Interview and SXSW Spotlight: The Morning Benders.

Top of the morning, interwebs!

Today The Morning Benders, our new musical obsession, releases their new EP Big Echo. Our friends at +1 tipped us off to them a few weeks ago, and since then I have not been able to remove their CD from my car stereo. Since they are coming to SXSW this year and are playing a handful of shows, we thought we’d do a special band spotlight.

Big Echo is a classy piece of production, as well it should be: Grizzly Bear‘s Chris Taylor lent his engineering moxie to it. But frontman Chris Chu and his Benders counterparts still retain that So-Cal, ’60s vibe the band is known for, making Taylor’s presence “more an upgrade in production quality than an apprenticeship in all things Grizzly,” as put it. I agree. Big Echo feels more three-dimensional than Talking Through Tin Cans, a percussive, playful album (and the last record from The Morning Benders), an album for finger-snapping and head-bobbing. Big Echo is for thinking, with carefully parsed-out vocals and deliberate, atmospheric flourishes.  You can tell Taylor had fun with this.

And yet, even with the gorgeous new production gloss, The Morning Benders is still a band that can make you get up and jam, as track #8 – All Day Daylight – proves.  It is rock, but pretty rock. Rock I think you will enjoy.

Chris Chu was awesome enough to stop by Austin Eavesdropper for a little chat, so check it out below!  Afterwards, we’ve included some sample tracks from the new album.

Thanks for stopping by, Chris! And congratulations on the new record. Your early stuff includes a lot of sunny stuff, early Beatles-type sound. How would you say your sound has evolved since Talking Through Tin Cans?

I don’t think I can say how it evolved, but I do know that we set out to make a very different sounding record with Big Echo. We definitely wanted to incorporate MORE this time around. Sounds from the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, etc, all bouncing off each other.

I heard you recorded your new record in Sacramento, at a studio that used to be a skate park. I used to live in Sacramento! Where is this place, and why did you decide to record there?

It’s a great studio called The Hangar. The dude from Tape Op owns it, and it just has a massive amount of great, old gear stuffed in this huge hangar type warehouse spot. We wanted to record somewhere that had a lot of character and a lot of options. We tried to capture that space on the record. Hopefully when you listen to Big Echo you’ll feel like you are in our little world.

Big Echo was produced in part by Chris Taylor of Grizzly Bear. But you helped, Chris! How did your style work with his as you put together this record?

Things worked out really well. There were a few times when we didn’t see completely eye to eye (it’s inevitable when you are making a record with other people), but it happened very rarely. I would say 95% of the time we were completely on the same page, and that’s an amazing thing. That’s why we decided to do the record together. I think we understand each other. He is a beautiful man.

You guys have done A. LOT. of touring. And you’ve played with some pretty big names – MGMT, Yo La Tengo, Yeasayer. Tell us a story about someone you’ve toured with. (Needn’t be scandalous. Can be a nice story.)

The most amazing shows we played were with Justin Bieber, back in the day (before he blew up). It was just incredible seeing him play every night. The kid was killing it. We knew it was only a matter of time before he got huge.

Where can we see you at SXSW this year?

Wednesday March 17th
1:30pm Brooklyn Vegan Day Party at Emo’s (main room)
1:00am Rough Trade Records Official SXSW Showcase at Emo’s Jr

Thursday March 18th
3:55pm Mess With Texas  (Stage 1) at 1001 E. 6th Street
6:45pm FADER Fort
9:55pm True Panther Sounds Official SXSW Showcase at Ms. Bea’s

Saturday March 20th
1:00pm Stereogum Range Life at The Parish (acoustic set)

READER: Ear goodies. Below, listen to “Wet Cement,” one of my favorite songs from Big Echo, and then watch a dreamy little orchestral accompaniment to their opening track, “Excuses.” WATCH THAT VIDEO.