Words: Jordan Gorsuch
San Francisco feedback junkies/dreamboats Airs released one of the most concise collection of tracks of the year. Apart is flled to the brim with thick power chords, spacey distortion, and ethereal vocals, this record is simultaneous dirty and gorgeous. “Apart” and its titular song sounds massive, it has its tender moments (“Two Souls”) and its fair share of abrasive qualities (“Heaven with You”). It’s a miracle the record came together so well – Airs’ ex-lead vocalist almost left the band during the recording. I highly encourage everyone to give the record a listen; I luckily got a chance to ask Airs about their stunning record, you can check out the interview below.
TGE: You brought up your vocalist leaving the band. Could you expand on how that came to be and how you guys approach the future? Vocals are the easiest way for a band to establish its own identity and readily connect with listeners, were you worried about how to continue?
Airs: Aaron leaving was something I knew was going to happen. Shortly before he left, we did a big two week west coast tour and I’d noticed he wasn’t really applying himself in terms of performance anymore. After that tour, I’d expected him to leave the band at any point. When it finally did happen a few months later, I already had Sam Retton from Fresno post-punk band Midwest Moms as the #1 replacement in my mind. It just seemed like such a perfect match. I wasn’t worried about it. Aaron was definitely a central part of our sound at the time, but to me it was like… Either you’re with us or against us and when we announced Aaron’s departure, there was definitely a lot of “against us” going on. But fuck it, right? I feel like this is the best lineup this band has ever had.
TGE: I love that opening feedback on “Apart” that kicks off the album, it’s mixed a little higher than what comes after – but it’s the sonic equivalent of a warning; you guys like to play loud. In my listening it’s easy to make comparisons to MBV, did the band always perform loudly, or was it something that came over time?
Airs: We tried to be as loud as we could right off the bat. In the beginning, we performed as a duo with a drum machine and backing tracks for the parts we couldn’t pull off live with such limited personnel. Not having live drums is an easy way for a band to sound weak or incomplete, so playing with everything on 10 was sort of our way of making a statement. We were kinda trying to say “hey, we’re loud and we’re cool and we don’t suck so don’t bail during our set” which often backfired. Later on, the volume was to compensate for not having a bass player, or not having two guitars once we did get a bass player. We’ve definitely taken the loud thing to the extremes, there was a show earlier this year where we blew the power for the entire block at a house show. I think we’re probably going to turn down a little in the future. What’s the point of having good songs if nobody can hear them?
TGE: There seems to be this whole thematic undercurrent of the record of someone who wants to mend a bond but is too afraid to speak up. Someone who always runs away or digs a hole. Was this a conscious decision, or did it just sprout up over the making of the record?
Airs: A lot of the songs are about being away from people you care about. The title track was written after our west coast tour last year we did with our eternal BFFs (and now the people who make up 3/5 of the band) Crisis Arm and the rest came pretty fast from there. There’s a loose thread between the songs, but there was no set theme during the creation.
TGE: One of the more colorful track names is “Deliquescent” which means becoming liquid. Is this another reference to the motif, or simply random? I think it’s a very accurate description of the music also, which I find to be very easy to lose yourself in.
Airs: Actually, a funny story about that song that kinda birthed the title is ummm… There was an album I was listening to a lot around the time these songs were written and after I put together Deliquescent, I’d realized the first bit sounded extremely similar to a track on that album and the title is sort of a reference to that. Shockingly, nobody has called me on this yet. Maybe nobody’s noticed it yet?
TGE: “Heaven with You” continues on the fuzz guitar found in the previous track. To my ears, it almost sounds like a post-hardcore guitar riff through that bridge with the drums and spoken-word vocals. What were some of your primary influences when writing the record?
Airs: While writing the first 4 songs on the record, a lot of influence came from bands like Gin Blossoms, The Icarus Line, Hole and The Stooges. Basically the stuff I’d been listening to on tour just before. Heaven With You is a weird exception because aside from a cut and paste demo I made a day or two before recording, that song was mostly written on the spot and it was influenced more by Japanese indie and post-hardcore bands like Number Girl or The Cabs. My influences never seem to translate clearly to record, but if you look for them you’ll hear it.
TGE: Any plans for the near future?
Airs: We’re going to release a split 7" with Scottish destructiongaze quartet The Cherry Wave. It’ll be our first proper release with Sam on vocals and it sounds insane. We basically recorded it live in our practice space so it’s also the first songs that everyone in the band recorded on. Um, we’re playing an Oasis cover set on Halloween at Sam’s house in Fresno. Probably going to upset a bunch more people on Twitter too. I think that’s all we have going on in the near futur