The Seattle-based trio of Posse is getting ready to release their second full length Soft Opening (currently streaming on Pitchfork Advance) on March 4th on Beating a Dead Horse Records, and even though they’re super busy getting all this press and making some seriously amazing tunes they were kind enough to answer a few of our questions. Sadly, Jon Salzman lost his voice, so Sacha Maxim and Paul Wittmann-Todd did the answering. We like this band. A lot.
The Grey Estates: So on your Pitchfork Advance stream you had a blurb explaining that Soft Opening was recorded for moments when you’re awake at night hopeless with fear and crying. I think everyone can relate to that, especially myself. What drove you to tap into that feeling and make an album of it?
Sacha Maxim: I don’t cry much, but sometimes at night I get this huge fear that I’ll die in my sleep and then I start thinking about non-existence being some deep nothingness void of consciousness. But then I put on Netflix and get over it.
Paul Wittmann-Todd: Who doesn’t enjoy a touch of existential angst every once-in-a-while? The record isn’t only about that, but we liked the quote.
TGE: You guys tackle a lot of really intimate/personal feelings. Is this all inspired personally and is there ever something that you’ve felt was maybe too deep to share? God, if someone knew/saw my personal thoughts I’d be friendless for life.
S: I’ll defer to Paul on this one. He’s pretty emotionally complex.
P: I’m sure you’re friends are more accepting than you think. Most of the songs aren’t necessarily intimate or personal. Writing the lyrics is more about refining a rough starting point, trying to capture at an indescribable (to me) and impressionistic feeling, and at least getting it to sound OK. Except for “Cassandra B”: that shit is 100% true and totally literal.
TGE: Do you have a favorite track on the album or one someone new to the band must listen to?
P: I’ll defer to Sacha on this one. She’s pretty opinionated.
S: “Shut Up”. It’s my favorite one to play. Same with “Viaduct”…that one’s off our last album.
TGE: I was reading that Paul and Sacha initially met in a lesbian bar. So how did it go from a bar meet up to band?
S: I saw Paul from across the room and instantly felt a connection.
P: That’s not exactly true. It was a show at a lesbian bar: we were introduced by Nick Heliotis, who was our bass player for the first five or six shows. Sacha seemed like kind of a psycho but I didn’t have a lot of other options for collaborators, so we rolled the dice and tried to write some songs.
TGE: Tell us more about the basement you recorded in aside from it leaking. Like what went into the recording process and how does a typical session go? Are you guys like serious, let’s get to workers?
P: Our first record was recorded in a very short period of time, under pretty constrained circumstances (4 track tape, mostly live). We wanted to see what would happen if we gave ourselves lots of time, so we used money from shows to buy microphones and other recording stuff. We tried to be serious about how the songs sounded as compared to what we heard in our heads, which meant a lot of alternate takes and radically different versions of the songs.
Sessions for Soft Opening would vary depending on whether we were trying to nail foundation rhythm tracks, layering tracks of the leads, etc. or doing vocals. We spent a lot of time repeating recordings of the same song, coming back, discussing the takes, and trying again. There was a fair amount of improvisation in most takes.
S: I don’t take Paul or Jon seriously, and I doubt they take me seriously. Sometimes we would cancel recording because the radio signal would be too strong. I live close to a few radio towers, it’s not the most ideal recording space but rent is cheap.
A Mini Pop-Quiz
TGE: You’re making us a Guest Mix of BADH stuff and Seattle artists, but what if anything about Seattle inspires you as artists or even your sound?
S: I forgot to tell the guys about that. Whoops.
P: My guitar sound is purely defined by what has been available and cheap on the Seattle craigslist over the last five or six years.
TGE: For a Seattle outsider, what’s your favorite hangout/place that is a must?
S: I like to hang at High Voltage. They have a pet cat, whose name I always forget. But I brought him catnip once, which he rejected. He’s kind of a jerk.
P: I tend to mill around Analog Coffee, or Cafe Arabica. Otherwise my apartment is cool. I have a globe bar and a pretty good collection of Prince records.
TGE: If the three of you weren’t in a band what would your other dream job be?
P: I’d be an electrical engineer.
S: The band is definitely a hobby for me. I’d probably do woodworking in its place. That’s pretty butch
TGE: Give us a Posse fun fact.
S: We have a manager. But he refuses to be our manager. It’s a complicated relationship.
P:When we were on tour I would throw a fit and make Jon and Sacha share a bed.
TGE: What’s been one of your most memorable moments as a band so far?
S: We played Bumbershoot 2 years ago and in the artist lounge they had free haircuts. So we all got haircuts. Including our manager.
P: We played a show in the Children’s Theater, and there were these kids in the front row. One of them asked me if I was rich and famous. I said yes.
TGE: If Posse was an ice-cream flavor what flavor would you be?
S: rocky road :-p
P: Blood orange.