Secret Mezzanine’s newest project is going to change the way the band sounds, the members said.
The group of four recently began work on its upcoming extended play. Cai Caudill, Rob Greene, Garrett Spoelhof and Jacob Sherfield said they visited a cabin in Brown County, Indiana, to get some space from city life and to focus on their music. The result, they said, is a new sound they hope audience members will enjoy just as much as they said they do.
Caudill, Greene and Spoelhof spoke about the band’s past, present and potential direction for the future in this interview.
Indiana Daily Student: So you’re about to release a new EP. Can you tell us a little bit about it? Do you have a title or a release date yet?
Caudill: The working title is going to be “Thought of Man,” which is also the name of one of the first songs we recorded on it. As far as release date, we’re still in what one would call pre-production in the industry.
Spoelhof: We’re in the “pre-” part of post-production.
What inspired the EP?
Caudill: We’ve been playing music together for a while now. It started with me and Rob a long time ago when we were little squirts, when we were like 14, and then gradually we met Jacob, the drummer, and we started playing together, and then Garrett entered the mix. We felt that we’ve been playing together for so long at this point we wanted to put something out into the world that’s more representative of where we’re at now as a band.
Spoelhof: There’s a lot of musicians that will tell you the best way to get a tight-sounding band is just to play lots of shows rather than just practicing. We got really lucky with the Bloomington music scene. We get the opportunity to play shows every weekend, and it just really tightened us up as a band, so we were kind of like, “why not put this on record?”
Can you talk a little bit about your songwriting process?
Greene: For this EP, it depended from song to song. Usually, it would be one of us would come with a demo.
Caudill: What’s sort of special about this album is that in the past it’s been more kinda one-sided. Not in the sense of one person doing everything, but more like one person would essentially write all of the songs and then we’d record it together. This one, we had really nebulous, unformed ideas, and then since we actually sequestered ourselves in a cabin for a few days, we all had to work to finish it.
Do you have any artists that you would say inspired you, most particularly for this EP but also just in general?
Greene: We actually made a whole playlist.
Spoelhof: The question that it doesn’t help answer is, “What does Secret Mezzanine sound like?” That’s not why we made the playlist. We made the playlist to show, “What is Secret Mezzanine inspired by?”
Caudill: We all have different tastes, and we’ve all informed each others’ and expanded each others’ musical taste. Garrett likes complex, sometimes jazzy electronic funky stuff, and Rob listens to really cool poppy stuff sometimes and Jacob really likes heavy music and lots of R&B and stuff, so it’s like a big amalgam of everything.
Spoelhof: I think that’s nice in the sense that we don’t get stuck in a musical bubble. I get to be inspired by music not only that they play, but that they’re listening to, and that’s really cool.
What would you say is the greatest difficulty that you came up against while you were working on the EP?
Greene: The pinball machine in Toby Myers’s place didn’t work.
Caudill: Honestly, if the pinball machine had worked we would have at least recorded 15 or 20 songs.
Spoelhof: It’s hard to talk about. We spent a lot of our time that could’ve been spent in a really productive manor surrounding the pinball machine.
Greene: I don’t think there were really any difficulties. The most difficult part is it’s kind of a slog. You have to sit down for six hours a day at least to record a track, and a lot of times you’re not doing anything. I have a hard time not just messing around and making noise.
Spoelhof: Rob in particular is what I would call a musical perfectionist. If you listen to the album, any track that he laid down sounds absolutely pristine, and they are all done in one take. Rob just sits there until he gets one full take, and that’s it.
So talking about sound a little bit, do you feel like your sound has evolved since you started writing music together, and if so how has it evolved?
Caudill: For sure. We have four people now that are pretty much equal in their input as to what the song is gonna sound like. We’ll have an idea in our brain, being like, “I want the song to sound like that,” but then you bring it to everyone else, and there’s literally no way to anticipate what it’s gonna end up coming out of that machine like. Which is awesome, because it makes it really unpredictable for us, which I think will translate to the people listening to it.
Is there anything else you’d like your fans to know about what to expect on the new EP or just your music in general?
Caudill: Synth solos.
Spoelhof: One of them, actually probably one of my favorites, Rob wrote the synth solo. That kind of goes back to all the different ways that music is written within the band. We can write solos for each other, and there’s respect for that. Rob wrote a fantastic solo.
Caudill: For people who have seen us live in the past year, these recorded songs are gonna be more similar to what we sound like and how we interact live. I think that will be refreshing thing for people listening. It’ll sound like what they’ve been hearing.
Greene: The first eight-song record that we did in high school was very studio-oriented. Some of the songs were written as we were recording them.
Spoelhof: Hopefully the energy translates pretty well.
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