SXSW 2011 PREVIEW: LITTLE TYBEE
In recording Humorous to Bees, Little Tybee took a much different approach than the one it used to make Building a Bomb, the band's debut. That's totally understandable considering Little Tybee was a much different band by the time work began on Bees, which is due April 5 on Paper Garden Records.
Leader Brock Scott and the rest of his eclectic, adventurous Georgia group will be plenty busy during SXSW and in the weeks leading up to the new album's release.
Medleyville.us: The title track to the new Little Tybee album is about 39 seconds long. How long did it take to write, and was it a first-take, vocal-and-guitar-done-together recording?
Brock Scott: "When we started this album, about a year ago, we didn't really know where we would be going. We knew we wanted to be more ambitious with our arrangements but didn't know how to begin writing the album.
"The title track was the first tune written for the album. It's a simple song that took about an hour to write. We actually recorded the song in two tracks — one for vocals and one for guitar. Not saying I couldn’t do it in one, but there are certain ways we like to tweak the sound of the guitar and the vocals that can only be achieved with separate tracks.
"For this song, I was inspired by modern TV commercial jingles. The '40s-'50s idea of a commercial jingle is still around today, but the spritely spirit has changed a bit, leaving room for more emotion filled compositions."
Whose pets are referenced in the song "Sympathetic Eye"?
Scott: " 'Sympathetic Eye' is one of those songs where the lyrics are secondary to the instrumentation. I use the words and the formation of the words to help complement the arrangements of the other instruments. That is not to say that what I am saying is completely incoherent. The lyrics touch on an overall theme of breaking the mundane. Feel free to host nostalgia for your own pets with this song."
What's the most unusual instrument used on Humorous to Bees?
Scott: "We used a circuit bent Casio SK-1 on the ending of 'History' and throughout the entire track on 'Nero.' Our bassist, Ryan Donald, is a bit of an electronics buff and loves creating new sounds to experiment with. Circuit bending is a process in which you make electrical paths on a circuit board in order to uncover hidden sounds in the device not intended by its makers. You can do this with any electrical noisemaker, children’s toy or greeting card. This is a technique that artist Dan Deacon has made famous with his compositions over the past few years."
Talk about the differences between this album and its predecessor, Building a Bomb.
Scott: "Our first album, Building a Bomb, was recorded over the course of four or five days in a small apartment in Atlanta. The band was a three piece at the time and picked up two more members as the album was being recorded. You can really tell a difference between the songs that were written as a trio and the ones written as a five piece. In those days, we were still trying to discover our sound.
"For Humorous to Bees, we knew we wanted to be ambitious. We ended up recording with 14 different musicians and really pushed ourselves to come up with more complex arrangements. We worked on Humorous to Bees for more than a year, and we are a much different band than we were back then. I am excited to see where we will go from here."
Describe the Little Tybee sound in no more than five words.
Scott: "Intellectually, internationally, intentionally nondescript."
What's your take on the Atlanta music scene these days?
Scott: "I strongly believe that Atlanta has one of the strongest and most diverse music scenes in the country. Nestled snuggly beneath the seedy underbelly of the hip-hop empire are many hidden treasures most locals don’t even know about.
"All the members of our band now live in a house right off Buford Highway in an area called the International Village. This part of Atlanta has migrants from Mexico, Vietnam, China, Brazil and many other nations all thrown in together. Despite their diversities, they know that they are in the struggle together. This is the closest metaphor I can think of as to how I view the Atlanta music scene. No matter what genre or subgenre a band has been blanketed in, there is definitely a strong sense of camaraderie from motley crew to motley crew. It is a different scene than that of New York City, where you are competing with 70 other bands every time you have a show. It’s highly competitive up there."
Finish this sentence: When I'm in Austin for this year's SXSW, I will …
Scott: "… need a change of pants."
— Introduction and interview by Chris M. Junior
Little Tybee at SXSW (schedule subject to change):
* 5 p.m. March 17: Uncorked, 900 E. 7th St. (Paper Garden Records’ Lovely Hearts Club day party)
* 4 p.m. March 18: Uncorked, 900 E. 7th St. (Paper Garden Records’ Lovely Hearts Club day party),
* March 19: House of Commons Co-op, 2610 Rio Grande St.
* March 19: Side Bar, 603 E. 7th St. (40 Watt day party)
* 9 p.m. March 19: Swan Dive, 652 Red River St. (official SXSW showcase)
Little Tybee on tour (schedule subject to change):
* March 21: Where House — Fort Worth, Texas
* March 22: Sticky Fingerz — Little Rock, Ark.
* March 23: Murphy's — Memphis, Tenn.
* March 24: Grey Eagle — Asheville, N.C.
* March 25: Goodrich House — Marion, Va.
* March 27: The Fire — Philadelphia
* March 28: Rockwood Music Hall — New York
* March 29: Pete's Candy Store — New York
* March 30: Milestone — Charlotte, N.C.
* March 31: Sentient Bean — Savannah, Ga.
* April 1: Caledonia Lounge — Athens, Ga.
* April 2: The Earl — Atlanta