Low Sign to Sub Pop, Finish Work on New Dave Fridmann-Produced Seventh Full-Length
Nick Patch reports:
Fans suspected something might be amiss when Duluth-based slowcore progenitors Low recently summed up their career to date with the sprawling, self-released three-disc box set A Lifetime of Temporary Relief, but until late last week, there was no official word from the horse's mouth. But now it can be told! After more than half a decade recording for Chicago's prestigious Kranky label, the trio announced last week that they've been lured away from the avant-garde imprint by a sexy new contract with indie Goliath Sub Pop Records. It will be the band's third label since their 1994 debut, I Could Live in Hope, was given release by the Caroline Records-distributed Vernon Yard.
This, in itself, would be of note to humble, devoted Low fans. But the story doesn't post there: The band has also completed work on their seventh proper album, which is to see release via Sub Pop in 2005. Entitled The Great Destroyer, the record was recorded with the assistance of producer extraordinaire Dave Fridmann-- an inspired pair-up if we've ever heard one. (And we have, actually.) Pitchfork recently spoke to Low frontman Alan Sparhawk via e-mail about the new album and the move to Sub Pop, but not what it's like to sack out on the couch with a bowl of Cheerios and an arm full of heroin. (We're saving that one for Courtney.)
On the Dave Fridmann tip, Sparhawk said that while the producer was a good fit for the band, fans shouldn't expect the meticulously lush sound of his work with bands like The Flaming Lips and The Delgados. "The songs we were writing seemed to be begging for his style and approach," said Sparhawk. "There's actually very little orchestration and the other things he is known for. It's very guitar-based and a lot more aggressive than our past records-- maybe more pop, even. People blame people like Fridmann and Albini for putting too much of their 'sound' into recordings they do, but it's still mostly up to the bands-- a good engineer/producer just helps you get to what's already there."
Sparhawk also downplayed the significance of the band's emigration from longtime label Kranky to king of the indies, Sub Pop. "There were a few other labels poking around at us, but Sub Pop just seems the most appropriate for where we are right now. I'm tired of seeing lame bands on Conan O'Brien." Yes, that always was a problem with Kranky. Remember when Charalambides were up there playing like two sticks and a gong and Conan was all, "We'll be right back!" and it was only seven minutes in? Fuck 'em.
As far as their new home prompting a bigger audience, the band is still taking a very DIY approach to the whole thing. "Sub Pop may buy a few more magazine ads, but nobody looks at those.* [They have] better distribution, which I guess helps, but at the end of the day, nothing happens unless a lot of people buy the record. Meanwhile, we do the same stuff as always-- play shows and hope people show up."
In related news, Low are, in fact, playing a few shows, and they're hoping you show up. Two are solo Sparhawk performances. Check how fast he gets places:
09-18 London, England - Conway Hall (Alan Sparhawk solo)
09-24 Los Angeles, CA - Spaceland (Alan Sparhawk solo)
09-28 New York, NY - Mercury Lounge (Alan Sparhawk solo)
10-08 Minneapolis, MN - Triple Rock Club
10-09 Minneapolis, MN - Triple Rock Club
10-16 New York, NY - Mercury Lounge (Sub Pop Showcase)
* A BLATANT LIE! DON'T LISTEN, DEAN! SEND US ALL YOUR MONEY!
.: Pitchfork Review: Low: A Lifetime of Temporary Relief
.: Low: http://www.chairkickers.com
.: Sub Pop: http://www.subpop.com