Decoder Ring have returned with a new double album after four years of touring, soundtrack production and a concerted recording effort. We speak with the ever-interesting Matt Fitzgerald to scold him for Decoder Ring’s absence.
“The double album is a double album because it has to be,” Matt tells us. “You know, it’s not like we went, aw, it’s because we’ve been away for a long time, or because we had that much music. I mean, just because you have a lot of music doesn’t mean you should release a double album just to get Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, you know, the same album twice. It all came together at the same time and, part of the process… the first part was exploring sound but the last part was exploring how we perform as a band and just moving more and more to being completely locked in, so we can all move and create something instantaneously. So, when we were in the studio to record, part of what we were hoping to do was capture some moments that just occurred in the recording; and this album is exactly that, all of that is completely songs that didn’t exist before, just us playing.”
That’s right, a complete album’s worth of Decoder Ring following their musical instincts. Essentially a jam album, but that phrase does not do the controlled serendipity of the music justice. Decoder Ring have broken down total order, only to find a deeper, more complex and subtle order in the chaos beneath.
“There’s no overdubs, there’s no mixing process, it’s just sort of mixing on the fly and when you flick on album two the first sound you hear is the first sounds as we pick up our instruments, unadulterated and pure. I think the way it goes for us is, it starts from a more constructed place and as you progress all those traditional sort of signposts that tell you what you should be feeling all disappear, ultimately aiming just to leave it so when you listen to it you find your own place completely, by the time you hit that second album.”
The album is devoid of vocals, so there is no lyrical content to spin the music one way or another. The listener defines the music through the interactive process of perception.
“It is a nonverbal experience. It allows everybody to have their own subjectivity and bring their own life into the creative process I suppose. The way everybody hears it is different and it means different things for different people. It gives you that space to define it through your own life experiences and make it your own rather than have somebody else’s story being dictated to you.”
The new album is dubbed They Blind The Stars, And The Wild Team. It is instrumental storytelling, utilising the confused sound of the instruments; the pacing; the underlying rhythms to build something greater than the sum of its parts.
“When we first started there was a very sharp divide between indie, rock and electronica and we wanted to break down some of those barriers. The new album is a culmination of everything we were about when we started and when we made this record it was about ensuring that we remained consistent, trying to capture everything we’re about in one record, whereas our previous records have shown more sides of us than the total picture.”
Decoder Ring have worked on a number of film soundtracks since their inception in 2001. The band wrote the soundtrack for the 2004 Australian film Somersault and for the 2005 short film Jewboy, which was shown at the Cannes and Sundance Film festivals.
“Film is a very different beast. You have to be incredibly respectful of the fact that someone has put their heart and soul into this, the director and the writer in particular and so we’re very particular about the projects that we get involved in. It’s got to be something that feels right for us and that we think we can create something for that’s not only in line with what the director’s thinking but exceeds that, because if you can’t bring something more then what’s the point.”
Despite enjoying this work, the band had to put alternate creative endeavours aside to focus on the recording of the new album.
“When it came to the new record we realised that jumping in and out of other things really takes you to another place, so to really immerse ourselves in what we were trying to do we had to go offline and not have any interactions other than the album.”
“We’re starting off by releasing this album in Australia and Japan, we’re heading over there sometime this year or early next year and we’re excited about that. In terms of Australia, we’ll be doing some more, slightly different shows. Maybe more sort of in the style of the second album. Now that we’re back we don’t wanna run away for another three years.”
If it brings us another album like They Blind The Stars, And The Wild Team, they can take their time.