever be. He’s a painter that shows all over the world and he’s really amazing. Justin and I decided that if he’d be willing to do it, we’d love to have him involved in the art. He came up with this whole thing to sum up the songs he was hearing as we finished them, so that became the cover.
How was your experience with making the video for “Plumage”?
It was actually a lot more traumatic than it looks. We were in the desert outside of Los Angeles. It went from this extremely hot, 110-degree weather to this crazy flash flood where we had to evacuate because the dry desert that we were filming in started flooding and we were getting stuck. We eventually had to stretch out the shoot for two or three days longer than we expected so we went over budget. But we got out of there intact and we now have the video to show for it. It was a wild experience.
How is Menomena different now that it’s a duo instead of a trio?
It was definitely an experiment getting back into the studio atmosphere together and get this “Moms” record together, because we were a third less than we were before. It’s fortunate that all three of us always brought our own songs and own arrangements to the table back when it was the three of us. Since everyone just swapped instruments in the studio it was still pretty easy for us to record. But there was the question of “Are we gonna carry on and try to do this, just the two of us?” We just thought we’d give it a try and see how that went. I’m really proud of the result, and I’m proud that Justin and I could put something together in the wake of losing a third of the relationship. Because there’s only two of us, there’s less chefs in the kitchen, as they say, so that contributed to us putting it together faster than in the past because there’s less people to argue about it. I think it’s the best-case scenario for all of us.
Are your set lists exclusively from “Moms,” or do you include some of your older songs?
It’s definitely a good mixture of everything. There were just two songs, I think, that Brent sang on “Mines.” So a lot of those songs we’ve been used to playing it with Justin and I singing anyway. Every album has a handful of songs that it’s just us singing. We’re trying to mix it all in there. The “Moms” thing is important to me because my mom was from Boulder, Colo. So coming back to Colorado to play some new songs is a big deal for me because everything that surrounds my mom, my memories of her, are wrapped up in Boulder and in Denver.
Your tour wraps up in Salt Lake City on Saturday. What plans do you have for after the tour?
We have plans to go to Europe, I believe, at the end of May and play a festival in Barcelona. Then we fly back to play a festival in the Northwest here in the states. We’re just trying to put some more stuff together for the summer. I am personally an optimist when it comes to recording more stuff. I’d love to start trying to think about the next record as soon as we can. Until then we have enough to keep us busy this summer.
Listen below to hear the full interview:
Contact CU Independent News Budget Editor Avalon Jacka at Avalon.email@example.com.