The very talented Lower Dens are getting ready to go on tour and release their forthcoming album ‘Escape From Evil’ out March 31st, 2015. Filled with such utter guitar brilliance and pleasant melodies to the ear, the third full-length album and musical project led by Jana Hunter is one that will not disappoint listeners. This reputable masterpiece is stunningly rich in its work and one that sees Hunter emerge at the forefront; hot-blooded and rash, possessing of a loud, clear voice that expresses such honest, heavy-hearted truths.
I had the divine pleasure of speaking to Jana Hunter myself, unraveling the answers to questions that I had for her and about the album itself.
So for starters, how did you and your band come together and form in the first place?
I was playing solo music and I wanted to go on a tour with a band and I met these guys through mutual friends, so we started to form a band and recruited. Only one of those guys are still in the band, but yea, it just came out of that one tour we had been playing together.
How do you go about writing a song? And to follow that question, when do you feel you write your best stuff?
I mean, there’s different methods throughout the years, you know, when I was younger I would kind of write spontaneously, if I was feeling something really strongly, or often times out of boredom, I would make up songs all day long when there’s nothing to do. And then as I got older I started writing stuff more structured I guess, and wrote with specific goals in mind, or um, even because, you know, I wanted to fill out a side of a demo tape or something. It- it changes but, more often lately, it’s that I get a new piece of equipment or I kind of want to write about a particular subject or that it’s just been a long time since I’ve had time to write. And that usually, lately, takes upon the form of working on a computer- I used to write everything on a guitar and record it into a tape recorder but now I pretty much write everything exclusively in one or two or three different music programs before the band takes it and does something with it.
What are the tools you use to craft your music?
Let’s see- In recent years it’s mostly Logic; you can record into it, you can also write with a keyboard and it’s really useful for us because you can take what you’ve written and turn it into annotative music, so if I’m writing something now, one of the guys in Los Angeles or Germany, well, I can write music in this program very quickly and easily and type up sheet music, and then he can learn and play it. Everyone in the band can read sheet music- we’re kind of fortunate in that way.
So “Escape From Evil” is definitely a title that catches my attention. How did you come up with such a title? How do you feel it expresses what your whole album stands for?
I mean, it’s something that came about because I had a particular idea in mind and I wanted to find a title that enfolds around that idea, and did that by keeping my eyes open and found a book that had this title and it happened to be about some of the same things I was thinking about. It deals with the esoteric idea of evil and why we have to deal with it and how we keep causing it and that sorta thing. So I just took it from that book and I read the book- it’s a good book.
Do you recommend that book?
Mhm, yes, absolutely. I mean it’s kind of heavy- it’s cultural anthropology but I liked it a lot.
“Your Heart Still Beating” is definitely one of my favorite tracks on the album. It sounds like it belongs in The Breakfast Club soundtrack with it’s 80’s vibes. It’s one of those songs that I just want to lay down to and just think about my life. What would you say this song is about and where did it stem from?
It’s about dealing with, um, dealing with a brief process and an immediate aftermath of a loved one dying. It came about because, not someone I was directly close to, but a close friend of mine lost someone who they were very close to, and it happened very suddenly and was very tragic, and then shortly after, another person that I had known when I was younger also passed away, so, it’s very difficult to talk about and impossible to communicate those feelings to other people when you’re having them.
To Die in L.A. really caught my attention with its up-beat tempo and almost melodic xylophone sound. What would you say this song is about?
It’s about recklessness… it’s about having friends who are- who live like there’s no tomorrow and uh, you know, how that can be something charismatic but how that can also burn you pretty hard if you rely on them too much.
What do you think you and your band members did differently this time compared to your past albums?
Well, we tried to write the record collaboratively, and we did that to a greater extent, and we also just tried not to over-think what we were doing, to keep it simple, to keep it straightforward.
Throughout this whole process: writing, crafting, and recording- does it ever get overwhelming? And how do you keep the balance of producing music as a passion to it feeling like it’s work?
I enjoy all the aspects of the work. Everything I do, I approach it as part of the project. Anything can be interesting- nothing ever has to be boring; it just depends on how much of yourself you’re willing to give.
“I Am the Earth” seems like one of the most heaviest, emotional songs on the album.. What was the inspiration behind it?
I wanted to write a song that was- I initially wanted to write a song that started off as the narrator, or the singer, is apologetic towards someone in this sort of long, drawn out, explanatory, eventually passive aggressive non-apology, apology. So it’s where you find your apologetic towards someone, and it’s begrudging, and eventually you can’t even stomach apologizing to them because you don’t really think you should have to in the first place. I was thinking about how people have grown and the ones I haven’t apologized to, and how I was still in this place in, um, not even that I didn’t feel apologetic, or I wasn’t sorry, but I was sick of the burden of guilt and so I kind of imagined myself, you know, floating in space, far away from everything that seemed exhausting and burdensome and thinking of every other part of my life that wasn’t just pure of existence at that moment that’s just debris. It’s a kind of a selfish, indulgent song, but, it was kind of me separating myself from my own guilt.
What is it like hearing your own songs play as a finished piece?
It’s a huge… relief (chuckles). I know, more or less, going into the last couple of months of work on a record, what it’s going to sound like, and just needing to make it happen, and uh- it takes a long time. It takes a lot of long hours and there’s a lot of revision back and fourth, and at a certain point if you’re working with managers and labels, there’s a fair amount of discussion and some arguments and it’s just such a relief when you’ve finished it and there’s nothing more you can do that you’d want to.
If there’s one way in which you could describe this album, what would you say and what would you want your listeners to take away with them?
It expresses something powerful for me but it is just open-ended enough that people should be able to listen, and to be able to have it applied to their own lives in their own way, which is what music is; people connect to it but it means something to them personally, you know, learning about themselves, and being able to express something themselves. So I hope this record does that- I hope when people hear it that that’s what they take away from it… some kind of liberation of their own.
Escape From Evil:
01 Sucker’s Shangri-La
03 To Die in L.A.
04 Quo Vadis
05 Your Heart Still Beating
06 Electric Current
07 I Am the Earth
08 Non Grata
10 Société Anonyme
LOWER DENS – 2015 TOUR DATES
03-12 North Bethesda, MD – Music Center at Strathmore
03-19 Florence, MA – 13th Floor Lounge
03-20 Hudson, NY – The Half Moon
03-21 Winooski, VT – Monkey House
03-22 Hamden, CT – The Space
03-31 Brooklyn, NY – Baby’s All Right
04-01 Baltimore, MD – Floristree
06-11 Brooklyn, NY – Music Hall of Williamsburg
06-12 Philadelphia, PA – Voyeur
06-13 Washington, DC – Rock & Roll Hotel
06-15 Chicago, IL – Empty Bottle
06-16 Ferndale, MI – The Loving Touch
06-17 Toronto, Ontario – Legendary Horseshoe Tavern
06-19 Montreal, Quebec – Bar le Ritz PDB
06-20 Cambridge, MA – The Sinclair
06-21 Providence, RI – Columbus Theatre
Sun 06/21/15 Upstairs at the Columbus Theatre Providence, RI