Exclusive Interview: Other Lives
February 29, 2012
by Chuck Norton
Other Lives’ 2011 album, Tamer Animals, was on just about music critic’s best-of lists for last year – and personally, it was one of my favorite albums as well.
The album – the band’s second – was recorded by the band in their hometown of Stillwater, OK. Getting out of the bounds of a studio allowed the band to craft an album that was tightly composed and well-thought. After 14 months, the album was one the band felt represented themselves in the best mannor.
As the band’s frontman Jesse Tabish explains, “Every sound has a purpose without being too indulgent. There’s nothing like, ‘Hey, let’s rock out on this!’ It’s homemade in a way. For better or for worse, it’s all our sound.”
Other Lives isn’t just a favorite of small-time rock critics like myself. They have fans in higher places as well. Higher as in one of this generation’s most popular and respected bands: Radiohead.
The admiration of Other Lives’ work led Radiohead to ask the band to join them on the first leg of their 2012 North American tour. And thus the hard-working band from Oklahoma will play their first arena shows, giving their music exposure to tens of thousands of potential new fans.
I was able to catch-up with Jonathon Mooney of Other Lives just prior to the start of their tour. He, along with Tabish, Josh Onstott, Jenny Hsu and Colby Owens, will be posting updates from their tour on their Web site.
The band’s tour with Radiohead began in Miami with a performance on March 1, 2012 in Atlanta. After wrapping up their leg of the Radiohead tour, Other Lives will head to Europe for several weeks before joining Radiohead for several dates beginning on April 9 in Seattle.
DeadJournalist.com brings you this exclusive interview with Jonathon Mooney of Other Lives.
How did it happen that you were able to get the opening slot for Radiohead for the 2012 tour? What was your reaction once the deal was finalized?
JM: The connection was made through our manager who has been friends with them for some time. That’s how they heard our record and apparently they liked it enough to post about it and even come out to one of our shows in their home town of Oxford. Not long after meeting them we were offered the tour and, naturally, we were ecstatic.
What are you most looking forward to during the tour? Conversely, what do you seeing the most challenging aspects?
JM: Well, selfishly we’re really looking forward to watching them play every night, but really we’re there to work and to hopefully make a connection with their audience.
Going into the the tour, do you have experience performing in those arena-type venues?
JM: We’ve yet to play any arenas. Should be interesting.
Did you spend time re-working your live performance for the arena environment? Will you go in with a pre-established playlist or are you providing some room for improvisation location-by-location?
JM: Surprisingly, our live show hasn’t fundamentally changed since we started playing this record early last year. Ever since we started performing this record we’ve constantly been tweaking details and sounds, and always will.
Yes, we have a pre-established playlist almost always.
How has your tour schedule – and upcoming tour – impacted the band’s ability to prepare and write new material? Is a new album on the horizon?
JM: Work is always being done on the road. Jesse is writing constantly and we’re trying to take those ideas and get them ready to record a few songs [when] we’re home for a bit in May.
Have you seen an evolution in the band’s creative process?
JM: The approach is always changing but the way we made the last record really solidified parts of the process we’ll probably always adhere to. We recorded the last record ourselves and became really attached to having the freedom to experiment without someone watching over you in the studio and just the lack of time constraints day to day.
Do you find that there is a set pattern to the creation of a new song? Or does each one take their own unique path to completion?
JM: On this last record we approached the needs of each song individually. We would try and look at each song without any preconceptions on what the instrumentation or arrangement should be. Which can be hard sometimes because if a song is written on guitar it can be hard to picture without guitar, but at the same time we feel that just because a song is written on a certain instrument doesn’t imply it’s the right instrument for the song.
What did you learn during the process of recording Tamer Animals that will help you on future albums?
JM: The entire record was a learning experience. We didn’t know we were going to make the record ourselves until we realized the recording process was going to be such a big part of the creative process so we were in the studio everyday experimenting with techniques, instrumentation, and engineering until we got what we liked. Which is also why it took so long to make.
Which do you enjoy more: writing, recording or performing?
JM: The writing and recording process is the part we live for, but lately we’ve had a newfound appreciation for performance. We’ve been touring this record for almost a year and still aren’t sick of it yet, which we’re very thankful for.
To this point, what’s the most bizarre thing that’s happen to you while on tour?
JM: I’d have to say the time a taxi cab drove into the room directly next to mine in Portland, running over the man sleeping inside and critically injuring him. It was bazaar and eye-opening to say the least.
How has social media and social networking impacted the band?
JM: It’s hard to say but it certainly is nice to reach people we might not have been able to otherwise.
Is there an artist that you’ve encountered recently that you’ve been recommending to your friends?
JM: Timber Timbre
What were you listening to in 2002?
JM: Radiohead and Rage Against the Machine
Web site(s) you read regularly?
JM: Huffington Post
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JM: Old Fashioned, Pet Sounds, ‘A Very Long Engagement’
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