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17 Apr

In the nine years since Joe Denardo and Kevin Doria decamped from Olympia, Washington to Brooklyn, the band known as Growing hasn’t really stopped doing just that. What started as blasting guitar-minimalist noise with the 2003 release The Sky’s Run into the Sea on Kranky morphed into more giant drone with 2006’s Color Wheel and then veered into sample-heavy and accidentally rhythmic constructions through 2008’s All The Way, out on Social Registry. These guys, it seems, can’t settle on a fixed sound, making all their records transitional and curious. They changed it all up again with PUMPS!, out now on Vice Records, with the duo adding DJ/vocalist Sadie Laska into the mix and flipping the drone in favor of full blown beats and sequencers. CakeIn15 caught up with Denardo on the road before their Saturday gig in the 7th Street Entry to talk about not being satisfied with the sound, paying the bills and the world of fine art.

CakeIn15: PUMPS! is a new direction for your sound, with the beats based sound moving away the layers of drone and noise on your previous records. How did that shift come about?

Joe Denardo: Well, I feel like every one of our records move along in some new line, we try to work in some new jams and work in a new direction, so in a way if you listen to all our records they move forward in certain directions and you get a feel fro where the next one might go to. Part of it, a lot was, Sadie’s introduction to the band, it’s the first record she’s on, so a lot of the direction the songs take have to do with her involvement, her sound, where she wants to take things and what she’s doing and our reaction to that, especially in the studio, making new jams.

C15: How did Sadie join the band?

JD: It was nothing we ever sat down and thought about, we never had a discussion and said, let’s get a third member, or we need someone else to bounce things off of. She was a friend of ours for years and we played some shows with the band she was in called I.U.D. and we kind of just felt like she was on the same kind of wavelength as us. Watching her play live, she was interested in the same kind of processing techniques that we are and we played a few shows where I.U.D. played and we would start playing at the end of their set and jam off of what they were doing and then they would go off stage and we would finish our set, so we had a little bit of an introduction to playing with her and one day we just kind of asked her to start playing with us just for fun at our practice space. It went really well considering we had never played together before. We had a tour coming up and we asked her is she wanted to come one the tour with us and we’ll work out what happens and if you like it at the end of the tour you can stay in the band. She was stoked and it went from there.

C15: You mentioned your shared interest in processing techniques, could you talk about what kind of gear you guys are using to get your sound?

JD: Kevin uses just like a Korg Electribe drum machine and he processes with different delay, him and Sadie both have the old Boss Dr. Rhythm samplers, I think Sadie has a newer Roland sampler. A lot of our stuff is samples, vocals with others processed through pitch shifters and tremolos and then she also processes her vocals through a pitch shifter and some delays too. And I work mostly with guitar through another Korg Electribe, like a synthesizer model and a bunch of delays and phasers and that kind of stuff. We use a lot of consumer grade, easy to get stuff, we don’t really have any boutique, specialty effects.

C15: With each album shifting sounds, what do you point to from Growing that you are excited about? How do you describe Growing to somebody?

JD: Maybe just like what the jams are that night, you know? We stick to a fairly strict set each tour, we kind of plan it out and there’s not a lot of variance to it. Every record is one that when we finish it we are very excited about it as it happens and the recording process transforms the songs and playing live will transform the songs again and then making new songs and having them be part of the set can change things. It’s one of those things where we are never finished completely by at the point where were playing them is when we’re most excited about them.

C15: But when you are in the studio you have to try and fix the song in time?

JD: We try and track them the way we think they should feel or sit or be structured but when we start mixing it’s no holds barred, we don’t want to be real strict about how it’s going to end up, we try to be as free as possible and let it go in as many directions as it can go and make it something new.

C15: Are you getting people dancing at the shows now? With some of your previous material I can really only imagine guys standing around nodding their heads.

JD: Yeah, we have a good mix of dancing and concentrating [laughs]. We definitely had some dancers last night, we’ll see, it’s kind of a mix, a mixed group. Some of the newer stuff, the stuff that’s not on PUMPS!, there are a couple songs in there that have a booty-bass sound so we’ll see. I don’t really care what people do, as long as they enjoy it, it doesn’t matter what they want to do.

C15: You have bounced around from a couple record labels, how did you wind up on Vice?

JD: A good friend of Kevin’s is one of the editors of the magazine and they’ve always been pretty, not that he has anything to do with this, but their reviews have been pretty positive of our records. They were one of the labels we asked initially. We financed the record on ourselves, recorded with a friend, so when it was pretty much finished we started talking to everybody and they were one of the more active responses based on the people we talked to and our relationship with the magazine.

C15: You guys just played a show at the Detroit Museum of Contemporary Art. Do you do that often and what’s the difference between playing a museum and a club gig?

JD: We’ve done a few, we played in LA in a museum. They’re more apt to set things up the way we want them to, we’ve played a few gallery shows too, it’s a little more free because they see what we do as art instead of just popular music, they are more liable to, they don’t have a PA setup in a certain corner that has to be dealt with the exact same way every night, they’re willing to let us do whatever we want to do, which is nice and free. There’s not one in every town on every tour we go on, so it can be rare, because we want to exist in a pop music setting as well, because that’s more accessible to more people.

C15: Pop music plays the bills but sometimes it’s nice to feel like an artist.

JD: Well, I don’t know if anything pays the bills, at least thus far nothing has really. [Laughs] But it is kind of true, we personally are populist in the way that we go about our lives and we want everyone to feel like this is accessible and easy to be around and exciting so we don’t want to feel above anything and sometimes the fine art community can feel detached.

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