What’s the story behind your band name?
It’s a pretty simple story, Me (Juan) and Michael would see [actor Abe Vigoda] on Conan O’Brien and thought if we ever had a band it would be a funny name. We were 16! [laughs] Then it sort of just stuck…never thought of a better name. It’s a bit silly I have to say, but it’s too late to change it now.
Where did you guys record your new album ‘Crush’?
We recorded it at Infrasonic Sound in Los Angeles, in Alhambra to be exact, which is awesome because that is where Phil Spector’s mansion is. There was a lot of Spector gossip being thrown around during recording. It was cool to record just at the bottom of the hill that his house sits on.
Take us through your recording process.
Well, I don’t think we really had one until this particular record. Chris Coady, who produced and engineered and mixed the record, has been doing this forever and we really relied on his expertise and his own style to guide us in recording ‘Crush.’ We definitely took a new approach to recording, which I found super exciting. We recorded things individually, not really much of a live recording. All the new electronics we used on the tracks were very important in the recording process as well. It was to me the most interesting part of the whole thing because I learned a lot about electronic production, which was really awesome.
Our friend Dave Stone, who’s now in LCD Soundsystem, helped us out a lot by bringing his vintage synths and showing us around them. We used his giant modular synth for filters on some of the tracks. As far as process though, everyday was a new thing we had to work on. Drums took a while to get right. Then, we just pieced the puzzle together everyday for 12 hours a day. It was a pretty relaxing recording session actually and it was a lot of fun.
How did the songs come together for the new album?
It was a pretty gradual process I guess. Dane joined our band and we started at first just showing him our old songs so we could play shows, but soon realized it was more interesting to work on new material with him. He had lots of great ideas and input and is a really talented natural musician. He introduced the idea of using electronics, which was really exciting to do, and really gave us a whole new giant set of sounds we could use. It was exciting to write these new songs, there was lots of experimentation I feel, more than we have really done before. I think having a new member really helped us change the way we write and think about Abe Vigoda songs.
How would you describe your sound nowadays?
A bit more dance oriented, a little more pop and a little darker. [Laughs] Vague, I guess.
Did you guys enjoy playing SXSW this year?
It’s ok. To be honest it’s not our favorite thing to do, but this year was much more relaxed than the year before. We just did 4 shows this time not 10! I think SXSW can be fun if you don’t play a million shows and run around trying to make it to them on time. Not very sure if we are going next year. But with that said, it is so cool to see so many of our friends all at the same time — that is really the best part of it I think.
Are you guys still playing at The Smell or have you outgrown it?
We totally still do play there. It’s always fun to play there. We definitely play other places a lot more lately, but when friends who are on tour wanna play there and want us to play it’s a no-brainer that it’s gonna be fun.
It’s the place where we really started out and where kids started getting into us. It’s also where we met many of our really close friends in bands and also friends that just went to shows there. It’s hard to outgrow a place that is that special.
What places are you guys excited about hitting on your upcoming European tour?
Prague! We’ve never been, but have heard great things about it. Also Sweden! Stoked to do more Italian shows — love to eat so it’s the perfect place. I am honestly stoked abut the whole tour. Being out there is really great and has always been a really positive experience.
Are you playing some of the songs from ‘Crush’ on the road?
Since this spring, when we went on tour with Vampire Weekend, our set has consisted of only ‘Crush’ songs.
What will you guys be eating on tour?
Lots of Vietnamese. I feel like we are always looking for Vietnamese sandwiches. Also, we do not shy away from fast food. Taco Bell and Sonic I feel like we stop at often [laughs].
Thanks for the chat Juan!