Crown Victoria is a large bar in Brooklyn where you can expect to find the common day “hipsters.” But what you might not know is that there is a tightly packed studio right next door filled to the brim with musicians wailing away. Sealed rooms housing grungy-guitar riffs, rattling hi-hat crashes and scattered synths pouring through every crack.
We had a chance to walk these thin hallways to the back corner spot, home to some of BK’s newest and most exciting sounds, under the name Conveyor. A group of four welcoming guys that genuinely rock, both as musicians and as gentlemen. They were kind enough to allow us to come inside their practice space and ask them a few questions before their homecoming show tonight at Glasslands Gallery in Brooklyn.
After cracking a few brews, the band opened up to slew of interesting happenings, including a recent 6-week, cross-country tour concluding in Boston this past Friday. We briefly dove into their origin and evolution, and learned a bit about their composition process which revealed song craftsmanship that, frankly, speaks for itself on the album. But it's always fun to learn a bit more.
The Peel: So Conveyor, that's an interesting name. What does it mean?
MICHAEL: I think it doesn't hold very much meaning, so hopefully it will follow the logic that the band makes the name. You don't really attach an identity to the work, but the work evokes the thought of the band.
ALAN: We thought it'd be a lot easier to spell correctly that it has currently been proven. That's been our biggest complaint.
TJ: I feel we still go back and forth on it.
EVAN: It's too late now
P: There's a lot going on with your music: the vocal harmonies, layering, and unconventional yet irresistibly moving rhythms. It's very intricate. How do you go about writing your songs?
TJ: We're at an interesting time because the record itself was such a varied process. A couple of the songs came from fully formed demos that I had made.
EVAN: The Reach/Homes suite came about from us messing around digitally, others came from us messing around with just instruments in hand. We've also had songs that we had been playing for a while that went through a few iterations.
TJ: We're learning new, interesting ways to play our songs, but we're at a time now where the songs on our record are what they are and we have to think about writing new songs. Personally I'm interested to see how we approach writing the new songs because I think the band has become more collaborative progressively. It's never gone backward to one person's Ideas. We're really starting to write, the four of us, like we're one brain. We've already have a couple new ideas that we've been jamming on since we've been back, so I'm excited to see where we take them.
P: So does that mean we're close to seeing some new music or are you guys going to tour with these tracks some more?
TJ: We've been touring for the last six weeks, That was really fun, but I don't foresee us going on tour again in the next six months.
ALAN: If we toured again we'd still rely heavily on these songs.
TJ: Writing is at the forefront of our plans.
MICHAEL: While we're not able to tour we might as well write and record stuff.
EVAN: No deadlines yet, but we probably should have some.
MICHAEL: Maybe like a year, I mean, if we don't get it done in a year then we're clearly out of it.
P: Well the album is great. We're really in love with the track 'Short Hair', can you tell us who that's about?
EVAN: Who is 'Short Hair' not about?
TJ: Short hair is actually about [Points to 'Anne' on the tracklist scrawled on the chalkboard] Anne. We actually just reworked ['Short Hair'] and now it sounds nothing like it does on the album.
MICHAEL: Well it sounds something like it does on the album.
TJ: You're right, nothing is an exaggeration.
MICHAEL: It feels very new to us now that we've changed it.
TJ: All through tour we were playing it and we would consistently leave it off of our set because it didn't feel right. When we got back from tour we sat down and practiced, and reworked it, and now we're super stoked to play it live.
MICHAEL: A lot of the time you write a song, play it live, work out the kinks and then you record it. But a lot of these songs were written and recorded before they got a lot of stage time.
ALAN: Any stage time.
P: Is there a part of you that wished you had recorded it this way, instead of what appeared on the album?
MICHAEL: Do we have reservations about playing it differently than the album version? No, I just want to play it better. You do have to give yourself a limit on changing things that were worked on in the past, things that you once considered solved. Now, for whatever reason, your tastes have changed. There should be some kind of statute of limitations.
ALAN: We've totally done that before though. We've had songs that have come a very long way and then we've sat down to try and rework something and said, "Is it really worth putting in another eight hours to re-work this song yet another time?"
EVAN: When it gets to that point I always feel like we should just write something new.
TJ: Has a band ever done that? Not just remastered, but gone back to a recording and added things?
MICHAEL: Um, SMiLE.
MICHAEL: He totally redid it. He redid the same album.
TJ: What if Paul Simon was like, "You know what, I'm gonna take Graceland and record a bunch of new parts and re-release it"?
P: Like he just said, "I'm over this whole African-thing"?
EVAN: "It's too Africany"
We have been reading about the band for a while, and on various blogs and social media streams and we couldn't help but notice how many people compared them to Animal Collective upon first listen. Even we're not exempt from the comparisons when we wrote about them last month. We were wondering how they felt about this, if they felt that the comparisons were justified, if they were fair.
ALAN: Zach Hart [of We Listen For You] said it best when he said, 'Conveyor is not Animal Collective,' that was one of our most recent reviews. That was probably one of the best because he's very passionate about what he believes in. Also I thought he really got it, which is unique because I feel like some people listen to it a few times and then write some words down. They're not doing themselves or the music any justice when they do that. Comparisons are a necessary evil, you can't avoid them, apparently it's just a thing that people do now.
TJ: As far as it being justified, none of us would deny that we listen to Animal Collective. We love that band.
P: Jumping off from there, who are you listening to now?
TJ: The funny thing is, from being on tour and driving 8 hours every day, I feel like we've listened to every song on every one of our iPods.
MICHAEL: I felt like we listened to everything we wanted to listen to and a bunch of stuff we didn't care to listen to.
TJ: We gave it the first round of, "Ok, here's the stuff we're currently listening to," and that was done by day 3. Then there were the albums we really loved, and we were like, "I wanna drive to this record because I really love it." Then it got to the point where we put on albums like, "Here is the record I loved when I was 15," like, "Let's put on Reel Big Fish!"
MICHAEL: We just wanted something that we could all sing along to. We were listening to so many new bands from being on tour. We were hearing all this new music. I just wanted to relax the part of my brain that had to process all this new stuff. I just wanted to hear music that I didn't have to think about and that I could sing along to. I was listening to the second disc of Melloncollie and the Infinite Sadness, just today. It's so good. It's such an epic album, but when you listen to it, it sounds like it was recorded in a garage. Not in a bad way, but it just sounds so 90s.
P: Did you guys get a chance to listen to a lot of good acts on your tour? Who were some of your favorites?
MICHAEL: Coast Jumper
TJ: Coast jumper deserves to be something. Every now and then you play with a band and you're like "Woah!" Especially when you're on tour and you're booking shows with bands you don't know and you're playing in towns that you don't know. It get's to the point that you're e-mailing ten bands at a time asking them to set up a show with you. You're just, like Michael said, overwhelmed by it. But Coast Jumper came on and they blew all of our minds simultaneously.
P: How did the tour go? Any highlights you care to share?
EVAN: One of the best was Louisville, KY. We had a great show there.
ALAN: San Fransisco and Gainsville, FL [The band's hometown] were really fun.
TJ: I think one of the most interesting things for me on tour, is whatever preconceptions you have about a city's music scene you have, unless you've been there, they're entirely unreliable. Take Portland for example. I thought everybody in Portland's got to be super-hip. I thought it's a young city, there are tons of great musicians there. I thought it'd be like Brooklyn where everyone comes to the show to cross their arms and judge. But we played this awesome show to a packed house in this outdoor venue. People were dancing and having a great time, they were really receptive. I was consistently surprised by cities that I didn't expect to be surprised by.
MICHAEL: We didn't really know what we were getting into. We played venues that we've never played before with bands that we've never listened to before. So everything was a gamble. I think I was pleasantly surprised more than I was dissapointed, but maybe that's a result of not having an impression in the first place.
Show goers this Wednesday will be treated to a few new tweaks to the great tunes tracked on the album Conveyor. The band learn each time they play a song, gauging what works and what doesn’t. It’s something they tinker with each time they are practicing or playing a live show. On the road the band's options were limited in terms of putting together a line-up. For their homecoming the band has chosen all of their openers, bands that they've wanted to play with for quite some time. We're just as excited as they are about the bands that they've put together.
TJ: We've been trying to set up shows with these bands for a long time. Like Y/Y, I've asked them to play with us, personally, at least three times, and every time it's been shut down by the promoter and I've had to go back and say, "Sorry, but actually you can't play with us". So the fact that we're finally playing with them makes me really happy.
ALAN: We're actually excited to hear all of the bands, we've never actually seen any of them before, but we've met the Field Mouse folks before--
EVAN: Field Mice.
ALAN: --at our local coffee shop [Brooklyn Label] in Greenpoint.
ALAN: We played Glasslands in January, we felt like we did a really good job of bringing bands together. A lot of people at that show were like, "This is the best line up." So hopefully we'll see similar reactions.
Leading up to their homecoming, one of the more exciting prospects is actually seeing if Bill Murray will show up. The band has been trying to reach out to him in the form of numerous open letters. The band has been tweeting a call to action with the hashtag #BillMurrayCanCrashHere via their Twitter acount.
P: Have you guys met Bill Murray yet?