TW Walsh discusses Fruitless Research

Since Songs of Pain and Leisure was released in 2011, TW Walsh spent 18 months with a mysterious, debilitating illness, got interested in eastern mysticism, and started thinking about new ways to bring classic music production techniques together with modern technology. Fruitless Research was produced in collaboration with Yuuki Matthews (The Shins, David Bazan, Crystal Skulls) and it features abstract ideas, retro-futuristic arrangements and a sense of spacious freedom. The record sees release via Graveface Records on February 12.

Ghettoblaster recently caught up with him to discuss the record. This is what he said about it.

When did you begin writing the material for your most recent album? 

About two or three years ago. I kind of write all the time, but once I decided to make an album, I got more deliberate about it.

What was the most difficult song to take from the initial writing stage through recording and mixing? Why was it so troublesome?

“Counting Cards” was tough because I couldn’t come up with an arrangement I liked. Everything I did sounded like middling classic rock. When I handed it off to Yuuki Matthews, he drastically reworked it and gave it a new life.

Which of the songs on the record is most different from your original concept for the song?

“Public Radio,” “Shallow Water,” “Body/Mind” and “Counting Cards” all changed a lot because Yuuki reharmonized them and changed the chords underneath the vocal melody.

Did you have any guest musicians play or sing on the record?

Yes, Yuuki, Casey Foubert and David Bazan all play on the record. They’re good friends of mine so I was happy it worked out that way. My wife and kids also do the handclaps on “Young Rebels.”

How did Yuuki change the face of the record?

Yuuki produced it. I gave him a lot of leeway. On some songs, he replaced all the music with his own and kept only the vocals. On others, he left almost everything as it was and simply mixed it. The last 20 percent of the work takes up 80 percent of the time, so it was amazing to be able to hand it off. I wanted a totally different sound on this album and he helped me realize that vision.

Is there an overarching concept behind your new album that ties the record together? 

Not really. If anything, there’s a vague theme of being at peace about the futility of being and doing.

Have you begun playing these songs live and which songs have elicited the strongest reaction from your fans?

Yeah, “Fundamental Ground” is one of my better songs and people are into it. Live, we stretch it out like Crazy Horse.

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