Fresh Snow: The Wavelength (at Doors Open) Interview

Purveyors of: Cyclones of careening, contagious camaraderie.

File Next To: Amon Düül, Drive Like Jehu, Spiritualized.

 Playing: Free show Saturday May 27, NOON (sharp!) @ the RC Harris Water Treatment Plant (south main doors of the Control Room building), part of Wavelength’s three Doors Open shows that day! More info here.

Fresh Snow’s Bradley Davis, Andy Lloyd, Jon Maki and Tim Condon have been honing their intense instrumental sound over the course of a couple of long players and EPs. Their latest album, One, harnesses their collective locomotive power and guides it between raw, runaway revelations and mesmeric ambient moments. Wavelength’s Aaron Dawson spoke with Bradley Davis about the nature of reality and how they shape it.

WL: There’s a grand, almost cosmic feel that belies the immediate imagery that falling fresh snow conjures in the mind’s eye. Do you live in the moment, or are you lost in space wondering about the big questions?

FS: I try to live in the moment but it can be difficult sometimes. I think living in the moment is a bit of a privileged idea, and it is perfectly sane to be terrified by the big picture. I guess it is about striking a balance. With our music we are at our best when we are living in the moment. That is when unexpected and exciting things can happen in the music. When we start thinking about what is coming, it gets stale or you get lost in the fog.

WL: Your songs often lull the listener into a false sense of security, then suddenly has them realize things aren’t as they seem. The song “Olinda” comes to mind. The time signature isn’t what you thought it was. The song builds suddenly and changes direction. Is this related to your sense of reality? Does your day to day existence in “real life” reflect this, or is it part of a desire to escape from reality?

FS: I love the idea of art as a way to temporarily alter your reality, or perhaps to shed new understanding on your current reality. Having a song to retreat into can be a pretty powerful tool. As far as my day-to-day existence, I am pretty rooted in reality. I have been baking bread more than I have been playing guitar lately, and I get a similar satisfaction out of it, both of them are intrinsically human and about doing something that is bigger than yourself.

WL: I hear a soulful, uplifting, almost gospel attitude to many of your songs. “I Can’t Die” is a good example. Is this a happy accident or are there some other influences at work? It’s easy to make connections to Hawkwind-esque paroxysms, prog-rock, and krautrock rhythms, but what else is working underneath the surface when you’re writing songs?

FS: I think between the four of us we have such a disparity of musical loves and obsessions that songs naturally end up in a different place than where they began.  I love the idea of presenting a song in multiple ways.  For instance, “I Can’t Die” certainly has a bit of Hawkwind in it, but it started out as a Jon Carpenter-esque keyboard piece. It is like four people playing with a Ouija board, it’s important that nobody too obviously forces the planchette in the direction of the answers they want to hear.

WL: Your live shows are mostly instrumentals only, as opposed to your recorded work. It’s like the difference between meeting someone at a busy party and then really getting to know them one-on-one later. Do you feel that your recordings are an extension of the band? Are they part of a hidden, private personality, or do you wear your hearts on your sleeves?

FS: For me personally, the recordings are the most fun part. I am no virtuoso on stage, but I have developed a broader musical vocabulary in a studio environment. Scheduling has always been the enemy of this band, and that makes recording a more ideal situation. It also allows us to work with other people, which keeps things exciting. Playing live can be greatly rewarding. Volume is almost an official member of the band and helps take the songs to new places. There is a risk because sometimes that place is right in the garbage when we can’t hear each other… or maybe hear each other too well. I only speak for myself but I want to really reconsider the way we are doing things. I would like to see the four of us explore less familiar/comfortable spaces together.

WL: You have a reputation for putting on unique live shows, and really playing with the spaces you perform in. What can we expect for the upcoming show at the R.C. Harris Water Treatment Plant for our Doors Open music series?

FS: We are very excited to be playing in such a unique environment and have been fortunate in the past to play in amazing, non-traditional venues. We are taking things quite literally, and are going to be treating the sound of water. Sink or swim.