Other Lives: “For 12”[audio:http://alarm-magazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Other_Lives_For_12.mp3|titles=Other Lives: “For 12”]
Within the relaxed confines of Stillwater, Oklahoma, indie/chamber quintet Other Lives worked tirelessly for 14 months to craft and perfect its sophomore album. The finished product, Tamer Animals, is a delicate blend that balances orchestrated compositions with indie-folk arrangements. Interpretive vocals carry each track to the next, and minor-key melodies provide a peaceful backdrop throughout. Below, frontman Jesse Tabish elaborates on crafting Tamer Animals, its underlying theme of human relationships with nature, and his classical influences.
You used a more personal/private approach in producing Tamer Animals. How did this process alter the making of the album and, more importantly, the outcome?
The time constraint is the biggest thing that comes to my mind. Laying down a guitar track or vocal or whatever it may be in the studio, you have a limited amount of time to get it right. At home, we really tailored everything to the exact sound that we wanted, and if we didn’t know a sound, we had the luxury to search for it. So we spent a lot of time searching out not only new tones and sounds, but we also needed the time to find new approaches to songwriting. So it was a combination of those two that I felt we needed to take it in this direction. The fact that we worked on it until we were happy with it…I can relax. And I had my hands in all aspects of it, so I very much enjoyed it.
Can you expound on the specifics of recording the album?
The initial idea for a lot of these songs came really quickly to me, sometimes in a day or a matter of hours, and I would do my own demo of it. Then the actual, proper recording came about, which took loads of time. It was a real process for every song; it was literally piece by piece, track by track. It was a lot of building, rather than a band going into a room and hashing out a tune. So it was building from the ground up.
Unlike the rest of the tracks, “Dark Horse” is devoid of guitar and bass, and it barely features piano. Why open the record this way?
I felt like [“Dark Horse”] was the first song where we were able to really get away from those core instruments, and in some way, it’s my ideal song off the record because it is free from the path. It was one of the earlier songs, and it was the first song that we did. After that, we realized that we could do the record on our own.