The Morning Benders are still coming down from the success of Talking Through Tin Cans, their 2008 album that earned them Alternative/Indie Album of the Year on iTunes.
For their sophomore effort, they have teamed up with Chris Taylor of Grizzly Bear to create Big Echo. Taylor’s fingerprints are all over the album; instead of three-minute pop songs, the band has opted for more sprawl and experimentation. The result is a more mature album, both in its lyrics and musical composition.
The band is currently trekking across the country on a tour that includes a stop at The Casbah on March 26th. We recently had a chance to catch up with singer/guitarist Chris Chu to discuss what it was like working with Chris Taylor, and what we can expect from the new tunes.
Owl and Bear: Your new album Big Echo is about to be released. How do you think this album differs from your debut, Talking Through Tin Cans?
Chris Chu: It’s quite different. We were pretty bored with Tin Cans by the time we had toured for over a year and a half with it, and we were really ready to make something new. We didn’t feel any commitment to stay close to a certain sound or a type of songwriting, and because of that, Big Echo sounds a lot freer to me. There is a lot more going on. Lots of different sounds and textures. Happy songs, sad songs. We tried to do it all.
Owl and Bear: Chris Taylor from Grizzly Bear co-produced it. How did that relationship come about?
Chris Chu: I had been in contact with Chris for a while, just exchanging emails. I really loved his production on [The Dirty Projectors’] Rise Above and the Grizzly Bear album, and I had been sending him demos for a while of some of the Big Echo stuff. He was super supportive, and when it came down to collaborating with someone, in terms of recording, there really wasn’t anyone else we even approached. I would have probably ended up doing it myself, because I like to be very hands-on and meticulous about all that stuff, and in the past I was generally hesitant to collaborate with someone else out of fear they wouldn’t get it or whatever. But Chris was someone I trusted and knew would get the vibe we were going for, so it really was a blessing to have him around. And then he said he would do it, so that was awesome!
Owl and Bear: Where did you guys record the album?
Chris Chu: We started it in San Francisco and finished it in Brooklyn at Chris’s place.
Owl and Bear: What is your favorite piece of musical equipment and why?
Chris Chu: Probably tape delays. I have the most fun with those recording. We ended up using three different kinds on this album. An Echoplex, a Space Echo, and a Fulltone.
Owl and Bear: What artists do you guys draw inspiration from when it comes to the songwriting and your overall sound?
Chris Chu: It’s all over the place. I was listening to a lot of Big Star, specifically the third sort of unreleased album. A lot of Think Tank by Blur. A lot of Kate Bush.
Owl and Bear: Do you have any amusing, crazy, or frightening stories you’ve experienced while on tour?
Chris Chu: Every night….
The Morning Benders Tour Dates
March 10th – Jonny Brenda’s – Philadelphia
March 11th – The Black Cat – Washington DC
March 12th – Local 506 – Chapel Hill
March 13th – The Drunken Unicorn – Atlanta
March 15th – The Bottletree – Birmingham
March 23rd – The Rhythm Room – Phoenix
March 25th – Troubadour – Los Angeles
March 26th – The Casbah – San Diego
March 27th – Detroit Bar – Costa Mesa
March 28th – Muddy Waters – Santa Barbara
March 30th – The Independent – San Francisco
April 1st – Holocene – Portland
April 2nd – Crocodile Café – Seattle
April 3rd – Media Club – Vancouver
April 5th – Club Velour – Provo
April 7th – Hi-Dive – Denver
April 9th – The Vaudeville Mews – Des Moines
April 10th – The Maintenance Shop – Ames, IA
April 11th – Huckleberry’s Pizza – Presented by Daytrotter – Rock Island, IL
April 12th – Schubas Tavern – Chicago
April 14th – The Drake Hotel – Toronto
April 15th – La Sala Rossa – Montreal
April 16th – The Monkey House – Vermont
April 17th – TT The Bear’s – Boston
April 22nd – The Mercury Lounge – NYC