(2010 Oct 26) ION Magazine publishes 'Dark Knights', an interview with SALEM

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(2010 Oct 26) ION Magazine publishes 'Dark Knights', an interview with SALEM

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By Marlee Barber
Photos by Jeremy Williams
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Published online in January 26, 2011:
Click to read
You’re finally releasing a full-length album after a handful of limited run EPs and 7” records. Is releasing an album a momentous thing or is it just another step?
Jack: I think it’s exciting. It’s a good step, but I don’t think any of us will feel like we can rest on our laurels or anything. It was just something that had to be done. I’m more excited about making more music and being able to do an all new full-length album. This was wrapping up three years, you know what I mean?

Did you enjoy the experience of putting together a full album?
Jack: This album was more like curating a lot of things we had been working with and putting it together to show where we are right now. But if we had started with a blank slate and just came out saying, “This is going to be this album,” that would have been a different thing. If we sat down and made all new songs for a new album I think that’s something that would excite every one of us.
John: It would be very different, but we pretty much record all the time. We don’t really think about if they’re going to be on anything specific.
Heather: It would be nice to do another album with more focus on making songs, so that the whole album was its own piece and it wasn’t a mix of all these songs we already made. We didn’t get to sit down for a few months and just work in the studio and concentrate on making this comprehensive project, you know?

So has this process of curating an album made you think about your approach in the future?
Jack: I think we’ll have more freedom. We have enough songs right now—enough to put out a new album—but I think we needed to put out these older songs and have a complete sample of where we are coming from and where we are going for our first full-length. And then, after that, we really are free to do whatever we want. This first full-length, I think it’s in some ways sentimental to me. It’s really nice; I think it came together. It’s fucking sick. But after this album, it’s like, we’ve paid our dues. And now we can take it in whatever direction we want.

How is it sentimental? Do you feel the album reflects changes in your life over the last few years?
John: We were always making music. All the time, wherever we were, no matter what. So, I think it goes without saying, that it has.
Jack: On a personal level, my life has changed so much from when some of those songs were written. I mean, I was listening to the album the other day and… it just represents a pretty long period of time and, like, me. Like getting to know someone who I really care about. And close relationships with people and things changing and everything. It means a lot to me.

How about changes in the way you write?
Heather: I think we’re better at composition now than when we first started. When we re-recorded a few of the songs we made them fit better without newer songs.
Jack: I like the really old songs but the songs that we’re writing now are more developed or more complex.
John: There’s not that clear of a definition between old songs and new songs. Some songs we wrote three years ago and some songs two years and some songs one year ago and some songs one month ago and yeah, we’re going to feel a different way no matter what.
Jack: I’ll forget about songs and then listen to them and become re-excited about them because I haven’t listened to it in two years. It’s not like I listen to any of our songs like, “What the fuck were we thinking?”

You are a very visual band as well. Your artwork and videos are just as powerful as the music. Do you guys work in any other mediums?
John: Yeah, we do drawings and photography and painting and watercolours or even just creating things out of sticks or branches, you know, all kinds of sculptures.

Do you pull much inspiration from art outside of music?
Jack: I feel, maybe like, cops… and I like surveillance camera footage.
Heather: Yeah, we’re not the kind of people that go to art openings and be like, “Oh, I got so inspired by that.” [laughing] You know? We aren’t really that involved in any one scene. If we get inspired it’s more from everyday life.

So it’s more about experiences.
Jack: Yeah, definitely. I get really inspired when I’m in nature, or even in the city, and there’s a lot of fog. Or when there’s nice light and I’m driving around. When the light is blurred, or right at the edge, I get to a place where I’m inspired. In those moments, my mind will be in a place, or imagery will come into my head, where I’m open to thinking about things that would make me more inspired to make music.

All of your vocal styles are so different. How do you decide who sings?
Jack: If you think of us as instruments and not as performers, it’s more about what instrument would best complete this song.

Other than the rapping your lyrics are essentially indecipherable. Is writing lyrics more of a cathartic practice for you? Is there any meaning to them?
Jack: It’s like I was saying, if we consider ourselves more instruments than traditional performers it’s not about us. When I’m rapping I don’t want it to sound like myself, I don’t want to listen to myself rapping so I change my voice because that’s how I want it to sound. To me, it’s not about me. It’s about what we’re saying to us, it’s not about what we’re saying to you.

Is it not important that people know what you’re singing about?
Jack: I feel like if people read the things we’re writing… it’s not like we’re fucked up and don’t write nice or beautiful lyrics. It’s just like everything else we put out, it’s very strong. If feel like if people read them they’d be like, “That’s really nice.” It’s just not about that. The feel of what we’re saying is getting across without…
John: Saying it… audible… with words.
Jack: It’s been going on too long, where people are trying to tell you a story. That’s something that could make me pull away. I think that what we’re doing is more true to life in the sense that it’s not trying to hammer out a cute way of depicting something. We’re describing the situation but leaving it vague. As things are.


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