Midwest symphonic dream-prog duo, The Receiver, has revealed the initial details for its upcoming studio album, All Burn. All Burn – the group’s debut on progressive powerhouse, Kscope – will release on June 23 in North America.
Comprised of brothers Casey (vocals, synths/keyboards, bass) and Jesse Cooper (drums & vocals), the siblings call All Burn their “best material to date which focuses on a dreamier aesthetic than our earlier work.” All Burn is also the first self-produced Receiver album, with mixing handled by Danny Kalb (Beck, Ben Harper, Foster the People, Karen O) and mastering by Brian Lucey (Sigur Ros, The Shins, The Black Keys, Arctic Monkeys).
Formed in 2005 at The Ohio State University, The Receiver released its debut album, Decades, in 2006 on the New York-based, Stunning Models On Display Records. The duo returned with the sophomore offering, Length of Arms, in 2009 through Vital Music Records. The Receiver is an incredibly active touring partnership, having played throughout North America and sharing the stage with notable acts such as St. Vincent, Midlake, The Album Leaf, Mono, Dawes, Royal Canoe, Maserati, Telefon Tel Aviv, Mr. Gnome and Operators to name a few, as well as performing at 2014’s CMJ Festival in New York. The brothers have been featured on MTV2’s “Bands on The Rise,” and have songs included on the FX Network’s series, Dirt, as well as a number of independent shorts and films. Ghettoblaster recently caught up with the band to discuss the record. This is what they said.
When did you begin writing the material for All Burn?
Casey: The focused writing process began directly after the release of Length Of Arms, which was late 2009, and continued through 2012. I am always writing short ideas here and there, and over time, they pile up. I’ll usually sift through them and pick the best ones, develop them, and eventually they become completed songs. So a few of the ideas may have been from earlier than Length Of Arms. And I’m sure it will be the same for our next album after All Burn. It’s good to have a reservoir of material to develop as the band progresses.
What was the most difficult song to take from the initial writing stage through recording and mixing? Why was it so troublesome?
Casey: I think ‘Transit’ was a tough one for all parties. The melody, progression, and feel came rather quickly for me. But the core theme of this song is a pulsing, rhythmic, three part synth idea. And I think the tone of that synth idea, paired with bass guitar and drums, was a little dark overall in terms of color. So once that was recorded, we went back and added a much brighter synth part, sort of like what a nice guitar tone might do for a song. Once that was in place it seemed to really lift the song nicely. It added a dreamier, loftier aesthetic, which worked well in conjunction with the rest of the album.
Which of the songs on the record is most different from your original concept for the song?
Casey: Our song ‘The Summit’ was by far the most manipulated song from the initial idea to finished product. It was one of the first completed songs that I thought was ready to go in 2010. But at the time the tempo was much slower, the drum part was completely different, the feel was different, and it was over five minutes. As we began to rehearse it for the live show and for recording, something always felt off. So we wrestled with the drum part, we sped it up, slowed it down. I rearranged a lot of the synth lines, and at one point I even changed the entire time signature from 6/8 to 4/4, just hoping that something would make it feel right. But it just never came easy. Finally, I really trimmed the fat, sped it up quite a bit, figured out a drum part with Jesse that we thought was innovative but also comfortable to listen to, and there was a huge sigh of relief. We’ve never struggled so much with one song. But we’re really excited about how it turned out, and it’s become one of my favorite songs of ours. The goal is all about being honest with the musical result, and reworking and fine-tuning until the song feels genuine and right.
Did you have any guest musicians play or sing on the record?
Jesse:Not for this record. We hit some speed bumps with the logistics of this record along the way and the recording process took us longer than we would’ve liked so the main goal was to focus on the material (just the two of us) and record it as soon as we could. We’ve tossed around ideas of maybe a guest female vocalist or a string section but it would’ve been a complete after thought. We’d definitely like to incorporate something like that in the future.
What was it like working with Danny Kalb and what was he able to bring to the table that transformed the record?
Jesse: Danny was absolutely wonderful to work with. We had been sitting with this material for quite some time when he stepped in so it was nice to get a new take and perspective on the songs. There were a lot of recorded tracks to go through and he did a marvelous job at weeding everything out, showcasing the essential instrumentation of each track while adding depth and putting his own touch on the overall mixes.
Casey:It was really nice to have Danny’s fresh, creative ears on it after we’d already spent so much time with it. So we really encouraged him to have fun with the mixing. He’s really good with subtle, glitchy, ambient additions and details, which you’ll hear the more you listen. And it’s all of those subtleties of his that elevate the songs and the album as a whole for me.
Is there an overarching concept behind your new album that ties the record together?
Casey:We knew that in terms of sound, we wanted to go a bit dreamier, hazier, and loftier with this album. I’d acquired some nice synths, digital and analog, that were great for warm and soft pads. So I started there and slowly added diversity as I wrote. Lyrically, there is certainly an overarching concept that deals with human relationship. Some of it is platonic, but 90 percent of the lyrical content directly involves my failed relationship at the time. It’s so cliché, I know! But it really does make for some genuine songwriting. The album title, All Burn, refers to the beginning of a relationship. Everything is so exciting, so full of novelty and life. But unfortunately, most relationships can only burn so bright for so long. Eventually that flame will start to taper off, and you’re left with either working hard to preserve the relationship, or give up and find something new. She and I decided to keep working at it, but that didn’t eliminate the feelings of frustration, disappointment, heartache, etc. that is always associated with breaking up and trying again. And that’s how the album plays out; beginning with the thrill of a new affection for someone, dealing with the difficulties and whatever fallouts might happen, and learning the patience to work hard at repairing whatever damage may have been done and moving forward together.
How did you get hooked up with Kscope?
Jesse:I originally contacted them back in 2010 for our last album, Length Of Arms. We had a soft release for the album and were looking for an appropriate vehicle to get it to more listeners. Kscope really liked our direction and wanted to license and re-release it. We were eager to work with them then but Casey and I didn’t have complete ownership of the recorded material, and the label we were with at the time wanted a little more than what Kscope was willing to offer. It was heartbreaking and a hard pill to swallow but we decided to forge ahead on our own with more material for a new album. We stayed in contact with them, decided to self-finance All Burn from the beginning, and would eventually deliver the finished product the them, hoping they’d still be interested. And here we are now.
Have you begun playing these songs live and which songs have elicited the strongest reaction from your fans?
Jesse: We’ve been playing a few cuts off the album for over a year now and it really has breathed new life into our live show. Two of the songs, ‘Transit’ and ‘Collector’ have both had a great response in the live setting.
Casey: My personal favorite at the moment is ‘To Battle An Island’. It’s a little heavier than some of our other material, and I think that always goes over well. We’ve also begun experimenting with a nice segue leading into the song that is open ended in terms of length and structure, and in which I get to experiment with synths a bit more than usual, and that is a breath of fresh air for me and our fans.
Do you still keep in touch with former Receiver Sean Gardner?
Jesse:Sean was a friend of ours way before he ever came into The Receiver mix and we still have a friendly relationship with him today. He’s one of Columbus’s more active musicians and is currently involved in a few different projects, including Winter Makes Sailors and Bookmobile.
Casey: He’ll always be a great friend. And hopefully we’ll get to work with him again, either in The Receiver or another musical project. But we all knew that he just wasn’t going to be able to commit the time that is needed to the band right now. It’s absolutely no hard feelings from us. We love the guy, and wish him nothing but the best.
(Visit the Receiver here: http://www.thereceivermusic.com/.
Preorder the album here:
CD – https://www.burningshed.com/store/kscope/product/272/6574/
Vinyl – https://www.burningshed.com/store/kscope/product/272/6575/)