Big Thief is a four piece folk-rock band from Brooklyn, New York. In May 2019, they released their third album, U.F.O.F., to critical acclaim. Pitchfork named it “Best New Music.”
In this episode, singer Adrianne Lenker and drummer James Krivchenia break down a song from that album called “Cattails.”
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
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Big thief is a four piece folk rock band from Brooklyn New York
in May two thousand and nineteen. They released their third album ufof to critical acclaim pitchfork
best. New music.
It's episode: Singer Adrienne, Linker and Drummer James crew. Kenya breakdown a song from that album called cat tails. You don't need a a
I'm major- and I take
find singing right in big thief. When I
we started writing cat tails.
we we're just outside of Seattle at this studio called Bear Creek and
We had a bunch of songs that we are planning on recording, but this
This was really inspiring, and I found was
I kind of writing and all the little pockets of time and
I had just gotten this twelve string, guitar that I bought when I was
road trip by myself in New Mexico at this little pawn shop,
I brought it with me to the session and one night after we finished recording,
everyone was kind of going to bed. I stayed up late and just
playing this chord progression.
pattern is one I favorites and is particularly
you, find a play that on the twelve string I just play.
it over and over again and
pics just started popping out
I was missing Minnesota where I grew up and
I was thinking about my great grandma. She died when I
name's violent and it's a neck and a sway with your lonesome then drain the violets eyes by that place
picturing her eyes and picture.
Playing like piano playing guitar playing bass. She picked up the electric bass in the last few years of her life in her eighties, so
I just thinking of childhood and the way that she kind of
care of us we'd like pay
it was her and she had a dune, buggy and we'd like grad horses and
think about her in this place in northern Minnesota
makes. My heart feel like open and heavy and sad and happy all. At the same time, you don't need a a. I stayed up. Pretty
wait. I was excited. I had this buzz.
the song that was coming so I just woke up
early in the morning and finished all the words and just played it over and over again. Maybe, like thirty,
AMS sure something.
tibetan there is no song, and I woke up, and there was a song
I'm James, and I play the drums and big chief. We had
planned on recording another song. That was on our list and I was just like. Maybe she does
play this one for a little bit and I just like walked into.
Live room and James was with me. Ass, like eating breakfast
agent was showing me the song and prior played it from you like twice she
like excited like smiling and kind of like
you know, standing up and bouncing
just implied make the drums bounce like that the
We didn't talk at all about the groove. That's true, we didn't talk like once. There was no talk about form
James and I have been going on a lot of runs together during this session and that one point I was like
Ah, this is probably such good practice for interlocking our rhythms cause we're actually like breathing and running in time like at the same pace. So
I feel like it's not just about the specific groove, like the pattern you're playing as much as it was just like we're like walking in the same step, hmm, and so we messed around like next to each other. For a few minutes,
there's usually this magic that happens right in the beginning stages of forming a song, the first
you times. You actually play it all the way through and it feels good and
I was right on the cusp
just sort of faded it enough to know all the words James
I would just like hanging on like like I could.
Off the horse at any moment like forget one of the words because they were so fresh or mess up the groove or something, but we never.
we just like held on when we finished,
It was noticeably just like whoa
just happen, and then before we knew it does.
Monks, the engineer he had sneakily
it's been like setting up mics, he was like rolling before even thinking about it, dumb had captured it
It was just like that felt amazing await. You got that you recorded that
so just like a one taker.
What I keep thinking of it, as is like this gust of wind, blew through the studio that was just like this magic, wind and the bend.
The first heard the take
by the is pretty unanimous like. Oh, this feels amazing,
it's kind of undeniable like oh. This is part of the record days and indeed the niche, the so james- and I recorded
vocals and guitar and drums and then MAX and Buck added their parts.
after four, this song MAX tried
like normal ish base. You know like boom boom kind of stuff, but
It was just kind of like oh, this doesn't make it feel any better like ways it down. It doesn't bring like the lightness that we all were like already.
I so he started layering these drones with his base
Max has this pedal called the plus pedal, which is sort of just a sustain pedal for guitar.
Databases or any audio you put through it and Andrew Sarlo, who is producing the album he was guiding MAX of, like you know, try some high stuff now like do like a few takes of just really high stuff. Okay, now do one. That's like super simple, find like notes that are just beautiful, the and then everyone kind of just sat down and just had a bit of editing process or just listen to take me like that moments really cool, and then we were just like save all the moments you really liked.
looking for like an enhanced feeling of good feeling, that's already there
MAX and Adrienne are performing those piano parts simultaneously on two different pianos in the studio. This is like a very
quick idea. You know just like. Oh maybe this work sort of thing, and maybe it won't answer not gonna like labour over it also
know how to play piano. So I was
It's kind of randomly put my fingers on the keys
just like bringing more energy like just bring
That listen spirit cuz, that's actually what we were feeling
blast we were laughing, it was ridiculous. We were standing up. Neither of us knew what notes we were really hitting and it was just like a real
fun and so that energy translates into the recording
buck at one point in the session he was staying
in the treehouse at Bear Creek. There is
the studio up there with pro tools and he kind of took to doing some of his parts. There,
selected and then bringing them back
and his guts.
Specific feeling, even just in those notes, you can feel
swing so beautiful here, and I think you sort of like playing off your
woody, and you don't know what you done
Nowhere when you could.
Everything that I write is autobiographical anyway, but there's
so fiction, the much,
just trying to convey, like my person,
experience in northern Minnesota, with my grandma, it's something deeper. So there's
lots of memories and lots of montages of things that are real or that I'm like trying to describe. But there's
elements of like also imagination and magic in keeping a thread of story, this character. She, I Caroline she's hearing of somebody in her life is very close to their time is passing and sing.
I'll be there like I'm just going to go.
participative hold them into the next realm, hold them through that transition
antonym of like the sweetness of this time, but also the fluidity of everything
My own true feelings about an experience become more vivid and clear,
me when their described through is a martian. Testicle lends its kind of like when you take a picture of a sunset with your Iphone and its Chris
it's hd, but then
take a picture on like an old film camera and it's all like distorted, and but somehow that picture is more accurate to the feeling of
my great grandma's house up in northern Minnesota. When we were there, it felt carefree it was a really special time and since then, that house has been sold and that chapter's closed. But it's
Epps laid in my memory and this beautiful way that I can return to and now here's cocktails
by big thief in its entirety,
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Transcript generated on 2022-03-27.