Firstly, Scott, you previously played with Brad Laner in Amnesia. What was that experience like? What is Brad like as a musician and bandmate?
Scott – Playing with Brad was intimidating at first because he is one of my biggest influences, right next to Kevin Shields. After a while I calmed down a bit and realized that he’s a regular guy who has amazing ideas and talent. He’s very charitable, down to earth, and excited about music. A great person to play music and hang out with!
How did The Meeting Places form?
Chase – Arthur and I met at a party thrown by my girlfriend and her roommate, who was dating Arthur at the time. I think it was July of 2000. We were told by our girlfriends that we appreciated the same type of music. After interrogating each other about bands, we made tentative plans to play guitar together. Months later, Arthur and I went with some other friends to see Mojave 3 at The Troubadour. We met up with Scott who was an old friend of Arthur’s. We discussed music for a while and decided to try to play some songs together in my garage. At this point, Arthur and I hadn’t had the chance to play guitar together yet. The three of us met up in my garage a couple of days after the Mojave 3 show and we worked through some song ideas each of us had. The musical chemistry was apparent and we practiced as a guitar three-piece a couple more times. We knew that we needed a rhythm section and Arthur had already expressed interest in playing bass. I had an old friend from college had been dabbling with drums and had recently purchased a vintage Slingerland kit that was gathering dust in his office. Dean and I were in a dreampop band, Click, in college and played together around Tucson 1992-1994. I knew he had similar musical influences to Arthur and Scott and that he’d be the perfect complement to our little dog n’ pony show. The first couple of practices went great and the band was complete.
Scott – We formed after Arthur introduced me to Chase at a party. We started to practice and Chase brought in Dean whom he knew from College.
How did you come to be a part of Words on Music?
Chase – Words on Music responded to a demo that we mailed them. I really enjoyed the For Against album they released. They were interested but had a full release schedule for 2003. They made us sweat for a little over a month and then they figured out a way to squeeze us in. They’re an extremely up-front label and have been a pleasure to work with.
Scott – We sent W.O.M. a copy of our album and they loved it. Initially Devil in the Woods was going to release it, but it turned out we couldn’t count on them.
As a band, how do you write songs?
Chase – About a third of our songs progress out of practice jams. We just point to someone and say “play something” or someone starts playing something between the finished songs we’re rehearsing and we all join in. I usually get a melody in my head and start singing nonsense until something starts sticking. Other songs are brought in complete or nearly finished by a band member and we work them out. Everyone has equal say in the arrangements and we often swap instruments in order to get ideas across.
Scott – We write songs by either Chase bringing in lyrical songs or anyone bringing in musical ideas and progressions. We “jam” quite a bit.
What inspires you to write the lyrics that you do?
Chase – When I’m at the jibberish singing phase of a song, there are words or phrases that just seem to fit. Once I start repeating a lyric, I start to get an idea about the song’s theme and then write around the repeated line. Inspiration for the lyrics comes mostly from introspection but I don’t think there’s an autobiographical theme on every song.
What was the recording process like for Find Yourself Along the Way?
Chase – The majority of the songs were finished before going into the studio. We tracked all of the songs live with amps in different rooms and we played in the main room with Dean and the drums. There were a couple guitar overdubs and I double-tracked the vocals. The only keyboard is the Moog intro to “Where You Go” and the bell sounds on “On Our Own” which came from a hand held Casio. The only song that transformed during the recording process was “See Through You”. We were warming up to record the original version that was much faster and all fuzzed out when we fell into this slow sedate version. Aaron, the engineer, started to roll tape and we all loved the new version once we heard it on playback. Aaron kept saying that he heard a piano chord/figure in his head and he offered to play it on the album which ended up sounding amazing.
Scott – The recording process was fun. We got to party a lot and just play out our songs. There was no tricky studio stuff going on, it was relaxed. We wanted to make a raw and up front and listenable album with a huge wall of sound. I don’t use a lot of pedals really, just reverb and some fuzz pedals.
Care to expose your process for creating the wild guitar sounds found on Find Yourself Along the Way?
Chase – Ask Scott. I’ve got twice as many pedals but my guitar sounds a 10th of his.
Why did you, as a band, create a sound that harkens back to an obscure sub-genre from the 90’s (namely, dreampop)? I mean, I love it, but why not go for a more conventional sound?
Chase – That sound is just what comes out of us as a band. We never sat down and said let’s sound like this or that. We all love extremely diverse music and I think the sound we’re playing is just what we are about and our musical chemistry. I feel that we were all right there in the early nineties playing this type of music and it’s not like we’ve discovered a lost sound from 12 or fifteen years ago. Some people hold such grudges against dreampop/shoegaze or whatever you want to call it, but, it’s just music and I don’t think that great sounding music should be anachronistic.
Scott – Personally, I use the “wall of sound” because I think it’s the most progressive type of sound ever made, it just sounds fucking awesome. I know it was done ten years ago, but I haven’t heard anything since then that has influenced me that way. When I first saw MBV live I realized that I had to learn guitar and try and do something as special as they did, it was a defining moment for me. I guess I just think that most “shoegaze” set a great reference point for how one should hear music.
What CD’s do you enjoy the most?
Chase – The Interpol album blew me away. Other notables for me are: Iron and Wine The Creek Drank The Cradle, The Shins Oh Inverted World, My Morning Jacket At Dawn and American Analog Set’s Promise of Love.
Scott – Right now I’ve been listening to a lot of Broadcast(my favorite band of the last five years), Deerhoof, Film School, Kaito, Paik, The Paperplanes, Experimental Aircraft…..whatever catches my ear I guess. Interpol are pretty damn good.
What is the music scene in LA like?
Chase – It’s extremely cliquey. We’re defiantly on the outside of any popular scene. There’s a once a month dreampop/shoegaze club called Violaine which does a great job at developing an appreciative venue for like-minded bands the last Friday of every month.
Scott – In L.A. it’s very competitive, there are a lot of crappy “post-punk-indie-Is my hair ok” bands. There are also some amazing bands that I love to see: All Night Radio, Midnight Movies, Autolux, and Timonium.
What is in the future for The Meeting Places?
Chase – We hope to write new songs for a follow-up album and play as many shows as we can. We’re recording a cover of Wire’s “Outdoor Miner” in the next couple of weeks for a Words on Music comp.
Scott – The future of The Meeting Places hmm…..play bigger shows, write new material, just try and have a good time playing music, and hopefully record a second album that blows the first one away.
Any other comments?
Scott – If you want to see our guitar set-ups, or even crazier ones, go to www.guitargeek.com it’s a very cool page that lets you view a huge database of musicians’ guitar set-ups.