Friends of Friends – Five minutes with Vetiver

Photo by Alissa Anderson

Sloucher’s PM was lucky enough to catch up with Vetiver brainbox/band leader Andy Cabic after the band’s recent gig in Brighton (here’s a shameless plug for our review). The band is touring to support the release of new record The Errant Charm, which has already scored the accolade of ‘Best summer album of 2011’ in the Sloucher offices. Check it!

Can you tell me a little bit about the new record?

Andy Cabic: I wrote it & recorded it at the end of last year, I did it with Thom Monahan who I’ve done all my albums with and it’s sort of a summery pop record, and it’s got a lot more concise hook-y songs maybe. I wrote it a little differently, where I just scheduled some time with Thom, I’ve done all my records with him and we’re very close and he has a studio at his house, so we were just like ‘let’s set apart some time and hang out, and start working on stuff’.

It wasn’t necessarily going to be the next Vetiver record, we were just spending time together and hanging out – and then after a couple of days it was clearly going to be the next Vetiver record and so we made plans, we needed to have the rest of the band involved, and we were like ‘well let’s spend ten days building up some tracks we could add into’ so there’s a few songs that were recorded live with the band in the studio, and then the others I layered with Thom and then everyone recorded into… it was like some kind of mongrel operation.

So it’s very much your project then?

AC: This has always been sort of my song writing project and then I have a touring band, and I play with many different people. I live inSan Francisco and the other band members live in different cities, so we’re not like a regular band, meeting up and rehearsing and collaborating together.

Then how do you get that rapport on stage, and that ability to just ‘jam’ and go with it, if you don’t spend a lot of time together?

AC: Well, everybody I play with is a very good musician. I’ve been playing with the drummer the whole time and, the keyboard player is the drummer’s cousin, and the guitarist is her boyfriend and Bob (the bassist) – we’re all friends of friends, so everyone has already known each other. When we’re on tour is the only time we really get to hang out.

And the production on the new record is different isn’t it? It sounds to me sort of less acoustic/folky, and a bit richer. Can you tell me about that and was that a conscious decision when you started recording?

AC: Yeah, I mean the last two records were tracked live so things were very much how we would play them live, once you get everyone playing together, it’s done you know, you may add elements in later but by and large it usually sounds good in that moment. In this case, we had layers of things so we had to strip and pull back, but we weren’t thinking of how we were going to play this thing live.

Does that make it difficult to play live?

AC: It makes it yeah, somewhat difficult…or it just makes it different; you have to find the arrangement that works but there’s still acoustic guitar on almost every track, it’s just not as up front. It’s the same process to some degree, the same people.

Where are you off to on the rest of your tour?

 AC: We’re going to London, Liverpool,Reading, Nottingham & Manchester.

Manchester is cool, I live just across the hills in Sheffield.

AC: Ah we’ve never played in Sheffield!

Please do!

AC: Where would you recommend?

Well, unfortunately a lot of good venues have recently closed down. I guess the most famous venue in the city is the Leadmill, which is well known for playing host to bands like Pulp when they were first starting out.

AC: I’ll have to try and figure something out then! We’d loved to play up North, we usually play Scotland and we’re not going this time either so…it would be fun. We just did a short run across Europe, mostly just promotional stuff, but we’re not really playing many festivals this year, a couple in the states – one called Outside Lands in San Francisco and one called Bumbershoot that’s in Seattle.

How did you hook up with your support act (Marques Toliver)? He’s great.

AC: yeah he’s really amazing. He used to work with my manager and he was suggested to me – friends of friends.

 Lastly, any musical recommendations for us?

AC: Well, I listen to a lot of Roxy Music and there’s a great band called Lower Dens that I always recommend. I also have a label called Gnomonsong (with Devendra Banhart – Misky) that I release stuff on, although we haven’t released anything recently…but all the artists on that, Papercuts, Michael Hurley…

Where do you find the time to do all this stuff?

AC: Well, we haven’t done anything in a little while and we have people who sort stuff out for us…

 You delegate!

 AC: yeah, more or less!

 Thank you for speaking to us.

 AC: My pleasure, thanks for coming to the show.

Vetiver Official Website
Words: PM

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