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Discussion in 'Article Discussion' started by Melody Bot, Jun 1, 2016.

  1. Melody Bot

    Your friendly little forum bot. Staff Member

    This article has been imported from for discussion. All of the forum rules still apply.

    A few weeks back, I was lucky enough to attend the Shaky Knees Festival in Atlanta, Georgia. It was a high-energy weekend filled with great bands (both up-and-coming and established). One of the best bands I saw was Polyenso, who played an early Saturday set on the Buford Highway stage. Afterward, I got to sit down for a bit and chat with the band about their new record The Pure In The Plastic, what they’re anticipating most from their upcoming tour with PVRIS, and how their songs change in a live setting.

    You guys fairly recently released your new record Pure In the Plastic. How do you feel like you have progressed on this record?

    Alex Schultz: It changed the entire game for us. We got an awesome opportunity to be in the studio almost every day for two years. We had a couple of things written. A little of the record was written, but most of it we did in the studio. So for the writing process, even if we did the same style that we did on the first record, it would’ve been completely different because of that. But we decided to get a little weirder with it.

    You worked with Matt Goldman on the first record right?

    Brennan Taulbee: We did.

    Alex: Who we’re actually staying with right now. We stayed with him last night, and we’re staying with him tonight.

    That’s cool.

    Alex: He should be here. He’s bringing his son.

    Brennan: Actually, he got a headache and he couldn’t come out.

    I’m going to go ahead and say that when you have a headache, a festival is probably not a good place to be. It’s probably one of the most miserable experiences ever. So you worked with Matt on the last record, who did you work with on this record?

    Alex: Jason Pennock.

    So did you do some of the production or engineering on this record as well, or any on One Big Particular Loop?

    Brennan: On the last record? Not necessarily, we would have some help, when Goldman would step out, we would have someone sit in, but we didn’t really mess around too much. What we did on One Big Particular Loop, we demoed everything at home with our friend Connor Hawkins, who is now the live sound engineer for PVRIS who we are about to go out with. But we tracked every song with him, and then we took all that to Goldman’s.

    So that was very different than with this new album.

    Brennan: Completely different. We didn’t engineer One Big Particular Loop. I will say, we did engineer a lot of Pure In The Plastic, but it’s backwards. There was hardly any pre-production on Pure In the Plastic. There was hardly any production on One Big Particular Loop at all. Matt Goldman, while I’ll say, he does have incredible instincts…

    He just let you rip.

    Alex: Exactly! His thing is tone. He created an experience with that record. He’s a drum master, and he got the tones where they needed to be, and then we just played the songs. With this new one, we were acting as producers, more than guys in a band. There was no “bang guitars out in a week, bang drums out in a week.”

    Brennan: We just went into the studio and made a song. And then we’d go in the next day, finish that song, and continue on to the next one.

    Alex: And that’s why it took so long. Songs took a long time to even finish.

    What was the longest song that it took to come together fully from start-to-finish?

    Denny Agosto: “17 New Years” was the first one we wrote for the album. That one took a minute.

    Alex: But then I think about songs like Every Single Time that start as one thing, drop off the map (to us), and then we pick it up later, change everything on it. That was possible with what we were doing. It was kind of a blessing and a curse, because we were obsessing over things and changing them constantly.

    If you think a song has even a faint possibility of working, then you’re going to work it to death basically.

    Alex: Right, so that being said, we have tons of alternative versions, tons of B-sides.

    How many songs were on the cutting room floor, then, if you had two years to write and tinker with them?

    Alex: I thought we would have more in the span of that amount of time. But there were all sorts of things where we would lay a song to rest for a week, and come back to it later. Having two years, it wasn’t like we were there literally every day. Well, there was at least one person there, Monday-Friday for the better part of two years. There were a couple weeks, here or there, where maybe we didn’t go that week.

    Brennan: And it was rare that we were all there together.

    Alex: But there were probably 25 to 30 songs.

    I always find it so fascinating when a band says they wrote 50 songs, and 10 songs make the record.

    Alex: Right. I was watching a Kendrick Lamar interview the other day. He was asked this same question, and he said, “Yeah, we got like 50 tracks.” The interviewer asked him, “So when are we going to hear them?” and he said, “Nah, those are for my ears only.”

    Jon Foreman of Switchfoot said once he wrote over 200 songs for a record. Like, how do you even write that many songs?

    Alex: I can’t imagine something like that. But I guess it works for some songwriters.

    Brennan: Some people have to write that many songs to find the ones that they like. And I’m not trying to give us a pat on the back, but I think we know what we want and we go for it right off the bat. We don’t spend too much time dicking around. We’ll spend time looking for tones, but for the most part, unless we have writers block and just physically can’t write a song, something is coming out.

    Denny: And I think others write songs just to write songs. I feel like we just get a vibe going, and then we’ll write a song. It’s not like I can’t live without writing a song. When it comes out, it’s just because it was an inspiration.

    And you guys have so many different elements of different genres too in your songs. How does that all come together? Do you sort of build it from one element or baseline piece and then go from there?

    Denny: There’s different methods. Like Alex was saying, this time around, it wasn’t all of us in a room together writing. At one point, I was making a beat on my little iMachine, and that’s how we came up with “Every Single Time.” Or we’ll have one little sample we’ll find, looking through sounds, and we’ll say, “Yep, that’s a song.” And then there were other songs where him and I sat together and played the piece together.

    Alex: That was a lot more rare.

    Denny: It’s definitely more rare, yeah.

    Alex: That’s how our first record was, though.

    You’d build from a Garage Band demo of you guys all playing together?

    Alex: It was all us playing together. One person would bring in an idea. It would be the Garage Band scenario, which worked. It gives it a really pure feel, but this last one we had an opportunity to do things a little different. For Pure In the Plastic, when we got done with the two year recording process, we’re like, “All right, this is next phase, now we have to learn how to play all of it.” Which worked out pretty cool, because now we’re playing the songs, and Denny will do something, and I’ll say, “Yeah, let’s run with that.” It breathes new life into these songs.

    So I was wondering if you deliberately sequenced the record in a way where it flows from light to darkness and then back into light again. Was that an intentional thing?

    Denny: The structuring came after. We realized that there were two polar sides to the album. That (polarity) happened in the beginning, because in the beginning of the process Brennan still lived in Celebration, (Florida), a couple of hours away. We would talk on the phone and all of that, but Alex and I were in the studio, and we came out with a lot of those heavier, more urban style tracks. And Brendan came with more open-hearted, tear-jerker, melancholy stuff. And that’s when the record started to make sense. There were some songs that were just way too far off.

    Brennan: I remember going through that, all of these tracks were bundling up that were all in the same realm. I was missing from the puzzle for a while. So I moved back to St. Pete. Once I knew that they were hooked up with where we were going to record, that’s when I knew that I could come back, and I could live with the guys, and we could write this record.

    Alex: That proves to me to, that this is a unit. I’m not Polyenso by myself, Denny isn’t, Brennan isn’t. This only works as a unit, all of these influences of the three of us..

    Brennan: Yeah, that’s absolutely what makes us who we are. All of the songs that they wrote before I got there wouldn’t have been the same, I don’t think, if they had just finished them.

    Alex: There was a catalyst, too, where we released Moona Festival. Because we had just said, “We can’t wait anymore. It’s been three years since we released our last record. We’re not Coldplay, we need to release something.” So we released Moona Festival, and we got such an amazing response from it. So we said, “Let’s write more songs like that. Let’s not replicate ‘Moona Festival,’ but let’s do some more stuff like that, because 1) it feels good, and 2) it’s getting a great reaction from our fans.”

    So the record sequencing almost became chronological in a lot of ways.

    Alex: It did, you know, and in our personal lives, those middle songs represent a more tumultuous time. We got all of that aggression out, and then we said, “We’re in a good spot, lets put these out.” And then the title came after that, and it tied it all together. Pure in the Plastic, not that one is pure, and one is plastic, but that dichtomy between the two.

    So you guys are on the PVRIS headlining tour, obviously their growth has been pretty explosive as of late, but they’re on the more pop-end of the scale from you guys. Are you worried that some of the more ambient electronic stuff you guys do may not play well with that audience?

    Denny: Nah, you know it’s new ears. Anybody who is listening to it, that’s fine. We’re there because we love it. Most of those people have probably never heard of our band. Maybe they have heard of Oceana and all of our past material, but probably not. So it’s new ears. I’m really excited.

    Alex: It’s a little bittersweet too, because they released the dates first without support so their fans would have a chance to buy tickets, and almost of the dates sold out, so we will have very few fans there that are there for us. But the rooms are huge, they’re like 2,000 cap rooms. So if even a quarter of the people get it, that’s a great night. And I think the thing that sold us, is we get to go out and play in these rooms: Webster Hall, House Of Blues, and those kinds of venues. We just want to hear this record in those rooms.

    We’ll do a fun question to close things off. If you had to pick a fantasy band, from all of music, alive or dead, of a guitarist, bassist, drummer, and singer, who would you choose?

    Alex: I’m going to go either Questlove or Steve Jordan on drums. I’m going to go Quest on drums. I’m going to go (Jimi) Hendrix on guitar, the most soulful man ever to live, Pino Palladino on bass, and then a singer…

    You can have Jimi sing if you want.

    Alex: Nah, I love Jimi’s singing but hell no not in my dream band. Who’s the singer, not DeAngelo.

    Jesus, that would be a wild band.

    Alex: That would be crazy, right? I’m going to go with Otis Redding as the singer.

    Denny: Oooh, that band. Okay, I’m going next. On bass, we got Thundercat. On the drums, I really want to say Paul Mabury, he’s one of these really big session drummers that I love. I think my other one would’ve been Darren King from Mutemath, but my main is Paul Mayberry. On guitar, I’ll probably have Nile Rodgers, because he’s rhythm, but he brings the funk. I think him and Thundercat together would be ridiculous. And then on vocals, James Fauntleroy.

    Brennan: I know I had time to decide, but they stole some of mine.

    Alex: There can be crossovers.

    Brennan: Well, my bass is definitely Palladino. And then, guitar is weird, cause I could be down with Jimmy Page on guitar. He’s rock-and-roll, but it would be sweet. On drums, I guess I’d go with Quest, cause he’s got the style. Vocalist, I don’t know I can’t think of anything.

    Alex: Miles Davis

    Denny: Sufjan Stevens

    Alex: Aretha Franklin

    Brennan: Nah, none of those really work (laughs)

    Alex: James Blake

    We’re out of time now, so I guess let me know if you think of any singer you like the fit of. Maybe we’ll take a poll of our audience. Thanks for the time to speak with us and good luck on the upcoming tour guys.

  2. kwilcox


    Great interview and great band. Thanks for giving these guys the coverage they deserve.
  3. Mike


    Love Pure In The Plastic. It's, hands down, the best thing they've released since Birtheater. I never could get into their first full length but I've been spinning this record a couple times a week since it was released! Really excited to see what they do with their next release!
  4. beachdude

    I'm not brave Prestigious

    Excellent interview of a great band! Love Pure In The Plastic.