A Great Big Pile of Leaves’ You’re Always On My Mind is set for release on July 2 via Topshelf Records. The album is their first full length with the backing of a label and with an outside team – Ed Ackerson (Limbeck, Soul Asylum, The Replacements) on production and Roger Seibel (Deathcab for Cutie, Bon Iver) for mastering. It’s an album of focused and cohesive indie pop that is sure to go over famously with old and new fans alike this summer as they hit the the road with The Front Bottoms leading up to the release of the album.Ghettoblaster recently caught up with AGBPOL’s Tyler Soucy to discuss the record. This is what he said about it…
When did you begin writing the material for your most recent album?
We had some of the ideas floating around for a while, as we tend to write some during rehearsals, but we didn’t make it a main focus until sometime in January or February of last year. Pete had moved out of NYC shortly before then, so he would email us a pretty fleshed out acoustic demo about once a week. We’d take those and track our parts here in Brooklyn and we just kept emailing the songs back and forth with any new parts or composition ideas. Luckily we were able to get into the studio that July with about 90 percent of the parts written.
What was the most difficult song to take from the initial writing stage through recording and mixing? Why was it so troublesome?
Shortly before going to the studio we had decided to do a full band version of a song called “Learning Curves,” which we did as an acoustic track on an EP back in 2011, but we never really discussed what exactly we wanted to do. I had a pretty clear idea for a direction and the other guys had different ideas too, so we all kind of took a leap of faith with each other and I think it worked out really well. It could have been a train wreck since it was the only song we hadn’t worked out before going in, but it ended up becoming a pretty special moment in the studio when it all came together. That song will most likely be an exclusive track for the iTunes release, but it’s one of my favorites.
Which of the songs on the record is most different from your original concept for the song?
In my opinion “Snack Attack” was the track that totally transformed in the studio. I remember the day the guys added the harmonies and vocal layers to the chorus, we got rough mixes to check out at home and I just sat there with my headphones, listening over and over, and my eyes may have welled up a little bit, maybe. I loved the demo of it and I think we all felt it had great potential, but for me, it was definitely one of the tracks that took on a whole new life once we were tracking it. I’m always proud of the songs we put out, but this was the first time I’ve had such a strong reaction to one of our songs.
Did you have any guest musicians play or sing on the record?
Our friend Justin Pierre from Motion City Soundtrack was kind enough to lend some vocals on a song called “Pet Mouse.” He was in the studio for 30 minutes, nailed his parts and rode off into the Minneapolis sunset.
Who produced the record? What input did that person have that changed the face of the record?
We were lucky enough to work with Ed Ackerson at Flowers Studios in Minnesota on this record. The band usually records everything on our own, so having Ed lend his ears and talent to the project was awesome. He’s one of the smartest and nicest dudes. He focused a lot on adding new textures and tones to our songs, and had a great ear for harmonies. One of the main reasons we picked Ed was because we wanted to try to capture more of a live energy on this record, and to have it sound clean but not over-produced. He had a great understanding of our band and sound.
Is there an overarching concept behind your new album that ties the record together?
I don’t think there’s really a full concept to this record. Lyrically, the theme is a little more focused on personality theories with Pete being more introspective about personal experiences. Oh, and probably food.
Have you begun playing these songs live and which songs have elicited the strongest reaction from your fans?
We’ve only been playing about three of the songs live, two of which have existed in some other form prior to this record, so kids are still more familiar with them. “Snack Attack” is a totally new one that has been getting a lot of great feedback and we’re extremely grateful and excited about that. Once the record is out, the plan is to throw any of the songs from the record into our set each night.