1. The title of your forthcoming album, After The Dream You Are Awake seems to set a tone of uncertainty and enlightenment. As a band where did you find inspiration for this title?
Laura: The title comes from a lyric in 24 Frames, and for a long time, it was the only vocal element I was certain belonged to that song, which continued to evolve for six months. That phrase just grew more and more resonant.
You dream/delude yourself in life, love, and you wake up more self-aware and world-aware. That was the starting point perhaps. Or, you fall into a dream, are seized by an ethereal state of consciousness, and suddenly the world looks all the richer for it, more authentically real in a way. And then there’re tertiary implications, political overtones maybe, self-reflexive commentary on music itself. There’s also a nod to the idea of life as the dream from which you will eventually awake, either entirely separate from it or perhaps finally integrated within it, depending on your view. It goes on and on that phrase, and it means everything it wants to mean without any of one of those meanings cancelling out another.
2. “American Lovers” is a really true and beautiful track, listening to the lyrics it made me think of love’s path circling back and back again. What is the story you were trying to tell?
Laura: I do think it’s in part about love’s eternal return, but in a way it’s also the story of a failed lover, one who wants to connect in the deepest, most intimate sense but is all too aware of the boundaries that forever separate one person from another. It’s simultaneously a song about hiding, flirting, longing and wanting to extend the experience of longing for as long as possible, as well as a meditation on the effects of time.
On another note, a friend of mine made the facebook comment the other day that “United States lovers are reputed to be the coldest and most calculating in the all of the Americas,” and I think there’s something to that observation too here. So often we’re so busy protecting ourselves, playing games, and generally operating undercover that we miss out on what a more comprehensive vulnerability might have to offer us.
3. What led you to collaborate with poet, Laura Solomon on After The Dream You Are Awake?
Clay: On past pacificUV albums, lyrics have always been secondary to the music and I wanted for them to be of equal importance this time around. I am very proud of the past records, but I really hoped this record would have a more immediate emotional resonance and aimed to focus as much on the sound and meaning of the words as I did on the tone and texture of the music. Laura, in addition to being an amazing poet, also happened to be a great singer, so the collaboration happened quite naturally.
4. When you began work on After The Dream You Are Awake, how did you decide on new direction to take from your previous LP, Weekends?
Clay: For one thing, I wrote far more music than was actually needed. In the past, we have 9 sketches and turn them all into songs. On this record, we had about 25 demos from which we chose to work on 9 or 10. This allowed us to choose a group of songs that fit together aesthetically and thematically. Another difference was sitting there as a group for hours, editing and re-editing the lyrics so that conveyed what we hoped to express. This part was a bit agonizing and kind of like working on a never ending crossword puzzle.
5. As you continue to evolve as a group, who and what are some of your recent influences? What direction do you see the band following on your next musical journey?
Laura: I feel like at its basis, music is ultimately about touch, and what I want to do is literally touch people physically and by doing so move them into a psychological experience that can’t easily be turned off. With that in mind, I’d like to work with song structures that arise more and more according to conceptual necessity, even if we are finding out along the way what that conceptual necessity is, and I want to keep moving into darker terrain. That’s not to say I want to abandon some of the pop elements of our sound. I like the immediacy of these songs, but I’d also like to create something that reveals itself the more and more you listen.
Clay: For those who group and label: this is our “pop” record and about as far as I see us ever moving in this direction. I too want to go in a far more experimental, nosier direction that eschews the verse/chorus/verse format. I hope to do something that is quite textured, dense, and raw and that utilizes all the amazing music software that has come out in the past few years and reflects the overwhelming, complicated, and confusing times in which we live.